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Fri May 10, 2019, 05:50 AM

Jim Fowler, Naturalist and a Face of TV's 'Wild Kingdom,' Dies at 89 Jim Fowler, left, and Marlin Pe

Jim Fowler, who with the zoologist Marlin Perkins introduced generations of television viewers to wild animals filmed in their natural habitats on the long-running documentary series “Wild Kingdom,” died on Wednesday at his home in the village of Rowayton in Norwalk, Conn. He was 89.

His son, J. Mark Fowler, said the cause was complications of heart ailments.

Mr. Fowler was a key part of “Wild Kingdom” (also known as “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”), which had its premiere on NBC in January 1963, when seeing elephants, cougars and other exotic beasts on television was still a novelty.

Mutual of Omaha, the insurance company, had advertised on a previous show featuring Mr. Perkins called “Zoo Parade,” and it agreed to underwrite a new show that ventured into the wild. Mr. Fowler, a naturalist, had been working with birds of prey, and Mr. Perkins had seen him on the “Today” show exhibiting an imposing harpy eagle, a bird native to the Central and South American rain forests. He invited Mr. Fowler to join him on “Wild Kingdom.”

Mr. Perkins, 25 years older than Mr. Fowler, was the host, and Mr. Fowler was his sidekick, often doing the bulk of the work — or so it seemed to viewers of early single-camera episodes. But that had actually not been the case, Mr. Fowler said in a 2015 interview with Connecticut Magazine.

“Marlin was just as active,” he said, “but the camera cutting back and forth between us gave viewers a false impression. Once we had more cameras, it looked better.”

The two traveled the world, often working with local game wardens or naturalists as they trapped wild animals to relocate them for safety reasons or tagged them for research purposes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/obituaries/jim-fowler-dead.html

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Reply Jim Fowler, Naturalist and a Face of TV's 'Wild Kingdom,' Dies at 89 Jim Fowler, left, and Marlin Pe (Original post)
douglas9 May 10 OP
CottonBear May 10 #1
Bob Loblaw May 10 #2
CottonBear May 10 #3
Bob Loblaw May 10 #4
misanthrope May 10 #6
MiniMe May 10 #13
woodsprite May 10 #5
Ferrets are Cool May 10 #9
CaptainTruth May 10 #15
MFM008 May 10 #10
Drahthaardogs May 10 #11
Miles Archer May 10 #7
Auggie May 10 #8
Javaman May 10 #12
Duppers May 10 #14
CaptainTruth May 10 #16

Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:02 AM

1. I grew up watching Jim and Marlin on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

RIP Jim Fowler.

Good memories of 1970s Sunday night TV. Wonderful World of Disney was on too.

“We’ll watch from the safety of the blind while Jim...” 😄

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Response to CottonBear (Reply #1)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:10 AM

2. "Be careful Jim,

those claws are as sharp as razors, and can rip a man to shreds."

Followed by something like, "Just as the emu protects its nest, you too can protect yours. Mutual of Omaha has a plan tailor made to fit your needs."

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Response to Bob Loblaw (Reply #2)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:14 AM

3. Exactly! LOL!

I once saw Jim, literally, climb a lone tree, while being chased by a lion on the African savanna. The first branches were at least 8 feet from the ground. Jim survived, but just barely. He was a superhuman, climbing machine. It’s amazing what adrenaline can do.

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Response to CottonBear (Reply #3)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:18 AM

4. Great show

Jim was badass. He also appeared in a Seinfeld episode.

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Response to Bob Loblaw (Reply #4)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:29 AM

6. OMG! The Merv Griffin Show set!

I loved that. I don't know if that Larry or Jerry that came up with that jewel but it was one of the most surrealistic premises on there.

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Response to CottonBear (Reply #3)

Fri May 10, 2019, 08:44 AM

13. "While I'm sitting nice and safe in my tent, Jim will see how close he can get to that lion"

Merlin was always somewhere nice and safe while poor Jim would be in trouble with the animals.

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Response to Bob Loblaw (Reply #2)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:28 AM

5. Ok! How many DUers just read those in Marlin's voice?

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Response to woodsprite (Reply #5)

Fri May 10, 2019, 07:40 AM

9. ME


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Response to woodsprite (Reply #5)

Fri May 10, 2019, 10:01 AM

15. Me!

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Response to CottonBear (Reply #1)

Fri May 10, 2019, 07:58 AM

10. Yup

Us to.
Wasnt Bonanza on that same night as well?

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Response to CottonBear (Reply #1)

Fri May 10, 2019, 07:58 AM

11. Wild Kingdom, The Muppet Show, and Disney

"Careful Jim!, That bear is ANGRY!".


Back when everything wasn't quite so available and small things were special. Sunday dinner at Nonna's house (always macaroni - I don't think I ever heard her or my grandfather call it "pasta" then a night around the TV with the family.

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Fri May 10, 2019, 06:44 AM

7. TV in the days before cable & the Internet

In 2019, everyone has favorite shows that they look forward to. They watch them live, they record them on the DVR, they follow each episode.

But in the glory days of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, there weren't thousands of OTHER diversions to round out the week.

No Internet, no cable, no iPhones, no streaming music, no Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime Video.

Three networks, maybe a couple of local channels if you could get the rabbit ears to cooperate.

Wild Kingdom was also one of those "family" shows like Ed Sullivan. When I watched Batman and Johnny Quest, my parents were nowhere to be found, it just wasn't their gig. But Wild Kingdom was "family time."

I also remember all of Jim's appearances on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

And, in the final season of Seinfeld, he appeared in one of the strangest and coolest episodes of the entire run, "The Merv Griffin Show," appearing as...Jim Fowler, one of Kramer's guests on the reconstructed-from-the-dumpster Merv Griffin Show set.

R.I.P. Jim...you were there for us, and we were there for you.

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Response to Miles Archer (Reply #7)

Fri May 10, 2019, 07:15 AM

8. +1,000,000

Beautiful post

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Response to douglas9 (Original post)

Fri May 10, 2019, 08:15 AM

12. Rest in Peace, Mr Fowler. You and Mr Perkins taught me the love of nature.

Thank you so very much, you will be deeply missed.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #12)

Fri May 10, 2019, 08:51 AM

14. Well said.

I'm getting old and my beloved younger days icons are dying.

Jim Fowler was a treasure to us nature lovers.

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Response to Javaman (Reply #12)

Fri May 10, 2019, 10:12 AM

16. Me too. I was young but the animals fascinated me.

I bugged my parents for animal books, I don't remember what the series was called but they were large format, paperback, large illustrations & facts about every animal. Elementary school level. I remember using them for a few school reports.

And it seemed like Jim was always the one in danger.

"To attract the hungry pack of lions we've tied raw meat to Jim ..."

Didn't Jim get gored by a rhino in one episode?

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