SQuire Rushnell was the creator of The Kingdom Chums property during his 15 year tenure as ABC Vice President of Children’s and Family Programming. As a father of ABC Schoolhouse Rock and the ABC Afterschool Specials, programs under his direction won 75 Emmys. SQuire's aim was to employ the entertaining and informative power of television programs and characters to teach children basic morals and values.
“Wouldn’t it be great if we could incorporate values
articulated in the mottos for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
—straight from the Bible—into a TV series appealing to kids?”
ABC Affiliate Meeting
A Letter to Parents and kids from SQuire
My elderly aunt bustled into my ABC TV office on an upper floor of a New York skyscraper. Without saying ‘hello’ she promptly announced, “You need heroes in your Saturday Morning programs!”
I looked at her blankly. Did she not know that Superfriends was winning it’s time period?
“Today’s kids need role models. Heroes from the Bible.”
I gulped. But, then…with no intelligent sounding retort, and a bit of trepidation…I patiently listened. What could I do, try to explain that Bible stories, in between Scooby Doo and Bugs Bunny, wouldn’t work? No. Keep quiet, was my advise to myself.
At the time I was Vice President of ABC Children’s Television. We were doing well. Number one in viewers. Number one in profits. Number one in Emmy Awards.
But…before long, Auntie’s arguments started me thinking. What if we WERE to present a Saturday Morning program that fostered basic values? Whose values? I then asked. Mine? ABC’s? No, the only universal values come from the Bible.
Hummm…maybe Auntie was on to something. But…how could we take what we’d learned from Schoolhouse Rock… combining music, animation, and fun characters… to exemplify values in an entertaining way?
A few weeks later I concluded that the main lead characters would be lovable animated animals called The Kingdom Chums. Each one would represent a different value, such as Loyalty or Perseverance. But how would THEY know about these values of the Judeo-Christian Bible? Then one night…right in the middle of the night…I awoke with an idea. Was God planting ideas in my head during sleep? I wondered.
This was it: Every kid knows that animals are just born knowing things; dogs know how to bury bones; bears know when to hibernate; and birds have the inborn knowledge of when to fly South. But…The Kingdom Chums, are special, because they are born knowing stories witnessed by their ancestors who lived at the time of the Bible. And, it’s their mission to share those values with today’s kids.
The first Kingdom Chums program was scheduled to air as a special in ABC primetime the night after Thanksgiving. I encountered internal opposition. One executive argued that I “had no right using ABC airwaves to teach kids values.”
“Have you ever watched our soap operas?,” I asked. “We’re already teaching values. The wrong kind.”
Others warned that the small amount of promotional time I’d have available for the show would simply fail to get the word out for a sufficient number of children to even find it. Additionally, on the day of air, the competitive programming on the other networks was daunting.
Yet, when the ratings came out a few days after the telecast, everyone was flabbergasted. Kids across America had found us. The Kingdom Chums was not only the number one ABC program among children 2 to 11, but it was the highest rated show for kids for that week on any network. The Kingdom Chums out-scored a Disney Movie on ABC and even beat NBC’s high rated Bill Cosby special.
The success of that first special, called Kingdom Chums: Little David’s Adventure, led to a second production: a one hour animated musical in which kids would learn about the ten greatest lessons of life, the Ten Commandments. I called it, Kingdom Chums: The Original Top Ten. Every song would be about one of the Commandments.
The program’s music was created by Al Kasha and Joel Hirshhorn whose praise in Hollywood movies earned them an Academy Award for The Morning After and on Broadway, acclaim for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
For character voices and singing we recruited gold-record performers: Frankie Vallie, Debby Boone, Tony Orlando, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Preston.
A year or two later when I was about to leave ABC I worried that I’d be leaving the Kingdom Chums to be orphans. It was the kind of property that needed an advocate. So, I got the bright idea of asking ABC if I could acquire the rights. They agreed, I raised the capital, and began marketing The Kingdom Chums as a $19.95 video.
In 2000, I fell madly in love and married comedic impressionist Louise DuArt whom I had met years before when she played Witchiepoo in the touring H R Puff n Stuf. She’d since become a star of Broadway and one of the best comedic/impressionists ever. She was just commencing an eight-year road tour with classic comedians Tim Conway and Harvey Korman.
As with all Americans, Louise and I became extremely concerned with the chilling news stories of kids going bad, from Columbine to Paducah; kids who had never learned the basic values found in the Bible.
During a prayer at the gravesite of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Louise and I sensed that we were given a divine directive: to give away The Kingdom Chums: Original Top Ten…to as many children as possible.
With the help of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Guideposts Magazine, and many spiritual organizations in America, we gave away some 70,000 copies of the Kingdom Chums video.
Now, with the release of the DVD version of The Kingdom Chums: Original Top Ten, our aim is to introduce the basic values of life…the Ten Commandments…to as many families as possible. through captivating music and animation.
The storyline of the 52 minute film finds brother and sister Petey and Annie accosted by the class bully, Osborn. He brags that he’s just swiped a record from the library.
Through unique communication with her stuffed animals, The Kingdom Chums, Annie says. ”It sounds like Osborn broke one of the Original Top Ten.”
“You mean, like the very first Top Ten?” demands Osborn.
“Yes, the best collection of all time,” rejoins Annie.
Giving Petey a shove, just as they are swished into a jukebox, Osborn continues, “I wanna get my hands on that “Original Top Ten.”
As the kids arrive at the Land of the Kingdom Chums, they are greeted by Christopher The Lion of Love, (Tony Orlando) and meet other characters who will take them on their journey. “Just follow the Love Light,” says Christopher.
After several years I have now come to expect the responses I usually hear from parents: that kids enjoy watching The Kingdom Chums over and over…often more than favorite Hollywood movies.
But even better, I love hearing from the kids themselves. Sometimes, teenagers who learned to sing the 10 songs about the values of the Ten Commandments when they were little kids, will report that those lessons kept them on a straight pathway all through the temptations they faced.
Now, Louise and I are hoping that you will help us…to get this DVD into a million homes within the coming year. You can do it by telling everyone you know to go to godwinks.com and to simply order as many FREE DVDs as you like, just pay the cost of shipping it to yourself.
Thanks very much. Good wishes and godwinks.
A Letter to Concerned Parents from Louise
I imagine you are as frustrated as I am to see this country’s morals and values being ripped away from us. Any reference to our Founding Fathers seeking Almighty God’s counsel has been removed from our textbooks and the “political correctness” of the minority has run roughshod over those of us in the majority.
It seems every time you turn on the TV there’s a sports figure or a celebrity giving our kids a perverted message or a dishonest politician denying he’s had a marital affair. We hear about another government agency failing to protect our rights as taxpayers or a pedophile being released from prison to harm another innocent victim because he has “rights.”
Enough is enough! Where are OUR rights? How can we take back what was stolen from us? How did this happen? How did this great country of ours, based on biblical principles, lose its way?
What happened to the country that was predominantly honest, civil, and neighborly; where everyone…our schools, churches, synagogues …worked to create a harmonious environment to help us raise strong, healthy children? What happened to the nation that once proclaimed, without shame or fear of derision, that “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together”?
Sadly, it all started going downhill in 1962.
I uncovered some research that will shock you! There is a direct correlation between our moral decline and the elimination of prayer from schools.
In 1962, the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional for our children to pray in our schools. No longer united in prayer and patriotism, there was a devastating effect on every aspect of our lives.
A book by David Barton entitled America, To Pray Or Not To Pray provides over 100 pages of graphs and statistical analysis proving that crime, venereal disease, premarital sex, illiteracy, suicide, drug use, public corruption and social ills began a dramatic increase after the Engel vs. Vitale Supreme court decision was made in l962 which banned school prayer.
Here are just some of Barton’s statistics that show the urgency of bringing prayer back into our lives.
A. Young People
- For 15 years before 1963, pregnancies among girls ages 15 through 19 years had been no more than 15 per thousand. After 1963 pregnancies increased 187% in the next 15 years.
- For younger girls, ages 10 to 14 years, pregnancies since 1963 are up 553%.
- Since 1963, they were up 226% in the next 12 years.
B. The Family
- Before 1963 divorce rates had been declining for 15 years. After 1963 divorces increased 300% each year for the next 15 years.
- Since 1963 unmarried people living together is up 353%
- Since 1963 single parent families are up 140%.
- Since 1963 single parent families with children are up 160%.
C. The Nation
Since 1963 violent crime has increased 544%.
Illegal drugs have become an enormous & uncontrollable problem.
Don’t you agree…that it’s time to act now?
If the schools won’t allow our kids to pray and learn the Ten Commandments then we will!
Please join us. Help us to meld the Ten Commandments into the hearts and minds of as many children as possible.
Order the FREE DVD created by my husband, The Kingdom Chums Original Top Ten, and begin to watch your children blossom into more polite, honest, and civil human beings.
Confirmed by the testimony of thousands of parents, kids love the video, and often watch it more than their favorite Hollywood movie.
If we take action as parents and grandparents, we WILL take our country back. It is not too late. With the help of God we can do ALL things!
“Bring up a child in the ways of the Lord, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Now you can receive the Kingdom Chums Original Top Ten DVD, FREE…pay only shipping and handling. Order Here
The video is Not For Resale. But, we’re asking you to help us give away 1,000,000 Kingdom Chums Original Top Ten DVDs. We encourage you to give copies of the video to your friends, family and members of organizations. Place as many individual orders as you like. Let’s get the values of the Ten Commandments into as many homes as possible. In so doing, we’ll be promoting prayer among families.