LONGVIEW (CBSDFW.COM) – Jerry Haynes believes clothes make the man, and the idea for his long running show “Peppermint Place” came from a costume he saw in The Music Man.
“Robert Preston had all those bright coats and hats, and it just came to me while driving down to work a couple of weeks before it was to begin. Why not call yourself Mr. Peppermint and have a red and white coat?” Haynes said during a recent interview from his Longview home.
At age 84, Haynes moves slowly, but his sense of humor is still just as quick as it was when he regularly graced television screens.
“I got a lot of feedback from kids. A little girl once said, ‘I watch you every morning Mr. Peppermint, but my mother is sick of you,’” he said with a laugh.
The show started in 1961 and was on the air for a total of 30 years, making it the longest running children’s program in local television.
However, he also made television history for another reason. Haynes went to watch President Kennedy’s motorcade pass through Dallas, and wound up becoming one of the first broadcasters to give an eyewitness account.
“We walked over and saw them and were leaving then and heard the shots,” Haynes said. “So I ran back to the station as quick as I could and I heard a lady say, ‘My God, my Lord they’ve killed him, My Lord, they’ve killed him.’”
“I’ll never forget that,” Haynes said.
Haynes didn’t retire when “Peppermint Place” ended in 1996. Instead he and his wife, Doris, moved to California.
He was cast in several roles, appearing on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and in several commercials. He also landed parts in movies including, Places in the Heart with Sally Field and a Patsy Cline biopic called Sweet Dreams.
He played a judge his last movie, Boys Don’t Cry, a small independent film that launched the career of a big star.
“There was this was this kid who was acting up, a smart-aleck, I thought. Who the heck is that? I asked the guys who were doing the make-up, ‘Who was that?’ They said, ‘That was Hilary Swank.’”
This month, Jerry and Doris Haynes will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary.
They have three children and four grandchildren. Their son Gibby Haynes is an alternative rock icon as the front man for the band Butthole Surfers, a group that influenced Nirvana, among others.
Jerry and Doris Haynes moved to Longview to be closer to their daughter and watch their grandson compete in high school track meets.
He still runs into plenty of people who want to talk with him about “Peppermint Place,” and he’s happy to oblige.
“I’m glad they watched,” he said summing up a 30-year career. “It was fun, and still is.”