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December 11

December 11, 1966 – The Walt Disney Anthology Episode “Joker, the Amiable Ocelot Premieres

“For the kitten, though, this tangle of trouble was just the beginning. He was on his own now, heading for big adventure, and he hadn’t even left the den yet.”

On December 11, 1966, the episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, entitled “Joker, the Amiable Ocelot,” premiered on NBC. It stars Winston Hibler as the narrator, and featured Robert Becker as Jim Benton, a tow truck driver who finds an ocelot in the back of a car left abandoned in the desert. Jim is a loner and a drifter who never learned how to handle the limp with which he was born. A whole family of ocelots was in the car, but evacuated when Jim found the car, save for one kitten who got stuck. Jim took the abandoned car to his remote shop, and the ocelot kitten hops out of the car and starts looking for his mother. He manages to find Jim’s cat Duchess and takes to her quickly. Jim has several unusual pets, and is kind and caring to all of them, nursing several of them back to health. When Jim realized that one of Duchess’ kittens was not like the others, he nicknamed the ocelot Joker and took care of it. Joker gets the attention of a nurse named Nancy Conroy that stopped by for gasoline (played by Jan McNabb), and she starts a conversation with Jim, trying to be friendly. Jim bonds with Joker, and the two become best friends, but after a while, he realizes that Joker needs to return to the wild. While they have a sad parting, a happy ending is found for both, as Joker finds a mate, and Jim gets close to Nancy.

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