CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Growing up in the Lowcountry between 1960 and 1980 meant mosquito bites, 75 degrees on Christmas Day, and spending afternoons and Saturday mornings watching our hometown hero, “Happy Raine” on television.
Lorraine “Rainey” Evans did not wear a cape, but if you watched – and we all did – you know she wore a band around her head and her heart on her sleeve.
Time stopped when Happy Raine came into our living rooms by way of television.
For two decades, she convinced kids across the Charleston area that learning and laughing could happen at the same time.
42 years after she came into our homes, Happy Raine invited us into her home and displayed her memorabilia for everyone to see.
Evans credits another Lowcountry icon, Charlie Hall — a beloved meteorologist who signed on Charleston’s CBS station in 1953 — with giving the Lowcountry one of its greatest gifts: the Happy Raine Show.
“He said ‘how would you like to do a children’s show,’” she recalled. “He said, ‘go out and get some braids and a headband and some jewelry and we’ll take a picture of you.’ I said, okay.”
Evans recalled going to Kay Drugs on King Street to get her braids and tied them onto her headband.
But how did she come up with the name?
“I said ‘well, my name is Rainey. I’m basically a happy person. So Happy Raine! Charlie said ‘that’ll never fly.'”
The show did more than fly. Despite its simplicity, it soared.
“I had cartoons, visits from firemen – they would come and talk, and then the dentist with a big toothbrush.”
“At first, I didn’t have kids I said to Charlie I need kids he said ‘you’ll be sorry!’ But then I said I need kids, and these were the first children on the show.”
One person who made an appearance on the show was Evans’ daughter, Elizabeth.
“The kids at school said ‘I wish Happy Raine was my mother’ and she said ‘no you don’t!’”
Evans not only charmed children and Charlestonians, but Hollywood celebrities also came calling, too. Jim Nabors, Eddie Albert, Chad Everett, Leonard Nimoy, Esther Role, and Tim Conway, just to name a few.
Evans holds the unique distinction of having her celebrated children’s show on the three networks: CBS, ABC, and NBC. But Happy Raine’s reign ended because she was married to Buddy Evans who also worked at the TV station.
“They came to me and said we can’t have husbands and wives at the same channel. That was very, very hard for me. I hated to leave it,” she said. “I was sad to see the end of the show but in retrospect… I think that God always gets us ready for the next step.”
Her next step also involved making children feel better.
“That’s when I just volunteered for the Ronald McDonald House, and I helped build the Ronald McDonald House and helped build the 15th house in the nation.”
Evans’ commitment continued as she joined the staff at the Medical University of South Carolina where she helped raise money so they could build a world-class children’s hospital.
If you are wondering what Happy Raine has been up to in recent years, she has explored the world.
“I started doing some traveling. I’ve been to Africa, all over Europe. Went to Ecuador, went to the Galapagos and to the Canary Island.”
Holding her final costume as Happy Raine, she had at least a dozen costumes from that time, she reflected on all that she has seen and done, and finds comfort that she gave children a happy place to be every day.
You can hear Carolyn’s full conversation with Evans on the next episode of the ‘Let’s Talk’ podcast this Sunday at 11:00 a.m.