The PBS Pioneers of Television series concludes tonight with a look back at Local Kids' TV. It is my pleasure to interview Latina Romper Room teacher, Socorro Serrano.
How long were you on the show?
"I was the Romper Room teacher and producer from September, 1975 to the end of 1989 when I left to join KTTV Fox 11 at their Director of community Relations. KCOP continued to air reruns of Romper Room for the first few months in 1990."
Did you have to audition for the show?
"I had to audition for the role. I was already doing a teen talk show at KCOP. In 1974, after auditioning against many actresses and reporters, I was hired as the producer/host of a bilingual weekly show focusing on what was going on in LA for teens. While doing that show, the executive director, Marilyn Solomon asked me to produce a TV segment geared to preschoolers as a possible pilot. I made the cut and Marilyn selected me to be the Romper Room teacher for Los Angeles. I have to thank Marilyn Solomon and Sally Claster for this opportunity. It was wonderful being the Romper Room teacher for nearly 15 years. "
"I was the first and to date the only Latina to ever be a Romper Room teacher. I was sent to Baltimore to be trained by the actual Romper Room family, the Clasters, so I could follow the specific franchise style. They appreciated the fact that I was bilingual and supported my bringing the diversity of Los Angeles into the show. The children, the guests, the celebrations would all include our ethnic and socioeconomic mix. "
Was this a live show?
"No, we taped the shows a week in advance and in a group to make it easier on the kids and the parents who might need to take off work early to bring their children to the station. "
What are some of your best memories from the show?
"All the children ÔÇô White, Black, Asian and Latino ÔÇô all played together and each got a turn to be first or featured during the five shows. As for the Magic Mirror, parents sent in their kids' names and on Sundays at my kitchen table, I would often be writing postcards telling the parents what day to have their child watch so they could hear their name. I am especially proud that we did use a lot of names from Latino, Asian and African-American families. It's funny that whenever I'm recognized, the person always says that I never called their name in the Magic Mirror, but they are still happy to see me. "
Were you the only Latina?
"I am Mexican-American with both my parents born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles. Many will remember that my name on the air was Ms. Soco and Socorro Swan. That was my married name. And yes, I was the only Latina Romper Room teacher. "
The series airs tonight at 8 p.m., February 8 on your local PBS station. As you watch with your children, you may experience being taken back in time as I was to some wonderful memories of sitting in front of the television set with my siblings and Romper Room.