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1969: 'Hee Haw' Makes its CBS Debut
June 15, 2012  | By Christy Slewinski
 
On this day in 1969, CBS introduced the cornball variety show, Hee Haw, as a summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

Hee Haw was patterned after the competing NBC series, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, but with a decidedly rural/country theme. Country music stars Buck Owens and Roy Clark hosted the show, which featured a stable of regulars, including the beloved Louis M. "Grandpa" Jones. The show consisted of comedy skits and musical performances by some of the day's biggest country stars.

Hee Haw quickly became a hit and was a Top 20 show when CBS dropped it from the prime-time schedule because executives felt the show did not appeal to the coveted young, urban demographic. (A fate shared by ABC's The Lawrence Welk Show, also in 1971.) Rather than accept defeat, Hee Haw's producers kept the show going and syndicated it to local stations nationwide. The strategy worked, and Hee Haw ran (in one incarnation or another) until 1993.

In 1972, host Roy Clark released the satirical single "The Hee Haw-Lawrence Welk Counter-Revolution Polka," which told of the networks' decision to cancel the shows. The song, which appeared on the album Roy Clark Live!, reached number 9 on Billboard magazine's Hot Country singles chart.

Hee Haw also inspired a short-lived 1978 spinoff sitcom, Hee Haw Honeys, starring Hee Haw regulars Misty Rowe, Gailard Sartain, Lulu Roman and Kenny Price and newcomer Kathie Lee Johnson, who's much better known as Kathie Lee Gifford.

 
 
 
 
 
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