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Iowa History Daily: May 7 - Lew Anderson

Iowa History Daily: On May 7, 1922, American actor and musician Lew Anderson of ‘Howdy Doody’ show fame was born in Kirkman, Iowa. Anderson was a notable jazz arranger and big band leader in addition to his far-famed role as Clarabell the Clown on ‘Howdy Doody.’

Growing up in Shelby County, Anderson took up the clarinet after his sister abandoned the instrument. In high school, Anderson formed a dance band and used his talents to attend community college in Fort Dodge and later Drake University in Des Moines. He eventually ended up working in Lee Barron’s Orchestra out of Omaha before he served upon the USS Howard W. Gilmore during World War II. He started his own band while serving in the war.

During the post-war years, Anderson performed with “The Honey Dreamers” while appearing on shows including “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Eventually, “Buffalo” Bob Smith offered him the role of Clarabell on the “Howdy Doody Show.”

Later in life, Anderson successfully wrote many popular advertising jingles for companies including Pepsi and Buick. Additionally, he formed the 16-piece jazz orchestra called “The Lew Anderson All-American Big Band.” #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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