If you know what the biggest pencil in the world is...or why the man put his car in the oven...then you'll want to be at the Wieting Theatre in Toledo on Sunday, Jan. 19.
The 2014 edition of the "Duane & Floppy Film Festival" begins at 2 p.m. that day at the Wieting Theatre and contains 90 minutes worth of material from the famous central Iowa duo who entertained thousands through their daily programs on WHO-TV and personal appearances throughout the state.
In 1957, Duane Ellett was a personality on WHO radio and television. He was asked to create a puppet for Channel 13's "Pet Corner" program as a device to help children understand how to care for their pets. The multi-talented Ellett taught himself ventriloquism, carved a beagle puppet out of balsa wood...and Floppy was born.
Duane & Floppy DVD Collection producer and Iowa broadcast historian Jeff Stein stands in front of the long-running “Where’s Floppy?” exhibit at the Iowa Historical Museum.
Soon Duane & Floppy had their own daily cartoon programs, "The Floppy Show" and "Duane & Friend", as well as various weekend shows such as the "S.S. Popeye" and "Floppytown Gazette". The pair would also make as many as 200 personal appearances a year in cities and towns across Iowa, including annual performances at the Iowa State Fair that drew large crowds.
Just a few weeks after celebrating their 30th anniversary in 1987, Duane Ellett died suddenly of a heart attack. For most of the last 20 years, Floppy and other puppets created by Ellett were on display at the Iowa Historical Building in Des Moines, quickly becoming the most sought out exhibits in the museum.
The first "Duane & Floppy Film Festival" was held in 2009. Despite adverse winter weather, more than 1,000 fans packed the historical building's auditorium for four shows. Another film festival was held the next year, with similar response.
This year, in the spirit of Duane & Floppy's many personal appearances, a series of film festivals will be held in various Iowa cities and towns.
The first will be held on Sunday, Jan. 19 at the historic Wieting Theatre in Toledo, which is appropriate in two respects. For one, Ellett served as master of ceremonies for the Wieting's golden anniversary event in 1962.
In addition, the film festivals are produced by Toledo native and award-winning Iowa broadcast historian Jeff Stein, who has worked with footage from the television shows for the past five years. Besides material for the various film festivals, Stein has created three separate DVDs of Duane & Floppy material, including an original one-hour retrospective of the duo's long career.
The DVDs, as well as retro-style official Floppy t-shirts, will be available for purchase at the film festival. They are also available online at www.TotallyIowa.com.
Tickets are available at the door for $5.00 per person. Proceeds from ticket sales will go in part to the Wieting restoration fund.
A second film festival will be held on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Iowa Hall of Pride in Des Moines. Others will be announced once schedules are set.