Iowa History Daily: September 27 - Dr. Max and Mombo
Iowa History Daily: On September 27, 1981, Dr. Max and Mombo signed off Iowa airwaves for the final time. The iconic children’s television program “The Dr. Max Show” wowed Iowa audiences for two decades while featuring a traveling doctor and a clown named Mombo.
The show first debuted on WMT-TV of Cedar Rapids in January of 1961 after local community theater and occasional voice actor Max Hahn retired from his job as a printer on the graveyard shift. Decked out in a safari-themed jacket, Hahn’s character traveled the world while making house calls as a doctor. The show also featured iconic cartoons including the likes of Foghorn Leghorn and Huckleberry Hound.
After ratings outpaced local competitors, the show took off in part thanks to a ‘Mickey Mouse’ coloring contest which drew in entries from over 25,000 children. In early episodes Hahn would often improvisationally attribute unintended off-screen noises to a fictional character named Mombo. The gag developed into a scapegoat for any issues on the show, and children eventually started to pen letters requesting Mombo appear in the show.
Pulling in a Quaker Oats employee and community theater friend of Hahn’s named Fred Petrick, Mombo the clown debuted appeared as a mute but visible presence on the show for nearly a month. After the crowd demanded the clown speak, an iconic Iowa television due captured the hearts of generations of Iowa children. Appearing at parades, store openings, and other events in addition to the show, Max and Mombo stayed on-air until Hahn’s failing health led to retirement in 1981. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar