KOTV Tulsa Throwback: The Weather With Lee Woodward & King Lionel

Monday, November 25th 2019, 5:54 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Lee Woodward started as an announcer at KOTV, in 1957. He hosted the morning show "Sun Up" and the Saturday "Dance Party," but nothing defined his career like his puppet, King Lionel.

"He found the original King Lionel, in a box, in a storage box somewhere in the station, and he had never done that before. He tried and developed the ability to do a little ventriloquism," says Doug Dodd, former KOTV News Director.

"As a teenager, I watched him as the weatherman, and I was around for the advent of King Lionel on the weather, which I thought was curious, but hysterical."

King Lionel offered commentary on the weather and news and helped pitch products during live commercials. Lee debuted Lionel on an afternoon children's movie show, and he was an instant hit. When Woodward started forecasting the weather at 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm, Lionel came along.

KOTV's old publicity can be found in the Lee Woodward archives at the Tulsa Historical Society. It says Woodward brings "an abundance of showmanship to an otherwise dull subject."

"He knew everything you could know about the weather, without going to college for that purpose. Did a great job," says Dodd.

Woodward came to television when few forecasters had college training. He studied weather mostly on his own and became a respected, authoritative voice. King Lionel went off the air in 1978, Woodward retired a few years later. Lee Woodward died in 2017.