'Buffalo' Bob Smith, resplendent in his fringed cowboy outfit, was the host and co-creator of the ground-breaking Howdy Doody Show
. He even wrote the show's sing-along theme, "It's Howdy Doody Time" (Bob got his start in radio as a singer and musician). Every show, Bob would ask ''Say, kids, what time is it?'' and the Peanut Gallery would roar "'It's Howdy Doody time!" and together they'd sing the theme. It was the first television show to feature live music.
In 1947, when the series began, there were perhaps as few as 20,000 U.S. homes that even had television sets. Bob and puppet Howdy helped propel NBC, which had only six stations then, to national prominence. In fact, in 1954, the network's test pattern featured a picture of Howdy. It was the first TV series ever broadcast in color and RCA, which owned NBC at the time, used Bob and the show to help popularize color television sets. After "Howdy" moved to early evenings, the show was so popular that people would gather in front of appliance store windows to watch it, as they did with baseball games.
Morning after morning (it was the first network kids show to run 5 days a week and, for a time, the first network show of the day), 'Buffalo' Bob would take care of a growing number of America's kids for half-an-hour while their folks prepared for the busy day ahead. Although after the show was cancelled he "retired" to the life of a radio station owner, Bob Smith was never forgotten by the legion of baby boomers he helped raise and he continued to make personal appearances all over the country (as well as on film and TV) until his passing in 1998.