Before programs such as “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” became available from PBS, WILL-TV produced its own kids’ programs.
Shown in this video from the 1960s is “Mister Cane,” featuring a candy store owner and his pal, Molasses, a mouse puppet. Not a word of the 15-minute, five-day-a-week program was scripted, said Bill Korbus, who played Mister Cane. “We’d have an idea of where it was going and we’d just pick up the time signals as we went along,” he said.
Korbus built a mouse head for his sidekick Molasses out of the material used to make the plastic palates for false teeth so it would be durable. He made the jaw movable and Harry Cornell operated the puppet and provided the voice. The pair didn’t try anything fancy with the puppet. “His voice was just like Harry’s voice. One day the handle broke and Harry just kept on going,” said Korbus.