HarborChase of Shorewood, Wisconsin, had an exciting weekend when the cast of History Channel’s American Pickers stopped by for a visit. They were there to see one of our residents, Matthew Gruber, and his impressive puppet and animatronics collection. Matt designed the popular 1950’s children’s tv show character Howdy Doody as well as various show characters from the show.
American Pickers is a reality TV series that started airing on the History Channel in 2010. It follows antique and collectible “pickers” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel across the country looking for unique items to purchase, either for clients or for their own personal collections. Mike and Frank have collected rare and priceless items throughout the series, including an original Yoda prototype from the Star Wars films, a taxidermied elephant’s head, and many vintage cars, wagons, and motorcycles.
A few of the cast members from American Pickers, including Mike Wolfe, were drawn to HarborChase of Shorewood for something a little different, though. They came to visit resident Matt Gruber, an artist/inventor and the designer of the namesake Howdy Doody puppet.
Howdy Doody was a staple in most American households with kids in the 1950s, becoming the first nationally televised children’s show. The show became so popular that it was aired every day of the week, and by the time it ended, it had aired over 2,543 total episodes. The series followed Howdy Doody, a freckled-faced marionette, alongside host “Buffalo Bob Smith,” as they were joined by their friends - both human and puppet.
Matt Gruber, along with Velma Dawson and Scott Brinker, was instrumental in designing and creating the original Howdy Doody puppet, as well as many other characters from the program.
Matt Gruber with a Howdy Doody replica and the original puppet.
Gruber’s apartment at HarborChase of Shorewood is full of many of his other puppets, inventions,
and animatronics, as well as many unique paintings and portraits.
Explore Your Passion at HarborChase
HarborChase of Shorewood is thrilled to share the story of Matt Gruber and the American Pickers. We encourage our residents to pursue their passions and interests and are always looking for fun and inspiring stories to share. Each of our residents has a unique history and background and is welcome in our community!