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R.I.P. Jerry Haynes -- Jan. 31, 1927 to Sept. 26, 2011 (updated)

Jerry "Mr. Peppermint" Haynes and TV sidekick, Muffin. WFAA photo

Jerry Haynes, one of the last of the great local television kids' show hosts, died Monday at age 84 of complications tied to Parkinson's Disease, his former station, WFAA8, reported on its website.

He retired as the always jovial candy-striped character in April 1996. By Haynes' estimation, he had hosted more than 6,000 Peppermint Place episodes for WFAA8. The show premiered in March of 1961, was canceled in 1970 but returned in 1975 when the Federal Communications Commission pressured local stations to create and air more "worthwhile programming."

"I thought about going as long as possible, but gee, I'm 69 years old," Haynes told this writer at the time of his retirement. "It's time to go. Everything's amicable. Everything's cool."

Haynes also was a frequent presence in numerous stage, television and film productions but always considered Mr. Peppermint to be the role of his lifetime.

"I kind of am Mr. Peppermint," he said. "So I'd just be making something up if I said what I'm going to miss the most."

Haynes also reported live on WFAA8 shortly after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. His first-hand account was given to then station manager/news director Bob Walker, who died in 2009.

"I ran back as quick as I could," Haynes said in a 2008 interview quoted on wfaa.com. "I was 34 years old, so I was a sprinter (Enroute) I heard a lady say, 'Oh my Lord, they killed him!' "

Veteran WFAA8 production manager Jerry Cadigan worked with Haynes throughout most of Mr. Peppermint's second run. He first met Haynes as a kid in 1964 while on one of the station's studio tours, Cadigan said.

"I watched his show everyday and I was thrilled to meet my favorite television personality in person. He was kind, friendly, and had the biggest laugh and warmest smile I had ever seen."

In 1978, Cadigan became director of Peppermint Place. He called it "the best time I've had in television . . . Jerry Haynes is Mr. Peppermint. No one will ever be able to inhabit that role or recapture that magic because the two personalities are one and the same."

Cadigan said he last saw Haynes in March. "He called me with his signature greeting. 'Cadigan!' he would say, and I would respond 'Mr. P!' And we made our plans to have lunch. Even then the smile and warm personality remained evident."

WFAA8 president and general manager Mike Devlin said in a statement Monday that Haynes "will always be a significant part of WFAA's history. "His professionalism and wonderful sense of humor set a tone in our community for generations of children who enjoyed Peppermint Place as well as the many other roles he played at WFAA. We cherish those memories and will miss our dear friend."

Haynes had a varied feature film and TV film resume. His first screen credit, other than Mr. Peppermint, was in the acclaimed 1981 made-for TV movie Crisis At Central High, in which he had a small part opposite Joanne Woodward. Haynes also had a scene with Sally Field in 1984's Places in the Heart, for which she won a best actress Oscar.

Other credits include multiple episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger, Dallas and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He worked all the way up until 2009, when he had a small part as "Stringerman" in the feature film Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. It co-starred Seann William Scott of American Pie fame and Randy Quaid.

Haynes made his final TV appearance in May on CBS11. CBS11 photo

Haynes' last television appearance was on May 6th of this year, when he was profiled by one of WFAA8's competitors, CBS11.

Haynes told the station that he got the idea for his trademark candy-striped costume from The Music Man. The star of the film, Robert Preston, "had all those bright coats and hats, and it just came to me while driving down to work a couple of weeks before it was to begin," he said. "Why not call yourself Mr. Peppermint and have a red and white coat?"

He always had a self-deprecating sense of humor, both about himself and his bit parts in films. "I got a lot of feedback from kids," he told CBS11. "A little girl once said, 'I watch you every morning, Mr. Peppermint, but my mother is sick of you.' "

Haynes was born in Dallas, the fourth of five children, to Fred and Louise Schimelpfenig Haynes. He studied drama at SMU, where one of his classmates was the late Aaron Spelling, who went on to become the producer of numerous long-running TV hits, including The Love Boat, Charlie's Angels and Beverly Hills 90210.

Haynes' son, Gibby Haynes, has been the leader of the long-running alternative rock band, The Butthole Surfers. In a Rolling Stone interview published at the time of Haynes' retirement from Peppermint Place, Gibby praised his father for always supporting him.

Jerry, you were one of a kind, both as an entertainer and more importantly, as a father. Here's video of a 1996 WFAA8 story on Jerry and Gibby Haynes by reporter Jamie Tobias.