Howdy Doody Ventriloquist Doll
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- Genre Children's television series Created by E. Roger Muir Presented by Buffalo Bob Smith Howdy Doody Starring Bob Keeshan Lew Anderson Robert "Nick" Nicholson Country of origin United States Production Producer(s) E. Roger Muir Running time 60 minutes (1947-1948; 1960) 30 Minutes (1948-1960) Broadcast Original channel NBC Picture format Black & White (1947-1954) Color (1955-1960) Original run December 27, 1947 - September 24, 1960
- The character first came to life from the creative mind of Bob Smith, who created Howdy Doody during his days as a radio announcer on WNBC (AM). At that time, Howdy Doody was only a voice Smith performed on the radio. When Smith made an appearance on NBC's television program Puppet Playhouse on December 27, 1947, the reception for the character was great enough to begin a demand for a visual character for television. Frank Paris, a puppeteer whose puppets appeared on the program, was asked to create a Howdy Doody puppet. Bob Smith, the show's host, was dubbed "Buffalo Bob" early in the show's run (a reference to the historical Buffalo Bill). Smith wore cowboy garb, and the name of the puppet "star" was derived from the American expression "howdy doody"/"howdy do", a commonplace corruption of the phrase "How do you do?" used in the western United States (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 his home town of Buffalo, New York, used music frequently in the program. Cast members Lew Anderson and Robert "Nick" Nicholson were both experienced jazz musicians.
- As both the character and television program grew in popularity, demand for Howdy Doody related merchandise began to surface. By 1948, toymakers and department stores had been approached with requests for Howdy Doody dolls and similar items. Macy's department store contacted Frank Paris, the creator of the puppet, to ask about rights for a Howdy Doody doll. While Paris had created the puppet, it was Bob Smith who owned the rights to the Howdy Doody character; an argument ensued between the two men, as Paris felt he was being cheated out of any financial benefits from having made the puppet. After one such disagreement, Paris took the Howdy Doody puppet and angrily left the NBC studios with it about four hours before the show was to air live; it was not the first time Paris had taken his puppet and left, leaving the live television program with no "star". With Paris' past disappearances, impromptu excuses regarding the whereabouts of Howdy Doody had been hastily concocted. This time, an elaborate explanation was offered-that Howdy was busy with the elections on the campaign trail. NBC hurriedly constructed a map of the United States, which allowed viewers, with the help of Smith, to learn where
- Howdy was on the road. The explanation continued that while on the campaign trail, Howdy decided to improve his appearance with some plastic surgery. This made it possible for the network to hire Velma Dawson to create a more handsome and appealing visual character than Paris' original, which had been called "the ugliest puppet imaginable" by Bob Smith. Since Paris did not provide the voice of the character, Howdy's voice would stay the same after his appearance changed. The puppet which is remembered as the "original" Howdy Doody replaced the actual original made by Frank Paris. The original Dawson Howdy Doody at Detroit Institute of Arts Howdy Doody himself is a freckle-faced boy marionette with 48 freckles, one for each state of the union (up until January 3, 1959, when Alaska was admitted as the 49th state), 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 heads, one mouth, one eye, two shoulders, one back, two hands and two knees. Three strings were added when the show returned-two elbows and one nose. The original Howdy Doody marionette now resides at the Detroit Institute of Arts. There were duplicate Howdy Doody puppets, designed to be used expressly for off-the-air purposes (lighting rehearsals, personal appearances, etc.), although surviving kinescope recordings clearly show that these duplicate puppets were indeed used on the air occasionally. Double Doody was the Howdy stand-in puppet, now on permanent display at the Smithsonian. Photo Doody is the near-stringless marionette that was used in personal appearances, photos, parades, and the famed NBC test pattern. He was sold by Leland's Sports Auction House in 1997 for more than $113,000 to a private art collector
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Top Customer Reviews
When Ron woke up in his room, he didn't see Howdy Doody any where. Someone had stolen Howdy Doody.
The reunion of Howdy Doody with my husband was a precious moment.
My husband never forgot that tragedy, but he is very happy to have him back.
Hope yas take my freckle comment in fun. You'll LOVE this puppet.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was shocked at how fast the delivery was on receiving this doll! My husband had one as a child, but it somehow got lost, this is a replacement, & what a surprise it will be on... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Lana50
I like him but for real use, his mouth is pretty stiff. He just sits in our TV room with us and looks pretty cool!Published 23 months ago by Elaine
Purchased for my nephew....he and his Dad love it. Brings back many happy memories for my brother. Love it. Thanks.Published 24 months ago by suzy landess smith
Bought this for my stepfather and he loves it. Very affordable and Great size. Looked around for price and amazon had the best one.Published on December 4, 2013 by omega5700