Fabulous creatures on television

On ADS-L, an antedating for bunyip, a fabulous creature of the Australian aborigines, which I connected to a puppet character on American television, and that reminded Jon Lighter of the Flub-a-dub on Howdy Doody.

On bunyip in OED2:

(A name for) a fabulous monster inhabiting the rushy swamps and lagoons in the interior of Australia.

[first cite] 1848   W. Westgarth Australia Felix 391   Certain large fossil bones..have been referred by the natives..to a huge animal of extraordinary appearance, called in some districts the Bunyup, in others the Kianpraty, which they assert to be still alive.

Now, from poster Hugo on ADS-L, an earlier cite: “WONDERFUL DISCOVERY OF A NEW ANIMAL.” Geelong Advertiser Squatters’ Advocate 2 Jul 1845 — with a description of the creature as uniting the characteristics of a bird and an alligator. That led me to children’s tv in Philadelphia. From Wikipedia:

Bertie the Bunyip was the lead puppet character on the popular American children’s television series The Bertie the Bunyip Show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the 1950s and 60s. He was portrayed as a black-colored seal-looking character with a duck-bill-type face. For children he was cute and friendly, getting into harmless situations.

Created by Australian Lee Dexter, Bertie was a bunyip (a mythological Australian creature), described by Dexter as “a cross between a bunny, a collie dog and a duck billed platypus.”


On to Flub-a-dub. From the TV Acres site:

Flub-a-dub – Strange creature composed of many parts seen on the classic children’s puppet program HOWDY DOODY/NBC/1947-60.

Flub-a-dub (originally Flubdub) was a unique South American animal with a duck’s head, a cat’s whiskers, a giraffe’s neck (encircled with rings), a cocker spaniel’s ears, a seal’s flippers (and four webbed feet), a raccoon’s tail hairpiece, a dachshund’s body and the memory of an elephant.

When Flub-a-dub got hungry, it yelled, “Meatballs!, Meatballs!” (a prototype of SESAME STREET’s Cookie Monster who shouts, “Cookies!”).


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