Question: My husband has been driving a lot of us crazy over this question: What TV show had a bassett hound named Cleo on it? I think that Jackie Cooper was the lead and my best guess is Peoples Choice, but I can't find anything to verify or deny. Can you help? C.B., Muncie, Ind.
Televisionary: That's why I'm here, C.B. And you're correct: Hubby is thinking of the sitcom The People's Choice, which ran on NBC from October 1955 to September 1958 and featured former child star Cooper as Socrates "Sock" Miller, a naturalist and city councilman.
Cleo was Sock's basset hound who, unbeknownst to him, his girlfriend Mandy (Pat Breslin) or the rest of the characters, routinely gave the TV audience her two cents on Sock and his doings. Now, since Cleo couldn't really talk (though that would've been pretty darned cool), her voice was provided by Mary Jane Croft, who shot 37 episodes of the show before she ever actually set eyes on the pooch.
That's not to take anything away from the talented hound, however. For each of those 37 episodes, she was required to learn a new trick and perform it on cue (jump on Cooper's back, fall over backwards, walk on her hind legs, etc.). The only things she wouldn't do were chase cats or bite anyone. For that, trainer Frank Inn used Cleo's niece, Wanda, who harrassed felines and did high jumps when needed.
And lest you think Inn was simply lucky enough to have a matching, intelligent basset on hand, think again. He bred each of Cleo's five sisters and produced 48 tricolor pups before the right one came along.