Fisbie’s tie to Disney and 11-11-11


by Doug Proffitt

Posted on November 11, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 12 at 1:05 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - He first appeared as  the beloved symbol of WHAS TV 56-years-ago.

When there was network picture trouble, you saw him.

When WHAS TV was broadcasting the U of L versus Dayton game at 8:30 in the late fifties, there he was.

But what came first? The cartoon figure or his famed name?

The answer ? He was created nameless by WHAS TV graphic design artist Allen Blankenbaker, Laura Blankenbaker is his daughter and recently visited with us at the station, “it’s wonderful to see it come back. I really enjoy seeing a part of WHAS again.”

Blankenbaker was also a puppeteer who designed characters for the WHAS TV show, “T Bar V.”

The “Big 11” naming contest was revealed on Phyllis Knight’s “Small Talk” TV show two years after the cartoon  was created in 1955.

The public chose the name:  “Fisbie”, to mirror the stations already existing slogan of  foremost in service, best in entertainment. Laura told us, “I love being able to see him and know that my dad drew Fisbie and created something that stood for a long time on WHAS Channel 11.”

Blankenbaker's credentials as a graphic artist were deep.

Can you say Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse?

He came to WHAS TV from Southern California and Disney, “he was working under Walt Disney with a team of artists and worked on Fantasia”, Laura said.

After he was named, there were Fisbie buttons handed out around the community.

Laura also brought us a one of a kind Fisbie pencil holder.

For the kids, to go along with randy and cactus' T Bar V, Fisbie coloring books.

We asked Laura if she thought Fisbie resembled any of the famous Disney characters.

“Mickey Mouse.  The way he's drawn his face and the fact his cheeks come out and you see his eyes, I always think looking at Mickey Mouse, and see these big eyes.”

Allen Blankenbaker worked here for 17 years. He died in 1975.

 the Disney characters he helped draw in the early days are international icons. The Fisbie character he created for Kentuckiana is now a treasured reminder of Channel  11's early days.