A Legendary Figure is Gone!

Members Patricia Merbreier and W. Carter Merbreier
(Captain and Mrs. Noah)
Broadcast Pioneers Luncheon
Bala Golf Club, Philadelphia
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
(Picture taken by member Bob Kravitz)


Broadcast Pioneers member W. Carter Merbreier, also known as Captain Noah, died on Tuesday morning, August 9, 2016 after a short illness. Merbreier, who was an ordained Lutheran minister, had recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

He and his wife, Patricia Merbreier, created and co-hosted the long-running syndicated television series, "Captain Noah and his Magical Ark, which ran on Channel 6, Philadelphia, (WPVI-TV) for 27 years.

The show began in 1967 as a religious program produced by the Philadelphia Council of Churches, and became a children's program by about 1970. It was at one time broadcast on 22 television stations in the United States, and in Philadelphia was seen by more viewers than Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street combined.

Captain Noah and his Magical Ark was produced at the Channel 6 studios and aired in Philadelphia until 1994, when the Merbreiers decided to retire and end the show. Many celebrities, such as Jon Stewart, Elvis Presley, Jim Henson, Charles Barkley, and the Philly Phanatic, appeared on the program.

Following their retirement, the couple resided quietly at their home in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. Patricia Merbreier passed away in June, 2011. View our Mrs. Noah Tribute Page!

The couple is survived by their daughter, Pamela Cowie, as well as two granddaughters, four great-grandchildren and millions of children and adults in the entire Delaware Valley.

Member Carter Merbreier
at a local fishing hole
in Prospect Park, Pa.
circa 1930

Gerry Wilkinson, CEO, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia and a personal friend of Carter Merbreier said:

Carter Merbreier preferred to be called "Captain," even by his friends. He was one of a kind. He played down that he was a legend, an icon. He was just your average person (who also happened to be a minister and a TV star).

I've known "the Rascally ol' Captain" for about two decades. When you watched his show, you were family and treated as such. He was a loving and kind person. Very much like you saw on television. He was real and down to earth.

He really looked upon the children of our area as extended family. He cared about each and every one. There will never be another "Captain Noah." However, the one we had filled the Delaware Valley with enough love to last forever. He will be missed.


(Left to right) Members Mike Strug and Carter Merbreier
Carter Merbreier's home
Friday, December 20, 2013

In December of 2013, Broadcast Pioneers recorded a wonderful half-hour interview with W. Carter Merbreier, conducted by member Mike Strug. It is available here in its entirety from the Broadcast Pioneers' YouTube Channel.

Watch the Interview!

(video courtesy of Broadcast Pioneers VP Brad Seecof and Metramedia Broadcasting & Studios)


The young and the young-at-heart can still remember the long-running television program called Captain Noah and His Magical Ark. As a daily program in the late sixties, the seventies and the eighties and a weekend show until the end of 1994, it was syndicated for years in 22 other markets. It was the product of husband and wife team: W. Carter and Patricia B. Merbreier. Together they led generations on an exciting magical mystery tour.

Both of the Merbreiers are active members of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Better known to Philadelphians as Captain and Mrs. Noah, their children's program (Captain Noah and His Magical Ark) aired over Channel 6 for 27 years. However, Carter's television experience goes back to the fifties when, as a Lutheran minister, he did many of the sign on and sign off prayers aired over Channels 3, 6 and 10. Born in July of 1926, Carter still refers to his wife as "Mrs. Noah," and she calls him "Captain."

(Left to right) Member Carter Merbreier, Lisa Dufresne and CJ the pig
Captain Noah's Magical Ark
WPVI-TV, Philadelphia
May 1991

Watch Video Excerpt of Show in Real Video!
Watch Video Excerpt of Show in Windows Media Format!

In 1994, Carter and Patricia decided by themselves that it was time to put the "magical ark" into dry dock. The broadcast started in 1967 as a Philadelphia Council of Churches program that Carter created. It was a religious program, says the one time Police chaplain.

Now grown-up children will always remember the characters of Wally the Walrus, Maurice the Mouse, and, of course, I Can Sing a Rainbow, their theme. Mrs. Noah was the puppeteer on the show and loved it.

When Channel 6 was owned by Triangle Publications (The Philadelphia Inquirer - Walter Annenberg), Captain Noah was syndicated on 22 different television stations across the United States. Well known Philadelphia TV organist Larry Ferrari provided the music.

Once in awhile, you can still find Carter behind the pulpit at the St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. He has written a book, Television: What's Behind What You See and was inducted into the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame on May 20th of 2001. The show's set has been incorporated into the new entrance of the "Please Touch Museum" in Fairmount Park.

The Merbreiers were honored in the spring of 2001 by their induction into the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in recognition of their lifelong achievements and many contributions to the broadcast industry.

(Left to right) Members Mike Nozilo, Pat Merbreier and Carter Merbreier
WFIL-TV, Channel 6
circa 1969

As Captain Noah, Carter narrated a record 13 children's concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony. He also had another hit TV Series for teenagers, This Is It. It won the prestigious Iris statuette from the National Association of Television Program Executives.

Over the years, artists, artisans, inventors, newsmakers, clowns, zoo and circus animals and sports stars boarded the "ark" to share with children the treasures of the world around them. Martina Navratilova, Charles Barkley and Dorothy Hamill encouraged children to be the best they can be on the show. Frank Perdue, the chicken guy, demonstrated the miracle of baby chicks hatching. Jim Henson introduced Kermit the Frog to the Ark's Wally the Walrus and Maurice the Mouse on their program. The broadcast also boasts of having catcher Tim McCarver doing his very first sports commentary on television and it was on the Noahs air that the Philly Phanatic was introduced to the world.

It can be said that the "Ark" was a fanciful wonderland for children's adventures of mind and spirit. "For us," says Captain Noah, "the greatest honor was to chart for those many years the most wondrous of seas, children's imaginations."

Board Member W. Carter Merbreier (Captain Noah)
Captain Noah and His Magical Ark
June 18, 1992

In 2001, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia selected Captain and Mrs. Noah as their "Persons of the Year." They were also inducted into our Hall of Fame that same year. Carter has served for many years on our Board of Directors.

By the way, when Carter started at WFIL-TV in 1967, he was no newcomer to television. He was one of a select group of local clergy who appeared on area TV in the fifties. For example, on Tuesday, August 21, 1956, he appeared on "Thought for Today." It was on WRCV-TV, Channel 3 from 6:40 to 6:45 am.

Gene Fegely, a visitor to our website e-mailed that Carter was his boyhood scout leader. Gene said that he was on the TV with Captain Noah to show his camera collection and explain photography.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com