Barnaby- Linn Richard Sheldon
Born Linn Richard Sheldon in Norwalk, Ohio, Sheldon had spent the majority of his childhood either homeless or in foster care. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, returning to his home town and working as a nightclub act and started on Cleveland television in 1948. He became a well-known local radio and television personality, especially as the host of the children’s show Barnaby.
The character “Barnaby” was originally an elf with pointy ears and a straw hat who lived in the “Enchanted Forest” and showed cartoons (mostly ‘Popeye’) to his audience of adults and children alike. He eventually became popular enough that his show was aired seven days a week (his supporting character “Woodrow the Woodsman” became popular in his own right and was spun off into his own series).
“Barnaby” aired on NBC affiliate KYC (now WKYC) channel 3 from 1957-1967. Sheldon would then reprise the character on the upstart indie WUAB channel 43. Barnaby aired on 43 from 1968-1990. The character was modified a bit in this new incarnation. He went from being an elf to more of a kindly older gentleman, who wore his trademark straw hat, an ascot, a blue blazer and khaki slacks. The program also switched from taking place in the “Enchanted Forest” to Barnaby’s cottage and towards the end “Barnaby Park”, which resembled a typical suburban park complete with park benches.
“Casper, the Friendly Ghost” cartoons were a fixture on the show as well a puppet characters. Those characters included: “Long John”, the world’s only invisible parrot, “Clyde”, a little fellow who idolized Barnaby and wore a straw hat and sunglasses, “O.T. the Other Terrestrial, and “Ranger Rupert”, a dog puppet who was the park ranger at Barnaby Park.
Sheldon would famously end the show with: “If anybody calls, tell them Barnaby said hello. And tell them that I think you are the nicest person in the whole world…Just you.” During his entire time as “Barnaby”, Sheldon would frequently make personal appearances , especially in hospitals to entertain and cheer up sick children.
A 1997 honoree for Excellence in Broadcasting, Sheldon ended his run as “Barnaby” in 1990 and went into retirement and died in 2006.
“Tell them Barnaby said Hello”