A performer who delighted every American baby boomer, Lew Anderson by playing Clarabell the clown has passed away.
The Howdy Doody Show with Buffalo Bob Smith along with some other great characters charmed children through the new medium of television. For people my age, Clarabell was the first clown we ever saw and loved.
Clarabell used his bottle of seltzer to hose down his fellow actors for our amusement. His speech was only through pantomime and via a small bicycle horn on his waist. Clarabell communicated volumes of information that was understood by all.
Clarabell only spoke once and that was with a tear in his eye saying, “Goodbye kids” when the show was finally yanked off TV in 1960 after 1000 episodes.
Anderson was already an established jazz performer, and bandleader when he took on the role of Clarabell.
Anderson has died at age 84 from prostrate cancer complications in a Hawthorne, NY hospice.
Bob Keeshan, who went on to become Captain Kangaroo and Bobby Nicholson also played Clarabell in earlier episodes.
Buffalo Bob Smith passed away in 1998. Anderson is survived by his son, Chris, his wife, Peggy of South Salem, N.Y.; another son, Lewis Jr.; a stepdaughter, Lorie George; and five grandchildren.
Clarabell was really funny. I loved it when he had a hard time making himself understood and he'd wave his arms around and toot the horn. It was also funny when he'd "sneak up" on someone and let them have it with the water.
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