Tom Hatten

Tom Hatten (November 14, 1926 – March 16, 2019) was an American radio, film and television personality, known as the long-time host of The Popeye Show (originally The Pier Point 5 Club) and Family Film Festival on KTLA Channel 5 in Los Angeles in the 1960s through the '80s. Hatten was one of those television "pioneers"—from the 1950s and 1960s---programs done "live"—no matter what mistakes happened. He also appeared in dozens of musicals, movies and television shows.

Tom Hatten
A photo of Tom Hatten in 2013
Hatten in 2013
Born(1926-11-14)November 14, 1926
DiedMarch 16, 2019(2019-03-16) (aged 92)
OccupationActor, TV Kids' Show Host, Radio Broadcaster

Early lifeEdit

Hatten was born in Jamestown, North Dakota.[1] He served in the United States Navy during World War II and used the GI Bill[2] to study acting at the Pasadena Playhouse.[3] He graduated cum laude[4] in 1950.[2]

The Popeye ShowEdit

In 1952, Hatten started working as a broadcaster at KTLA in Hollywood. He was a newscaster and announcer when the station launched the afternoon children's show, The Pier 5 Club, with Hatten as Skipper Tom, in September 1956.[5] He followed "Skipper Frank" Herman who appeared earlier in the afternoon with Cartoon Carousel.[citation needed]

Dressed in Navy whites, Hatten presented the Popeye cartoons of the 1930s, the animated works of Max and Dave Fleischer, starring the spinach eating Popeye. A skilled artist and cartoonist, Hatten's show included how to segments that taught how to draw the cartoon characters. Real children—three chosen at random from his mail—appeared on each program, and were put in front of a large upright easel and sketch pad. Hatten would draw a figure in his sketch pad called a "Squiggle". During the cartoons, Tom and the kids would create drawings incorporating the squiggle without crossing any of the squiggle's lines. Of course, Hatten's drawings were better—but he'd praise the kids for their work. Hatten hosted two later versions of the show and told anecdotes about the Fleischers, the cartoons, or their studios.[citation needed]

The Pier 5 Club was given a more elaborate studio set and was renamed The Popeye Show. Hatten was dressed as a harbor master in a structure resembling a marina. The squiggle contest was retained and the show expanded to an hour. King Features created a new series of Popeye cartoons for the show. Jack Mercer, who had replaced William Costello (aka "Red Pepper" Sam) as the voice of Fleischer's Popeye, visited the show to recognize Hatten as the biggest promoter of the Max and Dave Fleischer Studio.[citation needed]

The demise of The Pier 5 Club came in 1964 when Hatten left KTLA. In 1976, however, he returned to the station and revived the series as Popeye and His Friends, which ran until 1988.[5]

Following the end of the Popeye program, Hatten was host of KTLA's Family Film Festival.[4]

Family Film FestivalEdit

The Family Film Festival was a weekend afternoon feature on KTLA 5 between 1978 and 1992, with Hatten screening a classic movie, often from the 1940s, 1950s or 1960s. During breaks in the show, he would offer anecdotes about the film's history or its actors, or even conduct brief interviews with a cast or crew member (a practice that originally predated the cable networks American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies; see those articles for details). Many "Gen X"-aged men and women, born throughout the 1970s and raised in Los Angeles, were introduced to the films of Jerry Lewis, The Little Rascals, and Pippi Longstocking as well as animated films as Gay Purr-ee, Hoppity Goes to Town, The Phantom Tollbooth, Once Upon a Time and Star Blazers, through Hatten's Family Film Festival. The Little River Band's song Reminiscing was used as bumper music.


Hatten's acting credits include portraying a corrupt US Army General in the film Spies Like Us, with Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase. He appeared as Captain Murdock in several episodes of the television show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and had a minor role as an officer in three episodes of Hogan's Heroes. Hatten provided the voice of the character Farmer Fitzgibbons in the animated movie The Secret of NIMH.[citation needed]

On stage, in 1959, Hatten performed in a Los Angeles production of The Billy Barnes Revue concurrently with hosting the Popeye TV show.[6] He portrayed Horace Vandergelder in the West Coast Opera Theatre's production of Hello, Dolly! in 1991. He also appeared in a touring production of the musical Annie as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[4]

For nearly 20 years, Hatten worked as an award-winning entertainment reporter for KNX 1070 Newsradio in Los Angeles, filing regular reports on the movie industry, new films, and celebrity news.[7] He left the station in 2007.

Hatten served on the board of the National Student Film Institute and was a frequent presenter at its annual film festival.[8][9]


Hatten died on March 16, 2019 at the age of 92.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1965 I Saw What You Did Gerald Nyes
1965 A Very Special Favor Therapy Group Member Uncredited
1967 Easy Come, Easy Go Lt. J.G Uncredited
1969 Sweet Charity Man in Tandem Uncredited
1975 Promise Him Anything O'Brien TV movie
1982 The Secret of NIMH Farmer Fitzgibbons Voice
1985 Spies Like Us General Miegs
2004 Bravura Mr. Casey Short, (final film role)


  1. ^ a b Bennett, Anita (March 17, 2019). "Tom Hatten Dies: Former 'Popeye and Friends' & 'Family Film Festival' Host Was 92". Deadline. Retrieved March 19, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Pinsky, Mark L. (January 1, 1991). "The Fruits of Being a Second Banana". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. F 15. Retrieved January 28, 2019 – via
  3. ^ Von Blon, Katherine (August 6, 1949). "'Shucks' Gets Good Rating". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. 7. Retrieved January 27, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b c Bray, Jamie Shoop (February 22, 1991). "Tom Hatten tipping his hat to McCallum's Dolly". The Desert Sun. California, Palm Springs. p. 55. Retrieved January 27, 2019 – via
  5. ^ a b Hollis, Tim (2001). Hi There, Boys and Girls!: America's Local Children's TV Shows. Univ. Press of Mississippi. pp. 46–47. ISBN 9781604738193. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  6. ^ Alpet, Don (August 9, 1959). "Hatten: From TV to Stage in One Run". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. Part V, p 3. Retrieved January 28, 2019 – via
  7. ^ "KNX - Tom Hatten". September 28, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007.
  8. ^ Editor (June 10, 1994). National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. pp. 10–11.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Editor (June 7, 1991). Los Angeles Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. p. 3.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)

External linksEdit