Mark A. Hicks,
artist & illustrator
On Romper Room School
Yes, I was on Romper Room School twice. (No, I didn't flunk out the first
time -- I was invited back to substitute for another student.) The shows
were done live and it was a
lot of fun and it went well. (Except for spilling the water for the flower I
brought for Miss Jo Ann right before show time. Oh yeah, and that funny little
incident during the bread commercial.)
Interesting fact: In 1962, my Romper Room teacher, Miss Jo Ann replaced Miss Sherri (Sherri
Finkbine). Finkbine had sought medical approval for an abortion on the grounds that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would
be born deformed. Finkbine decided to go public about the dangers of
thalidomide but was
sadly denied the abortion in
Arizona following very intense negative publicity surrounding her story
Thalidomide was an over-the-counter drug marketed and primarily used as a sedative
in Germany and other European countries. The makers of the drug also claimed
it could cure anxiety, insomnia, gastritis and other ailments. It was also
used to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. However, not long
after thalidomide had been on the market it was linked to fetal malformation of
limbs and other birth defects. At the time Thalidomide was not approved for sale in the
Mrs. Finkbine's husband, a high school teacher, had legally purchased the drug in London while chaperoning a school trip and brought it home to his wife.
Realizing the strong possibility of multiple birth defects, Finkbine's doctor tried to get a court order to proceed with the abortion but the case was dismissed.
(There are lots of interesting facts about the Arizona judge in the case, Yale McFate,
too.) Finkbine ultimately traveled to Sweden for the abortion. After the abortion
Swedish doctors confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm.
In 1992 a made-for-TV movie about the incident,
A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine, was aired.
(Which, by the way, was a little inaccurate because they changed a bunch of names and facts. Not to mention it was
obviously filmed in southern California. Just put a few cacti in pots
and scatter them around the set and it looks just like Phoenix. Yeah, right.)