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Howdy Doody

Howdy Doody

Howdy Doody is the titular puppet character of the 1947-60 children's television series, The Howdy Doody Show. He was accompanied by live-action presenter Buffalo Bob Smith, who also provided his voice.

Personality[]

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History[]

The character of Howdy Doody evolved from Elmer, a country bumpkin voice Smith performed for his WNBC children's radio show, Triple B Ranch. He often uttered the catchphrase, "Well, howdy doody folks!". This caused confusion amongst children visiting the studio, who often asked to see Howdy Doody. As a result of this constant misunderstanding, the character's name was soon changed to Howdy Doody.

Their first television show, originally named Puppet Playhouse debuted on December 27, 1947. Despite this. Howdy was only heard from off-screen, being extremely shy and hiding inside a drawer. This was the result of marionette-maker, Frank Paris not yet finishing the puppet.

Paris's design was heavily influenced by the Smith's original "country cousin" voice for the character. In spite of this, Smith ended up disliking the puppet, referring to it as "the ugliest puppet in the world".

When companies began to approach NBC about possibly manufacturing Howdy Doody dolls, a dispute over who truly owned the character emerged. While Smith at the time owned the Howdy Doody name, Paris believed that he was the character's true owner and as a result, left the show alongside his puppet.

It was written into the show that Howdy left to go on a campaign trail for President of the Kids, which had been announced weeks prior, and would be receiving plastic surgery to further his chances of winning.

California-based puppeteer Velma Wayne Dawson was contacted by NBC to produce a new marionette. In the meantime, the character was substituted with one that consisted of a completely bandaged head. Once it was delivered to NBC, Dawson's marionette took the place of this stand-in; with bandages applied in order to be consistent.

The new Howdy Doody was unveiled on June 8, 1948, after his bandages were removed. This marked a significant event in the character's evolution into a bright-eyed child. Another change was his voice, which began to lose all traces of being a yokel and became more childlike instead.

The Dawson-made marionette now resides at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

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Duplicates[]

At different points during the show's run, duplicate marionettes were produced; firstly by prop-man Scott Brinker, before puppeteer Rufus Rose was brought oj board. While intended to serve for off–air purposes such as lighting rehearsals and public appearances, recordings of surviving episodes indicate that these duplicates were occasionally used on-air.

One duplicate in particular, dubbed Double Doody, is currently apart of the Division of Culture and the Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

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Appearance[]

Howdy Doody has red hair (either orange, reddish orange, ruby red, or reddish brownish), bright red lips, and freckles sprinkled across. The number of freckles happens to be 48; being the amount of states the United States consisted of at that point.

He was operated with 11 strings: two for the head, one for the mouth, one for the eyes, one for the back, one for each shoulder, hands, and knees. Additionally, three strings were added once the show returned: two for the elbows and one for the nose.

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