One of my favorite childhood toys was Cuddly Dudley. He was a large plush dog, almost thirty inches tall, and was one of the stars of Ray Rayner and Friends on Chicago’s WGN-TV. The stuffed dog, originally created as a marketing gimmick for the Chicago Tribune, was used as a puppet on the popular show and starred in weekly segments during which Dudley would read jokes and display works of art that had been submitted by local children. He would tell jokes and, most importantly, mention the name of each child whose submission was included in the program. For a child in the 1960s having your name read aloud on television was as close to Hollywood as a kid could ever dream to be. (Who remembers Romper Room’s “magic mirror”?!)
My younger brother and I shared a room and Cuddly Dudley would stand against the wall between my bed and his crib. After lots of play and loving, I remember that Cuddle’s neck got a little weak and his head would sort of bob from side to side, making it difficult to keep him standing against the wall. One night, after bedtime, my mother came into our room to check on us before calling it a night. In the dark, she lovingly pulled my blanket up over Cuddly Dudley, tucking him in, and quietly pushed me under my brother’s crib with her foot. We were about the same size after all, and she’d tripped over that dog many times before. Waking up under that crib is a childhood memory that I’ll never forget.
Mark Wahlberg’s character will spend a lot of time with a stuffed animal from his childhood in Ted, debuting later this month.
From Seth MacFarlane, the creator of TV’s Family Guy, the story centers on a man and his teddy bear, who comes to life as the result of a childhood wish, and looks to me like a lot of fun. I’ve always enjoyed Wahlberg’s performances and I’ve never seen an episode of Family Guy that didn’t make me laugh out loud so, I’m really looking forward to Ted.
If only Cuddly Dudley’s neck didn’t give out, he might still be around. (If only I’d kept him in his original box … he’d be worth hundreds of dollars today!) I wonder if MacFarlane was inspired by a toy from his childhood.
Is Ted on your list of Summer Movies You Can’t Wait To See?
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