Penny & Her Pals

Penny, played by ventriloquist Lamoyne Hreha (pronounced: "REE-uh") was a pretty blond lady with a pony-tail who lived in a castle with a strange assortment of characters who became known as her "pals." From the late 1950s through the early 1970s, Tacoma's KTVW Channel 13 (now KCPQ) was the place where the castle would magically appear every afternoon at 4:00 P.M. when the opening titles would roll for "PENNY and Her Pals".

Penny's "Pals" were non-human puppet characters given life and voice by Hreha, a master ventriloquist and puppeteer (although real humans other than Penny were occasionally included in the cast). Among the puppet characters was Hildegard the Witch (a crabby but good-hearted witch with a thorny personality), Dudley the Dragon lived in the castle mote and was more lovable than scary, Goldie was a silkworm and self-styled singer who lived in costume trunk in one of the castle's towers and couldn't sing a note but tried with all her might, Little Lilly Sue was the castle mouse and was extremely shy and scared of just about everything, Grumble VonGrouch was the town meanie and Chief Brokenpaddle of the Tippie Canoe Indian Tribe was the native American presence in the puppet cast. In addition to the puppets (and seen less frequently) were Captain Jack and Jefferson J. Jerkwater, both being full-sized ventriloquial figures.

Lamoyne Hreha, daughter of prominent Tacoma restaurateur Anton Barcott, learned to throw her voice while still in high school and acting as the assistant in the magic act of her future husband, John Hreha, well-known professional magician and mentalist. She created the "Penny" TV character with Hreha's help in the late 1950s. Speaking of his wife's TV persona, he would often say, "We both knew that "Penny" needed to be the ultimate Goodie-Two-Shoes that any parent would trust their child with for at least one hour."

Like most local origination kiddie shows of the era, Penny showed cartoons, ran contests, interviewed guests to the castle, and hosted hundreds of kids groups who came to tour KTVW Studios and see the show which was performed live each day. There was never a written script. Each show was all improvisation. Hreha, a mother of three school-aged children herself at the time, would work out a general plot-line for each week of shows with heavy emphasis on messages kids needed to hear and every day, the kids viewing the show at home would learn lessons in generosity, sharing, kindness, diversity, inclusion, bravery, perseverance, and many other subjects through the misadventures of the show's characters.

Penny and Her Pals was broadcast in glorious Black and White for the majority of its tenure and only went to color shortly before the show left the air in the early 1970s - having fallen like most other local origination kids shows of the day. KTVW was the last station in the Seattle-Tacoma market to re-tool itself with equipment capable of broadcasting in color and capturing its own broadcasts on video tape. And, even after the station's owners purchased and installed video tape recording and playback equipment, video tape was still not used to archive the station's on-air signal and was frequently re-used on a day-to-day basis. So, sadly, the only audio and video records of "PENNY and Her Pals" exist in the memories of her faithful and once-youthful viewers.