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The Howdy Doody Show
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TV Series
    (December 27, 1947-September 24, 1960)
    Aired on NBC
    Bob Smith as Buffalo Bob and the voice of Howdy Doody
    Bob Keeshan (1948-53), Bobby Nicholson (1953-54) or Lew Anderson (1954-60) as Clarabelle the Clown
    Judy Tyler as Princess Summerfall Winterspring
    Bill Lecornec as Chief Thunderthud
    Premise: Children's entertainment featuring marionettes
    The first Howdy Doody had to be retired when Buffalo Bob got into a dispute with puppet maker Frank Paris.
    Bob Keeshan was fired as Clarabelle over a salary dispute.
    Since Buffalo Bob was not a ventriloquist, his dialogue as Howdy Doody was pre-recorded and played back during the show by a technician, eliminating any possibility for improvisation.
    The show caused a mini-'War of the Worlds'-style panic when Smith announced a space ship had landed in Virginia, reading the story as if it had come off the United Press wire (1949).
    Plugs for sponsors, such as Colgate toothpaste and Three Musketeers candy bars, were worked into songs and skits in the show.
    The 'It's Howdy Doody Time' theme was sung to the tune of the off-color 'Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay.'
    It was the first NBC show to air in color.
    The NBC test pattern incorporated a picture of Howdy Doody (1954).
    It was one of the first shows with audience participation (by the 'Peanut Gallery') as a major component.
    Buffalo Bob noted that Howdy and his fellow marionettes 'gave the impression that they could cut their strings, saunter off the stage, and do as they pleased.'
    It became an international hit, with Canadian and Cuban versions created using duplicate puppets and local talent as hosts.
    When Howdy Doody ran for president of the kids of America, the show received 60,000 requests for campaign buttons, equal to a third of the homes with TV sets at the time (1948).
    The final episode in which Clarabelle speaks his first words ('Goodbye, kids') was chosen as one of television's 100 most memorable moments by both TV Guide (1997) and TV Land (2004).

Credit: C. Fishel

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