CLEVELAND - Earl Keyes was an original WEWS employee when we went on the air in December, 1947. Keyes was a director at WEWS; he also put WEWS-FM on the air as well a few weeks before the TV station started.
December would become a very important month for Keyes. Beginning in 1965, he became Mister Jingeling, the keeper of Santa’s keys. He would continue as Mister Jingeling on TV and in personal appearances until his death the day after Christmas 2000.
A beloved character, Mister Jingeling could be found as Santa’s helper on the seventh floor of the downtown Halle’s department store on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.
I’ve put three clips in our video player remembering Earl Keyes.
First, the WEWS 30th anniversary show with Fred Griffith interviewing Keyes. He talks about not being the original Mister Jingeling. Keyes directed the Jingeling Show and when the man who started the role died, Keyes filled in and was later given the part fulltime. The segment is from December 1977.
Seated alongside Keyes is Linn Sheldon. Sheldon worked at WEWS for years doing characters such as Uncle Leslie, before leaving for WKYC, where he did his famous character, Barnaby.
The second clip is a Kathy Davis interview with Keyes at the Mister Jingeling exhibit at the Lake Metro Parks. This piece is from December 1995 and contains some fascinating items including the fact Keyes kept his identity as Mister Jingeling secret from his own children.
The last clip is the Earl Keyes obituary done by reporter Chris Hernandez, December 26, 2000.