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Jim Thurman (1935-2007)


We must sadly note the passing of Jim Thurman, an Emmy-award winning children’s television writer, who died April 14 at age 72.

I had the pleasure to meet Jim several times in New York about 12 years ago. He was a great big funny guy with a deep “radio announcer” voice. He was working for Children’s Television Workshop at the time, but I was more interested in asking him about his work as co-writer of every episode of Roger Ramjet. With Gene Moss he also wrote and provided voices for Ramjet and Shrimpenstein, a fondly remembered local children’s show in Los Angeles during the late 1960s.

Thurman and Moss originally teamed to form a boutique ad agency, Creative Advertising Stuff and they eventually wrote material for Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart. After Ramjet, Thurman wrote for Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 321 Contact. He also performed voices such as Sesame Street‘s “Teeny Little Super Guy.”

  • Jim Woodring

    Gee whiz, this makes me sad. “Shrimpenstein” was on TV when I was in junior high school; John Dorman and I were devotees of the show and members of the Moss-Thurman fan club. We wrote wretched unsolicited Shrimpenstein scripts which we gave to Gene and Jim at fan club meetings and kidded ourselves into believing that they might possibly be used. We were also semi-regular audience members at live broadcasts of THE MOSS/THURMAN SHOW, an unprepossessing but spunky local nighttime variety program. It was all a lot of fun. O well.

  • Will

    What a bummer. I just re-listened to Gary Owens’ commentary on RAMJET recalling those years and the team of Thurman and Moss. If you have any nuggets or transcripts from those conversations you had 12 years ago, I for one would love to hear more…

  • Very sad.
    The Teeny Little Super Guy voices were a huge influence on me as a kid.

  • Like many others, I think that ROGER RAMJET may be the single funniest cartoon series ever made. The show even managed to wring laffs out of the fact that it was so cheaply produced.

    I was also a major fan of SHRIMPENSTEIN; I don’t think I ever missed an episode. Although I lived in San Diego (I was in high school at the time), we had just gotten cable service at our house, and I’d force my pals to come over to watch SHRIMPENSTEIN, which was done live and with a lot of improv. I think it was the hippest, most subversive kids show ever. I just watched a DVD of a prime episode wherein Gene Moss mentions LSD…as a gag, of course.

    It’s also interesting to note that Shrimpenstein himself was created by a team of cartoonists, Mike Dormer and Lee Teacher, the same guys who created “Hot Curl” the surfer. And Wah Chang, who worked on KING KONG (1933) built the puppet.

    Although I’d never met him, I attended a memorial service for Gene and there, I met Jim Thurman and I’m grateful that I was able to thank him for all the fun and twisted influence he had on my sense of humor.

    Thurman and Moss were the greatest! They even wrote the WEINERSCHNITZEL advertising theme song:

    “Weinerschnitzel, weinerschnitzel
    Dis must be da place
    Just drive right in
    And stick a great big hot dog in your face!”

  • Dave Sikula

    I still carry my Shrimpenstein Fan Club card (#01050) in my wallet. I loved that show, though I’m sure any number of references went whizzing over my head.

  • Jeez, there’s something wrong if the ony time I respond to this blog is to write an obituary. But Jim, I’m proud to say, was a friend. Actually, I think I brought Jim up to Jerry with his Shrimpenstein pitch when he was at Nickelodeon.

    I met Jim while he was at CTW– he was recording voices for some pieces we were producing for Sesame Street (“Jake the Snake”, “Bruce the Moose” and “Calcutta Joe”). A year or so later, as I was writing “Snowie and the Seven Dorps”, I asked Jim if he would look at the script to see if he were interestesd in doing some voice overs. As it turned out, he did ALL the voices, except for a couple of the girl ones I did.

    Then at Square One Television (another CTW show), his son Jeff who liked “Snowie” asked us to pitch some drawings for their “Further Adventures of Zook and Allison” in which we used the same style of neon colors over black. Zook and Allison also starred Jim’s voice as their eccentric Uncle Wilt. That was Square One’s final season, and Zook and Allison was rated as focus group’s favorite segment of the show.

    Jim, Jeff and Buzzco coninued to collaborate on independent pieces, pitches and brainstorming over the past 2 decades. In fact, Jim offered to voice our last independent short– “Right!”, which we finally finished earlier this year. Jim and I play a quarrelling couple (each one convinced that they held the one and only correct philosophy) who finally cause mass destruction. The last conversation we had was about how much he enjoyed the finished film when I sent it up to him– and what we were going to work on next.

    My heart goes out to his family– his wife Pat, his 2 sons and daughter and his granddaughter. I will miss his sense of fun, humor, fairness and just plain common sense!

  • Wah Chang worked with a friend of mine, Jim Danforth, on, at least, THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO. I expect to be having lunch with Jim sometime soon and I will ask if Chang is still alive and if Jim has been in contact with him recently. I didn’t know that either of them had died. I may have an audiotape of the last broadcast Moss-Thurman show all those years ago. It’d be on reel to reel, and if I can find it, I can, ultimately transfer it to digital.

  • Wow. I just learned about this now. I was a huge fan of Square One TV and Mathman, but even better than that was “Mathnet”… I had no idea Jim Thurman co-wrote all the episodes but one. R.I.P., Jim. You brought a great deal of joy to my childhood.

  • Ken Athaide

    I grew up in NY with Jim and his two sons. He was a warm, funny and very kind man to all the neighborhood kids. His sense of humor was immense. We were in a development with 1 acre lots but that didn’t stop Jim from buying a piglet, which he named Hitler. The pig grew to an immense size – can’t recall whatever happened to him. If anyone knows how to contact Tim or Jeff, his sons, please post that information or write me at [email protected]