J Fred Muggs: The Chimp Who Boosted 'The Today Show's Ratings

By Cyn Felthousen-Post
NBC News' Dave Garroway, J. Fred Muggs the chimpanzee celebrate the 5th Anniversary of "TODAY" on January 14, 1957 -- Photo by: NBC/NBC NewsWire

The Today Show featured a chimpanzee named J. Fred Muggs in the '50s. The morning program, now known as the home of Hoda Kotb and Al Roker, was first hosted by Dave Garroway, and lackluster ratings inspired NBC to take drastic action: J. Fred Muggs .

We see a lot of gimmicky TV these days, but nothing quite tops a chimp wearing human clothing. The Today Show then served the same purpose as it does now -- a little news, a little human interest, soothing content from friendly personalities meant to appeal to half-awake Americans slurping coffee. Except then, it had a chimpanzee wearing a shirt and pants and shoes who regularly stole the show, much to the chagrin of the humans on set.