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Iowa History Daily: June 9 - Debut of Duane and Floppy

Iowa History Daily: On June 9, 1957, Duane Ellett and Floppy first appeared on the popular WHO-TV Des Moines program “The Floppy Show.” Running from 1957 to 1987, the duo debuted on the show “Pet Corner” before becoming a break-out success on their own show.

Ellett, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, attended Drake University. Initially interested in studying law, a class in journalism led to a job with WHO Radio in 1947. Developing various entertainment skills including ventriloquism, Ellett regularly appeared on both radio and television programming for WHO over the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Carved by Ellett from balsa wood, Floppy the high-voiced beagle awed Iowa children eager to boop his nose for good luck. One of several characters brought to life by Ellett’s ventriloquism, Floppy became well known for segments where he would answer riddles from participating children. Paired with vintage “Looney Toons” and “Tom and Jerry” cartoon clips, the cast of Ellett’s puppets also performed short sketches.

Off camera, Ellett also tirelessly worked to bring Floppy out to visit children. Known for doing over 200 personal appearances a year during the glory years of the show, memories of meeting Floppy reside in the minds of many Iowans of a certain age. Often asking “Why did the man put the car in the oven” hoping to get the answer “Because he wanted a hot-rod,” children never grew tired of Floppy getting the riddle wrong.

After the show ended in 1984, Ellett and Floppy continued to appear on other WHO programs until the performer’s death in 1987. Floppy lives on, currently in the collection of the State Historical Society of Iowa and recently on display in the State Historical Museum, at the Ankeny Area Historical Museum, and during a stint at the Iowa State Fair. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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