A friend and co-worker told me today that Curley Myers had died on May 18, 2013, and I instantly felt a pang of regret that I didn’t realize this figure from my childhood had passed at age 93.
Gerald “Curley” Myers, if you’re much younger than me or the name doesn’t ring a bell, was an accomplished guitar and banjo player and musician, born near Lebanon, Indiana, on April Fool’s Day, 1920. Maybe fate intended that birthday to signify the wacky role that Mr. Myers would play nearly 40 years later, when he became TV sidekick to Indianapolis kids’ show host Harlow Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper, with his bedraggled straw hat and striped coat, was always the flashier of the twosome, singing a goofy version of “Happy Birthday” to live audiences and viewers of his show, which ran from 1960 to 1972. Harlow and Curley were as important a pair of TV icons for many of us here in Central Indiana as Sammy Terry was.
Hickenlooper – Hal Fryar in real life – is still with us and still and making appearances. He had some kind words to say about his former sidekick on his website:
“Curley was a great instrumentalist, singer and personality. Curley and I never had a cross word between us in all the years we worked together at WFBM-TV Channel 6 in Indianapolis. I cannot imagine having another friendship like ours.
While Harlow was the headliner, Curley was the homespun heart of the show. Not that the kids’ show – which aired on WFBM Channel 6 and featured not only the antics of Harlow but TV airings of Three Stooges shorts – was Curley’s only claim to fame. Curley’s musical talents were very real. From the 1930s on, Curley was part of country music groups like the Hoosier Ramblers, reaching millions of heartland music fans through stations like WLW and WLS.
After the Hickenlooper show was canceled in 1972, Curley semi-retired from music, holding down a day job and still playing for the listening pleasure of fans now and then, according to Hillbilly-Music.com.
The tributes from Curley’s friends and fans, posted on his obituary on the Goodwin Funeral Home (in Frankfort, Indiana) website are touching.
The “Ole Buckaroo Buddy” was loved by generations of fans.