WRAL Legend & Friend to Children Everywhere Remembered By Triangle Seniors
“Uncle Paul” Montgomery
Oct 12, 1924 – Dec 24, 2002
He may have been legally blind, but Paul Montgomery saw what it takes to make people happy. His gap-tooth grin as wide as the brim of the dilapidated top hat he wore, “Uncle Paul” endeared himself to children and adults in the Triangle viewing area for 20 years on “Time for Uncle Paul” on WRAL-TV.
The Golden Years Holiday Celebration suffered a great loss last Christmas Eve when Uncle Paul died at the age of 78. For many years he took the stage in the Raleigh Convention & Conference Center to clown with fellow WRAL legend Fred Fletcher and perform the funny man’s “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.” After Fletcher died in 2000, Uncle Paul performed this crowd favorite at that year’s celebration, in his memory of his dear friend, Fred Fletcher.
Uncle Paul’s list of talents was long. A noted jazz musician, he also played the violin and served as organist at Holy Trinity Lutheran. His kindness and sense of humor attracted scores of children to him, kids of all ages from tykes to the young at heart. As one fan & friend noted, “He made everyone feel good inside.”
Kids felt famous and special getting to march around the studio behind “Uncle Paul,” a staple of his program. He saw entertainment as his number one goal and helped kids have fun. From chatting with a variety of puppets such as sinus-challenged Stripes the Skunk to a ‘hep cat’ named Zoot, Uncle Paul glowed with a warm nature and a positive attitude.
Uncle Paul began his fast friendship with Triangle children tickling the ivories on WRAL’s version of Romper Room and moved on to become Bozo the Clown on WRAL’s show of that name. He then traded in his red nose for a beat up coat and top hat to become “Uncle Paul” in one of the longest running children’s shows in the Southeast.
For two decades, from 1961-1981, Uncle Paul entered Triangle living rooms with Crawford the Lion and a host of puppet sidekicks live, in front of a thrilled studio audience of kids. He worked without a script, without a budget and without rehearsal but knew the simple truth that laughter and a big grin are all we really need.