The man who made comedy and laughter an inherent part of Branson’s shows 50 years ago, Lyle Mabe, died on February 27 after a long illness at the age of 71. Lianne Milton, co-owner of the Branson Tourism Center said, “Branson has lost not only one of its entertainment pioneers, but a cornerstone of its entertainment industry. Our thoughts, prayers, and sympathies are with the Mabes and their extended ‘Baldknobber family.’”
In 1959, Lyle and his brothers Bob, Bill and Jim along with Delbert Howard and Chick Allen, decided to provide evening entertainment to tourists visiting the Branson area. They started in a rented fifty seat room in the old city hall and performed only on Friday and Saturday nights. The show used a simple format of blending popular country music with original unique comedy routines, was called the “Baldknobbers” and went on to make Branson entertainment history as the show “that started it all.”
The unique and original comedy routines came from Lyle and his brother Jim. Lyle created “George Aggernite” and Jim, “Droopy Drawers.” Their format and blend of down home corn spun Ozark humor was an instant hit with audiences and, coupled with a talented and enthusiastic cast, has been bringing audiences back since 1959. The “Baldknobbers Jamboree” celebrated its 50th anniversary during 2009.
Mabe actively participated in the show until his retirement in 1991. Since his retirement he had, among other things served as an advisor to the show. Although none of the original members are still performing, second and third generation Mabes continue the Mabe tradition of comedy, music and family entertainment by performing on stage nightly.
Branson Mayor Rae Anne Presley said, “Our Branson community has lost a pioneer in the theatre industry, Lyle Mabe. We send our prayers & heartfelt condolences to the Mabe family.” To that a grateful and mourning community would say “Amen.”