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Howdy Doody

Title Card - HOWDY DOODY

NBC Network
1947 - 1960
Puppet Adventure
60 Minutes

Set in the circus town of Doodyville, this live-action children's series followed the daily adventures of Howdy Doody, a blue-eyed, red-haired, freckle-faced marionette dressed in a western style outfit of jeans, plaid shirt, cowboy boots and bandanna.

With the assistance of his human companion Buffalo Bob Smith, Howdy entertained a studio audience of forty lucky youngsters (known as the Peanut Gallery) with games, songs, lessons on social values and a host of strange characters such as:

  • Clarabell the Clown
  • Resident Indians Chief Thunderthud (founder of Doodyville)
  • Featherman
  • Princess Summerfall Winterspring
  • Tim Tremble
  • Mr. Huff
  • Ugly Sam, a burly wrestler
  • John J. Fazdoozle, America's Number One "Boing" private eye
  • Flubadub, a strange creatures of many animal parts
  • Wendy Scuttlebutt, a ship captain
  • Phineas T. Bluster, an old man who hated seeing anyone having fun
  • Dilly Dally, Bluster's nervous youthful assistant.

Howdy Doody Marionette

Other human characters on the show included Bill L'Cornick who played Chief Thunderthud; Oilwell Willy and Dr. Singasong; puppeteers Rhoda Mann who manipulated Howdy's strings; and Rufus Rose who designed and operated other puppet characters.

Opening Narration

Buffalo Bob: Say kids, what time is it?
Kids: It’s Howdy Doody Time!
Theme Song

It’s Howdy Doody Time.
It’s Howdy Doody Time.
Bob Smith and Howdy Do say Howdy Do to you.

Let’s give a rousing cheer,
Cause Howdy Doody’s here,
It’s time to start the show,
so kids let’s go!

Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody - TV GUIDE cover

TRIVIA NOTE: The concept for the Howdy Doody Show evolved from THE TRIPLE B RANCH radio program that featured a nerdish character named Elmer (a la Edgar Bergen's Mortimer Snerd) who hosted a game, quiz show for children with Bob Smith who was the voice of Elmer. When Bob Smith got the opportunity to do a similar program on television called THE PUPPET PLAYHOUSE, he used the same scruffy-haired, a nerdy-faced Elmer puppet dressed in a western costume.

The series ran for 2,343 programs until its final episode on September 24, 1960. During the final moments of the show, Clarabell the Clown (Lew Anderson) broke his silence and spoke for the first time in thirteen years. He simply looked into the camera and said "Good-Bye, Kids." This was followed by the cast singing one last time "It's time to say goodbye, goodbye until some other day when we may be with you again."

Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody
Buffalo Bob & Howdy

In 1976, a syndicated revival called THE NEW HOWDY DOODY SHOW returned the familiar catchphrase "Say kids, what time is it?" to the airwaves, but the special spark that made the original show such a success was no longer there and the show was canceled. Paul Ashley (of ROOTIE KAZOOTIE fame) created the new Howdy Doody puppet used on the revival series.

Obituaries: Buffalo Bob Smith: 07/30/1998; Lew Anderson: 05/14/2006; Judy Tyler: 07/04/1957; Bob Keeshan: 01/23/2004; Dayton Allen: 11/11/2004; Ted Brown: 03/20/2005.

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