Pinwheel (TV series)

For the television channel, see Nickelodeon.
Created by Vivian Horner
Sandy Kavanaugh[1]
Written by Lou Berger
Caroline Cox
Michael Holden
Michael Karp
Patricia Parmalee
Robert Perlman
Louis Phillips
Ellen Schecter
Directed by Michael Bernhaut
James Colistro
Philip Squyres
Starring George James
Arline Miyazaki
Caroline Cox
Lindanell Rivera
Dale Engel
Betty Rozek
Bill Cosby
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 13
No. of episodes 260
Running time 60 minutes per episode (ran in 3-5 hour blocks)
Production company(s) Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment (Warner Bros. Television)
Distributor Nickelodeon
Original network Pinwheel (1977-1979)
Nickelodeon (1979-1989)
Nick Jr. (1988-1990)
Picture format NTSC
Audio format Mono (1977-1981)
Stereo (1981-1990)
Original release December 1, 1977 (1977-12-01) – July 6, 1990 (1990-07-06)
Followed by Nick Jr. (block)

Pinwheel is a children's television show that aired on the Nickelodeon cable network from 1977 to 1990. The show originally aired on channel C-3 of Warner Cable's interactive system QUBE in Columbus, Ohio, and it began airing on Nickelodeon when it first launched in December 1977.


Pinwheel was the flagship program of C-3, a children's network in Columbus, Ohio, in the earliest days of cable television broadcasting. C-3 soon changed its name to "Pinwheel". In 1979, Warner Cable purchased the Sat-1 communications satellite from Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and rebranded the Pinwheel Channel as Nickelodeon, where it reformatted Pinwheel as hour-long episodes shown in three- to five-hour blocks, a format which would eventually become the model for the Nick Jr. programming for younger children.

There were a total of 13 seasons and 260 one-hour Pinwheel episodes recorded from 1977 to 1989. Pinwheel remained in syndication until 1989 on Nickelodeon and until 1990 on Nick Jr. It remains the longest-running Nickelodeon show in episodes and hours on air, and was the longest-running in years until You Can't Do That on Television broke the record. It is now #6, behind All That, You Can't Do That on Television, Nick News, Rugrats and SpongeBob SquarePants.


The show was similar to Sesame Street with live-action skits mixed with animated shorts. Action scenes took place in and around a large Victorian-style boarding house called Pinwheel House with a pinwheel on one of the peaks. Live actors would interact with puppets, discussing various concepts familiar to children's programming like sharing and being considerate, basic learning skills like colors, numbers and letters. All of the characters lived and worked in the various areas in and around the house.



Human characters included Kim (Arline Miyazaki), Aurelia’s niece (confirmed on the Pinwheel Songbook VHS video) who was also the resident artist of Pinwheel House. Sal (Betty Rozek) and Smitty (Dale Engel) were an elderly couple who ran a local newspaper called The Daily Noodle. One of Smitty's long-running obsessions was to capture a photograph of the elusive Admiral Bird for the front page of the Daily Noodle, though he was constantly missing his chance. Jake (George James) was another boarder who enjoyed music and whose hobby was collecting unusual sounds in small boxes. Franci was an artist and storyteller; she was on the show during its earliest years but her character was eventually phased out. Coco (C.C. Loveheart from 1977-1981, Lindanell Rivera from 1982-1990), was a Parisian mime.


Aurelia was a bohemian-style character who owned Pinwheel House. She had a ginger bob, olive green eyes, fuchsia lips and wore colorful headscarfs and large hoop earrings. She was friendly and bubbly, but firm. Her nephews were Plus and Minus, twin boys who lived in the attic room. The color schemes for the twins were exact opposite, with Plus having black hair and orange skin and Minus with white hair and purple skin. Plus was very upbeat and enthusiastic, while Minus was more thoughtful and easily discouraged. A recurring sketch was Minus's attempt to board a spaceship, and Plus distracting him and causing him to miss the take-off. Their favorite game was "Gotcha Last," a combination of Tag and Hide and Seek that went on eternally.

Other characters included Silas the Snail, an elderly snail who was constantly on his way to an annual snail gathering (although during the series run, he never made it further than the back garden due to snails being so slow), who extolled the virtues of slowing down and enjoying life, telling people that "half the fun is getting there." Ebenezer T. Squint was a grumpy, green-skinned boarder who lived in a dusty basement storage room where he conspired to be featured in Smitty's newspaper. He pretended to be grouchy and antisocial, but secretly enjoyed being included in the house activities. Luigi O'Brien was a produce vendor who ran a stall in the backyard of the boarding house. All his produce also talked, sang, and had individual personalities but were only known by their vegetable names (Pear, Tomato, etc.). Molly McMole, an elderly and kind Irish mole, lived in a tree in the backyard and often introduced cartoon shorts in the form of telling stories. Herbert and Lulu were the Hobo Bugs, a brother-and-sister pair of marionettes who liked to dance and play on the hedges in the backyard and often appeared at Luigi's produce stand to ask for special items, such as an impossible pair of custom sandals that Luigi manages to produce. They also likes to play with Ebenezer, who would grumpily tell them to leave him alone even as he enjoyed their company. Finally, there was the Admiral Bird, a bright red bird marionette who would drop from the sky with a strange, echoing call. The Admiral Bird rarely appeared but seemed to enjoy teasing Smitty.

List of animated shorts

Nickelodeon secured the rights to a number of international short cartoons, many of which had been originally dubbed into English for the British children's show The Magic Roundabout. Pinwheel became a showcase for these acquisitions and featured a wide variety of both animated and stop-motion animation shorts or cartoons from many different countries.


  1. Denisoff, R. Serge (1988). Inside MTV. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. pp. 9, 10. ISBN 9780887381737.
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