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Howdy Doody was a television program for children that was created and produced by E. Roger Muir and broadcast on NBC in the USA from 1947 until 1960. It set the pattern for many similar shows, because itwas a pioneer in children's programming. It was also a pioneer in early color production as NBC used the show in part to sell color television sets in the 1950s.
Howdy Doody himself was a boy marionette (with 48 freckles, one for each state of the union), and was originally voiced by Buffalo Bob Smith.
The Howdy Doody show's various marionettes were created and built by puppeteers Scott Brinker, Velma Wayne Dawson and Rufus Rose throughout the show's run. The redheaded Howdy marionette on the original show was operated with 11 strings: two head, one mouth, one eyes, two shoulders, one back, two hands and two knees. Three strings were added when the show returned - two elbows and one nose.
There were also other marionettes: Flub-a-dub and the brothers of Phineas T.: Don José and Hector Hamhock Bluster.
Howdy Doody dolls are/were made by: Danbury Mint, Madame Alexander, Knickerbocker, Ideal and others. There are also Howdy Doody ventriloquist puppets.
As both the character and television program grew in popularity, demand for Howdy Doody-related merchandise began to surface. By 1948, toymakers and department stores had been approached with requests for Howdy Doody dolls and similar items. Macy's department store contacted Frank Paris, the creator of the puppet, to ask about rights for a Howdy Doody doll. However, while Paris had created the puppet, Bob Smith owned the rights to the character. An argument ensued between the two men, Paris claiming he felt he was being cheated out of any financial benefits. After one such disagreement, Paris took the puppet and angrily left the NBC studios about four hours before the show was to air live. It was not the first time this happened, leaving the live program with no "star".
Source and more history: Wikipedia.