Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Rowlf the Dog on The Jimmy Dean Show

A while back we watched the most recent Muppet movie (the one with Jason Segel and Amy Adams – which we liked, by the way), and that got me to thinking about when I first saw the Muppets. In the early Sixties I liked Jimmy Dean's hit song "Big Bad John" (little boys on school playgrounds liked singing it because you could drop your voice down as low as you could get it on the "Big Bad John!" part). So when the musical/comedy/variety program THE JIMMY DEAN SHOW premiered on ABC in 1963, naturally enough I watched it. My dad liked country music, and he enjoyed the series, too, because singers such as Roger Miller, Buck Owens, and George Jones appeared regularly on it.
My favorite guest star, though – and this falls into the "variety" area – was Rowlf the Dog, a wisecracking puppet operated and voiced by a young puppeteer named Jim Henson. Henson's "Muppets" had been around since the mid-Fifties, appearing on various local TV shows, but THE JIMMY DEAN SHOW was their first national appearance. And Rowlf never failed to crack me up. I always looked forward to his appearances. He's long since been shoved aside as the star of the troupe, of course. While I like Kermit as much as anybody, I'll always have a soft spot for Rowlf.


Jerry House said...

A favorite of mine, too.

wayne d. dundee said...

Jeez, I had all but forgotten about Rowlf the Dog. Once again you really plucked the memory chord, James ... I liked Jimmy Dean, loved "Big Bad John", and had a huge boyhood crush (we'll call it that, and keep things clean) on Molly Bee!

#19 said...

So I'm 8 years late, but I too loved Rowlf. I was allowed to stay up late to watch Jimmy Dean if I'd already brushed teeth, put on PJs, etc. and went to bed without complaining once Rowlf was done. He was my first Muppet and got me interested in them to begin with.

Kermit guest-hosted Johnny Carson's "Tonight" as well.

James Reasoner said...

I saw that episode of THE TONIGHT SHOW when Kermit was the guest host. It was great! One of the guests--and I don't remember who--commented while being interviewed by Kermit, "I like to think there's some drunk out there just tuning in . . ."

Or was that on the episode hosted by Steve Martin wearing a giant rabbit head? Ah, back in the days when late-night TV was actually good.