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10 March 2007

Mr. Dressup

Ernest Arthur Coombs was born in Lewiston, Maine, on November 26, 1927. Initially trained as a commercial artist, Coombs later graduated from the Pittsburgh Miniature Theatre. Among his classmates was Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood fame.

In 1963, Ernie Coombs came to Canada to work as a puppeteer on Fred Rogers' children's series Misterogers, broadcast on CBC television. Within 1 year, Rogers returned to the U.S. and Ernie Coombs got his own show. (History tells us that Fred Rogers went on to great success as the host of the beloved PBS children's program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.)

Ernie Coombs starred in Butternut Square from 1964-1967, and upon it's cancellation, he presented an improved version called Mr. Dressup. On February 13, 1967, Mr. Dressup premiered on CBC and enchanted children with it's magical world of make-believe.

Through Mr. Dressup, Ernie Coombs developed an intimate connection with his audience by talking directly to the camera. Children watching were encouraged to use their imagination as Mr. Dressup pulled colorful costumes from his Tickle Trunk and showed them how to make crafts from ordinary household items. (I remember making stuff inspired by Mr. Dressup.)

Throughout my early childhood, I had a standing 10:30 am appointment with Mr. Dressup and his puppets Casey, Finnegan, Alligator Al, etc. Just the sound of the little piano intro takes me right back...

images: (1) answers.com (2-3) cbc.ca

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8 Comments:

Blogger Davecat said...

Gods, I used to love watching Mr Dressup. That show, along with the Friendly Giant and Wok with Yan, comprise my earliest encounters with Canadian television. Although, for the longest time, I wasn't sure if Casey was a boy or a girl... Plus, apparently Finnegan spoke in subsonics, as no-one apart from Mr Dressup and Casey could hear what he was saying. Lovely stuff!

12:33 pm  
Blogger Stinkypaw said...

I still watch him every so often... ahh the memories... thanks J!

5:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sigh....I just wanna be a kid again !!! Rehashing these wonderful memories, reminds me how life goes by at warp speed and how very important it is to embrace every moment !!! Mousse xoxoxox

7:39 pm  
Blogger cityofmushrooms said...

rock on, mr dress-up!

4:17 pm  
Blogger Nanuk of the North said...

I loved Mr. Dressup so much. Mr. Dressup, Friendly Giant and Chez Helene were the Big Three shows in our house.

2:48 pm  
Anonymous nina said...

I remember watching this in black and white while jumping on my parents bed circa 1973. And of course the Friendly Giant with that loveseat to curl up on... I can't believe that this blog exists. We seem to have had the same childhood even down to the Laurier bbq. Left Montreal in '78...

1:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really dont remember watching mr. dressup but my mom tells me it was my fave show as a youngster, i'm now 43 and still have great memories of casey and finnegan.

8:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My brother watched the show as Butternut Square, but I was born in '64 so it was Mr. Dressup for me. I too had a date each morning with Mr. Dressup. I can even remember my kindergarten teacher putting it on the tall tv set now and then. I loved the crafts he made and I, too, replicated his crafts at home. My brother and sister and I also played "Mr. Dressup" at home, with my sister being Mr. Dressup as she was 7 years older. Our bunk bed with a sheet tucked in all around the top bunk became the tree house. Chez Helen and Friendly Giant rounded out the morning. Such simple times, but so satisfying.

1:35 pm  

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