Howdy Doody is a children's television program (with a frontier/western theme, although other themes also colored the show) that was broadcast on NBC in the United States from 1947 until 1960. It was a pioneer in children's programming and set the pattern for many similar shows. It was also a pioneer in early color production as NBC (at the time owned by TV maker RCA) used the show in part to sell color television sets in the 1950s.
Howdy Doody himself is a freckle-faced boy marionette (48 freckles, one for each state of the union), and was originally voiced by Buffalo Bob Smith. The Howdy Doody Show's various marionettes were created and built by puppeteers Velma Wayne Dawson, Scott Brinker (the show's prop man) and Rufus Rose throughout the show's run. The redheaded Howdy marionette on the original show was operated with 11 strings: two head, one mouth, one eyes, two shoulders, one back, two hands and two knees. Three strings were added when the show returned—two elbows and one nose. This gap-toothed puppet in cowboy boots remains a favorite baby boomer childhood memory and popular culture icon.
The show's host was Bob Smith (November 27, 1917 - July 30, 1998), who was dubbed "Buffalo Bob" early in the show's run. Smith wore cowboy garb, and the name of the puppet "star" was derived from the western U.S. expression "howdy do", a familiar form of the greeting "How Do You Do?" (The straightforward use of that expression was also in the theme song's lyrics.) Smith, who had gotten his start as a singing radio personality in Buffalo, New York, used music frequently in the program. Cast members Lew Anderson and Bobby Nicholson were both experienced jazz musicians.
There also were several human characters, most notably the mute Clarabell the Clown, who communicated by honking horns on his belt and squirting seltzer, and Chief Thunderthud, head of the Ooragnak tribe of Native Americans (kangaroo spelled backward, possibly from Bob Keeshan), who originated the cry "Kowabonga!" Princess Summerfall Winterspring, originally a puppet, was later played by the actress Judy Tyler. The characters inhabited the fictional town of "Doodyville." Several characters were also voiced by comedian and voice actor Dayton Allen, who later went on to become a cast regular on NBC's prime-time Steve Allen Show. The Howdy show's non-televised rehearsals were renowned for including considerable double-entendre dialogue between the cast members (particularly the witty Dayton Allen) and the puppet characters.
Buffalo Bob Smith first introduced Howdy Doody on the radio show titled, "The Triple B Ranch Show". On that show the character was called "Elmer" and he would say hello by exclaiming, "Howdy Doody"!
The Howdy Doody Show was originally called "The Puppet Playhouse" with a circus-type theme. In 1949, the theme was changed to a group of characters who lived in a town called "Doodyville. Many new characters were added, some were dropped, Princess Summerfall Winterspring was changed from a marionette to a real live person and the name of the series became The Howdy Doody Show. The series has also been popularly referred to as simply "Howdy Doody" and "The Buffalo Bob Show".
The Howdy Doody Show was the first TV show to be aired in color (starting in 1955!). It was the first children's series to be broadcast nationwide. It was the first NBC series to air five days per week. And finally, it was the first with more than 1,000 continuous episodes for a total of 2343 episodes during its 13-year run!
There were several Howdy Doody marionettes. Buffalo Bob kept one on display in a glass case in his home until his death. There is on in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. that's called "Double Doody". Double Doody was actually Howdy's evil twin brother on the show. Another one called "Photo Doody" was in the office of a former executive producer of the Howdy Doody Show when, in 1983, vandals broke in and chopped off its head!
Howdy Doody did not make an appearance on the first show because the marionette had not been finished in time. Instead, Buffalo Bob Smith pretended that the puppet was in a box!
When the owner of the Howdy Doody marionette demanded that he get all rights to merchandising of Howdy Doody products, NBC said NO WAY! The following month, a new marionette appeared with a somewhat different look!
Bob Keeshan who was the first "Clarabell the Clown" on the Howdy Doody Show went on to become the first "Captain Kangaroo"! Bob started in show business as a page at NBC when he was still in High School. He served in the Marine Corps during World War II. After leaving his role as Clarabell, Bob tried an apprenticeship as an undertaker for a while but quickly gave that up when offered the role of Captain Kangaroo!
In 1954, Buffalo Bob Smith suffered a heart attack in 1954. Bison Bill and Gabby Hayes took his place as hosts for a short time until his return in 1955.
Clarabell never spoke on the show until after the closing credits of the very final episode! Even then, while nearly in tears, all Clarabell said was, "Goodbye, Kids". Clarabell would communicate on the show by using two horns. Honking one of them meant "Yes" and honking the other meant "No".
Unlike many of the series of that day that had only one sponser, companies were begging to sponsor the Howdy Doody Show! Among them were Blue Bonnet Margarine, Colgate, Continental Baking, Ideal toys, Kellogg's cereals, Luden's, Mars candy, Nabisco cereals, Ovaltine, Palmolive, Poll-Parrot Shoes, Royal Pudding, Welch's Grape Juice, an Wonder Bread.
Dayton Allen who besides playing the part of "Chief Thunderchicken", also did many of the Howdy Doody Show's puppet's voices, went on after the series to do the voices for Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, and Deputy Dawg ... to name a few!
Judy Tyler (Princess Summerfall Winterspring) left the Howdy Doody Show in 1953. She went on to star in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, "Pipe Dream". That role got her on the cover of Life Magazine. She barely completed the movie, "Jailhouse Rock", where she co-starred with Elvis Presley when she was killed in a car accident along with her second husband whom she had become married only 17 days prior to her death. Elvis Presley is rumored to have become infatuated with Judy Tyler while filming "Jailhouse Rock" and could not bring himself to watch the film because of her death!
The area where the live audience sat was referred to by the cast as "The Peanut Gallery".
In 1954, Canadian and Cuban spin-off shows were licensed using local casts and duplicate puppets.
A then unknown Canadian actor named William Shatner (who would later play Captain Kirk in Star Trek) appeared occasionally as a fill-in host on the Canadian show as "Ranger Bob." Coincidentally, another future Star Trek actor would join the Canadian Howdy Doody cast. The Canadian show starred James Doohan (the future Scotty in Star Trek) and later Peter Mews as forest ranger Timber Tom who corresponded to Buffalo Bob in the U.S. version.
By 1957, The Howdy Doody Show was becoming somewhat dated. Newer, more up-to-date shows like the "Mickey Mouse Club" were drawing away its juvenile audience. Sponsors left, one-by-one, and the series was canceled.
In 1976, "The New Howdy Doody Show" came to the airwaves as a syndicated series. It again starred Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody and ran two seasons for 130 episodes!
Host "Buffalo" Bob Smith talks about his early years and influences.
Watch a 6 part interview with Bob Smith HERE
You can download and watch episodes at archive.org HERE
To join an existing group, go to the Groups tab. You can browse existing
groups by most active, or sort them by latest activity, most members, or latest created. Just choose your option from the "Sorty by" menu. Once you find an interesting group, click on its title. If the group is public, there will be a link in the top right of the page to join the group. If the group is private, you can apply to join the group from the group's page. Select "View All" to see complete list of Groups.
Groups Below Are Listed By The Latest New Activity On That Particular Group.
The Group with the most recent Activity will be in the first position and so on.
The OTRR Library has more than 85,000 individual episodes in more than 1,970 series for you to download. The OTRR Library is updated on a regular basis, with new series, new episodes, or better encodes.
Here are a few more ‘fills’ for SNT Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 80-10-04 - So What Do We Do About Henry.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 80-11-01 - Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 80-11-08 - A Sense Of Touch.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 80-11-15 - The Knightsbridge Memorial.mp3 [...]
Here are a few more SNTs for you to enjoy. I have quite a few ‘fills’ that I’ll be adding to the Library in groups of ten. Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 79-10-06 - The Gene Factor.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 79-10-20 - The Flight of the Arrow.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC [...]
Here are a few fills for SNT - more to follow - Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 60-04-02 - Alibi for a Judge.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 61-09-30 - Any Other Business.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 65-05-22 - Hindle Wakes.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - BBC 68-07-27 - Gigi.mp3 Saturday Night Theatre - [...]
We are pleased to add the following to the Library. Ave Maria Hour - Abraham's Sacrifice.mp3 Ave Maria Hour - Blessed Maria Assunta - Missionary in China.mp3 Ave Maria Hour - Mother Seton, Elizabeth Ann Seton - Sisters of Charity.mp3 Ave Maria Hour - St Bartholomea Capitanio - Sisters of Charity.mp3 Ave Maria Hour [...]
Times Past is now on Ning PLUS. The current rate for PLUS is $239.90 per year. It is paid by voluntary contributions from our members who can help out. The yearly fee from Ning covers all our members regardless of number. All members are welcome here whether they can contribute or not. No member is asked to participate.