Duane Ellett delighted children for three decades. He entertained them with his puppet friend Floppy, a high-voiced beagle dog that enjoyed riddles and let kids beep his nose for luck. Ellett had carved Floppy himself from balsa wood, and brought him and his other puppet characters to life through self-taught ventriloquism.
Duane didn’t always appear on air as seen in this early clip…
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the half-hour show consisted of short sketches with Ellett’s puppets, a segment in which children asked Floppy riddles, and the airing of vintage Looney Tunes cartoons. Thousands of Iowans outside of Des Moines discovered the duo in their performances at the Iowa State Fair. Ellett also took Floppy on 200 personal appearances every year. They visited countless sick children in hospitals.
Another Floppy show clip from later in the run…
On August 30, 1984, WHO-TV canceled Ellett’s afternoon show because of faltering ratings, and there was a public outcry. Ellett and his sidekick continued to appear on WHO’s noon news and on weekend mornings. In May 1987, Ellett, Floppy, and their fans celebrated their 30th anniversary of entertaining together. Ellett died of a heart attack a month later while exercising.
In 1994, a special display honoring Ellett and his puppet opened at the Iowa Historical Building, where Floppy now resides. The display featured a short video showing the 30 years of Floppy, Des Moines’ favorite puppet!
The Floppy display at the Iowa Historical Building is closing In June of 2013. Floppy and some clips of the show will be preserved and return to display occasionally in the future.