TVBizwire

Co-Creator of Long-Running Country Music/Comedy Show 'Hee Haw' Dead at 85 LA Times

The co-creator of "Hee Haw" -- a country music and comedy show inspired by “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” that had a 20-year run in local syndication -- has died, the Los Angeles Times reports. Frank Peppiatt, 85, died of bladder cancer.

The variety show, which debuted on CBS in 1969, became one of television's "most unlikely and longest-running hits," the story notes. Set in fictional Kornfield Kounty, the series was built around country music and a brand of humor poking fun at rural Southern culture.

Peppiatt, with his writing and producing partner John Aylesworth, also developed programs for top stars, such as "The Julie Andrews Hour" and "The Judy Garland Show."

The pair's biggest hit was "Hee Haw," which was developed as a summer replacement for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour," but after its ratings matched "Laugh-In," it was added to the CBS prime-time schedule, the story notes. it stayed on CBS until 1971 before moving to syndication.

"Hee Haw" co-host Roy Clark told the newspaper that Peppiatt was "one of the lifelines of 'Hee Haw.' He had the idea, and had the talent to make it work. He had this vision, and he wrote a lot of the jokes."

Clark, whose co-host for most of the run of the show was fellow country artist Buck Owens, added, "Even now, if I'm in New York, I can count on someone saying to me, 'I'm-a-pickin’,' and I'll always say, 'I'm-a-grinnin'."

Peppiatt said in a 2010 interview that he and his partner, both of whom were born in Canada, had never visited the American South before creating the series.