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Children's Show Hosts

Engineer Bill Stulla - Good-natured Los Angeles-based kiddie show host who appeared every night 6:00-7:00 PM on KHJ-TV Channel 9's CARTOON EXPRESS from 1954 to 1966.

Engineer Bill Stulla - Cartoon Express

Dressed in a blue-striped engineer's cap, overalls, red bandana and dark horn-rimmed glasses Bill Stulla emceed the show, introduced cartoons and, best of all, played with model trains.

Like the WATCH MR. WIZARD show that invited kids on the show to do science projects, Engineer Bill invited two lucky kids - a boy and a girl - on the show to be "Junior Engineers" for the day.

The winning names were drawn from a mailbag that was delivered by a passing train. The only admission requirement to the show was that a child had to build a model train. Once onboard the show, the kids helped Engineer Bill run his model trains and participate in the days activities.

Engineer Bill Stulla with guest - CARTOON EXPRESS

One of the most popular features on the show was the "red light—green light" game. The rules were simple. "On the green you go; on the red light your stop. For no engineer would ever run on a red light." The rules understood, the kids at home would get a glass of milk and follow Engineer Bill's lead. If the off-screen announcer (usually "Freight Train Wayne" Thomas) said "Green Light!" then it was OK to take a sip of milk. If he said "Red Light!," you had to stop drinking.

Sometimes, to confuse Engineer Bill and the kids during the drinking game, Wayne Thomas substituted phrases like "green grass" or "red car" in place of the expected "red light" "green light" ones.

A white line-drawing of a railroad track "stop" and "go" signal flashed on the screen as Engineer Bill and his two child guests (wearing engineer caps) played the game.

In fact, Bill Stulla's wife invented the milk drinking game to get her young daughter, Kathy to drink her milk at home. She borrowed the idea from a local nursery school teacher who used a similar "red light-green light" game to get the kids to pick up their play equipment.

On the show, if the game concluded successfully, the winners earned a resounding "Clang!" from Engineer Bill's locomotive bell. If they goofed up, they heard a not-so-resounding dull thud from a lead bell. For 49 cents kids could purchase an official Engineer Bill drinking glass for the "red light—green light" segment of the show.

Engineer Bill Glass Offer

Engineer Bill's Theme Song

See her rollin' down the track,
See her puffin' smoke so black---
Who's at the throttle?
(Woo-Woo) that's Engineer Bill!

See those drivers whirlin' 'round ---
See that engine cover ground,
Who's at the throttle?
(Woo-Woo) That's Engineer Bill!

From the round-house every day,
He always get the right of way,
Folks all know the whistle's cry.
Means Engineer Bill is passing by.

See her steamin' into town---
From the cab who's wavin' down,
Who's at the throttle?
(Woo-Woo) That's Engineer Bill!

For his efforts as a railroad engineer, Bill Stulla received Emmy awards from the members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for "Outstanding Children's Program" in 1960 and again in 1961.

Born 1911 in New York City, Bill Stulla began his broadcasting career in Los Angeles radio in 1939 at KFI. He retired from broadcasting in 1976 at the age of 65 to become a stockbroker. Before his gig as Engineer Bill, Stulla hosted PARLOR PARTY, an afternoon show for women on KHJ-TV Channel 9.

During its 12 year run, the ENGINEER BILL Show was sponsored by such companies as Laura Scudders Potato Chips and American Flyer who provided the elaborate train layouts for the show.

On Tuesday August 12, 2008, TV pioneer Bill Stulla, a.k.a. "Engineer Bill" died at his Westlake Village home. He was 97. Stulla's wife of 52 years, Ruth, died in 1999.

Upon hearing of the death of Engineer Bill, here is what one fan had to say:

"My name is Jack Hardy. My younger brother and I were avid Engineer Bill fans. In 1958 my mother took my brother and I to see Engineer Bill at the Alpha Beta super market in Anaheim. While we at the personal appearance Engineer Bill said he was going to select two kids to be on the show. To make a long story short I was one of the kids selected. It was a highlight of my young life. I have kept my little train and coal car and I still have my Engineer Bill KHJ Ch 9 railroad hat.

In 1984, I saw a show called weekday hero's and Engineer Bill was on the show. It took me about a month but I found him living in Westlake Village and called him. We had a nice chat and set up a lunch date.

I met Bill at his home and showed him my train and cap. He seemed very pleased. We had a nice day together and my hero was still my hero.

In 1992, I received a (40th) birthday card from him. He couldn't have known but what he wrote in the card was exactly what I needed to hear.

I heard today that Engineer Bill passed away at the age of 97. God Bless Engineer Bill Stulla.

My story I'm sure is only one of many. I'm certain that Engineer Bill had a positive influence over a lot of young people that grew up in the Los Angeles area in the 50's and 60's.

I'm 55 years old now and have grand children. I'm sad that they don't have the same type of positive influences like we had in Engineer Bill and Sheriff John and others. Engineer Bill was a positive influence on me as a child and fortunately as an adult as well."


A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 27 at the Westlake Village Inn, 32001 Agoura Road, Westlake Village.

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