Edward Kean, headwriter of the “Howdy Doody Show” and who is credited with creating the exclamation, “kowabunga,” died Aug. 13 in West Bloomfield Township, Mich., of complications of emphysema, family friend Del Reddy said. He was 85.
Kean also penned the theme song to which millions of American children sang along each week during the show’s run on NBC from 1947 to 1960. The New York City native wrote the song “It’s Howdy Doody Time,” which was sung during the show’s opening.
He had a major role in developing the characters and their personalities, and created the exclamation, “kowabunga,” which was spelled “cowabunga” when “The Simpsons'” Bart borrowed it.
“He influenced a whole generation of kids through his writing,” Reddy said. “He was a prolific writer. He would take his typewriter, even on the road.”
As for the freckled-face title character, Howdy Doody took on some of Kean’s character traits.
“He created Howdy, kind of in his image, from his background and how he treated people,” Reddy said.
Kean’s run as writer for the show ended in 1954.
Survivors include wife Vivian, a son, two stepchildren, three grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.