W. Carter Merbreier, who helmed the beloved local children's TV show "Captain Noah and his Magical Ark," died Tuesday after a short illness. He was 90.
He died at his home in Audubon, in suburban Philadelphia, said his former station, WPVI-TV.
The station has "lost a dear friend and TV legend," WPVI general manager Bernie Prazenica said. "Captain Noah truly was magical."
The show, which aired from 1967 to 1994, was syndicated to more than 20 television markets. It featured Merbreier on a nautical-themed set with his wife, who played Mrs. Noah and served as a puppeteer. They entertained children while hosting many newsmakers and celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Charles Barkley and Martina Navratilova.
During a 2013 interview with the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, Merbreier talked about the long-running success of the program.
"I was always guaranteed that I would be able to present a good show for children," he said, according to KYW-AM. "And as long as we were able to do that, I was going to stay on the air."
Merbreier and his wife, Patricia Merbreier, decided to retire in 1994. She died in 2011.
The show's set is now housed at Philadelphia's interactive children's museum, the Please Touch Museum.