Muncie Pop Culture
Over the years Muncie has been a popular topic in Pop Culture. There has been many references of the city in both television and movies. Muncie has a rich history that ties to many Pop Culture stories too. These trivial link and references have helped to promote the community to generations for several years.
Bob Painted Here
Famed American painter Bob Ross filmed his weekly half-hour “The Joy of Painting’ show at TV station WIPB – PBS in Muncie from 1984 until the show ended in 1994. The show still airs today in syndication and on Netflix. In October of 2020, the Bob Ross Experience will be a permanent attraction to showcase his art, videos, and his studio. Ross died at age 52 in 1995.
Jim Davis, cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Garfield, graduated from Ball state University and had his PAWS, Inc. office in Delaware County for decades. There are statues of Garfield around the community along with a Garfield gift shop at the Muncie Visitors Bureau.
David Letterman Attended BSU
Late-night talk show legend David Letterman began his entertainment career in Muncie when he attended Ball State University from 1965-1969. He hosted an on-campus radio show on WBST called Make It or Break It in 1965, but that rock ‘n’ roll radio gig only lasted a week, playing the worst songs he could find and concocting fake news stories. Today, gracing the Ball State campus is a David Letterman Communication and Media Building. Dave always wanted a street named after him…check out “Dave’s Alley” in downtown Muncie.
Ball Canning Jars
The well-known Ball Corporation that produces glass jars and lids for home canning began its long history in Muncie, starting its operation in 1889. Today, the company is headquartered in Broomfield, CO, but there are many collections throughout the community and a Ball Jar Collectors convention come to Muncie every year.
Parks and Recreation (TV Show)
The NBC sitcom “Parks and Recreation” ran from 2009-2015, and starred Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, and Rob Lowe. The popular show was about the antics of a fictitious city in Indiana (Pawnee, IN) and their public officials as they pursue sundry projects to make their community a better place. The city Pawnee was based off of and has many reference to Muncie. Even the city map was created from the current Muncie map.
Muncie in the NFL
Muncie was one of 11 charter members of the National Football League that formed in 1905. The Muncie Flyers played in the NFL for 20 years before going bankrupt after the 1925 season.
The Muncie 4 Speed
General Motors outfitted many of their muscle cars from 1963-1975 with a hopped-up transmission called the Muncie 4 Speed, named for the manufacturing plant in Muncie where it was created. The Muncie 4 Speed became legendary and went into cars like Chevy Corvettes, Camaros. Pontiac Firebirds and Trans Ams.
McCulloch Park was home to several local semi-pro clubs. Muncie fielded its first professional baseball team, the Muncie Fruit Jars in 1906. After World War II, the Cincinnati Reds established a minor league affiliate in the city, called the Muncie Reds (1947-1950).
Tom Slick Cartoon
Tom Slick is the cartoon star of a series of shorts that aired within the half-hour animated television series George of the Jungle (1967). It was the work of Jay Ward Productions, the creators of Rocky & Bullwinkle and other satiric animated characters. During these timeless cartoons, Tom Slick had several races in Muncie, IN. There is also a pun for the Indianapolis 500 (just 45 miles from Muncie).
Tumbleweeds Cartoon – Tom K Ryan (1926-2019)
Tom began his career as a commercial artist in Muncie, Indiana. His love of the old west and his creative vision merged in 1965 as he created Tumbleweeds, a major nationally syndicated Cartoon strip. Distributed in newspapers nationwide by King Features the award-winning strip was transformed into a musical and performed in Las Vegas. In addition, Tumbleweeds has been, and still is, featured at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida in the cartoon section of the Park. He published 27 books in the U.S. and abroad. His warmth and irreverent sense of humor is reflected in his work and marked the character of the man himself.
Emily Kimbrough (1899-1989) Author
She co-authored the memoir Our Hearts Were Young and Gay based on their European adventures with Cornelia Otis Skinner. Kimbrough’s journalistic career included an editor post at Fashions of the Hour, managing editorship at the Ladies Home Journal and a host of articles in Country Life, House & Garden, Travel, Reader’s Digest, Saturday Review of Literature, and Parents magazines.Kimbrough’s Through Charley’s Door (published 1952) is an autobiographical narrative of her experiences in Marshall Field’s Advertising Bureau. Hired in November 1923 as the researcher and writer for the department store’s quarterly catalog, Fashions of the Hour, Kimbrough was later promoted to editor of the publication. In 1926, she was recruited by Barton Curry with Ladies’ Home Journal, and left Marshall Field’s to become Ladies’ Home Journal’s fashion editor, a position she held until 1929. Between 1929 and 1952, Kimbrough was a freelance writer, with articles published in The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly among others. In 1952, she joined WCBS Radio.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The film takes place in Muncie, where local residents encounter aliens in the dark of night from their farm outside Muncie. As the story unfolds, “Muncie” touches fill the screen, from Dreyfuss wearing a “Ball U” T-shirt, looking for Cornbread Road to Muncie police cars chasing UFOs. Although there are a lot of references to Muncie, the scenes were filmed in Mobile, AL and Wyoming.