J.P. Patches was a clown who appeared on the Seattle television station KIRO channel 7 from 1957 to 1981, after appearing for a few years on Minneapolis station WTCN channel 11 starting in 1953. He was hugely popular among viewers in the Puget Sound area, not only with children, but with their parents, too, who enjoyed J.P.'s frequent use of double entendre. Chris Wedes took up the character in 1955 when Daryl Laub, the character's creator, left WTCN for KSTP channel 5 in St. Paul. Wedes played the character from that point on, bringing him with during his move to Seattle where he became KIRO News's floor director. He continues to make his living portraying J.P. at public events and private parties, and by licensing J.P. Patches merchandise.
J.P. Patches and Gertrude
The primary conceit of the program was that J.P. was the "Mayor of the City Dump," and he lived in a shack at the dump, surrounded by his cast of stock characters: Sturdley the Bookworm, Esmerelda (actually a Raggedy Ann doll), Ketchikan the Animal Man, Boris S. Wort, and his girlfriend, Gertrude. Virtually the entire supporting cast, male and female, human or non-human, was played by the versatile Bob Newman.
Fans were called "Patches Pals." J.P. would celebrate birthdays of selected Patches Pals by "viewing" them on his "ICU2TV" set (actually a cardboard prop that created the appearance that J.P. was looking at you from inside your television). He would predict with amazing accuracy where a gift might be hidden in the child's house.
Prior to moving to Seattle, Wedes appeared on multiple programs at WTCN in Minneapolis. Other than playing J.P., he most notably played Joe the Cook on that station's Lunch with Casey program.
Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, was a Patches Pal, having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and gone to college at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, the state's capital. Along with Portland, Oregon clown Rusty Nails, J.P. was the partial inspiration for Groening's Krusty the Clown.