Howdy Doody marionette

Howdy Doody marionette

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This is one of the three original Howdy Doody marionettes used in production of Howdy Doody, one of the most popular and influential children’s television series in American history. In its original run from 1947 to 1960, each episode opened with the voiceover question "Say, kids, what time is it?" Resounding from the peanut gallery—and from millions of television-watching kids around the country—came the reply, "It's Howdy Doody time!"
The creator of Howdy Doody, “Buffalo” Bob Smith, first performed the character on his WNBC radio show. When the show transitioned to TV, puppet builder Frank Paris created a marionette to match the voice. In 1948, a dispute over merchandising rights led Frank Paris to leave the show and take the original puppet with him. Velma Dawson created this new style of Howdy Doody puppet that debuted on June 8, 1948 after a break for “plastic surgery.” Throughout the series run on NBC, Bob Smith voiced the puppet, usually through recordings made before the show, while Margo and Rufus Rose were primarily responsible for building, maintaining, and performing the marionettes.
This particular Howdy Doody was known as "Double Doody" - being the second of this type made for the production. This marionette was most often used as a stand-in for the main marionette when needed, and in long shots. The marionette's body is made of pine and the head is made of plastic wood. Howdy's face is painted with 48 freckles - one for each state in the union at the time of his creation.
Object Name
date made
Rose, Rufus
Smith, Bob
Neil, Milt
Rufus Rose Marionettes
Rose, Rufus
Rose, Margo
Dawson, Velma
Rufus Rose Marionettes
place made
United States: New York, New York City
Physical Description
wood, pine (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
paint (overall material)
fabric (overall material)
string (overall material)
overall: 34 1/2 in x 8 in x 7 in; 87.63 cm x 20.32 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Margo Rose
Radio and television broadcasting
Television broadcasts
Children's television programs
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
American Enterprise
Entertainment Nation
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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To learn more about Howdy Doody, the TV and the radio shows, and collectibles and to view rare Video footage of the TV program and rare audio of the radio show, visit “The Doodyville Historical Society” on Facebook. The organization was founded in 1978.

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