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Dreaming of Africa as a child, and remembering the TV show “Daktari”

As you know I have a love for the outdoors, especially for birds. And I love cats. Back in the 1960s I had a favorite TV show that had me dreaming of living in Africa taking care of wild animals, especially the big cats. I idolized the lead female character, wishing I could live as she did with her father, having a lion, a chimp and all sort of other exotic animals as pets. She and her father cared for animals in the wild and taught appreciation and care for their environment.

The character was Paula Tracy, played by Cheryl Miller. Her father was known as “Daktari,” doctor in Swahili. The chimp was Judy and the lion, Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion.

The show was Daktari and it aired from 1966 to 1969.

Recently the show has been released on DVD (Seasons 1 and 2). I received Season 1 as a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law and his wife and I was so happy to receive it. Their kindness in remembering my mention of the show prompted me to create a fan site (the only fan site) dedicated to the show.

Here’s some more about the site and if you remember loving Daktari in your childhood, I hope you’ll drop by for a visit and subscribe to the blog. I have much more to add to the site for your enjoyment. And be sure and leave comments on about the show!

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Welcome to the Daktari TV Show Fan Site!

This fan site is in honor of my favorite TV show as a child, Daktari.

It was inspired by a wonderfully thoughtful act, and a tremendously stupid one.

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com Daktari The Complete First SeasonThe thoughtful act? That comes from my brother-in-law, Tim Bailey, a director for The Simpsons, and his wife Jen. Tim is a serious collector of movie and TV memorabilia and actor autographs. I happened to mention that Daktari had been my favorite show and the DVDs for Season One were out. Guess what I got for Christmas from them? :-) I was very touched that they remembered. It was the best Christmas present in years!

Now I’ll confess the stupid act.

First, a little history.

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com cheryl miller paula tracy and judy the chimp2I collected pictures of Cheryl Miller (Paula Tracy) and had amassed a large collection of at least one hundred pictures, along with numerous articles from movie and TV magazines of the day. I was ten when Daktari first aired and wanted to be Paula, spending my days outdoors with animals, especially the big cats. I requested an allowance so I could send away to a company called Stephen Sally (which remarkably still exists!) for glossy photos of my fav. Looking for that familiar large brown envelope in our mailbox each week was a real thrill.

I had my pictures plastered all over the walls of my bedroom.  Eventually my parents gave me a large pink scrapbook (undoubtedly so I would clean off the walls!) and I kept my collection there for years, even into adulthood.

I was very proud of that collection.

Here I am at 11, dressing like Paula Tracy.
Here I am at 11, dressing like Paula Tracy.

The mistake?

I packed away my scrapbook in a box, not knowing that a package of old batteries was also inside. The battery acid leaked all over the book, destroying the binding and staining some of the pictures. Overwhelmed by the idea of transferring all the paraphernalia into a new book, I threw it out. Needless to say, that mistake still haunts me.

So I decided to rebuild my collection with this website.

There appears to be a renewed interest in Daktari now that Seasons One and Two are available on DVD and with that interest, a deluge of new pictures of Cheryl Miller has appeared on the web. I intend to collect them all and preserve them on this site for those of you out there who also love this series.

Daktari’s intrinsic value

I think Daktari has aged rather well considering the fact it is nearly fifty years old.

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com cheryl miller paula tracy treating a leopardRole model for girls

As a young girl growing up in the 1960s, Cheryl Miller (Paula Tracy) proved to be a great role model: beautiful, smart, passionate and resourceful with her interest in science and the environment trumping her interest in boyfriends, though I still wish she and Jack Dane (Yale Summers) had gotten together …

People of different races working together

DaktariDaktari was one of the first shows to offer an African American man in a leading role (Hari Rhodes as Mike Makula). In fact, the show offered many supporting and guest roles to African American actors. It was a wonderful example of the right kind of race relations, where people were judged on their character alone, just as Dr. Martin Luthor King would have wanted it.

Care for animals and the environment

Marshall Thompson‘s presence as “Daktari,” Dr. Marsh Tracy was very comforting. He genuinely cared about the welfare of animals and the people that shared the land with them, and had a lot of input into the stories.

daktaritvshow.wordpress.com daktari judy the chimp clarence the cross-eyed lionYes, it is a children’s show and yes, the stories are simplistic and the characters one dimensional. The animals (Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion and Judy the Chimp) were the real stars. But the show is refreshingly clean and the gentle message of protecting wild animals and their environment was ahead of its time. The message got across loud and clear without preaching and without the extremism and politicizing that so taints that message today.

Why a Daktari Fan Site?

So, as a result of the release of Seasons One and Two of Daktari on DVD, plus the effort to rebuild my collection, and most importantly, in honor of my thoughtful brother-in-law and his wife who helped me remember the happy days of my childhood, this site has been created.

It is dedicated to you, all the fans of Daktari who have kept the flame lit over the past forty seven years. Enjoy the renaissance of this wonderful TV series!

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3 comments on “Dreaming of Africa as a child, and remembering the TV show “Daktari”

  1. I remember enjoying the show but don’t remember individual episodes. I’d be happy to watch some of them again! Thanks for bringing back a good memory.

  2. In my mind, Paula and Jack reunited years later and did get together (well that’s what imagination is for ^^). I loved this show and used to watch it with my sister before going to school (this aired in the morning and my classes started around 1 pm).
    We both loved the original cast and Judy, Clarence and Toto and the other animals too. I watched the last season and though I liked the new characters, I missed Jack a lot, his presence added a very unique spark and warmth (besides I adored him ^^).
    Thanks for the great work!

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