"I watched the show last summer at my mom's home while on vacation, and I feel Ernie Coombs has done a marvelous job of keeping the show alive. He's a truly talented man with a heart for children....I consider him Canada's answer to Fred Rogers. Although I'm unsure if he has produced any newer episodes of that show, I do know that in the early 1990's he produced several episodes, and CBC has faithfully been showing those. (I would love to know if he is the one responsible for all of the creative ideas and clever songs.) But aside from the character changes, the classic scenario of Mr. Dressup's home with the Tickle Trunk filled with his many costumes is still there, as is the treehouse in his backyard."
- Lynda VE
I found an article about Mr Dressups retirement and it stated that Casey and Finnegan were buried with their puppeteer when she died.
- R Davis
As a correction to some of the information regarding the disappearance of Casey and Finnigan on the "Mr. Dressup" show, it was due to the puppeteer retiring from the show following a contract dispute, not due to a fire.
This puppeteer (a woman who's name I cannot recall) performed all of the puppets on the show, including Alligator Al (not 'Crocodile Al' as listed in your article).
Ernie Coombs (a.k.a. Mr. Dressup) definitely does live appearances for different events such as childrens' festivals, etc.
This is another confirmation to let you know that Judith Lawrence, the puppeteer of Casey & Finnegan on Mr. Dressup, IS alive & well & living in Vancouver, B.C. Her reason for living was simply that she retired. She was never fired. Ernie Coombs is no longer making Mr. Dressup, but it is still being shown. He appears now & then live on stage. His current performance is in "Cinderella", playing the father. He has about 8 more shows left, going into the New Year. A lot of people may not know this, but his wife was killed in a car accident a few years ago. She used to run a day-care centre in Toronto called Butternut Square.
Robert (Bob) M. Homme of Friendly Giant fame retired & is living in Grafton, Ontario. He hasn't given up music, however, & plays regularly at The Grafton Inn, accompanied by a pianist. I actually found an address for him.
All the best, Linda Gillies
Stumbled accross your site and really enjoy it. Was very interested to see a number of CBC kids series that I remember well. Mr. Dressup, Freindly Giant etc...
I vaguely remember 2 CBC kids shows for the mid 70's... One was called Dr. Zonk & the Zunkans and the other was called Coming Up Rosie. Dr. Zonk had some sort of puppet Aliens, and I think Coming Up Rosie had something to do with greeting card company...I was quite young. Strangly, I also recall the two shows being related somehow.
What I now find interesting about these old shows is thay they featured the late John Candy and I believe a number of other old Second City people. I would be thrilled if someone could remember any more details about the shows.
I also remember Dr. Zonk and Coming Up Rosie, two CBC shows in the 1970s. Besides John Candy, they featured Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd (who added to CBC legend by accidentally falling through a glass skylight in the studio), Catherine O'Hara, Rosemary Radcliffe, Fiona Reid, and (occasionally) other Second City veterans (although they weren't veterans then) like Ben Gordon.
The CBC Museum (in the CBC Broadcasting Centre in Toronto) has free daily screenings of old shows, which is how I saw episodes of those two shows a couple of summers ago. I've also seen episodes of the Canadian "Howdy Doody Show" and the classic "Razzle Dazzle" (with Howard the Turtle) there.
If you live in, or will be visiting the Toronto area, contact the CBC Museum for a schedule of screenings. I think they have a page on the CBC website (www.cbc.ca), or you can write to them c/o CBC, Box 500, Stn. A, Toronto, ON, CANADA M5W 1E6.
Unfortunately, brutal cutbacks and copyright restrictions have severely limited the shows available for screening, and none of them are available for rental or purchase. If you really want an old CBC show, you might have some luck if you can contact members of the creative team directly. I got some fabulous stuff by Peppiatt & Aylesworth (the very first CBC TV comedy team, who later moved to the States to write for Andy Williams and Judy Garland, and to create and produce "Hee Haw"), by tracking down John Aylesworth, who sent me a video of old kinescopes, with a delightful personal note attached.
I also have another unpleasant update on Mr. Dressup. A couple of years ago, at a CBC Open House, the CBC (in a typical move) chose to display the legendary Tickle Trunk, by just putting it in a corner of a studio, with no protection whatsoever. At the end of the day, it had disappeared---carted off by individuals who have never been caught. (I got this information from a lady who appeared in several of the later episodes of "Mr. Dressup".)
- Patte Rosebank / Toronto, ON
A year before Ernie Combs died, we received this:
"Just came across the site - it is Aug. 4, 2000. Ernie Coombs is busier than ever with stage shows, live performances and charity functions. He enjoys holiday time at his long-time summer place on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Casey & Finnegan are doing well with their puppeteer in B.C.
"For a man over 70 he has more enrgy and zest for life than anyone I know. He has been a family friend and neighbor for 35+ years to my husband's family and to me for 26. We don't see him a lot because he's always on the go! His artwork is glorious and he is very talented in that respect. My in-laws have a couple of pieces in their home. He very graciously attended a "thank-you Mr.Dressup" day at my kids school a few years back and thrilled the kids with his stories and a bit of sketchwork. I shall have them framed one day soon. His lovely wife, Lynne, is still deeply missed by all who knew her and her bright smile and infectous laugh. Butternut Square was the name of the Nursery School she owned and ran in Pickering. His children have given him grandchildren and he travels abroad to see his son and family there. His daughter and her family are nearby. He is a very funny man, kind, humble and giving of himself in a generous way. I am glad to have known him all these years and always wish him well in whatever he does.
"It is with great saddness that a great childrens icon of joyful happiness passed away at 1:45am on 18 Sept. 2001.
"Mr.Dressup will be deeply sadly missed by those who first watched his early shows until his recent death. I had the pleasure of watching him as a young child.. then too watch him with my own young children. I wish too express my deepest condolences too the Coomb family and will grief with the rest of Mr.Dressup's fans both young and old alike."
In March, 2003, syndicated radio morning hosts Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch ('Bob and Sheri') were forced to apologize to Canadians for making fun of their beloved Mr. Dressup.
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