EXPIRED: 07/28/10 – John Aylesworth, 81, was Canadian but did American humor better than just about anyone.
To prove it, look no further than the long-running comedy-variety show “Hee Haw.” Aylesworth was a co-creator of the show.
He started in TV in 1953 as a writer and performer on the Canadian sketch comedy show “After Hours,” but moved to the States five years later to write for the CBS variety show “Your Hit Parade.”
Along with another Canadian, Frank Peppiatt, he wrote for “The Andy Williams Show,” “Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall,” “The Judy Garland Show,” “Hullabaloo,” “The Julie Andrews Hour” and “The Sonny and Cher Show.”
But it was with “Hee Haw” that the pair of Canucks found American yucks.
A summer replacement for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” in 1969, “Hee Haw” was kinda like “Laugh-In” with cornfields and grits.
The hour-long show, co-hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark, was a showcase for the top country singers of the day and made national stars out of Minnie Pearl, Alvin “Junior” Samples and “Grandpa” Jones.
CBS canceled Hee Haw in 1971 as part of its “Country Purge” in search of a more sophisticated audience. Other victims were “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Mayberry R.F.D.” and “Green Acres.”
Aylesworth and Peppiatt syndicated the show, eventually selling it for $15 million in 1982. Hee Haw ran until 1993.
So there CBS!
Not one to sit and rest he continued to write scripts, but sound that after age 50 Hollywood didn’t want to talk to him anymore. He was a victim of age discrimination. So he wrote his own story.
Just this year Aylesworth authored a book on the subject. “The Corn Was Green: The Inside Story of Hee Haw” which was published this year by McFarland.