The legend of Bigfoot / Sasquatch goes back a long way in North American history but for some reason or reasons they spiked in the early to mid 1970s. The 70s saw lots of books, magazine articles, and movies related to the mysterious creature. In 1976 Bigfootmania was at its peak. The FBI, on the request of Peter Byrne launched an investigation into Bigfoot based on unusual animal hair. A pseudo-documentary horror film was released entitled “Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot” and on the hit prime time show “The Six Million Dollar Man” Bigfoot made his first of multiple appearances. This certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the folks who make Saturday morning entertainment so the next year, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, who had previously worked for Hanna-Barbera, created “Bigfoot and Wildboy” which was produced by Sid and Marty Krofft for their Krofft Supershow.
“The Krofft Supershow” was in its second season on ABC and was looking for new live-action shows and the concept of Bigfoot as a super heroic figure fit the bill, so on September, 10th 1977, we were introduced to “Bigfoot and Wildboy” for the very first time. Like a lot of those shows the opening theme explained the premise, in this case with the following dramatic narration: “Out of the great northwest comes the legendary Bigfoot, who eight years ago saved a young child lost in the vast wilderness and raised that child until he grew up to be Wildboy!”
Despite the fact that Bigfoot spoke little English, Wildboy somehow grew up to be totally fluent in the language and seemed more the parent to Bigfoot than the other way around. The show took on a rather serious approach even with its overly simplistic plots that seemed better suited in a silver age comic book than a TV show. Their fantastic adventures would find them tackling aliens, monsters, mad scientists, and even a robot abominable snowman.
Bigfoot performed feats of great strength as well as a lot of incredibly high leaps made all the more incredible by the slow motion effects and electronic sounds similar to those from “The Six Million Dollar Man” which no doubt was a big inspiration for this show after its Bigfoot episodes. He also spoke in a very primitive language like some early Hollywood versions of Tarzan, and like Tarzan, he and Wildboy were very environmentally conscious spending most of their time in between adventures helping animals. Wildboy was not only taught to understand what the heck Bigfoot was saying, but Bigfoot taught him to talk to and understand the language of animals as well.
They made eight fifteen minute two part episodes, shot on videotape rather than film, which were designed with cliff hangers to bring viewers back each week. The first season episode titles were as follows:
“The Sonic Projector”
“White Wolf” (with Christopher Knight of Peter Brady fame)
“Amazon Contest” (which I sincerely doubt had to do with ordering online)
Unlike a lot of shows produced for “The Krofft Supershow” which were often never heard from again, “Bigfoot and Wildboy” were popular enough to merit a second season as a standalone show. On June 2, 1979, the first of 12 full length 30 minute episodes premiered. The second season episode titles which sound very much like silver age comic book titles, were as follows:
“The Secret Invasion”
“The Birth of a Titan”
“Bigfoot vs. Wildboy”
“Eye of the Mummy”
“The Wild Girl”
“The Other Bigfoot”
“Return of the Vampire”
“Outlaw Bigfoot” (with Sorrell Booke of Boss Hogg fame)
“Spy from the Sky”
Embassy Video did release a couple of VHS tapes with a few of the episodes back in the 1980s and Columbia House had a World of Sid and Marty Krofft series that had some episodes. A similar collection from Rhino in 2002 had one episode on it. There are some unofficial DVD collections for sale online but none seem to have all the episodes from both seasons. At the time of this blog post there were many episodes on YouTube.
Bigfoot was portrayed admirably by Ray Young while Joseph Butcher played Wildboy. Monika Ramirez was Suzie, who was the character in season one that was their liaison to the civilized world. In season two, there were two such characters; Cindy, played by Yvonne Regalado, and her father played by Al Wyatt, Jr.
Ray Young started his career in horror with roles in “Blood of Dracula’s Castle” and “Five Bloody Graves” both in 1969. He then appeared in such TV shows as “Bewitched”, “Bonanza”, “Gunsmoke”, “Police Woman”, “The Bionic Woman”, and “Wonder Woman” before taking on the role of the legendary Sasquatch. After “Bigfoot and Wildboy” he would show up on “The Dukes of Hazzard”, “Trapper John, M.D., “The Fall Guy”, “CHiPs”, MacGyver”, Matclock”, “Mama’s Family”, “Quantum Leap”, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, and “Murder She Wrote”. I wonder just how many other actors have appeared on “Police Woman”, “The Bionic Woman”, and “Wonder Woman”. That has to be select company.
Joseph Butcher was in the movie “Hollywood High” and an episode of “The Waltons” before donning his Wildboy leather. He showed up on an episode of “Knot’s Landing” but despite a promising career with Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine covers, he moved over into the production side of the entertainment business. He did return to acting in the 21st century however with an episode of “55 Degrees North” in 2004 and the movie “Do You Remember?” in 2015. I actually don’t remember.
Monika Ramirez started as a child actress appearing in shows like “The Flying Nun”. “Marcus Welby, M.D.”, “The High Chaparral”, “The Brady Bunch”, “McCloud”, and an ABC After School Special; “The Shaman’s Last Raid”, as well as movies like “Hang Your Hat on the Wind”, “Starbird and Sweet William” and she provided some additional voices for the English dubbed version of one of my all time favorite animated films, “Fantastic Planet”. After her time in the great northwest with “Bigfoot and Wildboy”, she appeared on “CHiPs”, “Barnaby Jones”, the 90s version of “Dragnet”, and “Any Day Now”. She also appeared in the movies “Seed of Innocence” and “Centennial”.
Yvonne Regalado was in an episode of “What Really Happened to the Class of’65?” and an episode of “The Next Step Beyond” before being added to the cast of “Bigfoot and Wildboy”. She then appeared in the movie “Underground Aces” in 1981 about a crew of zany parking lot attendants. Why was that not a smash hit?
Al Wyatt, Jr. was in “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry” and the made-for-TV movie “Exo-Man” before appearing as Cindy’s father on “Bigfoot and Wildboy”. He went on to appear in “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Crazy Like a Fox” but has spent most of his time in the entertainment industry as a stuntman with over 50 credits to his name including movies such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”, “My Best Friend is a Vampire”, and “Get Carter” as well as TV shows like “L.A. Heat” and “Team Knight Rider”.
The Bigfoot fad has ebbed and flowed with the passing of time. His legend wasn’t nearly as big in the 80s, but he made a bit of a comeback with the rise of reality television. Regardless of his popularity, the version of Bigfoot we’ll always remember fondly from The Great Saturday Morning Experience will be the one brought to us by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, and Sid & Marty Krofft, and Ray Young and Joseph Butcher.