Hee Haw's 50th Anniversary Recalls Top Twenty Non-Musical Guests
The Series Was Much More Clever Than Most People Realize
Plenty Of Baseball Stars Visited Cornfield County, Some More Than Once
June is always a month to look forward to, even though there are no federal holidays during that month. It does have Father's Day and graduation parties, as well as many wedding anniversaries, so the blocks on that calendar page are usually pretty full.
This year contained a special anniversary, although it had nothing to do with anyone exchanging marriage vows at the altar. The special occasion was on June 15, which marked the fiftieth anniversary of the hit television show Hee Haw.
Hosted for its first two decades by Buck Owens and Roy Clark, the show naturally featured guests from the world of country music. Along with the steel guitars and fiddles, Hee Haw became loved for its comical skits, its Appalachian humor, and pretty women.
Particularly prevalent on the show were stars from the world of sports, especially Major League Baseball. Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench made no fewer than six appearances on Hee Haw, while other baseball people such as Dizzy Dean, Mickey Mantle, Tom Lasorda, Bobby Murcer, and Stan Musial were among the guests.
Aside from the stars of the diamond, Hee Haw also received visits from figures of other sports. Boxer Joe Frazier and NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw were among them, as was billiards legend Minnesota Fats. From the racing world viewers got opportunities to see Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, and Kyle Petty participate in some of the antics in the fictional world of Cornfield County.
Other than those sports figures, he are the twenty best non-musical guests who appeared on episodes during Hee Haw's three decade run.
Grandpa Walton was widely recognized in 1971, when the series about the mountain family was at its peak. He made several appearances on Hee Haw, the most memorable of which he sang Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" without omitting the controversial verses.
The religious icon showed up on a 1973 episode, even cracking a few jokes in the Cornfield Chatter segment.
Hef, who always surrounded himself with beautiful women, was a natural for the show. He appeared in several different seasons, but his associate Barbi Benton became a regular cast member.
Having starred in McHale's Navy years before, the seasoned Hollywood star was quick to fit into the home spun humor on the Appalachian version of Laugh In.
"Gloom, despair and agony on me" Gobel lamented on the depressed drunkards segment, while also getting a few guffaws during Cornfield Chatter.
His Southern drawl made him the beloved deputy of Matt Dillion in the early years of Gunsmoke, but during his 1977 cameos on Hee Haw he was currently recognized as crime solver McCloud.
In 1977, when the Georgia man came on the set, his brother had just been inaugurated as the President of the United States.
His role as a man feigning to be gay while living with two girls on Three's Company may have made Jack Tripper an odd fit for the show, until you consider that his father was the famous cowboy Tex Ritter.
If you did not quite recognize the name you certainly knew the nasal voice of this guest as Mr. Haney, the small town shyster of Hooterville in the Green Acres sitcom.
Sesame Street's most amiable avian flew into Cornfield County, giving the show a wide appeal to children.
Oscar the Grouch
A few weeks after giving the bird a shot, the producers invited his curmudgeonly neighbor to partake of the antics.
"Here's Johnny" was not among the lines the Tonight Show sidekick read on Hee Haw, opting instead for a few corny jokes.
The comedian had almost no discernible qualities usually associated with down home, but his appearance was one of the most memorable during the show's long tenure.
Bo Duke, the blond haired nephew of Uncle Jessie, was a natural fit for the show.
His somewhat downcast shtick seems to go well when the veteran comedian appeared on Hee Haw.
He had a super serious role as Cliff Barnes, the financial and romantic rival of J. R. Ewing on Dallas, but he was all laughs while visiting the fictional town somewhere to the east of Texas.
Since he had already made a number of comedies as the luckless bumpkin, Varney could have used this episode as a premise for a film in which Ernest Goes To The Farm.
His most recognizable two words were "The Plane! The Plane!", but her Tattoo left Fantasy Island for a short stay in farm land.
The dark haired half of "The Dukes of Hazzard" known as Luke visited the show a year after his TV brother, but he did not drive the General Lee to get there.
She was always best known as Miss Kitty, the strong saloon entrepreneur and love interest of Marshall Dillion on Gunsmoke, a situation referenced on the episode in which she appeared.