Ernest Ernie Arthur Coombs, CM was an American Canadian childrens entertainer who starred in the Canadian television series Mr. Dressup. Ernest Coombs was born in Lewiston, Maine, and pursued a career in entertainment after attending North Yarmouth Academy in Yarmouth. He was an understudy to Fred Rogers and he travelled to Canada in 1963 to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on an early version of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Rogers moved back to the United States three years later, but Coombs decided to stay in Canada, joining a new TV series called Butternut Square, Butternut Square ran from 1964 to 1967. During the run, Coombs appeared as the character in a show at the Poor Alex Theatre. After Butternut Square ended, Coombs developed Mr. Dressup, which one of English Canadas longest-running. As Mr. Dressup, he presented arts and crafts, songs, stories and games for children with his friends Casey and Finnegan, a child, Casey was given a unisex name intentionally, because the characters childlike voice left Caseys gender ambiguous. Over the years, when viewers would ask Coombs whether Casey was a boy or a girl, he would ask, however the questioner responded, he would say, Youre right. Later in the series, when the principal puppeteer, Judith Lawrence, retired, Casey. Coombs believed in gentle, wholesome childrens programming that encouraged kids to use their creativity, in each episode, Mr. Dressup would dress up in a costume from his Tickle Trunk, and lead children in an imagination game. Many times his puppets would appear in costume as well, the series continued production until its final taping in February 1996, when Coombs retired. Repeats continued to be shown on CBC Television until they were discontinued in 2006, Coombs also did a travelling stage show called Tales from the Tickle Trunk. In this show he would share stories about the making of the Mr. Dressup show, as well as the origins, Coombs lived with his family in the city of Pickering. His wife Marlene ran a day care in Scarborough, called the Butternut Day Care and they had two children, Christopher and Catherine. Marlene was killed in a accident in 1992, she was walking on the sidewalk of Yonge Street in Toronto. The driver may have had a seizure, resulting in a loss of control of the vehicle, Coombs became a Canadian citizen in 1994. In 1996, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada, Coombs suffered a stroke on September 10,2001, and died on September 18,2001 at the age of 73. Coombs was cremated and his ashes scattered at his cottage in Maine,1989, A Lifetime Achievement Award from the Childrens Broadcast Institute
Image: Mr Dressup
Google's commemorative doodle of their logo used on Nov. 26, 2012.