'Checkers & Pogo' star Morgan White dies at age 86

Morgan White as Pogo Poge (left) with Jim Hawthorne as Checkers
Morgan White as Pogo Poge (left) with Jim Hawthorne as Checkers
Rob Hearn
Rob Hearn
Morgan White in 1999
Morgan White in 1999
Fred Ball
Fred Ball
Jim Demarest as Checkers (left) and Morgan White as Pogo Poge
Jim Demarest as Checkers (left) and Morgan White as Pogo Poge

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Fans are bidding a warm aloha to the man behind 'Pogo Poge'.

If you grew up in the 60's or 70's, you might remember rushing home after school to watch 'Checkers & Pogo' on KGMB.

The actor who played Pogo, Morgan White, is now gone but not forgotten.

White entertained Hawaii's keiki for nearly 15 years as Pogo Poge. He passed away Thursday in Utah, where he retired. But White leaves this world going down in Hawaii's TV history.

It's a show that captured the hearts of kids, and White was in the center of it all.

"Morgan was the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. He was really, really nice and he loved kids so his part on 'Checkers & Pogo' was the perfect job for him," said Rob Hearn, who played 'Jake the Janitor', 'John the Clown', and 'Granny Garbonzoon' on the show.

The show was Hawaii's version of 'Romper Room' with kids in the live audience, though Hearn, says it was even better.

"Romper room was for little kids. Checkers & Pogo? Even the grown-ups watched it," said Hearn.

The after school kids program was born in 1967.

You may remember, Friday was 'Pie-Day'.

Another highlight was the chance for kids to snatch as many pennies as they could.

"And some of the kids would come up with some pretty weird ideas of getting the pennies. They'd turn them over and they'd bring it out like this and try to get two hands in there. It was fun watching them," said White in a documentary KGMB produced in 1999 called 'Checkers & Pogo Remembered'.

The documentary, written and directed by Lawrence Pacheco, includes an interview with White after the show's final episode.

"It's a mixed emotion, you know, how do you draw a curtain on 14 years of love and fun?" White said.

Checkers & Pogo ended in 1982 as the longest running and most successful children's show in Hawaii.

"It was a phenomenon, it was an incredible phenomenon. Back at that time there were no video games, there were no 1,000 cable channels," said actor Fred Ball, who played 'Professor Fun'.

Ball says they had no idea Checkers & Pogo was going to be a hit, remembered still, 28 years later.

"Morgan White and all three Checkers do live on and hopefully Professor Fun, we live on in the minds and hearts of the now aging kamaaina's of the entire state of Hawaii," said Ball.

White continued acting after Checkers & Pogo.

He played the Attorney General in several episodes of the original Hawaii Five-0 TV series.

White was 86 years old.

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