EXCLUSIVE HOWDY DOODY VIDEO…FIRST EVER LOOK
Thanks to Burt Dubrow, America’s top Howdy expert, WE ARE ABOUT TO SEE SOMETHING MOST HAVE NEVER SEEN…THE ORIGIANL HOWDY PUPPET ON ONE OF THE EARLIEST SHOWS RECORDED!
This kinescope is only 21 minutes long, and most likely was done as a test of the new kinescope system introduced by RCA and Kodak in September 1947. Sometime in April of 1948, the month this was shot, three new RCA TK30 cameras replaced the three big silver RCA A500 Iconoscope cameras in Studio 3H where this was done. This could either be one of the last Iconoscope shows or one of the first Image Orthicon shows. Given the many dub generations this is away from the original, it is hard to tell what cameras may have been in use, but it looks like Iconoscope to me, as the TK30 was more crisp.
The actual date of this show is not known, but is most likely from Tuesday, April 6, 1948, which would be the first Tueday show after the birth of David Eisenhower on March 31, who’s birth is featured in the newsreel. The baseball score is from a spring training game as the regualar season did not start until April 20.
At this link, you will find the “Early History Of Howdy Doody”, that Burt Dubrow helped me write a couple of years ago, and it is packed with information you will not find anywhere else.
A few notes to help you “see” the history in this. (1) When the show started, it ran only on Saturday afternoon from 5 till 6, but after about 6 weeks, the show began a Tuesday-Thrusday-Saturday schedule from 5 till 6. On the 11th show, Howdy announced he was going to run for President of the Kids of the USA. (2) The show was origianlly called, “Puppet Playhouse” featuring Frank Paris’ “Toby At The Circus” puppet troupe, and on the first show, which Bob Smith was the host and MC for, there was no Howdy puppet, as there was no time to make him, but Howdy was heard! He was in a desk drawer and to bashful to come out.
I mention these points because the first thing I noticed was the opeining title is now “Howdy Doody Time”, which is finally proof that the name changed long before many other sources say it did. It probably happend when the show went to 3 days a week, which would be about the second or third week of February 1948…possibly February 10th or 17th. Also, the Howdy for President banner is up. By the way, this would be the first show of the day, as only a test pattern preceeded the show, and when it eneded at 6, there was not another show until 7:15, so there was another hour and fifteen minuets of test pattern.
When the show starts, notice not only the look of the first Howdy (built by Frank Pairs), but also how different the voice Bob uses for Howdy is. Remember, the voice was developed for the original “Tripple B Ranch” radio character named Elmer, who became Howdy Doody after the kids started calling him that becuase of his greeting of “Well, howdy doody everybody”.
Notice also that the kids are seated in a way that they can only see Bob and Howdy on the monitors, and not at the desk…since Bob was not a ventriloquist, he moved is lips when he voiced Howdy, so it was best to hide that as much as possible. That kind of set up, with his back to the kids when Howdy was talking, continued for the life of the show.
At 13:45, when they go to what would later become the “peanut gallery” the kids are sitting on two, four seat “horses” which were brought over from the place Howdy was born, “The Tripple B Ranch” radio show. It was a kids quiz show and the contestants sat on these glorified sawhorses…when one of the kids got a wrong answer, they were “bucked off” the horse.
At 15:03, there is a really special moment! A clown comes in with peanuts for the kids, which seems to catch Bob off guard as he says “Who you?” and then, recovers after a second or two and says thanks “Robbie”. This is most likely the first time assistant stage manager Robert “Bob” Keeshan (Clarabell) had ever worn anything other than street clothes on the set while handing things to Bob Smith. Before the Clarabell costume, it is known that Director Roger Muir had gone to NBC’s wardrobe department for something to dress Keeshan in, and this classic operatic style clown suit was probably thier first try.
Many thanks agian to Burt Dubrow for letting us see this rare and historic clip from his collection. I hope you enjoyed this very special few moments with the original Howdy on this, the 69th Anniversay of what would later become America’s first daily televison program, and the world’s first daily color television program. It was also the first program to log over 1,000 episodes. Since this is the only place to see this video, please share it! -Bobby Ellerbee[fb_vid id=”1185826961454851″]