It's "Let's Sue the Pants Off of Howdy Doody" Time!
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 100 13:05:35 -0800
Subject: It's "Let's Sue the Pants Off of Howdy Doody" Time!
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IT'S "LET'S SUE THE PANTS OFF OF HOWDY DOODY" TIME!
By Linda Galeazzi (Editor-in-Chief)
April 2, 1999. While he may creep a bunch of us out, it seems two opposing
factions are at war over famed TV puppet Howdy Doody. In case you don't
know, Howdy Doody had his own show in the 1950's, acting as the sidekick
of one "Buffalo Bob" Smith, a cowboy with a sweet dadgum disposition. But
there's nothing sweet about the custody battle that's currently raging
between a Detroit Museum and the family of the late puppeteer Rufus Rose,
who was Doody's Dr. Frankenstein. Both sides are claiming ownership of
Doody while the puppet lays in a safe deposit box somewhere in Connecticut,
virtually silenced except for occasionally kicking at the box with his
boots and yelling, "Get me the fuck OUT of here!!!"
Doody was one of television's earliest heroes. His show, "The Howdy Doody
Show" (people weren't that creative in the 50's, I guess), was the first
show on NBC to run five days a week and racked up an impressive 2,500
episodes between 1947 and 1960. Children lost interest once the hippie
peace and love shit of the 60's started kicking in, despite the fact that
Doody tried to win back his appeal by smoking pot in public and having a
well-publicised and very torrid affair with Mouseketeer Annette Funicello.
After this, Doody was basically relegated to appearances on Hollywood
Squares and made the news when his crack habit and a sloppy robbery of a
video store put him back in the headlines.
No, wait .. I'm thinking of the cast of "Different Strokes." Shit. Well,
anyway, I'm pretty sure Howdy Doody did that crap, too, so I'm not going
to backspace or anything, OK?
However, the Doody one IS worth a lot now that the Baby Boomers are all
nostalgic and crap about their past, their roots and all the weird stuff
they used to watch on TV and at something they call "drive-in theatres."
And where's there's dollar signs, there's greed, and where there's greed,
there's usually a custody battle, and where there's a custody battle,
there's usually a CyberStones reporter lurking around in a black wig and
a fake moustache and glasses, humming little spy tunes to seem important.
The Detroit Institute of Arts claims that NBC and puppeteer Rufus Rose --
who "pulled Doody's strings," so to speak -- wanted the puppet to be given
to the Detroit museum. Rose died in 1975, but his surviving family says
the puppet is theirs, always will be theirs, and will never be anyone
else's. The Institute's lawsuit names Rose's three sons and the estate of
the late "Buffalo Bob" Smith as defendants. The Roses maintain that they
own the dadgum puppet and nobody will EVER take it away from them.
"They're VERY attached to Howdy," says a family source, "and would sooner
part with one of his limbs than hand him over to the museum. Howdy is in
a safe deposit box, safe and sound, where the museum cannot kidnap him."
When asked if the museum had ever threatened to do that, the source lowered
his voice and said, "They threatened to take him away from us and cut his
strings off, one by one, until we accepted their demands" and then burst
into tears. CyberStones handed him a Kleenex.
The museum's lawyer, Stuart Rosen, insists that the puppet "was a gift to
the museum, then it was made available to Buffalo Bob to use during his
lifetime by Rufus Rose, with the understanding that when he no longer
personally wished to have the puppet, the puppet would then be given to
the Detroit Institute of Arts." When asked about the kidnapping threat,
Rosen stormed away from this reporter claiming, "It's hard to understand
you when you're humming the 'Mission: Impossible' theme over and over
again." Apparently Mr. Rosen understands NOTHING about good journalism!
The Rose family lawyer disagrees and told the press, "The family takes a
position there was no completed gift, there was only a thought or an idea
at one point, (but) it was never followed through," adding that Rose did
not provide for the Detroit Institute in his will, but he did mention
puppets and puppetry equipment in his will, and he left those to his wife."
Sheesh, if I was his wife, I'd be farkin' STEAMED if my old man left me
puppet equipment. But that's just me, and I'm rather petty.
No trial date has been set for the custody suit, and CyberStones has yet
to confirm the whereabouts of Doody. We are, however, still following the
scent of decaying cherry wood and hope to free the little bastard any day
now. Watch here for details and developments.
(c) 1998, 1999 CyberStones. All Rights Reserved.
HOWDY DOODY CUSTODY FIGHT
The first icon of the Baby Boomers is enmeshed in a nasty custody fight.
Howdy Doody, the freckled-faced puppet who appeared on NBC from 1947 to
1960, is this subject of a legal battle between the Detroit Institute of
the Arts and the family of Rufus Rose, Howdy's puppeteer for most of the
Mr. Doody, for those much younger, was the star of one of the first
children's shows on television, back when TV was in black & white. This
was also before children's characters were transformed into cultural icons,
and given away with McDonald's hamburgers.
"Mr. Doody represents an age of innocence," said Kukla, an early television
age puppet. "We didn't get megabuck deals to endorse cereal back then,"
Kukla added. "We were lucky to get a good cleaning once a year."
"Howdy actually stands right at the turning point between vaudeville and
television," said Senor Wences famous box. "When we had to make the
transition from live stage shows to this new medium. A lot of us didn't
think we had a future until Howdy made it. It's all right."
Ventriloquism, which is now largely practiced by the handlers of
Presidential candidates, and puppeteering, also a modern political art
form, enthralled millions of children in the 1950's.
"It's Howdy Doody Time!" started the show, which also featured Buffalo Bob,
Howdy's straight man.
After the Howdy Doody show ended, custody of Howdy was given to Rufus Rose,
who then loaned Doody to Bob, who need the puppet to survive. Allegedly,
Mr. Rose had agreed to donate the puppet after his death to the Detroit
Institute of the Arts.
When Rose died, his family locked Doody up in a vault, and tried to offer
the puppet for sale through Leland's, a Manhattan auction house. Sources
at Leland's indicate the puppet ought to bring big bucks in a sale.
According to the New York Times, serious efforts have been made to verify
the genuine nature of Howdy, with his original maker being asked to visit
the puppet. There are, apparently, several Doody's around. DNA testing
has proven inconclusive, as Howdy was made from plastic wood.
Goniff & Gelt, a law firm of dubious stature, has filed a petition in court
to be appointed as legal counsel for the puppet. "In other custody fights,
the child gets their own lawyer, so why not Howdy?" asked a spokesman for
Goniff & Gelt. The Goniff firm seeks to have to proceeds of Howdy's auction
used to benefit children's educational television, after a deduction for
their "modest" fee.
The reason the Detroit Institute of the Arts is suing for custody of Howdy
remains unclear, though displaying the famous puppet is sure to improve
There are unconfirmed reports that Howdy is sinking into severe depression
while the legal battle rages around him. Matches and cigarette lighters
are prevented from being left in his storage area lest he commit puppetcide.
Copyright 2000 by Baja Arizona Publishing Company
Frumious Bandersnatch <http://www.bandersnatch.com/howdy.htm>
© 2000 Peter Langston