Local television's Royal Parker


November 11, 2006|By Jacques Kelly

Royal Parker has finally retired.

The man who practically invented local television now lives on Park Heights Avenue with his wife, Phyllis. This past January, he stepped down from his duties as a Baltimore liquor board inspector.

Parker, who was born Royal Pollokoff, joined the staff of the old WAAM television station in 1951 and invented a children's television character, Mister Poplolly. When Westinghouse bought the station and started calling it WJZ, he became Big Pud and wore a Popeye-like sailor's hat. He occasionally filled into for teen dance legend Buddy Deane.

He moved to WBAL-TV in 1962 and switched his persona to P.W. Doodle, modeled after a newsboy. (Parker once sold newspapers at Park Circle.) Using a baritone voice familiar to Baltimore listeners, he was also a staff announcer who filled in on Bowling for Dollars and hosted Pinbusters, a kids' duckpin bowling show.

Early one afternoon 43 years ago, he broadcast the wire service bulletin that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

It's his voice on the plastic slipcover ad: "Hey, kids, get off that furniture, what are you trying to do, ruin it?" It ran for 12 years and helped put three sons through Bucknell University.

Parker retired from WBAL in 1991 but appeared on a senior citizen show until 1994, when he tried running for the Maryland House of Delegates. He lost, but in 1998 he took a job with the liquor board as an inspector.

"Everywhere I go, people know me and say, `Didn't you used to be ...?'" he said yesterday. "It's all very flattering."

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