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Children's Show Hosts

Robert Homme as The Friendly GiantThe Friendly Giant - The TV persona of Robert Homme who played the role of a friendly giant on the children's show THE FRIENDLY GIANT which ran from September 1958 until March 1985 (over 3000 episodes).

The original format for "The Friendly Giant" began in 1953 on WHA-AM 970 Radio in Madison at the University of Wisconsin. In 1959, the fifteen-minute show debuted on the University of Madison, Wisconsin's WHA-TV.

In the late 1960s, The Friendly Giant was pulled from Educational TV stations all over the United States in favor of a new concept entitled SESAME STREET. Consequently, the easy-going giant (a precursor to the gentle-natured Mr. Rogers) moved to the Canadian Broadcast Network but his show continued to be offered in the US.

The Friendly Giant lived in a castle. His friends were a cast of cute hand puppets including:

  • Jerome the Giraffe, a speckled rebellious know-it-all with a low voice who came when The Friendly Giant whistled (Jerome usually returned the whistle as he approached the castle window)
  • Rusty the Rooster, the inquisitive harp-playing (performed by John Duncan) bird with a high-pitched voice who lived in a cloth sack hanging on the castle's wall
  • Angie and Fiddle, a couple of puppet cats

Puppeteers Judith Lawrence, Joe Murphy and Rod Coneybeare operated Jerome and Rusty (Rod did their voices) and John & Linda Keogh operated Angie and Fiddle.

Each show began as the castle's drawbridge lowered and The Friendly Giant welcomed his pre-school viewers with the words "Once upon a time, not long ago and not far away..." The show's theme song (played to the the sound of a harp and tin whistle) was "Early One Morning." To see the face of The Friendly Giant, the camera started at the boot of the giant and panned up his towering body to his face while the Friendly Giant instructed all his tiny visitors to "look up...W-A-AY UP!"

Bob Homme as The Friendly Giant

Regular features on the show had The Friendly Giant visit with puppets Rusty and Jerome, read stories in front of his cozy fireplace, exchange jokes, move tiny furniture for his guests to sit on, play his recorder flute, pennywhistle or clarinet, sing songs and expose his young viewers to snippets of classical and jazz music.

At the conclusion of each show, the castle's drawbridge slowly closed as night fell over the castle, and a cow jumped over a full moon.

Props from the show like the furniture, puppets, castle backdrop as well as the Friendly Giant's clothing are on display at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio and TV Museum located at the CBC Broadcasting Centre, 250 Front Street West in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In 1998, Bob Homme was made a Member of the Order of Canada. Governor-General Romeo LeBlanc traveled to Bob's home town of Grafton to present him with the Order in person. Accepting the honor, Homme said, "I'll always remember this day as a perfect cap of 30-odd years of just having a wonderful time simply being friendly."

Born 1919 in Stoughton, Wisconsin, Robert Homme died May 2, 2000 of prostate cancer at his home in Grafton, Ontario, Canada. He was 81. Homme left behind a legacy of love as well as Esther, his wife of 51 years and their four children.

The Friendly Giant in His Castle

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