12 puppets from our childhood that kids today desperately need in their lives
We wish Howdy Doody, Lamb Chop and Topo Gigio were still around.
Image: Everett Collection, Associated Press/Nick Ut
In our youth, some of the best characters on television weren't actors, they were puppets. They were friendly, sometimes furry, and fun to watch. It's no wonder puppets have been a staple of children's television since the medium's inception.
It doesn't matter when we grew up, every generation has a few puppets they adore. Were you a fan of Howdy Doody, Kukla and Ollie, or Big Bird and Kermit the Frog? Here are a dozen puppets that helped define our childhoods.
1. Howdy Doody
The puppet that put puppets on the map, Howdy Doody set the stage for children's programming for decades to come. The puppet told jokes, interacted with his human costars, and most importantly made kids around the country laugh.
2. Lamb Chop
When Howdy Doody ended its run 1960, another famous puppet took over in the same time slot. The Shari Lewis Show introduced the country to Lamb Chop, a precocious 6-year-old "girl," and her friends Hush Puppy and Charlie Horse.
Lamb Chop's spunk stole the show and gave her longevity in show business few puppets have ever had. In the early 1990s, Lamb Chop was given her own show on PBS called Lamb Chop's Play-Along. Unfortunately, since the untimely death of Shari Lewis in 1998, Lamb Chop's popularity has faded considerably.
Image: A&M Video
3. Kukla and Ollie
At the same time Howdy Doody entertained kids in the morning, Kukla and Ollie entertained them at night. On the show Kukla, Fran and Ollie, the two puppets proved you didn't always need real actors on primetime television. Kids and adults alike were fans of the show, including Orson Welles and John Steinbeck.
Image: The Kuklapolitan Website
4. Topo Gigio
By the 1960s, puppets took the form of humans and animals, but perhaps the most unusual was this Italian mouse. Topo Gigio was already a star in his native Italy, as well as in Spain. But like the biggest foreign talents of the day, the mouse didn't become a sensation in the United States until he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
5. Kermit the Frog
The undisputed king of puppets, Kermit the Frog is still around today. But the Muppet we saw on the recently canceled 2015 sitcom The Muppets is a far cry from the one Jim Henson created.
Kermit is the fair and levelheaded leader of the Muppet gang, and his influence can still be felt around the world. He's more of celebrity than a puppet, headlining movies, starring in entertainment specials, appearing on talk shows, and even charting songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
Image: Associated Film Distribution
6. Big Bird
We could have included any one of the puppets on the long-running children's program Sesame Street, but there's no doubt Big Bird is the face (and feathers and wings) of the show. The energetic and friendly bird was constantly learning new things and exploring the world around him, just like we were as children. His character was used to teach us big lessons, too. Remember when Big Bird learned about death after Mr. Hooper passed away? We get choked up just thinking about it.
Image: Sesame Workshop
7. Bert and Ernie
We couldn't mention Sesame Street without bringing up Ernie and Bert. They're best friends who do everything together, but they constantly get on each other's nerves. Watching this duo argue and work out their problems taught us how to deal with others while growing up, and that was a valuable lesson to learn.
Image: Sesame Workshop
8. King Friday XIII and Sara Saturday
The two best days of the week are also the names of two of the best puppets on television. In the Neighborhood of Make-Believe on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, these two monarchs let us into their kingdom every morning and made us feel like royal family. To this day, we still think every Friday the 13th is King Friday's birthday.
9. Garfield Goose
Although Garfield Goose and Friends didn't receive widespread attention like other puppets did on children's television during the 1950s and 1960s, people from Chicago will definitely remember the titular water fowl. A hallmark of local programming, Garfield Goose led its show for over 20 years, becoming not only an icon for children, but also for the city of Chicago.