Peanut Gallery

Posted by ESC on August 08, 2001

In Reply to: Peanut Gallery posted by Francisco on August 08, 2001

: A rather cute description of those little ones...but where can I find out how that name was first given???Any help???

PEANUT GALLERY - ".The peanut gallery, usually the cheapest seats in the house, was the gallery, or 'second balcony,' high up in Gay Nineties theaters, so high up that the crowd seated there were sometimes called the gallery gods. Peanuts were the movie snack of the day and the occupants of these cheap seats often rained peanut shells on performers who displeased them." From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

".Theaters in those days consisted of orchestra, balcony and gallery. The 'gallery gods' - so called because their seats were nearest the ceiling, which often was decorated with allegorical paintings of the heavens - were a raffish, undisciplined crew given to direct action when they wanted to express displeasure at the entertainment. The most direct method, of course, was to rain peanut shells and, on occasion, pennies down on the heads of the hapless performers. Thus developed the practice of 'playing to the galleries' since success and, occasionally, physical well-being depending on satisfying the denizens of the 'peanut gallery.'" From Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

But many "baby boomers" first became acquainted with the expression "Peanut Gallery" from the (U.S.) children's television show "Hoody Doody."

Buffalo Bob: "Say kids, What time is it?"
Peanut Gallery: "It's Howdy Doody time!!!"

And thus began one of television's most fondly remembered and most popular children's programs, a winning combination of humans and marionettes. Howdy Doody enjoyed a 13-year run of 2,343 episodes, bringing the adventures of host Buffalo Bob, a puppet named Howdy, and their pals in Doodyville into the hearts of children at home and in the live studio audience-known to the performers as the "Peanut Gallery."

This site doesn't have a date for the first show. It does say that Hoody first appeared in 1948. Another site gives 1947 as the date for the start of the show" howdy