Sunday, March 2, 2014

Obituaries from Yesteryear

      I wouldn't take that cotton candy, kid.

Happy” Herman Halperin, local children’s TV host, dies at 52.

Herman Halperin, who followed a thirteen year career as a beloved children’s television host with controversy, drug abuse, bouts of mental illness, and two arrests, died at St. Simeon Memorial Hospital yesterday. He was 52.

Happy Herman’s Ha-Ha House debuted on WGZR, channel 8, in September 1955. Hosting the show from a memorable art-deco set designed with sharp-angled walls, crooked doors, and askew windows that looked out on leering cartoon faces, Happy Herman gave many Clearhaven children their first exposure to Popeye, Woody Woodpecker and The Little Rascals.

But it was the comedy skits most people recall. Working with a lively cast of characters that included Milton the Milkman, Poor Uncle Boon, and Larry the Llama, the skits were fast-paced (some would say manic)and often contained elements of absurdist (some would say anarchic) humor and surrealism. Some of the popular catch-phrases that spread like verbal viruses through schools around the state were, “The spool’s in the cruel pool.”  “Don’t twiddle with my fiddle.”  “Hey, Ray, lay it on my fleak.” And “You can’t vroot if you don’t doot, poot.”

A heavy drinker, by the mid-sixties Mr. Halperin had begun to experiment with Marijuana, LSD and other hallucinogens. The drugs soon began to affect the program, the skits and jokes becoming even more fractured and nonsensical. Halperin was suspended twice for inappropriate behavior and took several leaves of absence due to “mental unrest” and drug abuse.   

The show that received the most attention was his last and aired live on October 31st, 1969. Ostensibly a Halloween episode, Happy Herman appeared in blackface, wearing only a cardboard barrel held with suspenders and a pink graduation cap - the tassel hanging in his face. A fake bumper sticker on the front of the barrel read, “Smertitude begets Foon slickers!” He proceeded to give a rambling monologue about demonic possession and the municipal water supply.  “Every sip of water you swallow contains a hellish entity. When you drink it, can you feel diseased, evil talons raking down your throat, across your tummy, into your smelly little bladders? You will, my children. When you bathe, you’re bathing in Satan’s burning urine! I haven’t bathed in five months!” Several coworkers would attest to this.

It was at this point that “Happy” Herman Halperin withdrew a .44 Magnum that had been taped to the inside of the barrel. He looked into the camera, said, “A sneeze in the breeze breaks the Fuggle’s knees,” and then pressed the gun against his temple and pulled the trigger, shooting out both of his eyes and part of his frontal lobe.

He was rushed to St. Simeon were he would linger, unconscious, for twenty-seven days before finally succumbing to his wounds.  

A spokesman for WGZR has stated that Halperin’s timeslot will continue to be filled by candlepin bowling for the foreseeable future.

Herman James Halperin is survived by his wife, Edna (37) and daughter, Edna Jr. (10).   

Psychedelic clowns by the (tiny) carload! 

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