I just happened to catch STAN BORESON on the day Marlon Brando died. "You two were a lot alike," I said. "Oh, exactly alike," said the man who once sang "Who Hid the Halibut on the Poop Deck?" After all, Brando's arguably greatest role was as a Stanley (Kowalski). And Boreson, the former local TV kids-show star and musical purveyor of Swedish jabberwocky (is that redundant?) was, indeed, a contender. Still is. "I just got back from Denver on Monday," said Boreson, 79. "Four shows at a Scandinavian festival." He rocked. But then, who can resist lip-synching to "I Left My Heart in Mukilteo" or tapping their toe to "The Goosepluckers Picnic"? Boreson laments the near death of corn (of which he was a serial stalker, da-dum-dum!). "I love corn," says the self-styled "King of Scandinavian Humor" (as his Web site, www.stanboreson.com, greets viewers). Corn gave birth to such Boresonian works as "Catch a Pickled Herring," "Little Knucklehead," and melancholy seasonal favorites "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" and "Walking in My Winter Underwear." (Personally, I'm drawn to the hint of something risqué in his tour de force, "A Is for Anderson"). Yet the use of puns and corny prose was a good, clean way to slip a message to the kids in the innocent days of local TV. "I wrote the 'Pickup Song' for kids," says Boreson, which urged them to "pick, pick, pick up after you. . . . " There were also those two little words, thanks and please, "you can open the door with these. . . . " Boreson's Kings Klubhouse—with floppy-eared No Mo Shun and Tallulah, his sidekick basset hounds—ran on KING 5 from 1949 to 1967. It was the heyday of the kiddie shows. "There were six live ones on Seattle TV in those days, can you believe it?" says Boreson. KING ran Wunda Wunda at noon, Klubhouse at 4:30, and Sheriff Tex at 5. On KIRO was J.P. Patches, on KOMO it was Captain Puget, and on what is now KSTW (then KTNT, Channel 11), there
was Brakeman Bill. Today? "Nothing," says Boreson. "I got replaced by Dark Shadows, a soap opera or something. Eventually, I guess what happened is that the talk shows got longer and the news got bigger, and they just sort of squeezed all of us off the air." Yet Boreson has been on an accordion world tour since, from the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, N.D., to the Little Norway Festival in Petersburg, Alaska, and every lutefisk fight in between. He appears regularly at local events; he's also done six gigs on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. Wherever he goes, they ache to hear the Klubhouse theme song, "Zero Dacus" ("mucho cracus, hullaballoozabub . . . "). Some say they wish he were still on TV. Alas, it's different now: Boreson is no Howard Stern. If the live appearances don't keep him busy enough, he and wife Barbara have run a tour company for 19 years and lead 50-person worldly jaunts to Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and, of course, Sweden. In September the destinations are Washington, D.C., and New York City, then Branson, Mo., in December. Last October, they went to Las Vegas with 45 people—to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary by remarrying. "I've been to so many 50ths; they get so ghastly—you know, there's our best man over there, in the wheelchair, and our maid of honor on the walker," Boreson says. "We wanted to do something different." Indeed. As their friends and relatives watched, Barbara was walked down the aisle by a Tom Jones impersonator and the couple was wed by a fake Elvis who broke into a rendition of "Viva Las Vegas" as the wedding party danced the conga out the chapel door. "It was the same chapel where Britney Spears got married," Boreson says. Yes, they're a lot alike, too.
Stan Boreson's Picks
BEST LOCAL POLITICIAN: "Not because he's dead, but Scoop Jackson was great. I was his warm-up guy when he was running for president in 1972. In Wisconsin, I'd get everyone singing, and then he'd step on the stage. We did all the Rotaries and Kiwanises."
BEST SONG HE SANG: The "Zero Dacus" theme song, which Boreson says was written by Elliott Brown, Wunda Wunda's organist. Brown stopped him in the KING hallway one day and told Boreson, "You need a theme song. I'll write up a bunch of gibberish, and we'll see if the kids can sing it."
FAVORITE MUSICIAN: Lawrence Welk. "Long gone, of course. When my cousin and I ran the 7 Cedars dance hall in Mount Vernon, we were able to hire him, his whole 16-piece band, and even the Champagne Lady for $750. And his wife sent us baked cookies. He wasn't famous then, but I knew of him because he'd made some polka records. Later, when he got famous, he had me on his show in Los Angeles. I could never hire him again, though. His price had gone up to $30,000. Same band!"
BEST LOCAL LANDMARK: The Fremont Troll. "He looks like I feel."
BEST Place to Get Squarehead Food: Burgermaster, seriously. "Their Swedish pancakes are amazing."
SEATTLE WEEKLY'S BEST OF SEATTLE 2004 INDEX