Toby Dick Ellis: Richard Elsenpeter's career in tent repertoire theatre, television, and marionette puppetry
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Richard Elsenpeter was a Midwestern actor who began his career in repertoire and circle stock in the mid-twentieth century. He dedicated his life to the pursuit of rural, family entertainment and took pleasure in entertaining the common people of rural communities. Elsenpeter made important contributions to the history of Midwestern entertainment through creativity and the desire to appeal to popular tastes of the time. He originated the idea of taking the Toby character from the tent rep stage to the television screen. Elsenpeter spearheaded Possum Holler Opry, a country-music television program that aired for ten years on various local television stations, where he played the host, Toby Dick Ellis. His show was given the Gibson Award, signifying that it was the number-one country-music show in the Midwest. Personal statements, which are included in the appendix, show how Elsenpeter's enthusiasm for the arts and exuberant personality left a lasting impact on those who knew him.
Table of Contents
Twentieth-century rural popular entertainment -- Childhood and early performing career -- From Harry Brown to Hollywood: 1943-1947 -- The larger tent rep shows: 1948-1959 -- The creation of Possum Holler Opry -- 1970 to present -- Appendix A. Personal statements from friends of Mr. Ellis -- Appendix B, Artifact documents