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The most memorable thing about The Red Buttons Show was an inane little song that Red sang called the Ho-Ho song. Red would put his hands together in a gesture of supplication, lean his head against them at a funny angle, and hop around the stage singing “Ho! Ho! He! He! Ha! Ha! Strange things are happening”. For a time that song became a national craze that infected millions of children around the country.
The show itself featured monologues and dance numbers by Red, and sketches with his regulars and any guest stars. Some of the recurring characters portrayed by Red were Rocky Buttons (a punchy boxer), the Kupke Kid (a lovable little boy), the Sad Sack and Keeglefarven (a dumb, blundering German).
There were also regular sketches about Red and his wife (in a style that was to be imitated by George Gobel later in the 1950s) with Dorothy Jolliffe as his wife when the show first started. She was replaced in October by Beverly Dennis who gave way to Betty Ann Grove at the start of the 1953-1954 season.
A smash hit in its first season, The Red Buttons Show began to fade in its second year on CBS and was picked up by NBC after it had been cancelled.
The NBC series started as a variety show with guests but no regulars other than Red. That didn’t work so the format was changed to a situation comedy at the end of January.
Red played himself as a TV comic who was always getting into trouble of one kind or another. Phyllis Kirk was his new wife, Bobby Sherwood his pal and director of the TV show, and Paul Lynde played Mr Standish, a network vice-president with whom Red had constant run-ins.
Nothing seemed to help and Red, who had gone through literally dozens of writers in his quest to find a workable format, left the air that spring.
Betty Ann Grove
The Elliot Lawrence Orchestra