Howdy Doody, 1960: Clarabell The Clown Ends It With Two Words

By | September 24, 2020

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Clarabell delivers his farewell. Source: YouTube

On September 24, 1960, the children's TV institution Howdy Doody came to an end, and it was Clarabell the Clown who made sure we knew it was truly over. Clarabell was an important cast member, though unlike the chatty puppet Howdy Doody and main host Buffalo Bob, Clarabell never said a word. In 13 years, that clown -- played by Bob Keeshan, Nick Nicholson and Lew Anderson -- never said a damn word. But on the show's finale, after prodding by Bob, Clarabell turned to the camera and tearfully whispered, "Goodbye kids." And suddenly, it was no longer Howdy Doody time, and never would be again. Nothing lasts forever, kids.

'Howdy Doody's Finale Was Called 'Clarabell's Big Surprise'

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Buffalo Bob Smith, Howdy Doody, and Clarabell The Clown on 'Howdy Doody.' Source: Nostalgia Central

Long before the Game of Thrones finale stunned the masses, there was the final episode of the 1950s phenomenon Howdy Doody that set the standard for how television shows would conclude throughout the future. During an era when series would simply just end as if it was another episode, the 13-year-running program Howdy Doody was the first series to finish with a bang of significance with “Clarabell’s Big Surprise” when only two words were spoken by the miming clown Clarabell who had not said one word up until that point. Every TV-watching child of the 1950s should be able to tell you where they were when those last few seconds left them speechless.