Friday, December 27, 2013



New York City (JFK+50) 66 years ago today, December 27, 1947, the "Howdy Doody" television show premiered on the National Broadcasting Company from Studio 3A at Rockefeller Center here in New York City.

The show featured a wooden puppet named "Howdy Doody" and was hosted by "Buffalo Bob" Smith* along with a clown named "Clarabell"

Howdy Checking Out His New Look
January 1949
NBC Photo

The set for the program included bleachers which could hold up to 40 screaming kids.  It was called "The Peanut Gallery".

Buffalo Bob, dressed in a cowboy outfit, opened each show by asking...

"Say kids, what time is it?"

And, in unison, they would answer...

"It's Howdy Doody time!"

Then came the show's signature theme song:  "Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay"**

"It's Howdy Doody time
It's Howdy Doody time
Bob Smith and Howdy too
Say howdy-do to you.

Let's give a rousing cheer
Cause Howdy Doody time is here
It's time to start the show
So kids let's go!"


Buffalo Bob and the Peanut Gallery
NBC Photo (1949)

Bob Smith created the Howdy Doody character during his radio days at WNBC and Frank Paris created the 1st puppet for TV, a little boy in a cowboy suit with 48 freckles on his face, one for each state in the union.

The original Howdy Doody is on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Original Howdy Doody Puppet
Detroit Institute of Arts
Photo by Volkan Yuksel (2010)

The phrase "howdy doody" is the western offshoot of "how do you do?"

The signature TV program of the "Baby Boom" generation was telecast in black & white until 1954 and then became one of the first programs to be broadcast in "living color."

*Robert Emil Schmidt, aka Buffalo Bob Smith (1917-1998) was born in, where else, Buffalo, New York.  He began his broadcasting career in radio at WGR and then was hired by WNBC in New York City.  

In addition to the Howdy Doody Show, Smith hosted the Gulf Road Show on NBC-TV during the 1948-49 season.

Buffalo Bob died in Hendersonville, North Carolina at the age of 80.

**"Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay" was 1st performed in Henry J. Sayer's revue "Tuxedo" in Boston in 1891.