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Lessons Learned From ‘Howdy Doody’

Jul 31, 2008  •  Post A Comment

A visit to appear on NBC’s “Howdy Doody” show 60 years ago, was a disillusioning experience for Washington Post writer Harry Allen. TV’s magic was broken after see Howdy hanging lifeless from his strings during commercial breaks and watching Clarabell smoke cigarettes and refuse to greet children from the Peanut Gallery.

4 Comments

  1. Funny enough I had almost the same experience being in that peanut gallery. My shock was seeing the “red, yellow and blue balloons printed on the wrapper” in gray scale. Also watching everyone up above talking and working the puppets…but I did meet Buffalo Bob afterwards so it was all worth while…

  2. Ah yes, “Howdy Doody, Mr. Doody!”
    At least my favorite, Flubbadub, would have looked perfectly normal in repose, poured all over the puppet stage during commercials!
    Imagine how I felt the first time I worked with The Beaver, Jerry Mathers. We were both in our forties, and he was about fifty pounds over weight! Mom, (Barbara Billingsly), was there too, extreemly sweet and looked like Grandma. Talk about a mind blow!
    Some illusions should just remain that…Illusions!
    Peter Bright

  3. A second note on this.
    On his daily NBC show one morning, Ernie Kovacks did a Howdy Doody skit. Kovacks played Buffalo Bob, who was always frowning and smoking a cigar.
    Not a word was spoken. It was all played in the famous Kovack’s mime.
    Ernie as Buffallo Bob, was sitting at a table all sour pussed, puffing on his cigar. In the background a Howdy Doody puppet was fanning his arms, jumping up and down trying in vain to get BB’s attention. Every twenty seconds or so Clarabell would come running up to BB all excited, blowing his bike horn. BB would slowly turn his head, still frowning, puffing on his cigar, without any change in expression and just stare Clarabell down until the life went out of him and the horn ceased. BB would then slowly return his head forward and a dejected Clarabell would shuffle off. All the while Howdy continued jumping up and down, arms fanning. Clarabell came out several times to the same resolve with Howdy, still very animated in the background.
    BB unchanged in look or demeaner, then backs from the table, opens a drawer, and pulls out a pair of scissors. Howdy still jumping all around gets more animated as BB walks deliberately back to Howdy, grabs his strings with one hand and cuts them with the other. Letting go of the string. Howdy falls forward, draped over the lip of the puppet stage, his feet still anchored to the stage floor. BB walks back to the table, throws the scissors back in the drawer, closes it, sits down, puts his feet up on the table, sits back and puffs on his cigar, with no change in his facial expression. The End. Priceless. You had to see it. It was hilarious. Typicle Kovacks skit. Not one wasted move.
    Peter Bright

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