According to “Zippy’s mom” Carole Womack, Zippy the Chimp was “discovered” by Bob Smith, “Buffalo Bob” of the long running and famous “Howdy Doody Show” while on vacation in New Orleans. Zippy stole a cherry out of Bob’s drink and was rewarded with a five year contract. Through The Howdy Doody Show’s exposure Zippy the Chimp became a popular icon and began to make numerous other media appearances.
On August 2, 1953 Zippy The Chimp made his Ed Sullivan Show debut by riding his bike in circles around the stage. The act was such a hit with the audience that the chimp would return multiple times over the next few years, including an appearance on an Ed Sullivan Show special filmed on the deck of a Navy battleship. On this episode, Zippy, dressed as a sailor, went AWOL with a water gun soaking a crowd of sailors. Another classic Zippy the Chimp performance occurred on April 9, 1961. That evening, Zippy came on stage in roller skates and a sweatshirt that read “ZIP.” He showcased his roller skating skills by skating backwards and jumping through a hula-hoop. Upon finishing the act Zippy took off his own skates (he actually dropped one on Ed’s foot!) and took a drag from a cigarette. It is unbelievable today that this act was allowed on network television!
Besides The Ed Sullivan Show, Zippy The Chimp was on the Captain Kangaroo, Gary Moore and Jackie Gleason television shows. He also played the role of Cheetah in the Tarzan movies and appeared in numerous television commercials. Years later, monkeys would carry on the “Zippy” name appearing on the famous late night shows of Johnny Carson and David Letterman.