||After graduating from Olney High, Jane went
to Temple University, where she received a degree in Early Childhood
Education , with a minor in radio and
and, of course, worked at WRTI radio.
She also starred
in many Templayer theater productions. While in college, she was
a regular on-air actor in the University
of the Air and Studio
Schoolhouse series, both produced at Temple and
aired over WFIL. Later on, many of her Temple University
professors could be seen with their children attending her
when she became PIXANNE.
|After graduating from Temple, Jane taught
kindergarten for four years at the Shoemaker School in Cheltenham
Township. After only one year of teaching, she was asked to train
student teachers in her unique methods of using music and dramatic
play in the classroom.
Jane was recognized as the finest and most creative
kindergarten teacher in the school system.
One of her former students, Hal Rosenbluth of Rosenbluth
Travel, devoted a chapter in his book Good
to his favorite teacher, stating that Jane was
the best teacher he ever had…and writes that he uses many
of her techniques (which he learned at age 5) in working with his
thousands of employees. He insists that, educationally, everything
was downhill after kindergarten! Another of Jane’s students,
whom she encouraged to take piano lessons at age 5, is now a professional
pianist and cabaret performer.
When Jane and
her husband went to see him at the Fairmount Hotel in
San Francisco, he recognized her in the audience and brought
her up on stage to sing. (Imagine being accompanied by a fine
musician whom you only remember as a 5 year old!) Yet another
of Jane’s students
became Under Secretary of State. Could it possibly be that everything
they ever needed to know they learned in kindergarten?
Parents of her students often commented that they wished more
children could be exposed to Jane’s unusual
creativity in working with children, and their wishes were soon
granted. Little did they know that Jane’s special
talents were about to touch, influence and entertain not hundreds, but millions,
of young people nationwide.
Television was Jane’s next step. She approached Lew Klein,
whom she knew from Temple University. However, Lew told her that
WFIL-TV, Channel 6 already had a children's performer and suggested Jane go across the street to Channel 10, WCAU-TV.
a good thing she never knew that walking in off the street (without
an appointment) is something you can’t do! She saw the
program director and convinced him she would do the best children’s
show ever! “Take me to the studio
and I’ll show you,” she said. In the studio, Jane did
exactly what she had been doing for the past four years with her kindergarten
children: Sing, talk, and tell
stories. After ten minutes, the WCAU-TV powers told her to go
home and think up a program idea. That night at the dining room table, PIXANNE was
Jane had always wanted to do “Peter
Pan” on Broadway, so she decided to create a female version
of Peter Pan---PIXANNE---who
would live in a magic forest with an owl (Oggie), a butterfly
(Fliffy), numerous puppet characters and an alter-ego, Windy
Witch. And, of course, she would fly! The rest, as they say,
is history. By the way, Jane says that it
is Windy and not Wendy as so many other websites have reported.
||One month later, she was
on the air on Saturdays. After a few months, the show expanded
to six days a week, and a year later, settled into its 5-day a
week daily timeslot, following Captain
Kangaroo at 9 am. In no time
at all, Pixanne’s ratings surpassed the Captain’s and almost every
other show on the CBS roster, sign on to 5 pm, as well as everything on daytime
ABC and NBC, except one soap opera. THE PIXANNE SHOW even out rated the early evening news and often
achieved a 10-12 rating and a 62% share of audience-a number no show will ever
In addition to her loyal
family following, Jane was a favorite of some
patrons of bars in Upper Darby, who gathered each morning at
9 a.m. to watch PIXANNE's every move.
She received countless letters from
them addressing her hairstyle, plot lines, stories and songs they
loved to hear. But the real joy of Jane’s life
(besides her son who was born three years after PIXANNE entered
the forest) was the thousands of letters she received from children,
parents and teachers who were touched, informed, influenced and
entertained by the pixie who brought a special kind of magic into everyone’s heart.
Besides the fantasy world in the forest, PIXANNE also
explored the outside world with her kids. She presented concepts
and values in a way that youngsters could understand and appreciate.
Jane at The World's Fair
Jane with Tiny Tim in NYC |
THE PIXANNE SHOW was the first
local kid’s show
to do remotes on location, such as PIXANNE’s trips
to the World’s Fair and Expo in Montreal, Canada
(twice, before and after the Expo was built).
PIXANNE took her viewers on dozens of “out
forest” adventures to: orchards, zoos and museums.
PIXANNE swam with dolphins (when she was seven
months pregnant---but no one knew), flew in a Piper Cub (a very harrowing, stomach-turning experience),
rode roller coasters,
filmed aboard a Coast Guard boat (where everyone got seasick),
and brought Tiny
Tim to her toad stool where he tip-toed through the
forest (and told PIXANNE that she was the only
performer who treated him with respect).
Jane with dolphin
for Christmas Special
Oh, how sponsors loved PIXANNE!
One drawing contest in Philadelphia elicited 20,000 responses.
When repeated in New York, 500,00 entries were received. One
the most amazing responses in Philadelphia television history occurred
when PIXANNE invited
her viewers to call
her if they wanted to hear
Over the Valentine’s Day weekend,
472,145 telephone calls were placed to PIXANNE-a daytime average
of more than 8,000 calls
per hour. Circuits were jammed all over the city in
one of the most dramatic displays of affection ever shown for a children’s
the art of “personal appearances” and brought much
joy to kids and adults in hospitals, schools, parades, theme
parks, libraries, zoos, stores, police and firemen’s benefits
and, of course, supermarkets.
At one such appearance, thousand
of fans leaned against the giant window of a Food Fair causing
it to cave in. Quite a commotion but no one got hurt.
When Jane became pregnant, she
appeared on-air in a magic cape (which she wrote into the script)
and appeared more frequently as Windy Witch
the witch’s flowing costume) and did personal appearances
up until the day before she delivered her son Richard.
Fans never knew. The
day her son was born, Jane taped five shows
and went straight to the hospital from the studio. She returned
to the forest two weeks later-ten pounds lighter (but with
a brand new pixie).
Then there’s the flying. Maybe the flying obsession started
when Jane was four. After a doctor’s appointment, Jane stood
at the top of a flight of steps outside the doctor’s office
and announced, “Watch Mommy, I can fly!” and the little
four year old spread her wings and took off.
||Down she went, with
a hard landing, but no broken bones…only to try again many years later…with the
aid of Peter Foy, who flew Mary Martin in her original black
and white television version of “Peter Pan.”
In order to fly, Jane wore a parachute harness
under her costume and a
studio A.D. flew her. However, the cable
broke and down went the pixie onto
the concrete floor of WCAU.
Both she and the A.D. went to the company doctor. When the doctor
asked Jane what happened, she told him,“I
was dropped while I was flying.” The doctor was a little
befuddled. Two minutes later, the A.D. walked in and told the
doctor, “I dropped
a fairy while she was flying!” The doctor was never the
Foy came to WCAU to fly
Jane (professionally), Jane explained
that she didn’t want
any wires to show (as the four guide wires had shown in the Peter
Pan TV version). Jane wanted only one
wire-even if it meant wearing the harness for many hours until
she learned how to control the spinning that occurred when being
attached to only one wire. After eight hours, Jane finally
perfected the body position and the taping commenced. After the
taping session, Peter removed the harness, and Jane looked
if she had been injured in an automobile accident, with countless
and bruises. Was it worth it? That same flying tape opened
and closed every show five days a week for 17 years. So I guess
it could be said that the welts and bruises were amortized over
the long run. And the illusion
still remains. Not a wire was
to be seen!
Jane knew that all kids wished that they could fly. PIXANNE’s daily flights into the forest were greatly anticipated (and often
imitated) as kids jumped from tables, chairs and beds trying
to capture that airborne feeling.
Jane as Suzy the French Witch
||One six-year-old little girl wrote, “My daddy planted
a tree next to our house so that you’ll have a place to
when you visit me.” PIXANNE never
wanted to disappoint her fans. In one incident, she went to the
bank between tapings-dressed in her pixie suit. A little boy
to her and said he didn’t know that pixies needed
money. He then expressed concern over how she’d get back
to the forest. Jane assured him it was no problem.
She then waited until the child and his mother left the bank
so that the little boy wouldn’t be disillusioned seeing PIXANNE not
flying but driving away. Preserve
at all costs!
Lassie and dozens of other animal and human stars visited the Magic Forest throughout the years. Many holiday specials were built around PIXANNE with great ratings and audience appeal: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Easter.
THE PIXANNE SHOW won many awards, including the
Radio/TV Mirror Award for the Best Children’s Show in the
After 9 years, the brass at corporate CBS, in its inimitable
wisdom, decided more revenue could be generated by an adult talk
show at the 9 am hour, so THE PIXANNE SHOW was cancelled
in order to present the mayor of New Jersey’s wife. The public was enraged. PIXANNE fans
wrote to WCAU and the newspapers by the thousands. The new talk show's ratings plumetted, from PIXANNE's 12 to the replacement show's 1.
At first Jane was devastated. But her husband, Frank
Beazley, Sales Director at the TV station, introduced
her to the General Manager of Channel 5, WNEW-TV in New York City.
He liked what he saw and hired her on the spot. PIXANNE was
ready to cast her spell on the “Big Apple.” And, once
again, THE PIXANNE SHOW out rated all of its competition, this time in the Number
not believe she actually had a “staff.” In
Philadelphia she had done everything herself (created and wrote
the show, played the characters, wrote and performed ten stories
and songs a week, booked guests and produced). Now she had people
to help and a lot more money, as well as access to major stars
that enjoyed appearing on a top children’s show.
THE PIXANNE SHOW
was then syndicated
to the five Metromedia stations, including Los Angeles, so why
not try to take the PIXANNE magic nationwide? Jane made an
arrangement to buy all of her shows. She and her husband then put
them into national syndication where THE PIXANNE SHOW ran successfully for another seven years. In
all, a 17-year run!
Of course,THE PIXANNE SHOW was
responsible for one of the classic bloopers
of all time. The
Blooper” aired over the years on Dick Clark’s “Bloopers,” “Life’s
Most Embarrassing Moments,” on NBC’s “TV’S
Most Outrageous Moments,” US Air In-Flight and internationally.
Oh how she wishes
she had committed more bloopers! While at Channel
10, Jane did voices and puppeteering on the
award-winning puppet show Tottle, and
for a time, as Space Girl in
a Sci-Fi Saturday morning offering.
She also performed, wrote and produced two popular children’s
record albums (which adults still request today): THE MUSICAL MAGIC OF PIXANNE and BLOOP OR BLINK. Time had come for Jane to
move on. There was not much more to do in children’s television. Kids were in good hands with Sesame Street. On to
Jane’s next project was a series of 117
ninety-second features called Maintenance
aimed at women who wanted to learn how to do home repairs. Maintenance
Ms. soon became the most successful syndicated
series airing in noon and early evening newscasts, as well as
on talk shows across the country.
Jane and her husband (who created and syndicated Maintenance
Ms.) knew there was a book there. So, Jane went
to Chilton to pitch the idea, returning with a signed contract
and a hefty advance. The book, Jane
Fix It and Save, a
helpful guide for women (and men), added to the popularity of the TV features
that ran for many years.
After Maintenance Ms., Jane was
between jobs. One day, on a train to New York, she sat next to
who ran a high-end career counseling service. By
the end of the train ride, Jane had talked the
man into hiring her as a Career Consultant for women (at that
time, the company had no such thing). Jane’s motto had
always been, “Create your own job, rather than interviewing
for an already existing one. Create your own and there’s
no competition.” (This credo is what Jane advocates
when she speaks to young college-age students and other people
entering the workplace.) She traveled the country doing talk
shows for this company.
Jane has always been an effective communicator
At this time, Jane was also
subbing as a guest host on WWDB and WCAU radio;
hosting shows with subject matter from psychology to cooking;
the funniest being a gourmet cooking show (Jane opens cans).
She discussed with her shocked audience, how to prepare “gourmet” Jello
(Is there such a thing?)
and other packaged and canned delights as the phones lit up!
But Jane missed the kids. Out of the blue, she received a
call from a program director with whom she had worked in New
York. He had moved to CBS and wanted to do nine one-hour family musical specials;
mini-Broadway shows to be exact. He thought that Jane was
the only one who could pull off nine shows in nine weeks. At least he thought
she was crazy enough to try! Jane hired the best director-choreographer and
co-producer, as well as Barry Manilow’s lyricist and
the Addis Williams puppets (who had been regulars on THE PIXANNE SHOW ). Jane left her son and husband for nine weeks
to live in New York and to work around the clock. The team managed to produce
the nine mini-musicals, some of which were nominated for Emmys.
sent by Jen Adams
A little while later, Jane received a call
from the late Jack Adams. Jack was
one of the nation's finest magicians and illusionists (Jane and Jack had
worked together for 15 years doing the PIXANNE show and
other television programs). He had an idea for a magic
show which he wanted Jane to pitch to Sonny
for the NBC network).
The pitch went well,
but Sonny wasn’t
interested in a
magic show. He asked if they had any other
Jane told Sonny about an idea that she and
her husband had
created called, The National Kids’ Quiz,
which consisted of
eight psychodramas dealing with family
problems and a studio audience giving electronic input. Sonny
loved it and, once again, Jane walked out with a contract.
Only this time, she would produce her first Network
Show with a network-sized budget! She
Landon to be the show’s
Michael Landon on the set
of The National Kids' Quiz
Once again, Jane knew there was a book
here. She and her consultant on the National
co-authored a book on teenagers, dealing with many of the same issues covered in the television program: sex, drugs, drinking, parents, school, friendships; written from a teenager’s point of view.
Her next project was Tick-i-ty
Ted, Time for Bed, a bedtime package for children
ages 3-8, which helped kids WANT to go to bed. Tick-i-ty
Ted, Time for Bed was sold nationwide on
the Home Shopping Network. Jane also narrated and composed music for eight
book/cassette packages published by the C.R.
||Now, it was time
to move on. Jane decided to do an adult Christmas CD for
the general public, but particularly for the kids who had watched
her for so many years. This was
a gift to her grown-up fans. The album, IN A CHRISTMAS MOOD , was
played on more than 350 radio stations nationwide. In addition
to classic holiday standards, Jane wrote five
new original Christmas songs for the CD, many of which are still
played on stations during the holiday season. Jane kicked
off the album’s
release with a sold out performance at the Bellevue Hotel.
After doing the Christmas album, Jane’s husband Frank asked
her what she wanted to do that she hadn’t already
done. “Sing live for adults,” was her answer. Again,
Jane re-invented herself. She began to sing in clubs and for
special events, which created a brand new audience and new fans.
||Suddenly, singing with small groups of musicians
wasn’t enough. Jane had always wanted to
sing with a full orchestra and to record an album with world-class
Jane approached her accompanist, arranger and Grammy
Award-winner, Richard Rome,
who had worked with
her on all of her musical projects.
The result was “MADLY IN LOVE,” a
CD of lush, sensuous standards by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Lerner
and Loewe and Johnny Mercer which Jane recorded with a 47-piece
live orchestra comprised of members of the Philadelphia
and the Philly Pops. Radio Program Directors
heralded the album as
one of the best in the last 25 years.
With the release of "MADLY IN LOVE" , Jane began
another new career,
as a serious Cabaret singer. Her performance
at the Founders Room at the Park Hyatt Hotel was sold out and
received wide press coverage.
One of her Cabaret acts, Broadway
Magic Moments and Beyond, previewed
at the Prince Music Theater, again to a sold-out crowd.
Jane performed that show on the West Coast,
where critic Jeff
Britton wrote in his headline review, Jane Norman Conquers
||But even as Jane entertains adults, her heart
is always with children. She created
a series of animal
CDs entitled "MUSIC FOR ANIMAL LOVERS" ,
which is delighting both children and adults across the country.
In her spare time, Jane flies around the tennis
court and is
an accomplished competitive player.