top of page

The New Zoo Review Is Coming Right [Back] at You 50 Years Since Its Debut

If you're old enough like us, chances are you grew up watching The New Zoo Revue. The show was syndicated from 1972 to 1977, and episodes ran well into the 1990s with 3 million viewers per season in its heyday. After 50 years and 40 years out of the public eye, they are back. The show was the brainchild of Doug Momary, who, along with his wife, Emmy Jo, created the answer to Sesame Street, focusing on relationships and feelings. Doug wrote every song and storyline for the 550 plus shows. We sat down with Doug and Emmy Jo to talk about the show.

Listen to the full episode HERE.





[00:00:00]  Introduction of Doug and Emmy Jo from New Zoo Revue

[00:01:47]  Emmy Jo and Doug on what they are most passionate about

[00:02:56]  Emmy Jo and Doug on being creative growing up and how they met

[00:07:26]  Emmy Jo and Doug on how the New Zoo Revue made it to TV

[00:11:56]  Emmy Jo and Doug on creating the New Zoo Revue characters

[00:16:00]  Emmy Jo and Doug on the creative team on New Zoo Revue

[00:20:42]  Doug and Emmy Jo on writing the iconic New Zoo Revue theme song

[00:22:25]  Emmy Jo and Doug on hair and makeup on New Zoo Revue

[00:24:22]  Emmy Jo and Doug on the costumes on New Zoo Revue

[00:26:20]  Emmy Jo and Doug on mishaps when shooting New Zoo Revue

[00:28:00]  Emmy Jo and Doug on how they came up with topics for New Zoo Revue

[00:30:02]  Doug and Emmy Jo on writing the songs and the musical team on  New Zoo Revue

[00:33:35]  Emmy Jo and Doug on going to The White House New Zoo Revue twice

[00:35:24]  Emmy Jo and Doug on renewed interest in New Zoo Revue

[00:38:57]  Emmy Jo and Doug on interacting with fans of New Zoo Revue

00:43:01]  Emmy Jo and Doug on a possible animated reboot of New Zoo Revue

[00:45:20]  Doug on another series he’s created about being a good digital citizen and the idea of taking New Zoo Revue to Broadway

[00:46:54]  Emmy Jo and Doug on the reaction they’ve been getting on Facebook [00:48:51]  Emmy Jo and Doug on the reaction from fans at Comicon

[00:54:22]  Emmy Jo and Doug on their favorite memories from New Zoo Revue

[00:56:23]  Emmy Jo and Doug on their marriage of 53 years

[01:00:57]  Emmy Jo and Doug on their dreams for the little kids that are out there now




Passionistas: Hi, everybody. For those of you who don't know us, we're sisters, Amy and Nancy Harrington, the founders of The Passionistas Project. We've created an inclusive sisterhood where passion driven women come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world.


On every episode, we discuss the unique ways in which each woman is following her passions, talk about how she defines success, and explore her path to breaking down the barriers that women too often face.


If you're old enough like us, chances are you grew up watching The New Zoo Revue. The show was syndicated from 1972 to 1977, and episodes ran well into the 1990s with 3 million viewers per season in its heyday.


After 50 years and 40 years out of the public eye, they are back. The show was the brainchild of Doug Momary, who, along with his wife, Emmy Jo, created The Answer to Sesame Street, focusing on relationships and feelings. Doug wrote every song and storyline for the 550 plus shows. So, if you're joining us live here today, feel free to drop comments or questions for our very, very, very special guests in the chat, and we'll do our best to get them answered.


So, please welcome Doug and Emmy Jo.


Emmy Jo: We could not be more excited to have you both on the show today. Well, thank you. Thank you very much. We're very excited.


Doug: We are. We love to talk about what happened 50 years ago.


Passionistas: That's amazing, isn't it? It can't possibly be that long. We love to ask every guest who comes on the show to start, what are you most passionate about?


Emmy Jo: I think I'm most, oh, I'm passionate about many, many things, but I am most passionate about my children and grandchildren 00:02:00 and my faith. And, um, I guess the next on the list, I guess I would have to include our animals. We live on a little farm, and that's, and I'm passionate about Jeff. Oh, that's good. I don't want to leave him out.


Doug: And I'm, I'm passionate about really all those things, you know, raising our family and being with the kids and everything and grandkids and watching them grow and develop. But I'm also passionate still about composing music and writing and being creative. I just don't think there's an age limit to that, and so I'm very thankful that we're still able to be creative and reach out to people.


Passionistas: So let's talk about the origins of that creativity. Tell us, both of you, tell us about your childhoods, where you grew up, and was creativity something that was always a part of your life and encouraged by your parents?


Emmy Jo: Well, I was always interested in the theater. I grew up in Texas, and from the time I was a young teenager, I was in a teen theater company in, in, um, Dallas, and it was just, it was a very big part of my life, and I didn't know where to go with it.


But when I was in college, majoring in theater at SMU, Um, ABC Television did a nationwide search for 17 students, I think it was 17, to be given a full scholarship to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and it was just A dream, I thought. They wouldn't pick me. I mean, there were many, many, many, many, everybody was, was auditioning.


But I went through all of the auditions, and lo and behold, I won a scholarship. And my parents thankfully allowed me to go to 00:04:00 New York, and I spent three years there. And it was just, it was just amazing. And it was a big adventure in my life. And then I had promised them that I would come back and finish college.


Emmy Jo: So I came back to SMU…


Doug: Wait, before that I've got to brag on you. She, she won the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress. And she actually was in a couple plays on, on Broadway. I mean, she, she did the audition route and, you know, the agent route. And it was, it was difficult. It was difficult.


Emmy Jo: And I didn't really know where I was going to go with it. But I did want to finish college, so I came back, and oh my goodness, SMU has, I guess they still have, an incredible theater program, and I was invited to go to California, For Summerstock, and I had two wonderful roles. Portia in The Merchant in Venice, and Nancy, you had a theater company that I'm very impressed with that in Boston, so you know that role. And Masha in The Three Sisters. And we were directed by one of the great female directors ever, Alvina Kraus. I don't know if you're familiar with her. She's been gone for many years, but you, she was tough, but she was wonderful. And, and just knew how to get great performances out of everybody. But anyway, that's where I met Doug, because he was there.


Doug: Well, I'm going to, I'll back up. And my, my, uh, History is theater as well. In, uh, in high school, I designed sets and finally got into acting and writing. And I was, uh, you know, very passionate about that, but I was also passionate about playing football. So I was kind of a kid with a foot in theater and a foot on the athletic field.


So, but, uh, as it turned out, um, that summer, I, I too was invited to Summer Stock, and that's where I, I met Emily. And, um, but before that, though, I was actually a, uh, children's theater director for the city of Whittier, California. And that's where I kind of I got a love of kids and, and, uh, you know, writing for kids because I would, I would do my own version of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, you know, wrote the music for those little plays. And I just really enjoyed that, not knowing that I was going to do this for a living later on. But anyway, we met in Santa Maria and it was…


Emmy Jo: I fell in love with his music because I would go into the music building, music department to work on my lines and I would hear Doug. I'd hear this wonderful music was, you know, his adult songs and I peeked in there and I said, do you mind if I come in and listen?


He said, no. So I come in and listen. And then, you know, we got along very well. And then I found out that he was getting up at five in the morning to play basketball. And that was very impressive to me because I come from a real sports oriented family. We just, we just fell in love and a year and a half later, we were, we were married and came home, came back, came back from our wedding to do the pilot for New Zoo Revue. So it was…


Doug: was, But that was an adventure, the pilot, how the pilot got on. I don't know if you're interested in, in that, but that was amazing. Uh, You know, just somehow inspired. Um, my, my mom worked at a toy store in Whittier, California, and, um, she, uh, the owner of the toy store had a beanbag frog, and she asked my mom, she said, Do you know of anybody that can help me?


I want to do a kid's show. I have some contacts and I just want to do a kid's show. And my mom, being a great mom, said, well, wait, my son is a major in playwriting at Cal State Fullerton. Maybe he can help. So I arranged a meeting with her and she said, look, I have one request. You use this frog, this beanbag frog.


Can you create a show for me? I said, well, I, I've wanted to do Broadway, but this is maybe the closest I'm ever going to be, because, you know, how hard it is in entertainment to, to get anywhere, especially if your dad is not, you know, he's an insurance salesman. So anyway, um, But we, I went home that night, wrote the theme song, sketched out the set, the characters, and I actually had Charlie the Giraffe first, but that's a, that's another story.


And, um, I, I went to Emily and I said, Hey, do you want to be in a kid's show? Sure. Sounds good to me. So I took it into, uh, Barbara and, and showed it to her. She said, I really like this. I really like this. I think you've got something here. And so she arranged a live audition with my guitar, myself, Emmy Jo, uh, for the owners of Mattel Toys in Hawthorne, California.


And we went into a darkened theater, and there was all the executives and the owners of Mattel Toys, you know, and they said, show us what you got. So, so I, I played Freddie. And, um, Henrietta, my falsetto voice, and, uh, Emmy Jo played herself, and Charlie, and I had written three episodes and like 12 songs and played all the songs for the executives and we were just rockin and rollin just thinkin we did a good job and there was no reaction at all, you know, I mean, none, so, we, you know, they said, thank you very much, we'll, we'll get in touch with you.


So, we went back to our normal lives, and lo and behold, they were building the set on a soundstage in Hollywood, and we were doing the pilot right after we got married. So that's the, that's how it was born.


Passionistas: So how did it go from Mattel saying no to doing the pilot? What happened there?


Doug: Well, you know, at that time, there was a lot of pressure on toy companies because TV was inundated with You know, uh, those kind of things where they were selling toys, selling toys.


They weren't really doing anything to better kids. , you know? So this was an image, I think a com, a con, a conscious image thing for, for Mattel. Mm-Hmm. . So they backed the show. They, they, the first season they were our sponsor. Yeah. And this was great for them. And it was great for us because it gave us an opportunity. And, uh, so we went, we went into production and. It was an amazing, wonderful experience.


Passionistas: That's awesome. Um, I just want to say we have tons of people tuning in and we have people from Texas, we have Tammy from Texas, and Lisa from Florida, and Lisa from Tujunga, California, and Greg from West Virginia, and everybody's just so excited that you're here.


Lisa says, God bless the beanbag frog. So if anybody's listening and they have a question, definitely drop it in the comment and we will, we will work that into the conversation.

So you shoot the pilot. And they pick up the show. Tell us about designing the characters and building those characters. How did that process work?


Emmy Jo: Well, I didn't, I didn't, I wasn't a part of that. I was the actress on the show. I have to say, Doug was, is a creative guy. I didn't have anything to do with the, with the actual creating of the show.


Doug: But you have to admit, I showed you things and you said, Oh, I don't think I like that.


Emmy Jo: Well, I did. I did. I gave opinions.


Passionistas: That's a huge part of the creative process.


Doug: That was very much a part of it, because, you know, you and me, we kind of did this together.


Emmy Jo: We did it completely together, but I'm just saying I don't want to take credit for something that he did.


Doug: Thank you, but um…


Emmy Jo: I'm just thrilled to be an actress on the show and to work with the cast that we had. I mean, it was just fabulous.


Doug: Well, the, the, the, uh, the way the costumes were built, we finally decided on a Charlie the Owl instead of a giraffe because, you know, the limitations of a soundstage, um, that was going to be weird. Um, so we decided on an owl, uh, and I, I really wanted the personalities of the characters to reflect kids.


You know, like Freddy the Frog was our little boy who was mischievous and curious and was into everything. And then Henrietta was a, uh, southern belle who was polite and refined. And, uh, you don't find many hippos like that. And, um, Charlie was the know it all. And, you know, the crux of every problem was almost going back to him, because he knew it all.


We all know people like these three people. And then, Emmie, Joe, and I were, you know, the zookeepers. Basically, I mean, we were the ones that tried to guide them. And, uh, help them. And, but a lot of times they would help us and guide us. So we wanted that to be real and that person, those personalities and the 00:14:00 exchanges between the characters and the songs.


I wanted not to talk down to kids, but to talk to kids and have them relate to that. And so we had Sid and Marty Croft, I don't know if you're familiar with them, they built our costumes. And it was a wonderful process because we got to go in there and I got to say, Hey, put a little more smile on Freddie, and, you know, Charlie needs to have this kind of look about him, and Henrietta just, her head went through a lot of changes, but she was a, you know, so they brought those costumes to life, and that was just a thrill to, to work with them, and, and their, you know, puppeteers over there.


Emmy Jo: And it was really exciting, because Deb and I, We were two green kids. We didn't really know anything except about our, his, his life, you know, with doing shows at college and stuff and all my work that I had done on the stage, but this was completely different and it was, it was a little intimidating, but it was so fun.


Doug: Because you know, in theater, as you know, you're playing to the back of the house. You've got to be larger than life. Well, all of a sudden you're in front of the camera. And I didn't know to let the camera do the work initially, neither did Amy Jo, you know, so we had to learn that craft, uh, of being on TV, and it was a whole different, uh, learning process, but it was just, it was just wonderful. It really was. We had great people, voiceover talent, the dancers, Thank you. Um, the musicians that I got to work with in the studio recording the songs was, was just amazing.


Passionistas: That's incredible. I love that saying, you know, you learned as you go. I think sometimes creatively it's, it's better if you don't know what you're doing because that's, I think that's when the magic happens. You're not constricted by what one thinks you would be doing, right?


Doug: Here we were, you know, in our 20s and we thought we knew it all. I mean, believe me, I was confident enough to. Yeah, I can do that. I mean, I have that.


Emmy Jo: That's good. That was good. We were both, we were both very confident. We just threw ourselves into it. But we were so blessed to have these wonderful professionals, so experienced, to help us. And our cast was amazing. I mean, my, my favorite character in the show is I love all of them, but she's my favorite, and I love her because she's confident in herself, and she's larger than life, and I just wanted to, I couldn't wait to do scenes in her house, but Henrietta Hippo, the person, the dancer in the costume, It was Larry Thomas, one of the great dancers in Hollywood.


I've, we've seen her in many old shows and in movies and, um, Hazel Sherman was the voice and Hazel was extremely experienced with her, is a voiceover talent and they were all so helpful to me. Coming from someone who never used a cue card, didn't understand. It's just so different from when you're in a theater and I had a lot to learn and they were kind and never made me feel inexperienced.


They were very supportive and and we all became very very close and just this fall we were in Philadelphia and we saw Sharon Baird who was the Dancer inside of Charlie Dowl. So that was quite a reunion after 50 years to see Sharon.


Doug: And Sharon was an, an original Musketeer. Yes, she was. Sharon Little, little Sharon and Cubby. I don't know if you…


Emmy Jo: I used to watch Sharon on the Mickey Mouse. I, I did too. I was so, I felt like. And she was a big celebrity.


Doug: Yeah, and she was an expert dancer. I don't know, you know, and then, and Freddy the Frog was a, um, uh, I think he was from Argentina.


Emmy Jo: I think Yanko was from Argentina.


Doug: Yeah, that's Yanko Yomi, and, and he was a wonderful dancer, really made that frog come to life. I mean, uh, it was amazing because You know, the frog had to change hands and then work the mouth with his other hand. So he seamlessly went back and forth, uh, doing that. I just was amazed at how he brought that character to life.


Passionistas: That's amazing. Yeah, it wouldn't have occurred to me that there were dancers inside of the suit. In my head I picture like big strong people who have to carry the weight of the suit. And dancers obviously have the strength, but they also have the grace, right?


Doug: Yes. And that's that they had to have those kind of moves because our choreographer was wonderful. I don't know if you know Anita Mann, she, uh, she did quite a, she's still active, I mean, doing choreography and, mm-hmm and, um. She gave us all the dance moves. I wasn't a dancer, but you were. Thank goodness one of us could do some steps, but, um, working in a limited space with huge costumes, and just the technical side of things, you know, we didn't have, we didn't sync it in post production. It was all done live. We had playback of a pre recorded track to the soundstage, and the minute the characters heard their voice, they were lip syncing.The minute we heard our voice, we were lip syncing. And then, they would crossfade to live audio on the stage. So, it was all done live.


Passionistas: Wow, that's incredible. I'm just processing that in my head. Um, yeah, we actually did a three hour interview with Anita Mann for the Television Academy probably five years ago now.


Emmy Jo: Oh, did you?


Passionistas: Yeah.


Doug: Did she admit that she did New Zoo?


Passionistas: Oh, yeah. We talked to her about it. Proudly.


Emmy Jo: Wonderful.


Passionistas: Proudly. Absolutely. So, you know, another really iconic part of the show is the theme song, which I think even if people don't remember the show, they know the song. So tell us about writing that song.


Doug: Well, thank you. Uh, you know, as a, as a composer, you don't know whether the song is going to, you know, be good or not. And when I was sitting, uh, on my floor with my guitar, playing it and saying, well, You know, uh, Every Day's a Different Show, okay, you know, with Freddie, Charlie, Henrietta, you know, they have fun learning what they don't, you don't know if those words are just, are they trite, are they, you know, but it just clicked, and we went into the studio, recorded it, and we got so many Letters and fan mail and things by saying, either they hated it because they didn't want to hear it, or they loved it.


And most of them loved it. But, you know, a lot of moms said, if I hear that song one more time, I'm going to throw something at the TV. But most of the kids just loved it. And when we were in, uh, San Diego doing Comic Con And Philadelphia. We got to do a panel in Philadelphia and we were, I brought my guitar and we sang the song and everybody was singing along.


Emmy Jo: Everybody sang with us. It was fun. It was great.


Passionistas: Well, ever since your publicist Danny approached us about doing this interview, it's been in our head, so it's a great song. And it's unshakable once you get it, it's like, oh yeah, it's in my head again.


So we have a question from, um, someone that's watching. Cindy Yarbrough, Harcoat, wants to know how long did it take for hair and makeup for each of you?


Emmy Jo: To do hair and makeup? Yeah. I remember. You


Doug: You remember that. Because we, we had to be in makeup at 5 a. m. Mm hmm. Remember? Yeah. Yeah.


Emmy Jo: So. I don't remember how long it, it took, but yeah, cause a lot of time I wore falls, you know, and they had to put that in and yeah. And I had one awful experience because I'm not an early riser by nature and the time, there was a time change and Doug, you know, he's, he's in the, he said, ready to go to the Senate. Like. 5 in the morning, but I wasn't, and uh, I just forgot about the time change, and I showed up at the studio, and I noticed that my hair and makeup person were standing at the outside door, and I thought, well, that's odd, and I just walked in.


I said, hi. And they sort of were moving me towards the makeup chair and I said, what's going on? What's happening? And then I don't remember which one, but somebody laid down and said, you're an hour late. And I just was, I still remember. How embarrassed I was because you know time is money and I thought gosh I'm going to be fired but nothing, nothing happened but that was I think the only time my whole life for any kind of professional thing I was late. It just doesn't happen.


Doug: But nobody cared. It was fine. I cared. And you were Emmy Joe.  


Emmy Jo: I cared. Oh my goodness. It was mortifying.


Doug: It didn't take long for me to get in make up.


Passionistas: How long did it take? The puppets it must have taken a little while for them to get into their costumes. Was it the kind of costume they were sort of in all day?


Emmy Jo: You know, anytime they did a dance number, they had to have a break because those costumes were so heavy. And, for example, Henrietta Hippo, her songs, if you watch her songs, or when she throws a temper tantrum and sings a song about it, there's so much energy. I mean, she could do things in that costume that were just amazing, but then you have to take a break, take the head off, and there was Larry just, you know, just dripping with perspiration and just give her a break.



And then she'd get right back in. It was very, very difficult, but she was, she was so skillful. There was an episode that you were giving to Joanna the other day, and it was a song where Henrietta was an artist. She was painting, and she was really painting. She had a real brush, and she would look. into the paint can and she had to look all the way over so she wouldn't the paint can over and in that costume, I mean, it was, it's amazing.


Doug: I'll tell you, we had a, uh, a director that wanted to do everything live. And we had three cameras, and he was cutting the show live, so he thought, Wow, this is great. Let's do a five minute number and dialogue on the front and back of the song all in one take. And we're going Wait, these people need a break, you know what I mean, because, you know, in the summer with the lights and everything, they, but to their credit, we did a lot of that in one take. Very, very little editing after the fact.


Passionistas: So did you ever have any mishaps, any, any memorable things that went wrong?


Emmy Jo: We sure did. I did. It wasn't really a mishap, but you know, those skirts were really short. You know, when our daughters were growing up, we had the fingertip test for them, but I didn't have the fingertip test. So I had these little short skirts, and I'll tell you something, to be perfectly honest, they were a size too small for me. They were sample sizes. So, I wore what I was given to wear, and there was this, I was, had to be really careful how I sat. Yeah, I had dance pants on underneath, but still, they were short.


And there was one show, I don't remember which show it was, but they had a live chicken, and I had to sit on a bench with slats, the bench had slats, and do the scene, and there was this There's chicken running around. I was, I was so worried that chicken was gonna get me. I just knew it.


Doug: Yeah, we had, there was a lot of mishaps where Henrietta would go to sit down and the chair was not there.


Emmy Jo: Oh, or bless her heart, she would sit down and she would just, she would just kind of topple over and we'd all help get her back up again.


Doug: Take 2. I'm just You know.


Emmy Jo: Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.


Passionistas: So how did you arrive at the topics for each episode? I assume at a timeline you had just gotten married, so you were doing the show before you had children of your own, so talk about that process of writing for kids and how you arrived at the different topics.


Doug: Well, remember I told you about the city of Whittier that I was a children's theater director there, and so I got to know kids pretty well, and you know did several years of that, but I just felt that we needed to tackle subjects that weren't tackled on Sesame Street. I mean, Sesame Street was one, two, three, ABC, you know, let's, let's learn to read. And they were very quick, you know, quick cuts and, you know, where the attention span was not great. I wanted to kind of slow things down and, uh, and get into some character development and also Um, you know, speak to kids about what they're going through.


So, um, you know, we did a show on telling the truth, uh, greed, um, you know, being yourself. We even did a show on Shakespeare. I mean, I, I, I just wanted to tackle those subjects that weren't, you know, being tackled anywhere else, really. And um, it was, it was interesting getting those through the sponsors sometimes.


Um, like, like the show on greed. I wrote a song where Charlie, I wanted Charlie to sing, I Got What I Need. Well, you know, I had to run the scripts by Mattel. We were at the meeting. They said, uh, what about this song? You know, we're a toy company. We want, I mean, what do you mean you got what you need? We, they need the thing.


And I said, look, they want the. cardboard box more than they want your toy. I mean, I was, you know, so, but we, we got it on and we had a lot of battles, but they, they let the song go and it's in the show called Greed and Charlie sings, I got what I need.


Passionistas: Great way to win that battle, good for you. So talk about the songs, because you wrote an incredible amount of music for the show. Talk about your creative process and writing, and how did you just keep the ideas flowing?


Doug: Well, it was, I can tell you, it wasn't me. I think it was the Holy Spirit, honestly. And, um, so that was my, my inspiration because, uh, I had no lessons, really, I, I was self taught on the guitar and the piano, and I always wanted to do musical comedy.


I wanted the songs to further the action, like, you know, Sondheim and Bernstein and all the greats, you know, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and, um, so that was my, my inspiration because And the characters inspired me to write the song for them. And so during the summer, she kept the coffee going and I would be, I would be in the studio playing all the songs and the voices and I had my four track recorder and I would record the composition as soon as I composed it.


And it was, it was really cool because I got to write the story that the songs fit into. So it was, it was kind of a wonderful thing. to do, you know, that old standby, book, music, and lyrics, bye. I got that credit and it was just It's really just a blessing, it really was. And then we got to work with great musicians.


Our guitarist was Del Casher. He had embedded the Wah Wah pedal and the Fuzz Tone guitar. We recorded at his studio. And then we had musicians like Hal Blaine, you know, the drummer. He played on a lot of our tracks. And, of course, I didn't know hardly any of these people, but come to find out, they were just top of the line studio musicians.


Emmy Jo: What about Milton? Oh, yeah. Milton Green. He had, he, he was the musical director for Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway. And he had, he had been, we did Carousel at the American Academy. He was our music director. And I was playing Carrie Pippridge, and I got to be friends with Milton, and it was wonderful because, oh my goodness, he would get me in to see Fiddler, and then he invited me out to, um, his home, and I met his wife and family and stuff.


But then when we needed a musical director, I don't remember why, but I remember saying, why don't we call Milton? And by golly, he came out. He moved out to L.A. to do our show.


Doug: Yeah. So, here we were, having an actual Broadway musical director who did the arrangements for us. And, uh, it was just magical. It really was because he was able to take my songs and my chicken scratching and, you know, characterizations that were on tape and bring it to life.


Passionistas: And for people who don't know, Hal Blaine was part of the Wrecking Crew and worked with the Beach Boys and Phil Spector, and I mean, he was that's the drummer… for decades he was the guy.


Doug: The drummer, exactly. That's amazing. Can you imagine him playing on a kid's show? But he kind of loved it. He loved it.


Passionistas: And the songs are great, you know? It doesn't matter if they're written for kids or adults. It's great music. It's great music. Right?


Doug: Well, we, we enjoyed it. Believe me. We did two, I think we did one album, two albums for Disney. That was fun. I don't remember, but it was, it was fun.


Emmy Jo: We got to go to the White House twice. That was pretty special. Yeah, tell us about that. Well, we went one year. I think the first year was for, uh, Mrs. Nixon did a, uh, Christmas.


Doug: Oh, first was, uh, the summer one or the Easter Roll.


Emmy Jo: Well, I guess the first one was the Easter Egg Roll. Yeah, I think so. And, um, one of the girls, I guess it was Tricia, hosted that and it was really fun. I mean, we were the only act and we were there. on the White House lawn. And then they invited us back for Mrs. Nixon's Christmas party that she gave for the children of the foreign diplomats. And so I would say that those two things were real high points. I mean, I just couldn't even believe that we were in the White House. And especially for me, the Christmas one, because, oh, it's just decorated so beautifully. And it's so amazing to be there.


Doug: Yeah, we were 500 kids in the East Room of the White House, and we had all of the characters. I mean, and I, we prerecorded a show, but Emmy, Joe, and I were live with my guitar, so we, we kind of did a mix of live and tape for the voices and the dancers. It was just magic. It was, we just had a great time. And now the, you know, the Easter egg roll now is just packed full of every character you could possibly imagine. Well, back then it was just us! We were, you know, just thrilled to be the only act. And you know, we don't…


Emmy Jo: We didn't think about, at the time, I mean, we felt like we were, hopefully, teaching some good lessons about kindness and sensitivity to children and entertaining them, giving them a good time.


Emmy Jo: But we didn't realize that it was having the impact that it has had Facebook page and people have just come out of the woodwork and we're, we're meeting our new zoo kids like you girls. And. It's just, it's very emotional for me. To see what the show has meant to so many children, and I'm glad that we've had this opportunity, because I see, because you're right, 00:36:00 we didn't have children at the time, and that everything that is said to a child, or every experience they have, goes into this little computer.


And, um, it's there, it's there forever, good and bad, and it's important that they be things that are, that speak of kindness and gentleness. Yeah, and love. So that's kind of off the subject, but I remember thinking that at the Not exactly that, but when we were up there for that Christmas show that it's amazing, these children don't even, most of them speak English, but they were responding and, and there was a connection.


Emmy Jo: And now I, I think I understand it a little bit better.

Yeah. It was, uh, it is been amazing to see the, the reaction to the show. Mm-Hmm. all these years later because. You know, for like 40 years, I was, uh, I opened a production company in Las Vegas and was doing behind the scenes. I was doing commercials for the city, for hotels, for, um, you know, healthcare, uh, industry and all kinds of things. And, and, uh, Emmy Jo was doing the books for the company and was also, you got your master's in marriage and family counseling.


Emmy Jo: Yeah. Raising our kids. And we were just. In a different, in a different place and had no idea that wasn't until our daughter a year ago. Yeah, it's been a year. A year, well, it was a year ago last New Year's Eve, just came over and said, you know, Mom and Dad, I think you need a Facebook page.


I think she wanted, Doug never really got the appreciation that he should have gotten for all those songs. We were pretty tightly controlled. In those years, we didn't really have any, any real protection. And so, our daughter, for her daddy, decided we, we need to do this. And um, I had mixed feelings about it. Do we want to come back? It could be, I don't know, it's been a lot of years. But I'm so glad we did. It's, it's, she did a wonderful thing. And she, she's getting, she's pretty well known because everybody knows that when we do our live events and our stuff, sometimes she, I try to talk her into being on camera with us because she's got the real personality.


Doug: Yeah. Our JoJo. And it was, you know, we kind of, uh, not forgot about the show, but it was just something we did back then. And, uh, and then to bring it back, it's been humbling. to know that people still know the theme song, and they even remember different episodes and, uh, and it influenced people. And that's the power of television. It just, it has the power to either for good or not. And I'm just thankful that we were able to do something that had a positive impact.


Emmy Jo: And you know, there are children that You know, like y'all, and are just have these wonderful childhoods, and they're just everything's great. There are other children who had challenging home lives, very, very difficult circumstances, and Well, one man came up to me, he was a big burly, he was one of our personal parents, this big burly guy, he had chains on, and he looked pretty tough, and he comes up and he's got big tears in his eyes, and he said, I'm not in jail. I'm not in prison, and he said, you kept me out. I'm not in prison because of, and it was, you know, one, one man wrote in, and the comments are really interesting.


If you get on that Facebook page, you start reading what people say, that they would wait until their dad or mom or both of them left. So then. And this, just the other day, somebody wrote in and said this was the one bright spot in a very sad childhood. That just breaks my heart. And that is part of the, when you're talking about what we're passionate about, I'm passionate about loving our new suit children that have grown up. And it's so I can't even begin to tell you, I'm tearing up right now thinking about how rewarding it is to see what these kids have done.


Like, look what you all have done, going from entertainment, being a designer, Theater Company, and now, doing this wonderful podcast. And we have teachers, a lot of teachers, a lot of educators, uh, librarians, law enforcement people in message, and have grown up really well, and as far as I can see, making just wonderful contributions to the, their communities. So, this is a new phase for us, but it's lots of fun.


Passionistas: Well, I just want to jump in and say that it's been a long time, obviously, since we've seen the show and we've been watching clips and being reminded of how great you are. But just talking to the two of you, I remember why as a kid, I loved it because You are so warm and you are just, I lean in when you're talking because I just feel, I feel like you're, I mean, you are talking to me right now, but I also know you're talking to everybody that's listening and, and I know they probably feel the same way.


Like I just feel like so connected to you and you're just both so loving and wonderful. And that's what I felt as a kid and, and to feel it now is just really. It's really powerful. So, you know, it means a lot to have you here.


Doug: That means so much to us because really what you see is what you get. I mean, we're older now, but we still have that same passion and that same love.


Emmy Jo: And I'm actually watching the two of you, thinking to myself, they have such beautiful smiles. I think it's a mutual, it's mutual for sure.


Passionistas: Thank you. All right, Nan, it's your turn to ask a question. I've been monopolizing. So we want you back. Can you come back? Are you, do you, do you think about doing the show again, bringing it back, maybe bringing your daughter on the younger generation on your show? We the general public want the New Zoo Review to come back.


Emmy Jo: I think it's time for it to come back. Definitely. And we've. We've had a tremendous response of people that want it back. I don't know how that's going to happen, but


Doug: Well, we've explored, you know, a reboot, um, and maybe that's animation. I don't know. If you go on our Facebook page, um, I met a wonderful animator. through the Facebook page, actually. He did a little animation of Freddie and Charlie, and I got in touch with him and he said, I'd love to do something. And I said, well, let's, let's animate the theme song. And so he did, I think, a charming rendition of the theme song, the whole theme song. Just, you know, the original, but with 2D animated characters. And I thought it, I thought it…


Emmy Jo: It’s precious. Oh my gosh, I love it. Everybody loves it. We're gonna, we're done with this. I'm gonna call Joanna and tell her to get that back.


Doug: Well, no, I can send it to them. Oh, yeah. I can send it to them. But it's so cute. Yeah, but that's one way we're thinking of doing it. And, um, the, the, the cool thing about that is we could actually use the original soundtracks, you know, and just, We have it out there for the kids that love animation. And then we also, you know, we rebuilt the costumes because the original costumes were lost in a fire in Hollywood, along with the set and everything else, and her boots.


Emmy Jo: My boots are gone.


Passionistas: Not the boots.


Doug: But so, uh, I meticulously had the costumes rebuilt, um, you know, from, we didn't have any drawings even, but we had them rebuilt from, uh, You know, still shots from the show and, and all that, and we had a wonderful costume company that were, they were very, very, uh, true to the, to the characters.


So, we have all those three characters, and we, you know, we may be doing a, a live action version again. Now, we would just probably guest star as Granny and Granddad. I don't know, you know, there might be We do cameos. Yeah, there might be a new Doug and Emmy Joe for sure, but, uh, we're, we're looking at that, because I think Um, you know, the way the world is going now, we kind of need this, uh, this kind of positive energy out there.


Emmy Jo: And maybe, maybe I'm speaking out of turn, and if you don't want me to bring this up, you just, but Doug's working on a new show that is pretty excited. Can you talk a little bit about that or do you wanna keep it under wraps?


Doug: I don't know. It's fine. With the internet now, I've created a show. It's about being a good digital citizen and, um, it's gonna have three songs and, uh. Kind of a fantasy where the kids go into the computer and there's some people that want to, you know, change texts that are negative and we're going to be positive. So that's, that's kind of out there right now and I'm working on that.


Passionistas: Oh, that's amazing. You can't keep creativity down. No.


Emmy Jo: All the time. He's constantly working on something.


Passionistas: That's amazing. Well, and it seems like, I mean, I think it's time you realized your Broadway dream too, Doug, and you brought it to Broadway. Bring the new Zoo Revue to Broadway.


Emmy Jo: I thought about that.


Doug: That's a good idea, actually. You know, with all, with all the songs that, that might be, I, It's funny you should say that because I did do a stage version for shopping centers and it's back in the, somewhere in my computer, and it's a stage show. Of, of New Zoo Revue and, uh, dig it up. I'm gonna dig it up. .


Passionistas: That would be amazing. I could totally, I mean, the reaction that we're getting even just now, but also it, it, I mean, the numbers of people that you had watching when you went live. You talked about coming on and starting a Facebook page, but you've had. Tens of thousands of people tuning into your Facebook lives whenever you guys go live, right?


Doug: Yes, we have. And this is all new to us, too. I mean, it really was. But it's been, it's been wonderful. And especially for me, because I've had to pick up my guitar, relearn all the songs I composed. I had to relearn how to play the guitar. It's been so long, but it's been fun.


Emmy Jo: We never know what our daughter's going to do.The other day. We were invited, or Deb was invited, and then they invited me to go speak to a class at our local high school and join the kids, it's great, it's going to be the three of us, and by golly, she whips out that phone, and I said, don't take any pictures, the next thing I know, it's on Facebook, where she Did something. But that was fun.


Doug: And that was really fun because, um, it was a class of mentors. They go, these, like, 30 kids go out to elementary schools. Uh, a couple times a week, and they just talk to kids,


Emmy Jo: And it's a mentoring, just talk to kids. So every school should have it. It’s just…


Doug: The teacher had us because they, he wanted to show the kids what, what can happen. And um, it was great because I did a highlight reel of little things from the show and showed the kids and they were like. It was fun doing it for high school kids.


Emmy Jo: Yeah, that's amazing, because we didn't know, you know, were they going to turn up their nose at these clips and think, oh, they're so old. But they all, the response was really wonderful.


Doug: It's amazing, the power of music.


Emmy Jo: Yeah, but it was mainly, we were there just to encourage these high school students. And I think every school should have this. It's just wonderful.


Passionistas: It's fabulous. That's fabulous. Tell us about when you went to ComicCon last year. That must have been a wild ride.


Emmy Jo: Oh, boy. Oh, we had no idea what Comic Con was. No idea whatsoever. I imagine both of you have been there.


Passionistas: We haven't because it's always on Nancy's birthday. So every year we're like, Oh, but one of these years we're going to go.


Emmy Jo: It's just so huge. And it's steroids, because I'm in costumes, and it's just, it's overwhelming really. But it was, it was fun. We greatly enjoyed it. We had a wonderful driver. We got to know him really well. Yeah. And all about his family history and I wish we could stay in touch with him.


Doug: But first of all, we were fortunate we got to bring Freddie the Frog, because I thought, wait a minute. This is our first appearance in 40, 50 years. They're not going to recognize us, but they're going to see a green frog. And sure enough, it was like a magnet. Uh, all the kids, some of the people that were working, uh, couldn't make it because they were 00:50:00 working at their booth. So somehow we got invited back for a third day and all of those kids came and we took pictures and signed autographs. And it was, uh, it was just. The start of something so wonderful.


Emmy Jo: To have been away, that was the first appearance that we did, to have been away from it for so long. And it almost, it's just overwhelming. There are just people coming and people coming and people coming. And you want to meet with, you want to hug each one.


And, oh, one man came up and he had tears in his eyes. And I went over and I said, don't cry or I'm going to cry. And then. I just gave him a hug, and he said, I'm crying because my mother passed away, and I remember always Watching your show sitting on her lap, and we had never thought about that, that that something had touched a memory.

It wasn't Doug and me, wasn't even the show, it was just the memory of sitting on his mother's lap. So it was just, that's just one example. I mean, it's beautiful.


Passionistas: What were you going to say, Doug?


Doug: No, I was just going to say that, uh, so many people came up. The one teacher came up three times.


Emmy Jo: Yes, the chemistry teacher. Mike, the chemistry teacher. Yes, we met his chemistry teacher. He's one of our new zoo kids.


Doug: He just couldn't, somehow couldn't get enough, and I just love that.


Emmy Jo: You know, periodically, you know, on that Facebook page. You can comment, but you can also leave a message. It's a private message that we see. And periodically, Mike, the chemistry teacher, will send us a message. I think one last time was over who we, who you were rooting for in the Super Bowl or something.


Doug: Yeah, something like that.Like I said, we, we almost were surrogate parents in a way. You know, or aunts or uncles, where kids felt comfortable around us. We weren't going to be judgmental. We weren't going to, you know, we were just going to be ourselves. And then the characters were themselves. They could lose their tempers. They could, they could be who they were. We all need to be who we are. And that


Emmy Jo: And I honestly, Doug was ready to come back in a heartbeat, me not so much, but I feel like if we have an opportunity now at this stage of our life to encourage children, people's grandchildren and get those messages out there of I mean, that's something that can change the world.


It can certainly change communities, the more people that, no matter what, you know, we can all believe different things, think different things, do different things, but if we just can be kind and respectful of each other, it would make such a difference. So I'm, I guess I can say that I'm very, very thankful to our daughter that we. Have that opportunity now.


Doug: Well, and when you think about it, the subjects we covered, they're still relevant today. I mean, we didn't know they were going to be, but they are. They're universal. Evergreen, you know, isn't telling the truth. Evergreen isn't You know, all of these things that we covered, they're still relevant today, and I think that, that's a big deal for, you know, launching it again, I think, because those values still hold up.


Passionistas: Oh, definitely. More, now more than ever, I think we need it. Um, I wanted to say Lisa Vold left a comment, and she said, you are the only ones talking to us, not at us. Which I think is, is beautiful.


And one question I had that Cindy Yarbrough Harthcote had that, um, we had a similar question which is, what was your favorite season or episode of the show or it might be hard to pinpoint, but what are your favorite memories of working on the show, especially working together?


Doug: I, you know, for me it was. You know, doing the songs, I mean, that, that, just every, every day was just exciting because I got to hear the music played back to the soundstage. We were, we were acting, we were dancing, you know, even if it was with a hippo and an owl and a frog, uh, that I was living a dream, uh, you know, and I think you were too, really.


Emmy Jo: Well, I think I don't know why everybody else goes into acting, but I know why I went into acting. Because you get to pretend you're someone else, you get to wear pretty costumes, you get to, it's, it's a fantasy. Um, so for me, New Zoo was a wonderful fantasy. I, I told you, my favorite moments are those scenes in Henrietta's house. I wanted Henrietta was almost real to me. I know that sounds silly, but she was.


Doug: I have to brag on Emmy Jo, because we had cue cards everywhere, because I couldn't remember the lines, and we had to also remember the words of the song as we were lip syncing. But she had everything memorized. I mean, all the scripts, the songs, and uh, she was a trooper.


Emmy Jo: Nancy can understand that, can't you, Nancy? I just, I didn't know how to use cue cards. I was afraid to use cue cards. I thought they're going to see that I'm not looking in the right place. So, boy, I knew every single line. Yeah, she did. She did.


Passionistas: That's amazing. We've talked an awful lot about how you've helped children. And I have one question for you, for the adults watching. You've been married, by my calculations, you got married a year before the show premiered, so that makes 50 plus something years of marriage, right? So what's the secret?


Emmy Jo: This Christmas it'll be 53 years it seems.


Passionistas: It seems like you still love and respect each other. It exudes out of you. You can tell. So what's the secret? ,


Doug: I'll tell you how. How do you make things last? You give everybody their space, their time, and you just laugh. You have fun. I mean, if you don't have fun, you're in the wrong place. And so, it's just been, you know, mutual respect and, and love. And you just…


Emmy Jo: I think, from this, my vaunted vantage points of being so old now, it's that, it's important to forgive. You know, you have to just hang in there and forgive each other and, and never ever go to bed angry. And Doug and I have a habit that every night before we go to sleep, we always pray together. We say our prayers and, um, we keep our sense of humor. You have to. Kind of laugh our way through life, really. You know, but I think those things are, are really important and never, never give up. All on each other, because the more, the longer you're married, you go through these transitions and you, you become different people almost, don't you think? Oh, yeah.


Doug: A little bit. Yeah. So therefore your tolerance level has to change and your, you know, where you, the space that you give each other has to change because, you know, you're not perfect. You're not going to be everything to everybody. And guess what? You can't change somebody. No. Unless they want to change. I used to tell my daughters this when 00:58:00 they would bring somebody home, uh, and they would say to us, well, I think I could change him, Mom. I mean, I know he's this way now, but I think I can, I think he'll be a different person. And I was like, you know, he's, that's, that's who he is. And so it's. You know, you got to recognize that, especially in any relationship.


Emmy Jo: And it's very, very important, speaking about daughters, and Doug was so good at this, and he would, he always took the girls out. We have two girls and a boy now, always take our girls out to talk to them before school. They go to McDonald's or something, but to marry someone who seriously wants you to become a better person and encourages you. That's especially, I think, important for girls, that they, that they're married to somebody who says, Is this your dream? Well, you go do it. We'll find a way to make it happen. Exactly right. Exactly right. You don't want to marry somebody that's at all controlling, but that's a subject for another day.


Passionistas: We'll have you back to talk about women's empowerment, because that's, that's beautiful.


Doug: Listen. She invented women's empowerment.


Passionistas: Well, we would love to talk to you more about that, for sure. Because that is, that's important…


Doug: You’re looking at somebody with a master's degree in marriage and family counseling. Uh, and she's, she's helped a lot of women, I can tell you that.


Passionistas: Well, and you were such a positive role model for all of us when we were little girls. I mean, to see someone out there who was So cool and happy and just having a good time and you know, um, and doing what she loved and, and dreamed about whether we were conscious of what that was at six years old or whether that just subconsciously influenced us. You've had a big impact on. So many of us, you know.


Emmy Jo: Thank you. I'm, I'm very impressed, very impressed with both of you. And I wish that we had time. I would like to interview you. Because I think you both had remarkable careers and then transitioned into this podcast. And I would love to learn more about it. If we ever find ourselves in the same city, we want to take you to dinner.


Passionistas: We would love that. We will definitely stay in touch. We have one last question, and I, I don't want this to end, but we can't keep you all day, so. We have one last question, which is, you've had such a positive influence on so many of us, and, um, it really transformed our lives in such an important way.


What's your dream for the little kids that are out there now? What's your dream for their future?


Emmy Jo: For those children. is that they grow up confident in themselves, with a strong sense of who they are, and that they fill their world with kindness. That whatever they do, they, in their professions, as they grow up, that they, their main thing in life is to To love and to be kind and to be gentle. They end up being a boss in a company that they do that with respect. And just personally, I would hope that they have a strong faith in a good, gracious, loving God who will direct them on a good path.


And I can tell you, all of that is not easy, because in today's Culture with the internet and uh, you know how easy it is to not follow that path. That's, that's a hard thing to do. So I would, I would pray that they, that they would find a mentor, that they would find people that they can look up to, whether it's a, a teacher or who, whoever. But I, I, 'cause sometimes it's not gonna be their parents because maybe the parents aren't there or they're doing other things. But, I think every kid, uh, needs somebody in his life that, or her life, that can, they can look up to, and that can say, Oh, it doesn't have to be like this. I can do this. And that they have a choice, and they have a choice to, which way to go. And that, that to me is, would be my dream, that they know they have a choice and they can make the right choice for them.


Passionistas: You're muted, Nan. I am muted. Rookie mistake. That's I can't think of a better way to wrap this up. That was absolutely beautiful. And we are so thrilled to have had you today and we look forward to you coming to LA so we can have dinner together. And everybody out there, make sure you go to their Facebook page, New Zoo Revue and pop in questions and comments and let's bring them back. I don't know who we do a letter writing campaign to, but let's do a letter writing campaign. on Broadway, Doug.


Emmy Jo: We'll look forward to meeting you someday.


Passionistas: Oh, we would love that. Thank you for everything you've ever taught us and done for us. We are so grateful to you both.


Emmy Jo: Well, we love you both.


Passionistas: Love you too.


Emmy Jo: Bye bye. Bye.


Passionistas: Thanks for listening to The Passionistas Project. Be sure to visit to sign up for your free membership to join our worldwide sisterhood where passion driven women come to get support, find their purpose, and feel empowered to transform their lives and change the world. We'll be back next week with another Passionista who's defining success on her own terms and breaking down the


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
bottom of page