Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hee-Haw: 1969-1992, Part Fourteen...

Well, good Wednesday afternoon!! I came across an article about Hee-Haw that was published on February 27th this year...it's a lengthy, respectful write-up/article about the show as a whole. The article, as I found out when I read the entire thing, was originally written in early January of 2011, though! It's still a good article. I didn't research my previous Hee-Haw blog entries to see if I'd posted a link to that particular article or not and so I'm going to post the link in this blog entry. The article appears on a site called thislandpress and the article's written by an author named Jeff Martin.

You can read the article here: Why Hee Haw Still Matters.

I hesitate to embed Hee-Haw videos on my blog pages due to the ever-changing availability of them through the course of time. I did a blog entry a couple of years back and embedded quite a few You Tube videos of the show...only to visit the blog several weeks later to find the videos unavailable for play-back. Either the video's uploader had removed them from public display (disabling the embedding feature) or they were taken down by the uploader for whatever reason. When this happens it creates a void for any blog entry that embeds a video clip...once the centerpiece of a blog entry is removed (such as an embedded video) then the blog entry itself makes little sense.

Anyway...that's a big reason why I don't embed too many videos anymore in my blogs. However, I'm going to break my unwritten rule on today's blog entry and embed a video clip from the late '80s era of the show. As many blog readers of mine are aware of, I grew up watching Hee-Haw every Saturday evening in the '80s...and when it was moved to Saturday afternoons, to make way for the Saturday evening additions of a couple of game shows, I'd catch it often. So I was raised on the '80s and early '90s installments of the show. The Cowboy Quartet didn't gain as much commercial popularity as The Hee-Haw Gospel Quartet did but nevertheless The Cowboy Quartet had a recurring segment on the show in the late '80s. I came across a newer video clip of this quartet and the content is below...



As you can see from the video, this is one of the final episodes of the rural format. I have no idea, though, when it was originally aired but I see that Jeff Smith is among the singers. At the start of the clip you'll see the last few seconds of a Gailard Sartain sketch where he played an owner of a flea market ever trying to break into the music business...but the camera would always pull away every time he'd whip out his guitar. Cathy Baker introduces the Quartet. Judging by the appearances of the cast-members (physical appearances, hairstyles) it looks as if this clip comes from the 1989-1990 or 1990-1991 season.

As I commented on in the previous Hee-Haw blog entries I've written, the reruns that TNN and later, CMT, aired of the show were mostly from the '80s and a precious few from the final 1990-1991 rural season. TNN once aired the Alan Jackson episode...at the time it was one of the few latter-day episodes of the series to be re-aired. The reason why I like to spotlight the show's mid '80s and early '90s run as much as possible is because #1 that's the era of the program I grew up seeing every weekend. I'll always have a fondness for those episodes. The second reason I like to spotlight those episodes is because I think, sometimes, those particular episodes get a bad wrap because they don't feature the core line-up as they're referred to by many, many fans of the show. That core line-up that's usually referred to often contained comics/entertainers that were no longer among the living by the late '80s: Archie Campbell, Junior Samples, Jimmy Riddle, and Kenny Price. Stringbean, one of the show's most popular earlier cast-members, was murdered in November 1973. His episodes were still airing each weekend (all of his segments had been taped in the late summer of 1973). On the show, which he'd been on since it's 1969 debut, he appeared in many banjo musical numbers and had a recurring sketch where he'd read a "letter from home". Also, he appeared as the scarecrow in the Kornfield joke segment, offering one-liners about how miserable he was having to listen to all the corny jokes. A black crow puppet was perched over his shoulder. After his murder, the new shows from 1974 onward featured a scarecrow in the Kornfield as a memorial. The black crow puppet continued to appear as before. Those earliest episodes which feature Stringbean currently air on RFD-TV.  

Meanwhile...getting back to the mid '80s...co-host Buck Owens had left the program after the 1985-1986 season wrapped up...on top of that there was what the show's producer, Sam Lovullo, refers to as the great cast shake-up of 1986 which saw the exits of quite a few long-time cast-members.

When the show returned in the fall of 1986 it was considerably different, cast-wise, but there were still a lot of familiar faces as well: Roy Clark, Gordie Tapp, Gunilla Hutton, Grandpa Jones, Lulu Roman, George Lindsey, Gailard Sartain, etc. etc.  Also, the guest co-host position was introduced at the start of the 1986-1987 season. This was a popular addition but it was ultimately phased out by the start of the 1990-1991 season. In it's final season, of rural decor, Roy Clark was the sole host of the program. He was back as the host when the series returned in January 1992 in the urbanized setting under the slightly different name, The Hee-Haw Show. This was the format that aired until May 1992...which ultimately lead to the program going out of production that summer. Hee-Haw Silver premiered in the fall of 1992 and it ran through the spring of 1993. Afterwards reruns of the show began airing on The Nashville Network in the fall of 1993. Reruns continued to air on TNN on a consistent basis through 1996...and occasionally through 1997. They aired on CMT infrequently after that before the series left the airwaves entirely...popping up in a series of DVD's from Time-Life. The program returned to the airwaves, in rerun form, in 2008 on RFD-TV where it's been airing ever since.

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