story and songs by Edward Kean
Featuring Howdy Doody and its creator, Bob Smith
Orchestra conducted by Norman Leyden
circa 1955 was when i got this record, howdy and mr. bluster, clarabell the clown, princes summer fall winter spring (singing here), buffalo bob (bob smith),and the peanut gallery were always a hard choice to make, after the gabby hays show at 4:30 came either the mickey mouse club or howdy . eventually i think i remember nbc switched the howdy show to 5:30, easing the kiddies' difficult choice.
Edward Kean, Chief Writer of 'Howdy Doody,' Dies at 85
By DENNIS HEVESI
Published: August 24, 2010
In the days when television sets were rare and children gathered each afternoon at the neighborhood house in which one of those big, boxy black-and-white sets stood, "The Howdy Doody
Show" was one of the biggest draws, and a blessing for mothers making dinner.
"It's the type of show that could be responsible for the sale of lots of sets," Variety said in 1947. "In the middle-class home there is perhaps nothing as welcome to the mother as something that will keep the small fry intently absorbed, and out of possible mischief, for an hour." The program, Variety added, "can almost be guaranteed to pin down the squirmiest of the brood."
For the next eight years, as televisions became standard furniture in home after home, no one was more responsible for pinning down those squirmy children than Edward Kean, who died on Aug. 13 at 85.
"Eddie Kean was Howdy's chief writer, philosopher and theoretician," Stephen Davis wrote in his history of the show, "Say Kids! What Time Is It?" (Little, Brown, 1987). The book's title is taken from the show's opening line, to which the gaggle of youngsters in the Peanut Gallery would scream, "It's Howdy Doody time!" as Howdy, the chubby-cheeked marionette in dungarees and cowboy
boots, and his flesh-and-blood mentor, Buffalo Bob Smith, took the stage.
Mr. Kean wrote "almost every line spoken and every note sung," Mr. Davis wrote, adding that he "came up with every major creative decision, story line and character on 'Howdy Doody,' material today imprinted on the brains of my generation."
With Buffalo Bob, Mr. Kean wrote the lyrics to the show's theme song, "It's Howdy Doody Time," sung to the tune of "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay." It was Mr. Kean's idea that Howdy should run for president in 1948. After Howdy extolled the virtues of democracy, the campaign drew nearly 60,000 requests for campaign buttons.
Although he didn't make the puppets, Mr. Kean conceived many of them, including the cantankerous Phineas T. Bluster and his harebrained lackey, Dilly Dally. He also named Clarabell the Clown, Princess Summerfall Winterspring and Flub-a-Dub.
Mr. Kean wrote more than 2,000 episodes of the show, which was initially called "Puppet Playhouse" and had its premiere on NBC on Dec. 27, 1947, as a one-hour Saturday program. From 1948 to 1956 it ran Monday through Friday, and was eventually carried by more than 200 stations.
It later ran on Saturday mornings.
Edward George Kean was born in Manhattan on Oct. 28, 1924, the only child of George and Ann Greenberg Kean. At his death Mr. Kean lived in West Bloomfield, Mich. His wife, Vivian, said he died of emphysema at a hospital near there.
Besides his wife, he is survived by a son, Edward Jr.; a stepson, Stephen Smith; a stepdaughter, Paige Smith; and seven grandchildren. His first two marriages ended in divorce.
Young Edward went to music camp in upstate New York, where he first began writing songs and directing shows. In his early 20s, he wrote a song with a friend, "Where Is Sam?," which came to the attention of Mr. Smith, who hired him as a writer for a morning radio show. When NBC asked Mr. Smith to go on television, Mr. Kean came along as the writer for what was supposed to be a one-show experiment in children's programming.
After leaving "Howdy Doody" in 1955, Mr. Kean worked for several public relations firms. But music was his passion, and for many years he was a lounge pianist at hotels and clubs in Miami and Detroit. He once said that he was probably best known for coining the word "cowabunga"
(originally spelled with a "k") as a greeting for Chief Thunderthud, a character on the show. The word has become part of American vernacular, used by the cartoon character Bart Simpson and by the crime-fighting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
"You know," Mr. Kean said, "I tried to get my phone number listed as Cowabunga Kean, but couldn't get them to do it."