Tuesday, June 27, 2017

R.I.P.: Long-Time Indy Personality "Harlow Hickenlooper"

Hal Fryer
Hal Fryar, a long-time television personality known as Harlow Hickenlooper to generations of fans across Indianapolis has died June 25 from bladder cancer at the age of 90, according to WIBC Radio.

Wearing a straw boater hat and a red-and-white striped jacket, “Harlow” and his co-hosts Curly Meyers and Captain Star (Jerry Vance, AKA Larry Vincent) performed on a children’s show on WFBM, Channel 6 (now WRTV) from 1960 to 1972.  His show would run the old film shorts from The Three Stooges while “Harlow” filled the rest of the air time singing and telling jokes.

One skit that was one of his trademarks over the years was a version of “Happy Birthday” that sounded nothing like the well-known version written by Mildred and Patty Hill.  “Harlow” would hold the last note of the song for a long time until he was hit in the face with a crème pie.

“He was always the butt of the skit, but he was hilariously stupid in the way he did things,” says 93 WIBC radio host Denny Smith, who grew up watching “Harlow” as a kid, and later got to know Hal personally as an adult.

In 1965, Fryar was among nine television hosts from across the country who made cameo appearances and played “outlaws” in The Three Stooges movie “The Outlaws Is Coming”.  Fryar played Johnny Ringo, and appeared in the film with Moe Howard, Larry Fine and “Curly Joe” DeRita, as well as Adam West.  Having Fryar in the movie gave him an opportunity every Saturday morning during his show to promote the film and drive a large audience from central Indiana to theatres to see him on the big screen.

He also appeared in character as “Grandpa Harlow” on WFYI in the 1990’s during children’s programming.  Fryar continued to make public appearances throughout the years as “Harlow” into his 80’s.

Fryar graduated from Indiana University in 1950 and started his broadcasting career in radio in Indianapolis.  He says he came up with the name “Harlow Hickenlooper” after reading a news story on the radio about Iowa Governor and Senator Bourke B. Hickenlooper.  Fryar thought the name had a funny sound to it and he decided to “share” it with the politician.

During his induction ceremony into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2008.

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