Haynes, Jerome Martin [Jerry] (1927–2011)


By: Gabrielle Esparza

Type: Biography

Published: April 23, 2021

Updated: April 23, 2021


Jerome “Jerry” Martin Haynes, broadcaster and television actor, was born on January 31, 1927, in Dallas, Texas, to Fred Haynes and Louise (Schimelpfenig) Haynes. Haynes became most famous for his role as Mr. Peppermint on WFAA-TV Dallas. The show, later known as Peppermint Place, premiered on March 6, 1961, and ran until July 1, 1996. Producing more than 6,000 episodes, Peppermint Place was Dallas’s longest-running local children’s television program.

Haynes was the fourth of five children. His father committed suicide when Haynes was young, and his mother raised the children in Plano and Dallas. Haynes graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1944. He attended Yale University for one year—learning Japanese there, which he later employed in the United States Air Force—and Louisiana State University for a summer semester. He served in the U. S. Air Force from 1946 to 1949. He graduated from Southern Methodist University; he had financed his education on the GI Bill and studied theater there with Aaron Spelling and James Noble. Following graduation, Haynes went to New York and took additional acting classes, but his acting career stalled and he returned to Dallas. Back in his hometown, Haynes worked a number of jobs, including as a program announcer and host of variety and teen dance shows, including Dallas Bandstand, a local offshoot of American Bandstand. He met his wife, Doris Gibson, a flight attendant, on a flight in 1954. The couple was married on May 29, 1955, and they had three children: Carla, Gibson, and Andrew.

When his employer, WFAA-TV, decided to launch a children’s show, Haynes was tapped to host it. Inspired by an outfit from the Broadway musical The Music Man, Haynes chose a red and white striped coat along with a straw boater hat and cane as his alter-ego’s costume, and, a bit later, named him “Mr. Peppermint.” The original show, Mr. Peppermint, ran live from 1961 to 1970. That year the program was replaced with an early morning talk show. However, in 1975, the Federal Communications Commission recommended more local children’s educational programming, and the station brought back Haynes and his producer/puppeteer partner Vern Dailey for Peppermint Place, a taped show, which ran from 1975 to 1996. Together Haynes and Dailey created a cast of characters like Muffin the Bear, Captain Candy, and Mr. Wiggly Worm. As Mr. Peppermint, Haynes reached generations of children, known as “gumdrops” in the parlance of the show, in North Texas and throughout the country. At its peak in 1993, Peppermint Place was carried in 108 markets nationwide.

Early in his career as Mr. Peppermint, Haynes made history as one of the first broadcasters to report the Kennedy assassination on local news. Haynes and his program director, Jay Watson, had gone to watch the president’s motorcade in Dallas. Shortly after seeing Kennedy’s car pass them, Haynes and Watson heard shots. Eyewitnesses had exclaimed that President Kennedy had died. Haynes then ran three blocks to the WFAA-TV station and went live on TV to report on the assassination. Although Haynes had been among the first to address the tragedy on local news, there was no discussion of the assassination on Mr. Peppermint the following week. He felt unqualified to counsel viewers.

Haynes’s acting career eventually caught on as he embraced his role as a television and character actor. Starting in the early 1980s, Haynes began booking acting jobs fairly regularly. After Peppermint Place ended in 1996, he continued to work in television and film. He appeared on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and in several commercials. He also landed roles in movies, such as Places in the Heart (1984) with Sally Field and Boys Don’t Cry (1999) with Hilary Swank. Over the course of his career, Haynes found roles in more than fifty films and television shows, and he appeared in numerous regional theater productions.

In 2008 doctors diagnosed Haynes with Parkinson’s disease, and he made fewer public appearances. He died at the age of eighty-four from complications of Parkinson’s on September 26, 2011, in Longview, Texas. Haynes was survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Doris Gibson Haynes; his children, Carla Mann, Gibson Haynes, and Andrew Haynes; several grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. His son Gibson Haynes is the frontman for the band Butthole Surfers. Jerry Haynes was laid to rest in the Shepherd’s Garden plot of the Lovers Lane United Methodist Columbarium in Dallas.

CBS DFW, May 6, 2011. Ryan Crowe, “Local TV Star Known as Mr. Peppermint Dead at 84.” CBS DFW. September 26, 2011. Dallas Morning News. September 29, 2011. “Jerry Haynes (1927–2011),” IMDb.com (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0371479/), accessed August 1, 2020. Joe Nick Patoski, “The Candy Man,” Texas Monthly, July 1996.

Categories:
  • Journalism
  • Radio and Television
  • Performing Arts
Time Periods:
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
Places:
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Gabrielle Esparza, “Haynes, Jerome Martin [Jerry],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/haynes-jerome-martin-jerry.

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April 23, 2021
April 23, 2021

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