Archive for the ‘"Howdy Doody Show"’ Category

“Howdy Doody” Writer Eddie Kean Has Died

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Eddie Kean, the sole writer for the first seven years of the classic children’s show Howdy Doody, has died at age 85.  Kean also wrote the songs for the show.  Out of Howdy Doody comes one of Kean’s most lasting contributions to pop culture — the creation of the word “cowabunga” (also spelled kowabunga) used by everyone from ’60s surfers to Bart Simpson.

Eddie Kean’s Archive interview was conducted on November 3, 2005.  In the excerpt below from his interview he discusses “cowabunga”

Interview description:

Eddie Kean talked about his background growing up in a musical household.  He discussed his early years as a songwriter that led to his meeting Bob Smith and working as a writer on Smith’s radio show.  He described in great detail his subsequent work as the sole writer for Howdy Doody for over seven years, which starred Smith as “Buffalo Bob.”  Kean talked about the launching of the show in 1947 as Puppet Playhouse and how it grew from a weekly to a daily program.  He talked about some of the series memorable characters (and the performers who played them) including: “Clarabell,” “Mr. Bluster,” “Chief Thunderthud,” “Princess Summerfall Winterspring,” “Flubadub,” and “Howdy Doody” himself.  He described the series as a “soap opera” for kids and discussed such memorable storylines as the “Howdy Doody for President” campaigns and the “Mystery of the Four Ls.”  He talked about the music he wrote for the show, including the memorable theme song and such instructional songs as “You Don’t Cross the Road With Your Feet.”  He described how he used to gauge the reaction that the show was getting by reading fan letters and also by anonymously sitting in the screening room in which the children’s parents sat during show time.  He also discussed: the licensing for the show, the talented cast and crew, and the series impact.  He spoke in detail about the legacy of a single word he created for Chief Thunderthud— “Kowabunga”— which has since outlived the show as a catchphrase in various forms (usually spelled “Cowabunga”), notably by Bart Simpson on The Simpsons.  He talked about leaving the show that he felt was running him down (a daily grind of “type-puff-phone-coffee”) and running the cast down as well.  Kean also talked about writing for The Gabby Hayes Show during his years on Howdy Doody, and such series as Going Places subsequently.  He talked about his later pursuits including entertaining as a piano player.  The interview was conducted by Karen Herman.

Technical Director Heino Ripp Has Died– Archive Interview Online

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Technical Director Heino Ripp, who worked at NBC for several decades, and served on such classic series as Your Show of Shows and The Perry Como Show, has died at the age of 84.

Interview Description:
Heino Ripp was interviewed for three hours in Lake Hopatcong, NJ. Ripp recalled his earliest days at NBC in the NBC Development Group, working alongside engineers who were creating the modern television system. He discussed his transition to working as a technical director, and explained the duties he carried out in that position. He also spoke about some of the programs that he worked on in this capacity, including The Howdy Doody Show, Admiral Broadway Revue, Your Show of Shows, dozens of Max Liebman “Spectaculars” and, especially, The Perry Como Show. He also talked briefly about working on the first two television specials starring entertainer Barbra Streisand, and being on the job during the Apollo space launches. Finally, he discussed his work on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and later on working as a director on The New Show. The interview was conducted by Michael Rosen on October 23, 2000.

Producer/Director E. Roger Muir Has Died– Interview Online

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

E. Roger Muir, who produced Howdy Doody (as well as such other early NBC series as Geographically Speaking, I Love to Eat, and The Chesterfield Club), has died at the age of 89.

In part four, below, he talks about Howdy Doody:

Click here to view E. Roger Muir’s entire six-part Archive Interview.

Interview Description:

E. Roger Muir was interviewed for three hours in Wolfeboro, NH. During his interview, Mr. Muir detailed his early television directing experiences. He discussed his tenure as the producer of Howdy Doody, which he produced throughout the program’s run. He also spoke about the creation of “Gumby,” which debuted on the program. He later went on to head children’s programming at the network. The interview was conducted by Karen Herman on October 20, 1999.

"Howdy Doody" Celebrates 60 Years

Thursday, December 27th, 2007


On December 27, 1947 one of TV’s first success stories debuted, Howdy Doody, which began as Puppet Playhouse, seen three times a week on NBC. Through 1948 and 1949, with its title change to Howdy Doody, and now airing five times a week, every child with a television set knew the answer to “Say kids! What time is it?!”

Host “Buffalo Bob” Smith sang the theme song “It’s Howdy Doody Time” which was sung to the melody of “Ta-ra-ra Boom dee-ay.” Howdy began as a long faced cowboy puppet but got a make-over in June 1948 to the now-familiar-looking freckled-face one. In addition to Bob and Howdy, there was a cast of characters now well known to every baby boomer— there was Phineas T. Bluster, and Chief Featherman (who uttered “Cowabunga!”– one of writer Eddie Kean’s many inventions) and Princess Summerfall Winterspring (played by Judy Tyler) and then there was “Clarabell,” the clown. “Clarabell,” with seltzer bottle in hand, spoke no words and would communicate by blowing a horn.

Seats for the Peanut Gallery (the show’s all-child studio audience) became a hot-ticket item as the show’s popularity skyrocketed. During the height of the show, in September of 1954, Bob Smith suffered a heart attack and to cover, the children were told that Buffalo Bob was off on a secret mission, until his return in 1955.

On September 24, 1960 the show ended with Clarabell’s famous silence-breaking moment, “Goodbye, kids.”

The Archive interviewed many of the talented creators behind the series, including Bob Smith and first Clarabell, Bob Keeshan. Producer/director E. Roger Muir’s interview has now also been posted, click on the link below.

E. Roger Muir’s three hour interview can be found at this link.

Interview description:

Muir detailed his early television directing experiences, on such shows as James Beard’s cooking show I Love to Eat and Perry Como’s The Chesterfield Supper Club. He later became the producer of The Howdy Doody Show, which he produced throughout the program’s run. He also spoke about the creation of “Gumby,” which debuted on the program. He later went on to head children’s programming at the network.

Bob Keeshan’s ("Captain Kangaroo" and TV’s First Clarabell the Clown) Interview is now Online

Saturday, November 18th, 2006


Remember Clarabell the clown on The Howdy Doody Show? Or what about Captain Kangaroo, with his menagerie of “Dancing Bear,” “Mr. Moose,” and “Mr. Greenjeans”? Bob Keeshan, best known as television’s “Captain Kangaroo” was interviewed by the Archive of American Television in 1999 and it’s now accessible on Google Video.

Interview Description:

Mr. Keeshan related his experiences as an NBC page before going to work for “Buffalo” Bob Smith. Keeshan talked about the beginnings of Smith’s Howdy Doody Show and how he was eventually transformed into the show’s clown, Clarabell. Keeshan discussed his four years on the show, and his eventual falling-out with Smith, which led to Keeshan’s departure. He talked about starring in two local New York childrens’ programs before CBS tapped him to star in his own show, which ultimately became Captain Kangaroo. He talked about executive producing and starring in the program for almost 30 years and discussed the ensemble cast and classic moments. The 3-1/2 hour interview was conducted by Karen Herman in Queechee, Vermont on October 19, 1999.

Click here to access the entire interview. (The interview is done chronologically, so it’s best to watch the parts in order.)