Ernie Coombs (Mr Dressup)

Coombs has received a number of important awards for his show Mr. Dressup- the Gemini's "Earle Grey" Award for a body of work on TV in 1994, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children's Broadcast Institute in 1989, and an ACTRA Best Program Award in 1978.

Coombs, Ernie
Much-loved children's entertainer Ernie Coombs retired from television 14 February 1996 (courtesy CBC Still Photo Collection).

Ernest Arthur Coombs (aka Mr. Dressup), television children's entertainer, (b at Lewiston, Maine 26 Nov 1927; d at Toronto 18 Sep 2001). After completing high school (North Yarmouth Academy) in 1945, Coombs went on to receive a diploma from the Vesper George School of Art. Originally trained as a commercial artist, Coombs became involved in theatre as a scenery painter. Working as a scenery designer throughout the US, Coombs eventually found himself with the Pittsburgh Miniature Theatre and with WQED-TV. In Pittsburgh Coombs met Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers fame. Coombs came to Canada in 1963 as Rogers' puppeteer and in 1964 began his long career as the inimitable Mr. Dressup. The gently-paced show primarily sought to stimulate the imagination and creativity of children. Mr. Dressup delighted generations of children and the name "Mr. Dressup" has become part of the Canadian lexicon.

Coombs has received a number of important awards for his show Mr. Dressup- the Gemini's "Earle Grey" Award for a body of work on TV in 1994, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Children's Broadcast Institute in 1989, and an ACTRA Best Program Award in 1978. He has authored 5 children's albums and co-authored three books (with Shelly Tanaka). He retired from the show on Valentine's Day 1996.