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RIP ‘Hee Haw’ Co-Creator Frank Peppiatt

Dean Dixon via Getty Images

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Kornfield Kounty will never be the same. That’s because Frank Peppiatt, the co-creator of TV’s iconic, long-running variety show Hee Hawdied this past week at age 85. The cause was bladder cancer, and he passed away last Wednesday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Peppiatt’s partner was John Aylesworth, who passed away two years ago. Both Canadian, Peppiatt and Aylesworth also worked together on a huge range of TV music shows, including The Andy Williams ShowThe Jimmy Dean ShowThe Sonny And Cher Show, and The Julie Andrews Hour.

A weekly delight for millions of country fans in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s (and the scourge of some who felt it demeaned the genre thanks to its cornball humor and hayseed characters), the TV show Hee Haw nonetheless proved to be one of the most iconic music shows ever to grace a TV set.

Peppiatt once said that the show was created as a sort of mash-up between Laugh-In and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Hosts Roy Clark and Buck Owens became household names and nationally recognized faces. (Buck, in fact, had to dig himself out from under this goofball persona when he revived his recording and touring career in the late ’80s.)

He was “one of the lifelines of Hee Haw,” Clark said of Peppiatt. “He had the idea, and had the talent to make it work.”

Like so many variety shows at the time, Hee Haw was packed with silly recurring skits.

Some became so famous that many legendary stars took part. Watch here for Tennessee Ernie Ford, Johnny Cash, a young Tammy Wynette, and even Billy Carter.

The country band BR-549 even took its name from a Junior Samples skit.

But aside from the cornball humor, the show was equally important as a national stage for some of the biggest and best country artists out there. In addition to hosts Clark and Owens, regulars on the show included Minnie Pearl and Grandpa Jones, and the guest roster featured country music royalty.

Tammy Wynette:

Merle Haggard:

Dolly Parton:

CBS cancelled Hee Haw in 1971 as part of a trend often called the “rural purge,” but its popularity hardly waned. It continued in syndication through 1993.

Peppiatt’s memoir When Variety Was King is scheduled for release in April of 2013.

- Kurt Wolff, CBS Local

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