How A Central Maine Man Became Canada’s Mr. Rogers
Unless you are very young, you've probably heard of Mr. Rogers. But, unless you live near our border with Canada, there's a good chance you've never heard of Mr. Dressup. Apparently, the man who created this iconic Canadian children's show was originally from Maine.
Entertainer Ernie Coombs was born in Lewiston on November 26th, 1927. According to Wikipedia, following his graduation from North Yarmouth Academy, he went on to work as a children's entertainer.
While working for a TV station in Pittsburgh, he met Fred Rogers. Yes THE Fred Rogers. In 1963, when Rogers was offered a job by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he took Coombs with him. Together, they did an early version of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" called "Misterogers". When Fred Rogers moved back to the United States, Coombs stayed in Canada.
Eventually, he went on to develop a long-running children's show called "Mr. Dressup". The show revolved around Mr. Dressup and his puppet friends Casey, Finnegan, and Aunt Bird. Like Mr. Rogers, Mr. Dressup used arts, crafts, and costumes from his "Tickle Trunk" to teach preschool aged kids important lessons.
The show ran from 1967 to 1996, but remained in reruns until 2006. Coombs passed away in 2001.
With a new biopic about Fred Rogers on the way, do you suppose Canada will be doing one about Ernie Coombs sometime in the near future?