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The Life & Times of Howdy Doody – Part 3

We all remember that we spent our afternoons, and later, our Saturday mornings in the 50’s with Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody, but how much do you really remember about the show itself and the strange cast of characters who kept us entertained throughout a good portion of our childhoods?

C’mon backstage because once again, it’s Howdy Doody time!

Most of us remember that the show took place in the fictional town of Doodyville with the set at first resembling a circus, then a Wild West Show, and finally, just various locations within Doodyville. There was a full cast of puppets including Howdy Doody, his best friend Dilly Dally, and perennial villain, Mayor Phineas T. Bluster. Even as a kid, we all wondered how that old swindler kept getting re-elected by the otherwise genteel and benign citizens of Doodyville. (In addition, we wondered why Howdy wasn’t the mayor of a town obviously named after him.)

How many of these other “denizens of Doodyville” do you recognize?

  • Don José Bluster (Phineas’ brother)
  • John J. Fadoozle (America’s # 1 – BOING! - Private Eye)
  • Heidi Doody (Howdy’s sister)
  • Hyde & Zeke (twin bears)
  • Windy Scuttlebutt
  • Sandra the Witch
  • Mambo the Elephant
  • Paddle the Gnu

And of course, the Flub-a-Dub, who combined the parts of eight animals: a duck’s bill, spaniel’s ears, cat’s whiskers, giraffe’s neck, dachshund’s body, seal’s feet, a pig’s tail, and an elephant’s memory.

The show also provided a sturdy launch pad for two other non-human stars. Zippy the Chimp joined the cast in 1952 and eventually became a media star in his own right, complete with an abundance of authorized merchandise. For some reason, the talented chimpanzee hated the Mr. Bluster puppet and would attack him on sight. Apparently, the little simian was an excellent judge of character.

Almost forgotten now is the fact that another huge superstar got his start with Buffalo Bob and the gang. Gumby (dammit) made his network debut on The Howdy Doody Show in 1956. The little guy proved so popular that NBC was able to spin him off into his own series a year later. The rest, as they say, is show biz history.

Along with Zippy, Gumby and the stringed performers, Doodyville boasted a full cast of human actors as well. It was these human actors that caused the most trouble behind the scenes. Next time, we’ll pull back the curtain on the notorious “Christmas Eve Massacre” that almost derailed The Howdy Doody Show in 1953.

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