The Howdy Doody Show ran from 1947 until 1960 with incredible success. And even today, people remember the red-haired marionette puppet as a pioneer of children’s programming.


Aside from the puppet, most people remember Bill Smith as the star of the show. And in fact, it was Smith who created the character before he voiced him for almost a decade.

Bill Smith created the show when he was a radio announcer for WNBC. On December 27, 1947, Bill took his presentation to the Puppet Playhouse on NBC and received such phenomenal feedback that they decided to go ahead with a show just for Howdy Doody and create a physical puppet for it!

The puppet was made by Frank Paris, and although Bill called it “the ugliest puppet imaginable,” people loved to watch the show!

The backdrop was initially planned to be a circus tent; however, the producers, Victor F Campbell and E. Roger Muir, decided to go with a western scene instead.


Because of the show’s western themes and the fact that Bill Smith hailed from Buffalo, New York, the star got the nickname Buffalo Bill, which stuck with him for the remainder of his career.

During the first year, Frank Paris, the puppet creator, became increasingly frustrated with the fact that Bill owned the rights to the puppet. When Paris was approached by Macy’s department store, which wanted to pay him to create replicas for kids, he angrily stole the puppet and ran away from the studio.

The producers and Buffalo Bill thought on their feet and aired an episode in which Howdy Doody followed the campaign trail around the US and, on his trip, decided to get plastic surgery.

When the new puppet, made by Velma Wayne Dawson and Mel Shaw, was ready, he looked a whole lot better than the one Paris made. And this new puppet is actually what most fans consider the original puppet of the show.

There were many popular characters on the show, along with Howdy Doody, such as Phineas T. Bluster, Inspector John J. Fadoozle, and Clarabell, the mute clown.


The Howdy Doody show was produced in black and white until 1955, when technicolor was finally available for the program.

Children around the country loved watching Howdy Doody after school and eventually on Saturday mornings, and the characters became a beloved part of their toy collections. Howdy Doody dolls, bags, and paraphernalia were prevalent in every family home throughout the 1950s.

Although the show aired its final episode in 1960, references have been made in modern shows for decades. The original airings have been released for collectors on VHS and DVD, and remakes were made in other countries.

The Howdy Doody Show was undoubtedly one of a kind, and although kids today (or even their parents) probably won’t remember it, their grandparents sure will.

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