On May 14, actor and musician Lew Anderson lost his battle with prostate cancer. Though he was celebrated for his role as the mute Clarabell the Clown on The Howdy Doody Show, his music career was most enduring. He was 84.
His foray into music began during World War II when he played with military bands at the Pacific Theater. Later, he became a member of the Honey Dreamers, which made appearances on TV variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show. It was during this time that Anderson met Buffalo Bob Smith, the star and creator of Howdy Doody, and began his acting career. During his stint as Clarabell, Anderson also served as vocal arranger for NBC’s annual Miss America Pageant for over a decade.
In the 1970s Anderson formed the All-American Big Band. The group featured the best New York City session musicians and Broadway pit players. The band eventually signed a record deal with the Sovereign label, releasing Feelin’ Good, Yeah, Fired Up and Live at the Blazer from 1989 to 1998. Beginning in 1997, the band appeared regularly on Friday nights at New York’s Birdland club. For the man who spoke The Howdy Doody Show‘s last words, “Goodbye kids,” it is now his fans’ turn to wish him farewell.