"TELL 'EM BARNABY SAID...GOODBYE"
CLEVO MEMORY: i'd tune in just to watch the alky bags under his eyes get darker...and darker...and darker. a mincing/creepy/mega-icky kid's show host...
Cleveland Broadcast Legend 'Barnaby' Dies
UPDATED: 8:26 am EDT April 24, 2006
CLEVELAND -- A Cleveland broadcasting legend passed away Sunday.
Linn Sheldon, the man known best as "Barnaby," died at the age of 86.
Sheldon started at WEWS-TV in 1948, one month after the station signed on the air for the first time.
During that time he played a character known as Uncle Leslie, a clown who entertained children.
Because TV was so new, there were only about 500 sets in the state at the time. Sheldon started his career at the station as a human TV guide, telling viewers what was coming up on Channel 5.
"I started sitting on top of a television set announcing the coming attractions for the day, because they weren't announced in a newspaper for the simple reason that no one knew what we were doing or when we were going to go on," Sheldon said. "I have the first contract that WEWS, Scripps Howard put out for a personality. They didn't like to write things down. I have it with me in fact, my wife has it here, it's for $50 and that's scratched out and it says $75. So you can see big money in those days."
Sheldon created Barnaby, the elf who initially hosted a Popeye cartoon show, in 1956. Appearing daily in a straw hat, wax ears and often a candy-striped jacket, Sheldon greeted children with a hearty, "Hi, neighbor!" until he retired in 1990. He created a cast of characters to inhabit his "Enchanted Forest." Foremost among them was Longjohn the Invisible Parrot, which consisted of a birdcage and Sheldon as ventriloquist.
In 1977, he appeared on the WEWS' 30th anniversary special with Fred Griffith and Earl Keys, also known as Mr. Jingeling.
Gib Shanley said being dressed as "Barnaby the Elf" didn't always help Sheldon.
"His car broke down as he got halfway across the Main Avenue Bridge. And he got out and it was a cold, windy day and he was standing there freezing and nobody would pick him up, because there he was in a straw hat, pointy ears and a funny-looking sports jacket," Shanley said.
Sheldon died Sunday morning at his Lakewood home after a long illness. His wife and three children were at his side.