Cozi TV announced plans last week for an Independence Day marathon of The Howdy Doody Show. The six-hour marathon will feature nine episodes of the long-running children’s show plus a new “Howdy Doody for President” special. It will be the first time any episodes have been seen on television since 1960. The marathon will air from 9AM to 3PM ET on Monday, July 4th.
The Howdy Doody Show aired on NBC from December 1947 to September 1960 and produced more than 2,000 episodes. Howdy ran for president in 1948 and 1952. The new “Howdy Doody for President” special will include footage culled from his presidential runs plus Howdy’s thoughts on the current political situation. Each episode will also feature a new introduction from Howdy.
From a press release announcing the marathon:
In 2014, COZI TV originally licensed The New Howdy Doody Show, a syndicated series from the 1970s. However, that wasn’t enough for devotees of the original show, who pitched the network seeking a return of the original series. One keeper of the Howdy Doody flame is Burt Dubrow, Executive Producer of the Dr. Drew Show for HLN, and former producer of Sally Jessy Raphael and Jerry Springer. Dubrow was also the road manager during college tour appearances in the 1970s for “Buffalo” Bob Smith, the human star of Howdy Doody who created the character and provided Howdy’s voice.
“I am friendly with COZI TV’s consulting creative director, Alan Goodman,” said Dubrow. “I called him up and gave him a piece of my mind.”
Goodman subsequently led a two-year effort to return the original show to America’s airwaves. Fortunately, Dubrow had a personal collection. Combined with the archives of fellow collectors, COZI TV was able to successfully compile enough material for the July 4 marathon.
“In many ways, we can be grateful tracking this all down took the time it took, because the process has landed us right in the middle of one of the most bizarre presidential campaigns in history,” said McGinn. “We’ll leave it up to every voter to decide whether Howdy Doody is the most unlikely candidate for the job.”
I’d love to know more about the “two-year effort to return the original show to America’s airwaves.” According to an Associated Press article, Dubrow and Goodman first had to determine who owns the rights to The Howdy Doody Show. NBC–or some arm of NBCUniversal–does. Cozi TV is also part of NBCUniversal. The two then had to track down prints of episodes.
The press release suggests the episodes were sourced from private collectors rather than NBC. Back in 2008, Mill Creek Entertainment released a DVD collection of 40 episodes originally broadcast between 1949 to 1954. Those episodes were supposedly drawn “from the NBC Universal vaults” so NBC must have some episodes of The Howdy Doody Show preserved somewhere.
The Associated Press also reports that should the marathon be successful, Cozi TV has additional episodes ready to air. I’m not personally interested in watching The Howdy Doody Show. However, I am all for Cozi TV expanding its classic TV offerings. Much of its programming consists of popular, long-running shows. Many are from the 1970s or 1980s.
While The Howdy Doody Show certainly has name recognition, it hasn’t been endlessly syndicated for decades. If the marathon draws enough viewers, perhaps it will get Cozi TV to consider adding other shows that aren’t necessarily well-known or haven’t been seen in 50 years. Or this may wind up being a one-off experiment.