Monday, November 26, 2012

A Tribute to Mr. Dressup

Today would have been Ernie Coombs' 85th birthday. The iconic children's entertainer was born on November 26, 1927 in Lewiston, Maine. In 1963, Coombs understudied for one Fred Rogers in a pre - Mr. Rogers stint in Canada. After working on a show called Butternut Square for three years, Ernie Coombs headlined a new show in 1967: a CBC children's television program called Mr. Dressup. Alongside his puppet companions—a boy named Casey and and a dog named Finnegan, Mr. Dressup would sing, dance, show documentaries and make arts and crafts for children watching at home. As his name suggested, Mr. Dressup would often be found rummaging for costumes in his seemingly bottomless and intricately crafted, red Tickle Trunk for the countless spirited games of dress-up he and his puppet folk (and sometimes real folks) would engage in. It's remarkable to think that in an era prior to mobile phones and social media, Ernie Coombs portrayed a character whose specialty was make-believe—and he did this for 29 seasons (1967-1996).

Today, the generation weaned on Coombsian make-believe awoke (via our mobile devices) to view a contemporary nod from a multimedia giant: the 85th anniversary of Mr. Coombs' birth was enshrined in a distinctive Google Doodle. A simple but genuine tribute, appreciated and loved by those who knew him best.

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