15 June 2006 | animal_8_5
Mr. Dressup Never Dressed Anybody Down
Ernie Coombs was an American cartoonist cum television personality who was hired by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to appear as a character named Mr. Dressup in a children's program, "Butternut Square". While the show became popular, Mr. Dressup had the most appeal and got his own series within a few years. The opening animation was always interesting - this was animated for many years by crack CBC staffer Gary Pearson, who did a great job of duplicating Coombs drawing style and putting it in motion.
The two puppets Casey and Finnegan were great characters for Mr. Dressup to play off. Casey, the naive little boy with a slight British accent and his silly dog Finnegan, who made us all laugh. Coombs style was simple, tasteful and respectful. It wasn't the zany, condescending, almost lewd style some kid's programs, like "Tree House", "Soupy Sales", "Uncle Floyd" and others embraced. He, Casey and Finnegan would have a challenging craft, or dress up for a fun little skit, but it never got lascivious, or offensive. I have to take my Napoleon hat off to him for that!
CBC always recognized the importance of quality children's programming, with shows like "Chez Helene", "Friendly Giant", the first incarnation of "Mister Rogers" and later on "Sesame Street", "Fred Penner" and so on. Puppeteer Judith Lawrence retired and Coombs died in the mid-1990s, effectively ending production. However, the show remains extremely popular with kids in reruns, as CBC occasionally shows them today.