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Leonidoff's Wonder World


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#1 Randy Treadway

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:07 PM

Our photo exposé of the day is Leonidoff's Wonder World, a grand show put on in the Aquacade Stadium at great expense. Unfortunately the big investment didn't draw enough paying attendees to keep it open more than two months, so photos are scarce. Most of these are from a single recent acquisition of Kodak slides, but I also sprinkled in a few previous seen photos to fill in the whole show. Sit back and enjoy- it's June 1964, and this is one of your last chances to see.....[drumroll].....Leonidoff's Wonder World!!!

We start off with an exterior view of the venerable Aquacade stadium as it looked when the World's Fair opened. A roof was built over the whole stadium- but that didn't last long. After just a few weeks they'd pulled the tarp off the audience seating area (as you'll see in these pictures).
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©Photo Lab #5524


The front of the building was decorated with huge letters advertising the show. A ticket kiosk was located near the front entrance (on the left in this photo).
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Costumed cast members appeared on a barker's stage out front, to try to entice people to buy a ticket....
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©Bill Cotter, Set 21, Picture #012


You buy your ticket and receive a program for the show....
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Don't forget your refreshments in official Wonder World cups, before heading to your seat!
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You can even buy a box of souvenir cups to take home with you....
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Better race inside to get the best seat, because, well.......
.........take yer pick........
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Time for the show to begin!!


Act 1 - Wonder World

....somebody got wet....
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closeup- there's an orchestra seated in an elevated "orchestra pit" on the right side of the stage:
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A little diving, for the '39-40 fans to reminisce...
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Act II - Mysterious Waters

This has to be one of the more bizarre stage sets....
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closeup:
the Polynesian jungle backdrop is mounted on a turntable. See the spiky-shaped point up on top? Keep that in mind when it's time for Act III.
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closeup: you've got finely attired ladies and gents- the ladies with white gloves up past their elbows- sitting ankle deep in water. I've heard of paying extra to get front row seats, but this is ridiculous!
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closeup: now that the diving is finished, the entire orchestra decides to move to the elevated "orchestra pit" on the left side of the stage. You just can't keep a good orchestra in one place!
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Those front rowers stick it out in the ankle deep water as the horn-heads enter....
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In order to restore photo links within new board restrictions, moved Act III to bottom of this topic.

#2 Chmnofbrd

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:07 PM

Great stuff Randy, I never knew Chita Rivera was in the show. I can't believe how few people are in the audience in that shot.

#3 Randy Treadway

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:27 PM

I should have read the program! The white convertibles were supplied by Alfa Romeo, not Studebaker.
So change that trivia question to Alfa Romeo.

#4 Bill Cotter

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:33 PM

Wow - great stuff! Thanks for putting it all together, Randy.

#5 Randy Treadway

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 03:41 PM

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see the blue tarp-covered box-shaped thing up on top of the roof?
I suspect that the entire rocket rose up into this boxed area when it blasted off, to get it out of the way so that the turntable could turn to reveal the Unisphere.
In this photo, the rocket has already risen about ten feet or so.

#6 Hoodlock

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 04:38 PM

Thanks for the memories…memories of memories and history.

I shall always remember the title song “It’s a Wonder World”; even though the seats were empty; I chose to sit half way up from the stage. I was glad I did, I sat next to a man who was a pre-teenager at the 1939 Fair. During the show, he told me all about his Fair.

Side note, Debi Mazar who played Denise Ianello on LA Law, is the granddaughter to one of the cast members of the Aquacade show in 1939.

#7 worldsfairent

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 05:45 PM

Cool connection, Hoodlock. Debi Mazar currently has a recurring role on the HBO series "Entourage."

#8 trylon500

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 07:31 PM

Wow! Great time machine stuff Randy. Thanks for posting.

As a small businessman, I look at these photos of this stage show and I see a bunch of guys that just lost a bundle of money and feel bad for all those involved.
There are more people on stage than in the audience.

I know if I were visiting the fair, it would be hard for me to sit and watch a show for two hours while there is so much going on outside.

Weren’t these type of review shows fading out by the sixties?

#9 Ray in Pasadena

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 09:45 PM

Somewhere in my "stuff", I have a ticket stub for Wonder World which I remember seeing the first show at dusk, Memorial Day, 1964. I recall that the BELL ROCKET MAN was in the final scene, rising from the right side of the stage, upward above the set and landing on the left side of the stage. The sound was deafening and holding your hands over your ears was common. Does Hoodlock remember this as part of the show? I wonder why there are no pics of the BELL ROCKETMAN scene here!

Ray Dashner

#10 Randy Treadway

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Posted 21 August 2006 - 09:58 PM

I wonder why there are no pics of the BELL ROCKETMAN scene here!


Maybe you missed him Ray- it's the first full-sized picture after the rocket blastoff. Rocket Man is in the air, flying from left to right.
It's the one with the closeup of the orchestra members plugging their ears with their fingers.

#11 Ray in Pasadena

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 01:59 AM

I guess that my concentration ability timed out before that pic materialized!

The BELL ROCKETMAN, in fact, was worth the price of admission. Too bad it was seen by too few people at NYWF.

Ray

#12 48crash

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 04:36 AM

Maybe it's an illusion but the windows (glass blocks?) on the Aquacade appear to be broken. Odd that they wouldn't repair these before the Fair.

#13 Hoodlock

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 05:00 AM

Ray, good to hear from you, the side benefit from your recent medical event, is that we here at PTU profit by your stepped up input.

Ray, I do remember the Rocket Man, I remember him moving from left to right, (I did go back to the photo) and indeed on these two occasions he did fly L to R.

I had never seen photos of the Bell rocket system in operation, I though the Rocket man would fly like Superman. But the Rocket man flew upright with his feet dangling like a marionette carried off the stage.

My cousin seated in the front row, told of the enormous pressure pushing him down into his seat as the Rocket Man flew past him.

As for the broken windows, they are not; it is just the back of the sign reflecting in the glass panes.

#14 Ray in Pasadena

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 06:29 AM

Thanks, Bruce. Recovery takes longer than expected, but I've 30 more years left to fully recoup.

Is it possible that we are the only two on PTU (and elsewhere) that actually saw the BELL ROCKETMAN in action? I once saw him fly over the Unisphere as part of the publicity for the WONDERWORLD show.

The blast from his rocket belt was indeed overwhelming. I've always wondered why it began and ended at the NYWF. It's probably in the Smithsonian at this point.

Ray

#15 Hoodlock

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Posted 22 August 2006 - 06:51 AM

I don’t know if we are the only PTU members to see the Rocket Man in person, but I can bet we are the only PTU members to see Wonderworld, maybe with the exception of Bill Cotter.




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