When people remember Lunch With Casey, they often recall Oswald, a charactor portrayed by Roundhouse Rodney (Lynn Dwyer). Oswald was goofy and bizzare, and often frightening to young kids. When Casey released his video in 1991, he briefly talked about Oswald. Here is that clip, along with a couple brief jokes from Oswald.
The Oswald “bits” were pretaped and repeated every few months. They would begin with Casey introducing Oswald with a big “Here’s Ozzy” announcement. Fast paced music would be played and Oswald would make all sorts of strange faces, crunching up his “forehead,” and sticking out his tounge to touch his “eyes.” It was all accomplished by Roundhouse contorting his mouth and moving his jaw. Roundhouse would later revive the character on his own show on KTCA.
If you are wondering how they did this, flip the picutre upsidedown. The figure of Oswald was a plastic mask that Roundhouse wore, leaving his chin and mouth exposed. You will see they have drawn eyeballs on Roundhouse’s chin. Looking closer, you’ll see two holes that Roundhouse could see through. Roundhouse was standing in front of a black background, and the camera image was electronically flipped to complete the illusion.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Oswald was a commercially produced toy, created by ventriliquist Paul Winchell. In the 50’s and 60’s, Winchell was a popular kids show host, along with his dummies, Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff. Today many remember him as the voice of Tigger in the original Winnie the Pooh cartoons. He also voiced Dick Dastardly on the Wacky Races, and many other cartoon characters.
The Ozwald playset came in a large, sturdy box, with an instruction booklet and script, pencils, and a mirror so you could create the illusion. This came out in 1961, produced by Berwin Novelties. They turn up on occasion on eBay and sell for $200 and up, depending on condition.
Paul Winchell even filmed television commercials for the toy. He would receive a patent for the idea in 1964. In 1968 Winchell appeared on Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-In, telling jokes with and Ozwald type mask.