When the Howdy Doody Show made its final broadcast on Saturday September 24, 1960, it had been the longest running show on TV at that time. It would also hold the record as the longest running children’s program, until eclipsed by former cast member Bob Keeshan’s Captain Kangaroo.
Over its thirteen year run, the Howdy Doody Show broadcasted 2,343 episodes, most of them done live, was the first television show to be broadcast nationwide, the first to be regularly broadcast in color, and the first to use a cast of puppets; in addition, the Howdy Doody Show also had an accompanying radio show and was franchised internationally. In the history of American television, the Howdy Doody Show sits right up there with the other greats of the Golden Age of Television, like Milton Berle and Sid Caesar.
But for us “Baby Boomers,” it was the TV show that captured our young minds daily; Monday thru Friday, from 5:30 pm until 6 pm. And it was Howdy Doody that we turned to in the 1970s, trying to recapture our innocence, during those Vietnam War years.
Although Howdy Doody was, for us of that age, a focal point we could all turn to; there was a lot about the show that most of us don’t know. How did the show get started, who were the actors behind all the characters, who were the puppeteers, who created Howdy Doody, who wrote all the stories that kept us so entertained, and what happened to our Howdy Doody puppet? I try to answer all those questions, plus a few others, in these series of posts.
Writing these posts has been an incredible journey of discovery for me. I originally thought I’d be able to cover this topic in one, maybe two posts. But the more I dug, the broader the story got, and the more post came about. I’ve tried with each one to focus on different aspects of the show; like threads weaving a comfortable blanket. My goal was not to just to give facts but rather, adding a personal depth to this shows history.
So join with me now, because, it’s Howdy Doody Time!