1970sTV Ads

TV Ads – 1978 – Mutual Of Omaha – Marlin Perkins + Jim Fowler For Wild Kingdom


The original Wild Kingdom grew from discussions that started in 1962 between zoologist Marlin Perkins and V. J. Skutt….the chairman and CEO of insurance company Mutual of Omaha Insurance. The company had been the sponsor of an earlier animal-related show, Zoo Parade, that Perkins had hosted from 1952 until 1957….a program which was also intimately involved with the creation of Wild Kingdom. Mutual of Omaha sponsored and lent its name to the new program…..as Wild Kingdom won Emmy Awards for “outstanding program achievement” in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969.  

Wild Kingdom was first broadcast by NBC….with a half-hour show that aired on Sundays starting January 6, 1963 and continued until 1971….when the program entered first-run syndication….which as a prime-time syndicated program enjoyed great popularity….and although most of the programs aired after 1971 were repeats….new shows continued to be produced until 1987.   Perkins was the host for most of the show’s history until he was forced to retire in 1985 for health reasons….that’s when Jim Fowler, Perkins’ long-time assistant and sidekick became the host….as Perkins died of cancer three years later at age 83.  Perkins often introduced commercial spots by tying them into the subject of the show. For example, at the end of a segment about lions, he might say something like, “Just as the mother lion protects her cubs, you can protect your children with an insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha.

The format of the show often featured Perkins narrating off-camera….while describing Fowler’s on-camera work with the wild animals. This was commonly parodied as Perkins saying “I’ll wait here [someplace safe] while Jim [does something or other with the dangerous animal]”. However, according to a 1997 interview with Fowler, Perkins never said any such thing….as according to Fowler, “Johnny Carson started the jokes about me and Marlin in his monologues”….for Perkins often featured pet chimpanzees in the studio….with one being named “W.K.” (Wild Kingdom) and the other named “Mr. Moke”, after the Mini Moke vehicle.  

Wild Kingdom increased ecological and environmental awareness in the United States. Its exciting footage brought the wilds of Africa, the Amazon River and other exotic locales into the living rooms of millions of Americans. It created an interest in commercial nature programming that was a precursor to cable television networks such as the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

The original series has not been seen since it went off the air….as Mutual of Omaha owns the rights to the series….but we at ImaSportsphile has their television advertisement.

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