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Detroit Shows Off Howdy Doody Doll

April 5, 2001

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DETROIT (AP) _ It’s Howdy Doody time in the Motor City.

The freckle-faced marionette makes his Detroit debut Friday night in his new, permanent home, the Detroit Institute of Arts.

It marks the end of a two-year custody battle between the museum and the family of the late Rufus Rose, the puppeteer of Howdy Doody.

The 28-inch puppet will be on view until May 13.

``After that, we’ll check him into our conservation lab for some R&R and then make some long-term plans about how to display him,″ said Larry Baranski, curator of the museum’s puppet collection.

Howdy Doody joins a Kermit the Frog and a Civil War-era Punch and Judy in the museum’s collection of some 850 puppets.

``He was there for the birth of network television and nothing much from that early era survives,″ Baranski said. ``Howdy is really the first popular culture thing connected to TV.″

The museum had claimed that Rose, who took the puppet to his Waterford, Conn., studio after the show went off the air in 1960, promised to donate it. Rose’s family argued that there was no promise and that the puppet may not even be the original Howdy.

In January, a federal judge ruled that the puppet is the same one used when the show went off the air and therefore belongs to the museum.

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On the Net:

Detroit Institute of Arts: http://www.dia.org

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