DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There was a time when the news didn’t start at 4:30 in the morning, when locally produced children’s shows could still be found on TV in the Dallas/Fort Worth market, and when a worm finger puppet could keep a 6-year-old laughing.
Times change in television, but for the thousands of North Texans who remember those days, another icon has died.
Jerry Haynes, best known across Texas as Mr. Peppermint, died Monday at the age of 84.
Haynes died from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He had been living in Longview, having recently celebrated his anniversary with Doris, his wife of 56 years.
He graduated from Dallas’ Woodrow Wilson High School and SMU, and worked as an actor before getting the idea for his alter-ego, Mr. Peppermint, while working at WFAA-TV.
The character was known for his signature red and white stripped coat, straw boater hat and cane, and was a kindly, grandfather-like teacher to thousands of kids.
The show ran from 1961-1970 and then from 1975-1996. Haynes teamed up with puppeteer Vern Dailey on the second incarnation of the series, and gave kids the characters like his sidekick Muffin the Bear and a yellow glove with a face painted on it called Mr. Wiggly Worm.
After the show ended its run in 1996 he sat down with Texas Monthly and talked about his decision to stay with Mr. Peppermint over his acting career. “I could have stayed in New York,” he told the magazine. “Rogers and Hart can have Manhattan. I’ll take Peppermint Place.”
As Muffin would have said, ‘Thank you, Mr. Pep’mint.’