Wildly popular, pioneering early children's program (1947-1960) that established the genre and became a cultural phenomenon: Kean wrote more than 2,000 episodes and invented the show's many colorful characters (1947-55), coming up also with its famed "Cowabunga!" tagline, its theme song and every other song sung on the show (97 of them), while Smith was its long-time beloved host. Item #44944
Archive of letters and documents relating to copyright infringement issues as pursued by the "Howdy Doody" chief writer and its host in the 1990s and '00s. This fascinating and complex archive contains many hundreds of items -- dozens of original letters ranging from lengthy and meaty legal topics to personal matters to brief notes transmitting newspaper articles and countless photocopied book and other excerpts containing "Howdy Doody" content, the majority with handwritten addenda from Kean.Only a few letters and an inscribed 8" X 10" photograph hail from "Buffalo Bob" Smith, who died shortly after he and Kean retained a law firm to protect their interests. The vast majority originate with Kean, who developed a close personal relationship with his attorney (who grew up watching "Howdy Doody" and was a fan). This portion includes dozens of letters, postcards and notes on personal matters, chatting about public appearances and other public recognitions, and also including numerous Christmas and greeting cards, the occasional "Howdy Doody" product such as bumper stickers, booklets, etc. Many concern use of Kean's tagline "Cowabunga!" and their efforts to protect its usage.Many of Kean's gossipy, irreverent, always-amusing letters contain enlightening comments about script writing, music composing and other aspects of the "Howdy Doody" show and early television. On August 6, 1998, for instance, he writes:"The fact is... my job, & what I was paid for, was to write a script a day (exc. Saturday, Sunday and when a Balinese new moon and earthquake on Saturn occurred simultaneously) for 7½ years."At some (early) point, just to get away from the typewriter for a while, I went to the piano... and wrote a song to fit in with the script -- just for a break in the action. It was an unsolicited extra. Fitting 'em in the storyline was -- on a juvenile, Eddie-amateurish level but equivalent to when Richard Rodgers and Oscar H. did same with their songs for OKLAHOMA, et al."Anyway, as the years flew (or crawled), I ended writing 97 songs. I tried to reach 100, but fell 3 short. The 3 I didn't write were: 'Tea for Two,' 'Night and Day,' and 'Pagliacci.'"The payoff came, tho, with the RCA albums."To explain: I always abhorred the cloying, namby-pamby typical kind of children's song, such as 'Mary Had a Little Clone' or 'Jack and Bill' or 'Hillary Dickory Dock.' So -- I tried to write kids' lyrics, of course, bot not too ploying, and importantly, music that sounded like pop tunes instead of nursery rhyme stuff...."Among the important original legal documents is a December 21, 2001 "Transfer of Rights Agreement" in which Smith's executor gives rights to all "Howdy Doody" songs exclusively to Kean, as well as much related paperwork and letters from Kean and others on this issue. Another file includes a sheaf of Kean letters and related paperwork concerning issues regarding protecting rights to specific "Howdy Doody" songs. There are retained copies of residual payments and other income statements.This archive also contains numerous retained photocopies of important and confidential legal documents such as a May 12, 1987 four-page letter of agreement from NBC Enterprises to Smith spelling out in detail which "Howdy Doody" rights Smith retains and which NBC retains and how much each pays the other and a hefty January 23, 2001 U.S. District Court ruling about the ownership of Smith's original "Howdy Doody" marionette after his death. A great many of these miscellaneous photocopies bear original notes and attached notes from Kean to his attorney.This extensive archive sheds much light on "Howdy Doody" creators' efforts to protect their rights to the show long after it had gone off the air but while use of its characters and music in the popular media (without due credit) proliferated. In a larger sense, the archive highlights the continuing broad cultural impact of this landmark show on American society. It's a rich archive that scholars and historians of television history will find well worth researching.