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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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  • 06/26/14--07:24: Flintstone Minus 19
  • Fred Flintstone survived long after the death of the man who first played him, but there was no better voice actor for him than Alan Reed.

    This isn’t a knock at his replacement, who was enjoyable in many TV roles. But Reed’s Fred had a lot of depth and you liked the character in spite of his faults. The series revolved around Fred Flintstone so a strong actor had to play him.

    As you probably know, before “The Flintstones” came along Reed was known mainly for his role as the poet Falstaff Openshaw on Fred Allen’s radio show. What’s remarkable is Allen’s show was known mainly for Allen’s Alley, and Falstaff is not a character you think of when the Alley comes to mind. Actually, my favourite line of Reed’s on the show came as a Radio City tour guide who bellowed “That little man with the mildew on him is a vice-president,” something that could only have been written by Allen himself. Reed loved Allen. Louella Parsons once reported that Reed gave up two lucrative films in Hollywood so he could return to New York and resume his work on the Allen show in the 1943-44 season (Allen had returned to radio after a year off due to heart problems that ultimately killed him).

    Reed, under his birth name of Teddy Bergmann, worked in radio long before his appearances on the Allen show. He had an interesting past which we’ve mentioned in previous posts. I’ve found another newspaper clipping about him from the
    Brooklyn Daily Eagle of November 23, 1941, 19 years before Fred Flintstone. The story is unbylined.

    Alan Reed, He’s on Vacation and That Makes Him Pretty Happy
    But Again in Theater Guild's New Play He's Badly Dressed

    We offer Alan Reed as an alarming example of what can happen if you let your son go to journalism school. Mr. Reed is the gentleman who is presently to burst upon Broadway as the bombastic Italian farmer in “Hope for a Harvest,” the Theater Guild comedy by Sophie Treadwell, which opens at the Guild Theater Wednesday evening, and which presents, in addition to the redoubtable Reed, Mr. and Mrs. Frederic March.
    The journalism school where Reed's whacky history starts is Columbia. How he escaped from it nobody knows. But one day he turned up in Oklahoma City, befriended by a candy manufacturer named Ralph Rose. This chocolate bar king dabbled in theatricals. He dabbled a bit too much, however. With a stock company, that included Reed as leading man, he lost his shirt.
    And so Mr. Rose, his 12-year-old son and his great and good friend, Mr. Reed, came to New York. They had $600 when they arrived. A bit of dice manipulation (at which Mr. Rose Jr. was said to be proficient) ran it up to $28,000. Whereupon Mr. Reed and the Messrs. Rose started a candy business. Pecan pralines were the staple and the business prospered until hot weather, when the pralines turned what Reed describes as an “interesting gray color, like second-hand oatmeal.”
    That was about 1923. Two years later found our Mr. Reed acting in the Glencairn cycle of Eugene O'Neill at the Provincetown Theater. He doesn't remember why. Nor why he became, somewhere along the way from there to here, intercollegiate wrestler (that was at Columbia, but we forgot to mention it at the time), shipping clerk, real estate salesman, gym instructor and newsreel commentator. He also became manager of the Luxor Health Club, which, considering his fondness for sleeping late and Lindy's pastries, doesn't seem to fit.
    At any rate, like some other misguided people, he eventually wandered into radio, where he became the No. 1 assistant comic. Cantor, Jolson, Jessel, Burns and Allen, and now Fred Allen—all have had his services. (On Fred A's current program he is Falstaff Openshaw, the Bowery Bard, as well as Clancy the Cop on “Duffy's Tavern.”)
    But where he really shines—ethereally speaking—is crime. He sat down one night and, having nothing better to do, totaled his radio-crime career for 1940. During the year, he estimated, he stole slightly more than $12,000,000, killed 37 people, participated in five kidnapings, perpetrated three felonious assaults and made one attempt to pull the badger game. In all of these cases he was convicted, killed by the police in a dark alley, driven to suicide when trapped by his own brutal actions or dispensed with in some satisfying way. Satisfying, at least, to the code of radio morality. v But if he is radio's baddest boy, he is also its busiest. Averaging a total of 25 to 30 radio shows weekly, it is an expensive luxury for Alan Reed to enter a Broadway play, for he has to give up his very lucrative crime-and-comic chores on radio.
    But with “Hope for Harvest,” the gentleman is quite willing to forego radio profits in favor of the theater, and for a couple of excellent if unartistic reasons.
    “With this job,” Mr. Reed confides gravely, “I am working myself out a nice little vacation, a very nice little vacation. And why? Because here at last is a part I can throw my stomach into.” He patted his facade. Did we mention that there is a good deal of Mr. Reed? Two hundred and thirty pounds at last counting. “Also I can let my hair grow. This is not like the last time. This is not Saroyan.”
    He was referring to his last Broadway stint, in the Mad Armenian's play, “Love's Old Sweet Song,” which the Guild produced two seasons ago. In that epic Mr. Reed was the philosophical Greek wrestler, Stylanos Americanos. His hair was cropped to a fuzz and he had to train down to 210.
    “Was I healthy? I have never been so healthy. I hope I am never so healthy again. Gym all the time. No Lindy's. No Lindy's pastries. But now—!”
    Now Mr. Reed is playing Joe de Lucchi, a middle-aged Italian with plenty of girth and a nice shock of hair. Mr. R. is barely in his thirties and worries because his nice middle-aged makeup never seems to register on photographs. “I look young!” he moans in despair. “I look, you might almost say, juvenile! Always before I have been athletic. For business reasons. Now I can be athletic or I can skip it. So if I feel like it I'll be athletic. Otherwise, no.” Up to now it seems to be no. Except for handball, which Mr. Reed plays with furious enthusiasm, he is taking himself “a nice little vacation.” Of course, he is working a little in “Hope for Harvest,” but he gets such a kick out of the part he doesn't regard it as work. His only complaint about the part is the clothes he has to wear. They are not, says Mr. Reed, very snappy.
    “Now here is the situation,” he explained morosely, “I like clothes. You know what I mean? I am fond of them. I have one of the best tailors In New York. I have beautiful suits. I wear them like Esquire. So what happens? One the radio nobody sees me. I get a job on the stage in ‘Love's Old Sweet Song’—and I wear a pair of trunks and the hair on my chest I was born with. So I think—Never mind, next time we'll wear clothes. So what happens? I get into ‘Hope for a Harvest,’ and I wear overalls! Can you win? But outside of that I got no complaints. It's a swell show. I got a swell part. I'm happy.”
    So “Hope for a Harvest” has made Mr. Reed happy. He has made the author and the Theater Guild happy. All that remains is for the audience to be happy. Mr. Reed nods knowingly, and says they will be.

    Radio was a moderate-sized gold-mine for the small percentage of character actors like Reed who were in constant demand. The death of network radio in the ‘50s reduced a lot of incomes; one regular TV role didn’t equal six regular radio roles. Reed’s first regular TV role—Pasquale on “Life With Luigi” in 1952—quickly ended with re-casting. For the most part, Reed then threw himself into the novelty business until a phone call about a TV cartoon. Once again, Reed played a character who didn’t wear a tailored suit. But, somehow, we don’t think he minded.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Ralph Somerville, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Carl Kohler, Story Director – Art Davis, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Narrator, Monkey, Lion, Mother Monkey – Don Messick; Huckleberry Hound – Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    First aired: 1961-62 season.
    Plot: Huckleberry Hound explains how to get around in the jungle.

    It’s the same old Huck but a couple of different names grace the credits of this cartoon. This is one of a few cartoons animated at Hanna-Barbera by Ralph Somerville. He was born December 6, 1905 in Oskaloosa, Iowa to the Rev. Jay Wilbur and Jessie Meredith (Burdick) Somerville but grew up in Warrensburg, New York. He was the pride of the little town. In 1929, he was on the crew of the steamer Zanthia and his letters to his widowed mother about his voyages in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean were reprinted on the front page of the local paper. How he ended up working for the Fleischer studio in New York is unclear—the paper mentions he worked on “Kitty From Kansas City” and “Millie [sic] the Moocher”—but it reported on November 3, 1932 he was now in Hollywood animating at the Krazy Kat studio—for Walt Disney!

    Somerville ended up at Universal later in the decade. In 1938, he married Xenia Beckwith, who was at the MGM cartoon studio at the time. They divorced a few years later when he was a Technical Sergeant stationed in India; she later married animator Ed de Mattia. All three worked at the Hanna-Barbera studio in the early ‘60s. Somerville later was one of many old-timers who animated on the “Spider-Man” series for Grantray-Lawrence before moving on to Filmation. He retired to Weed, California in 1974 and died on February 13, 2000.

    Carl Kohler wrote this cartoon and it was apparently his only Hanna-Barbera credit. Whether he was freelancing or very briefly on staff is unclear. Kohler wrote Art Davis’ last cartoon at Warner Bros., “Quackodile Tears,” and Davis is the story director on this cartoon. Kohler was mainly a magazine cartoonist, having co-founded CARtoons in 1959. He also churned out stories for Bozo the Clown cartoons at Larry Harmon’s studio in 1962. Kohler very adeptly captures Huck’s personality in this cartoon. It’s nothing more than a series of spot gags without any kind of climax, but Huck’s chatty and pleasant, and there’s one really off-the-wall gag.

    Studio workhorse Dick Thomas painted the backgrounds from Dan Noonan’s layouts. It seems like almost every cartoon that has been reviewed here for the last few months has Thomas’ name on it. Here’s part of the opening background. Quite nice. Too bad in 1961, TV viewers likely saw it only in black and white.

    This cartoon has another one of those fun openings where Huck’s just hanging around waiting for the narrator and his camera to arrive. Here’s the opening dialogue over top of one of Hoyt Curtin’s mystery beds. Don Messick begins with mock seriousness.

    Narrator: Africa. And into the dark, steaming interior of the equatorial jungle, our roving camera probes, searching for that legendary and mysterious personality Oomba Goomba Doombie Foomba. Which, translated, means “Jungle Huck.”

    The camera now stops on Huck up a tree, which gives him a chance to sing “Clementine,” as fans have come to expect. Then he acknowledges the camera and the audience.

    Huck: Howdy. Me Jungle Huck. I thought you’d never get here.

    This is a spot gag cartoon and anyone who has seen enough cartoons can guess the gag before it happens. For example, Huck swings on a vine. He crashes into a tree.

    Huck chops down a tree. Guess where it lands?

    There’s an odd scene where Huck saves a little monkey from “a hungry-type lion.” The sound cutter does a great job of juxtaposing Curtin’s cues. There’s a loud, dramatic one when the lion’s chasing the frightened and switches to a little soft-shoe oboe when Huck talks to the audience about what’s going on. Huck saves the monkey but not after grabbing the lion and dropping him (“Tsk, tsk. Right on his face. They’re supposed to land on their feet, you know,” Huck informs us). The monkey is grateful. But when he tells his mother, the big monkey turns Huck into a basketball and shoots him into a tree. Why? Huck saved her kid’s life. “Some day, it just don’t pay to monkey around with good deeds,” Huck tells us as the camera fades out.

    The weird scene is when Huck swings right into the mouth of a white rhinoceros (who gulps him down). No trouble. Huck just opens one of the animal’s plates like it was a door. Says Huck: “You’d never believe what goes on inside a rhinocer-oceros.” He never confides in the audience what does go on; it’s on to the next scene.

    The next gag involves a native village and a Tarzan yell (which ends with “Y’all”). We never see any natives. It’s cheaper not to draw any. Instead, Huck simply gets trapped by their arrows which come flying into the scene.

    The spot gags don’t really stack up to a climax. Huck’s chased by different animals in different scenes; the final one merely involves him running stage left on screen, yelling “Help!” with a tiger in pursuit. Not the strongest way to finish a cartoon.

    Somerville reuses some of his drawings. There’s a pose of Huck on a tree holding a kinked vine which appears periodically. And the run cycle of the little monkey appears in a medium shot and a close-up (in both directions; the drawings are over around and inked and painted on the other side).

    Curtin’s musical bits and pieces made appearances in a variety of cartoons the same year. His organ version of “Man on the Flying Trapeze” underscores one of Huck’s vine swings. And the final cue is the one where Curtin snatched a few bars of Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No 2.”

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    This will be the final post of Yogi Sunday comics (Saturday in Canada). It has become impossible to find full versions of them on the internet.

    As you can see, Hanna-Barbera was still using the comic page to plug its movie “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear” 50 years ago this month. The punch line of the July 5th comic goes back to just after World War Two. The Jack Benny radio show, among others, make occasional fun of a brand of ballpoint pen that advertised it could write under water. Gene Hazelton or his writer adds into the mix a parody of Zsa Zsa Gabor. You already know Zsa Zsa voiced a caricature of herself for H-B in the Alice TV special a couple of years later so there’s no need to mention it in the comment section. I don’t know who is being caricatured in the middle panel, bottom row.

    Yogi’s expressions in the July 26th comic are pretty good and I like the end gag, which is set up pretty well in the second row. The black background panel in the bottom row is a nice variation. Sigh. Even the bear skins rhyme.

    Here are the comics for July 12th and July 19th. I can not get better versions. It’s too bad. I’d like to see what magazine has Yogi’s picture on the front cover on the 19th. I like the star-bedecked opening panel in the comic on the 12th. Yogi is nice enough to give the bellboy a tip (I don’t think they could have gotten away with “Caaaaaall for Raaaannger Smiiiiith!”). And the final panel has an unintentional nod to the music in the background of the first few seasons of Yogi cartoons with the Capitol Records building in clear view. Bill Loose and John Seely aren’t looking out any of the windows; they were gone from Capitol by then, but the company was still making the Hi-Q library available for use, mainly by industrial film producers.

    The “Yogi in Hollywood” storyline continued until the end of August (with a couple of breaks). The funniest comic may be August 16, when Yogi Bear meets Yogi Berra. If Mark Kausler doesn’t post a version from his collection on his blog, I’ll see if I can find a version that’s clean.

    As usual, you can click on any comic to enlarge it.

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    A feature film starting Ruff and Reddy?

    The idea was actually kicking around Hanna-Barbera almost immediately after the pair made their debut on NBC in December 1957. The revelation was made in a story in Daily Variety of January 20, 1958 and repeated virtually verbatim in Weekly Variety two days later.

    We won’t reprint the full article, just the portion that deals with the cartoon studio. It’s interesting seeing in the earliest stories about the studio in Variety that George Sidney was the one who got the publicity. Sidney was H-B Enterprises’ first president. More importantly, he had been president of the Directors Guild of America and was known for live action films. Once Huckleberry Hound took off in popularity in late 1958, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera decided to make their names known in the popular press. Sidney kept his chunk of shares in the company until it was sold to Taft Broadcasting in the ‘60s.

    This version of the story comes from Weekly Variety, as it mentions some of the studio’s commercial clients.

    [Studio] Employs 25, Expanding
    After less than eight months of operation, H& B Productions, cartoonery formed by George Sidney in partnership with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, is expanding its operations. Hanna and Barbera formerly produced the Tom and Jerry Animated cartoons for Metro. H& B Productions staff now numbers 25, drawn from the Metro cartoonery when the Culver lot ended animation.
    Sidney, who is prexy of the firm, reported that he will use a cartoon sequence in "Pepe," his upcoming Columbia film starring Cantinflas. Sequence will be inserted along lines of animated action used in Metro's "Anchors Aweigh," which Sidney directed.
    H& B now is doing commercials for Metro, as well as for Schlitz, S & H Green Stamps, Junket and others. In addition, it is doing a program of cartoons for Screen Gems, "The Ruff and Reddy Show," which started televising five weeks ago over NBC-TV every Saturday morning, 9-9:30 a. m., under sponsorship of General Foods. Total of 52 segments have been completed for SG. While H-B deals with SG includes these 52 subjects only, talks already have started with Columbia subsid for a further series. Outfit last week launched production on 78 segments for a new program.
    The "Ruff and Ready" series was made in color, according to Sidney, with a view to linking a number of segments together for theatrical release in Europe later as a cartoon feature. Feature cartoon production already is being considered by the three partners, who are weighing the possibilities of three different properties. One of these will be started within the next two to three months, he declared, and it's expected [the] company will have this initial feature ready for release in early 1960. Industrial and medical cartoons films likewise are planned, Sidney stated.

    52 segments of “Ruff and Reddy” could have been easily put together into a feature. Each cartoon had roughly 2½ minutes of animation, if you deleted the titles and the scene-setter re-used from the previous cartoon.

    For whatever reason, the studio abandoned the idea of a Ruff and Reddy feature. But it came up with another one during yet another expansion. The headline in Daily Variety of October 20, 1960 reads “HANNA-BARBERA DOUBLES PROD.—THEATRICAL AS WELL AS TV CARTOONS.” The article on the studio is a lengthy one, and reveals a reorganisation of staff, a 100% increase in its production budget, plans to buy two acres to build a new studio, and two new syndicated series of five minute cartoons, one starring Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har and the other starring Hairbrain Hare and Dum Dum (no Touché Turtle yet). But the story also contained news of a feature film as well as the tacit admission that Huckleberry Hound was no longer the studio’s top star.

    Yogi Feature Star
    Company currently is in production on a "Yogi Bear" teleseries, bringing the character out of the "Huckleberry Hound" teleseries. "Yogi" also will be the star of H-B's first feature-length film, currently being written by Barbera and Warren Foster and being aimed for release next summer by Columbia.

    As you know, the Yogi feature didn’t come out in 1960. Variety tracked its progress, or non-progress as was the case. It was still in the company’s plans according to two feature stories on animation in May 1961 and mentioned as in the planning stages in a couple of stories in 1962 (a second feature besides Yogi “not based on one of their vidcartoons” was revealed in the edition of November 29, 1961). Finally, there was some movement in early 1963 as Ray Gilbert was hired to write songs for it (Daily Variety, March 11). Hanna and Barbera had ambitions for it; the May 23rd Weekly Variety reported Ann-Margret, Dean Martin and Eddie Fisher were to supply voices.

    The movie was put into production on August 7, 1963 with a staff of 120 working on it under the title “Whistle Your Way Back Home.” Someone must have realised the title was too vague and really poor marketing. If you’re going to have a cartoon starring Yogi Bear, put his name in the title. So by December 1963 it was known as “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear.”

    Interestingly, a syndicated newspaper article from 1966 plugging the Flintstones feature revealed “Hey There” hadn’t made money at that point. And it also quoted Bill Hanna as saying the Ruff and Reddy cartoons the studio had made starting almost nine years earlier had just made back their negative costs. It is any wonder, then, why the studio took a pass at turning the characters into feature film stars.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – John Boersma, Layout – Jack Huber, Backgrounds – Anthony Rizzo, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Bee – Daws Butler; Saddle Bumpley, Cop, lion - Doug Young; Twister – Hal Smith/Daws Butler.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    First Aired: 1962.
    Plot: Snooper and Blabber are hired to find escaped rodeo horse Twister.

    That noted tunesmith, Michael A. Maltese, brought us the following touching lyrics of a man, pining for the land of endless prairie:

    Oh, the wide open spaces call me,
    There’s lots of room to roam.
    The city isn’t for me,
    The west, my home sweet home.

    The ballad of the Golden West touches Blabber Mouse. Responds the sniffling Blab: “Makes me kind of sorry I’m from St. Louis.”

    This refrain sets up the climax of “Bronco Bluster,” which has a number of used Maltese story concepts. The song is one. Quick Draw McGraw strummed an out-of-town tune guitar on occasion to break into song (much like Porky Pig crooning Maltese’s “The Flower of Gower Gulch”). The ending is reminiscent of the first season’s “Bronco Bustin’ Boobs,” where Baba Looey had to dress up in a horse costume so the show would go on (a Wild West show in that cartoon, a rodeo in this one). And there’s the old cartoon gag of a character using a stamp to create phoney footprints.

    John Boersma is the credited animator on this short. His dialogue is animated just like Ken Muse, with the little row of upper teeth and the tongue moving around. Jack Huber is the layout artist and he’s designed the Saddle Bumpley, the rodeo owner, with the round, beady eyes like Paul Sommer would put in characters. And Tony Rizzo’s the background artist, drawing foliage much like Bob Gentle did in some cartoons.

    As best as I can tell, this is the only H-B TV short Rizzo worked on until late in the ‘60s, perhaps on a freelance basis. After leaving Disney, Rizzo provided backgrounds for Mr. Magoo and Dick Tracy TV cartoons, and the Rudy Larriva Roadrunner cartoons. Format Films received a sub-contract for them, from UPA in the first two cases and Warner Bros. in the last. He also painted background art for “Top Cat” and “Jonny Quest” and got saddled with a Loopy De Loop, so he could have been employed by Hanna-Barbera in between gigs at Format.

    There’s a familiar opening, as well. There’s a shot of Snooper’s office door (with the private eyeball) and Snoop answering the phone in his best Archie-of-Duffy’s-Tavern manner. “Hello? Snooper Detective Agency, where the indiscreet meet defeat.” It’s a 12-0-7—robbery at the rodeo. Twister the performing horse is missing. “And you’ll pay us a Texas oil well to find him? Throw in the barrels and it’s a deal,” says Snoop on the phone. Maltese shows his New York roots. Blab rushes off screen, zips back wearing a ten-gallon hat and exclaims: “We’ll take a short cut and head ‘em off at the Bowery.”

    The next scene is in Saddle Bumpley’s office (yes, it includes a shot of his office door) as the rodeo boss outlines what “trans-perspired.” Boersma’s attempt at getting movement in the scene is by having four head positions for Bumpley, a few hand gestures, and some eye blinks, though Bumpley shrugs at one point. The scene sets up the plot as Blab figures out the horse is homesick (“Beginner’s luck,” spits an annoyed Snoop).

    They spot Twister in the park. The horses raises and lowers his eyebrows like Groucho Marx but unlike Groucho or Bugs Bunny, he’s not someone you can like all that much. Maybe the fact he (mostly) neighs as he pulls his stunts takes away a quality that could be added with snappy dialogue. Interestingly, the neighs are by Hal Smith. Maybe they were taken from another cartoon, as Daws Butler gives the horse the other voice effects.

    We get a catch-phrase: “Stop in the name of the Private School of Horsey Set!” shouts Snoop.

    The gags are basic—Twister substitutes himself for a statue of General Sherman’s horse (Snoop kicks the statue by mistake), then rides off the statue of the general atop him (cue the puzzled cop gag), plants footprints leading to a lion’s mouth, and sits in a lake making it look like he’s in ten feet of water (Snoop and Blab dive in to mud a couple of feet below). That’s when Snoop pulls a guitar out of nowhere (“That’s the secret of our profession, Blab. Always be prepared,” is his explanation for its availability) and stars crooning to make the animal come out of hiding. It works. The bawling horse pops his head out of the bushes.

    And just like an earlier Snooper and Blabber cartoon where Snoop gave up his reward to let a rare Tralfazian duck go free, he decides not to bring Twister back to the rodeo. The steed hops a freight train and waves goodbye. But since Bumpley promised a wild horse show, it means Snooper and Blabber have to dress up in a horse costume and perform. “Quit your gripin’, Blab,” says Snoop. “After all, you got the best seat in the house.” Blab is the end of the horse.

    There are a few pieces of Flintstones music here, and the sad violin when the horse is crying made an appearance on both “The Flintstones” and “Top Cat,” if I recall. The final scene is underscored with “(That’s) Quick Draw McGraw.”

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    Among the things “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons” had in common is both have closing credit animation featuring a cat who had very little to do in the actual series. The Flintstones’ Baby Puss appeared in comic books and toys and but, on camera, showed up in only three cartoons—“Nuthin’ But the Tooth,” “Pebbles’ Birthday Party” (both with animation by Carlo Vinci) and “Ten Little Flintstones.” (Late note: There was a fourth. See the comment section).

    As best as I can tell, the Jetsons’ cat never had a name. He wasn’t even referred to in the ‘Jetsons End Title Theme’ because, unlike “The Flintstones,” the closing theme had no lyrics.

    Here’s a frame grab from the ending you all know so well with the little kitten.

    The unnamed cat grew up for his appearance in “Dude Planet.” At least, we’ll presume it’s the same cat. Then, again, maybe it’s a different one as the show reveals the cat always gets sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. If it were me, I’d find a new home. Here he is lying around before the vacuum eyes him. An atypical Hanna-Barbera cat design.

    Here he is coming out of the vacuum cleaner and sneezing all the dust off himself.

    The cel of the cat remains in place for 22 frames as the dust floats away.

    There’s a four-drawing cycle of the cat churning its feet in mid-air...

    ...then it leaps out of the scene. Some of the animation is reused during the cat’s second and final appearance in the cartoon as it sneezes its way out of a cartoon career.

    Some reading will know who did the cat animation (Someone does know. Mike Kazaleh reveals who it is in the comments). I thought it might be Jerry Hathcock. It looks to my untrained eye that George Nicholas worked on part of the cartoon but the correct screen credits were taken off years ago. The cat’s voice sounds like one of Don Messick’s.

    Despite this blog being named for that fine cartoon dog, Yowp, we believe in giving credit to obscure cartoon cats as well. So we salute you, Catellite, or whatever your name is. Without you, there would be no need for George Jetson to utter the immoral words: “Jane, stop this crazy thing.”

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Story – Warren Foster, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voices: Narrator, Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, John’s Wife – Don Messick; Yogi Bear, John, Superintendent – Daws Butler.
    Music: Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore, Bill Loose-John Seely, Jack Shaindlin.
    First aired: week of October 24, 1960.
    Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-041.
    Plot: Ranger Smith rigs picnic baskets to beat up Yogi so he’ll stop stealing them.

    This is the quintessential Yogi Bear cartoon. It contains everything anyone associates with Yogi Bear. To wit:

    ● Pic-a-nic baskets with goodies.
    ● Yogi versus Ranger Smith.
    ● Jellystone Park.
    ● Boo Boo saying “The ranger won’t like it, Yogi” (or words to that effect).
    ● Rhyming dialogue.

    The interesting thing is that, other than the rhymes, these elements weren’t present in many of the cartoons during Yogi’s first season written by Charlie Shows and Joe Barbera—Ranger Smith didn’t exist at all then—but once story man Warren Foster replaced Shows in the second season, he started putting a formula in place. And the formula was a winning one because it’s how people think of Yogi today. I suspect fans today would screech louder than the smarter-the-average-bear being fed nuts and berries if a Yogi cartoon minus all these things were made today (a cartoon, say, like “Foxy Hound Dog,” starring Yowp).

    This cartoon has a few others things that are atypical of a Foster-written Yogi comic adventure.

    ● Don Messick’s opening narration.
    ● Camera pans over backgrounds of the park.
    ● Yogi telling us he’s “Smarter than the av-er-age bear.”
    ● Bill Loose and John Seely’s cue “Zany Comedy” (second and third seasons only).

    Even Yogi’s con at the beginning of the cartoon has a ring of familiarity. Or maybe we’ve just seen this cartoon over and over too many times. Yogi pretends to be a park health inspector who confiscates the tourists’ food because of too many calories. Lew Marshall is the animator in this one and simply didn’t believe in exaggerated takes. Witness Boo Boo’s less than outrageous expression when he tastes a “sand-a-wich.”

    Angry tourists complain on the phone to Ranger Smith, so he puts bars on the entrance to Yogi’s cave and locks our hero in. “I am government property, sir. I shall report this to the park superintendent,” vows the bear. The ranger then decides to end the thievery by booby trapping some picnic baskets and letting Yogi out. The idea works. We even get a cartoon anvil. And we get a great example of how H-B saved money. There’s a drawing of a tree falling on Yogi. The next drawing is the tree on the ground. We don’t see it hit the bear, let alone get a really funny held drawing of him being crushed. Save the cash, lessen the humour.

    Yogi decides to swear off pic-a-nic baskets. But then the superintendent shows up. We’re left to infer, as promised, Yogi has contacted the superintendent in a counter-move against the ranger, hoping Smith gets hoisted on his own petard. And that’s what happens. The superintendent seems to feel he can steal from a picnic basket, too. And the basket is booby-trapped.

    The cartoon ends with Ranger Smith, jailed in Yogi’s cave for 60 days, eating a sand-a-wich from a pic-a-nic basket. Score a win for Yogi in this cartoon.

    Tony Rivera was the layout artist on this cartoon. Note the parallel jaw lines on Smith (what’s depicted in that painting in the background, anyway?).

    Here’s the line-up of the new model Riveras (not to be mistaken with the Buick Riviera). They’re what every sharp-nosed, hat-wearing father of 1960 should drive!

    We mentioned the Bob Gentle backgrounds panned by the camera at the start of the cartoon as the narrator sets up the scene. Have a look.

    And since we’ve been talking quintessence, this drawing may be as close to the quintessential Yogi as you’ll find.

    We mentioned “Zany Comedy” earlier in the post. A lot of the music comes from Geordie Hormel’s Zephyr Records library (Spencer Moore worked for Hormel until a “restructuring”), including the first cue which you can hear in its entirety. Moore’s bassoon work-part cue L-1158 makes an appearance.

    0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
    0:28 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Opening narration, Yogi and Boo Boo walk, health inspector scene.
    2:15 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Boo Boo eats sandwich, Yogi beckons to cars.
    2:44 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose/Seely) – Ranger in cabin scene.
    3:14 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No. 2 (Shaindlin) – Yogi stops ranger, in barred cave, “I don’t like it, Yogi.”
    4:32 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Punch-in-the-face scene, anvil scene, fall-in-the-hole scene.
    5:35-5:37 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Musical effect as Yogi creeps toward basket.
    5:42 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Shot of picnic basket in tree.
    5:47 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Yogi runs, clobbered by tree, Boo Boo talks.
    5:52 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Yogi under tree.
    5:58 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi with ranger, superintendent scene.
    6:50 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) - Final scene of ranger in cave.
    7:11 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

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  • 07/17/14--07:00: Emmys and Models
  • A mere three networks dominated television for several decades, so it’s no surprise they had an almost complete stranglehold on TV’s self-awarded honours—the Emmys. But there was a notable exception during that span. For that, you can credit Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and their hard-working staff.

    Both the Huckleberry Hound Show and the Quick Draw McGraw Show were nominated for Emmys in 1960—and on a Monday night, June 20th, Huck went home with a statue, beating “Watch Mr. Wizard” (NBC), “Lassie” and “Captain Kangaroo” (both CBS) in the Children’s Entertainment category. I haven’t checked to see whether it’s true, but some newspaper stories the following day claimed it was the first time a non-network show had won an Emmy.

    The Huck show was nominated again the following year, but lost to “Young People’s Concert” (the good Captain and Shari Lewis were also among the losers). Huck and Yogi Bear actually appeared on the awards show in footage that may be lost; we talked about it in THIS POST.

    With all this in mind, here’s a wonderful drawing, possibly by Dick Bickenbach, of Huck and his award.

    The drawing was put up for sale at Heritage Auctions recently and this post is giving me a chance to post some of the other Hanna-Barbera artwork that was up for bid. You can click on each one to enlarge it. Several are initialed by Bick.

    The Ding-a-Ling model is interesting in that the date on it is pretty close to when the studio announced that Yogi Bear would be spun off into his own show. Yogi wasn’t replaced with Hokey Wolf and Ding-a-Ling until the new year (the first Hokey cartoon I’ve found listed was for the week of March 27, 1961). The Yogi model sheet is for the third season of the Huck show (1960-61); my eye isn’t so adept to be able to tell if there are any design changes. Certainly Yogi went through a couple of designs in his first season (1958-59), although each animator that year had his own way of drawing the character.

    Heritage had other drawings for sale as well. One is crying out to me that I should really do a post about some H-B cartoons that have been mentioned only on rare occasion here. Perhaps I’ll be able to get to it next week.

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  • 07/19/14--07:27: Memories of Hanna-Barbera
  • Have you got an hour to hear about Hanna-Barbera? Good. Then settle back and watch this video taken at this year’s Wonder Con in Anaheim, California. Former layout artist Jerry Eisenberg, writer Tony Benedict and voice director Wally Burr talk about their creations and co-workers at the studio.

    Having chatted with Jerry and Tony (and you can read Jerry’s chat here on the blog), I can’t express enough what friendly and genuine people they are, though you’ll pick that up from the video. Both had many contributions to the comedy cartoons the studio made in the 1960. Mr. Burr was employed at the studio in a later period and had the distinction of being hired by Bill Hanna and fired by Joe Barbera. He tells a funny tale of voice directing Daws Butler in “Laff-a-Lympics,” though I’m at a loss to understand why Mr. Burr just didn’t level with Daws about who was giving the order.

    The highlight may be Tony’s video featuring candid footage from the ‘60s of the people he worked with. You may notice it has music by Hoyt Curtin for “Top Cat” and other shows from that period which has never been released on DVD.

    The session is coaxed along by another extremely friendly and genuine person, Mark Evanier. I can’t help but think that cartoon writer Earl Kress would have been there, too, if Earl were still with us.

    My thanks to Mr. Benj. Edge for pointing out this video. I hope it hasn’t been taken down by the time you read this.

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: Animation – Ed Parks, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Bigelow, Jr. – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Bigelow Mouse – Doug Young.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-045, Production J-132.
    First Aired: 1961-62 season.
    Plot: Doggie Daddy tries to get rid of Augie’s house guest, a Jimmy Cagney-sounding mouse.

    Was there an attempt at Hanna-Barbera to build up Bigelow the mouse to launch him into his own series of cartoons? Maybe. The information may be resting in the studio files somewhere. But he made appearances in several different series, including this Augie Doggie cartoon. And he borrowed the voice of Jimmy Cagney, following other Hanna-Barbera characters based on film or TV actors/characters.

    The problem with Bigelow is, once you get past the Cagney tough-guy persona, he doesn’t have much else, at least not in this cartoon. Cagney is not exactly a comic character. So the cartoon has to rely on another ersatz version of a celebrity voice—Jimmy Durante’s—and some violence to provide the comedy.

    Ed Parks is the credited animator. Here are a couple of his “funny violence” drawings from a little cycle. The gag is Doggie Daddy uses a stethoscope to place a small stick of dynamite in a wall where Bigelow is hiding. It explodes after Bigelow runs out and places it in the stethoscope.

    You’d think Daddy would have a funny line to cap the gag. Nah. Either Mike Maltese couldn’t think of something or it was cut off the storyboard for time.

    Maltese gets in a few things I like, but they’re not rip-roaringly funny. Doggie Daddy doesn’t make stew for dinner. He makes “del-ih-cee-ous stew.” And that’s how it’s referred to throughout the cartoon. Augie refers to him as “dear old Escoffier-type dad.” Perhaps they loved Auguste Escoffier at Warner Bros.; the other ex-Warners writer at H-B, Warren Foster, referred to the noted chef in a Yogi Bear cartoon around this time. And Daddy modifies a Jack Benny routine when carrying Bigelow out of the home: “Train leavin’ on track five for the livin’ room, the den, and outta da house.” The train is the top of a toilet plunger (“a dome liner,” Daddy calls it).

    Anyway, the cartoon has Augie not eating his stew and taking it to his room instead. Dear old dad consults the psy-co-cological book and decides to have a talk with Augie about it. That’s when he discovers Augie’s giving the stew to Bigelow, who has moved in without Daddy’s knowledge. Back to the book for more advice: “When a boy is determined to protect a moochin’ mouse, don’t force the issue. Instead, get rid of da mouse yourself. Then the boy will think the mouse left of his own violation.” So Dad gets Augie out of the house with $1 bill to go to the store, but the mouse outsmarts him every time. Bigelow stretches Daddy’s nose, slams the front door in his face and blasts his ears with the aforementioned dynamite before Augie returns. That’s when five little mice come out of the hole (one who emulates Cagney) and Augie tells dear old dad he’s feeding Bigelow’s whole family. Augie goes into his ‘can (fill-in-the-blank) stay?’ routine. Perhaps empathising with a single father, Daddy agrees. “After all,” he tells us, “a mouse who supports a family can’t be all bad.”

    Tony Rivera (or perhaps Maltese) goes for a lot of single-character close-ups in this cartoon with nothing but a green card in the background. That gives BG guy Art Lozzi very little to do. This opening shot fills the first 13 seconds of the cartoon.

    In case you’re wondering, the other Bigelow cartoons were:
    ● Express Train Lion (Snagglepuss)
    ● Foxy Friends (Yakky Doodle)
    ● Royal Rodent (Snagglepuss)

    Hoyt Curtin’s cues are familiar from the Touché, Lippy, etc. shows produced around the same time.

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    Recognise this scary face?

    Why, of course you do. It’s Carlo Vinci, animator of some of the funniest drawings in the early days of the Hanna-Barbera studio. And you may recognise the picture as being similar to one which opened a story on the studio in Life Magazine published on November 21, 1960. You can read it HERE.

    Amid over at Cartoon Brew was nice enough to point out that all the photos taken in the shoot by Allan Grant for that story are now on-line. Allow me post a few of them (for non-commercial purposes, naturally, as this is a fan site).

    Fans of the Modern Stone Age family should recognise the drawing the anonymous inker is working on. Thanks to the DVD of “The Flintstones,” we’re able to see the original opening of the first two seasons of the show where Fred is driving through Bedrock, running errands and then going home. He is stopped by a cop for a fire truck, designed by the great Ed Benedict. The inker is working on a drawing of the “truck.” The dino’s legs would be on separate cels as the animal is running. I have no idea who animated the opening and would accept any and all educated guesses. You can see a piece of the Flintstones’ size chart in the corner. Inkers and painters were the unsung heroes of old cartoons.

    The brilliant Mel Blanc is at the centre of this photo of a break in (or just prior to the start of) a voice session for “The Flintstones.” Bea Benaderet has her back to the camera, and the others are Jean Vander Pyl, Joe Barbera, Alan Reed and Alan Dinehart. That may be John Stephenson with the pencil; he appeared on several cartoons as early as the first season in 1960. I gather from Tony Benedict’s interview with Mark Evanier at this year’s Wonder Con that this session was recorded at the Columbia Pictures studio. Remember that the building knows as the Hanna-Barbera studio at 3400 Cahuenga hadn’t been built yet; they had been in the Kling studio on La Brea and then moved to a building on Cahuenga near their future spot by August 1960. Incidentally, those Ampex tape machines in the booth were great. I imagine the studio recorded the reels at 15 ips and then cut reference discs for the animators to use when drawing mouth movements; there’s another picture in this set of Carlo at his drawing board with a turntable and record nearby.

    Here’s Joe Barbera paying rapt attention to his secretary.

    And here’s a gag picture of Joe Barbera after being kicked out of his office. Alan Dinehart is passing in the hallway. Life doesn’t have the pictures captioned so I don’t know exactly what's going on here.

    You’ll notice in picture with the secretary (Scott Shaw! tells me she’s Maggie Roberts) the table with the Emmy, a wooden key and little models of Huck, Quick Draw and a wooly mammoth, as well as Tom and Jerry, who were still property of MGM. Someone, maybe it was Jerry Eisenberg, described the studio where H-B was located when he arrived in 1961 as “the bunker.” Those painted brick walls sure leave you with that impression.

    Look at the talent in this room for what may have been a development meeting. The greatest cartoon writer in the world, Mike Maltese, is on the right side of the picture talking to Alex Lovy (the bald chick-magnet to the right). From left to right in the photo are: Guy with a brush cut who I should know, Dan Gordon, Alan Dinehart, Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna and the marvellous Warren Foster to Hanna’s left. Maltese is blocking Howard Hanson, who you can’t see. The drawings on the blackboard we’ll discuss in a post next week.

    A recording session. No, that’s not Hoyt Curtin conducting. Curtin was a beefy guy with a rum nose; he looked like a character out of Guys and Dolls. Hanna has his foot up on the step. Listen to some of the orchestra’s work by clicking on the button.

    “You must live in a hole if you don’t like to bowl! Hey, hey, hey, hey!” The studio had a bowling team. Could the third person in the shot be Tony Benedict?

    And here’s one more of the stars of “The Flintstones” and their cardboard cut-outs. You can see the old-time network radio influence as they’re all gathered around one mike. There must have been a lot of bobbing in and out to read lines but all of them worked in radio in the ‘40s, so they’d be used to it.

    If you want to look at all the photos, click HERE. There are others of Carlo; one of them shows layout drawings for “The Golf Champion.” My thanks again to Amid for the link.

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    They had the same artists and writers as Huck and Quick Draw and Yogi Bear. They had the same music. Even the character designs looked fairly familiar. But Lippy the Lion, Touché Turtle and Wally Gator just didn’t have the same charm as the Hanna-Barbera cartoons that had come before. And they weren’t as funny, either.

    Oh, there were the occasional nice quips. And the usual fine voice work that the studio was known for. But the cartoons themselves weren’t much more than pleasant little fillers. As a young cartoon fan, I’d make sure I’d never miss Quick Draw McGraw when he was on. I didn’t care if I missed Dum Dum running into a tree. The characters were okay but didn’t have the personality that their forefathers did.

    Hanna-Barbera always seemed to be brimming with cartoon ideas. It had partnered with Kellogg’s (and the Leo Burnett agency) to produce half hour shows, first starring Huck, then Quick Draw, then Yogi, for syndication. The studio’s next syndication venture was one without a sponsor tied to it. Not a lot has been documented about it, so I’ll go through snippets of stories in chronological order from a couple of the trade papers.

    A brief preface—for ages, portions of the internet have insisted the Lippy/Wally/Touché troika was known as “The New Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Show.” I have yet to find a single instance where that moniker was used to describe the cartoons. The cartoons aren’t even a show per se.

    The first mention is in
    Variety of October 20, 1960, which outlines a bunch of new projects, including the Yogi Bear show and a Yogi Bear movie. And it mentions some short cartoons:

    H-B has just concluded a deal with Screen Gems for production of 104 five-minute segments for syndication. “All our shows have been planned for syndication,” [Joe] Barbera explained, “but so far all have been bought by single sponsors.”
    Emphasizing the new five-minute shows definitely will be syndicated, Barbera revealed they will encompass two separate series, one starring “Lippy the Lion” and “Hardy Har Har” and the other starring “Hairbrain Hare” and “Dum Dum,” all of them new H-B creations.

    The story leaves some questions unanswered. Was it the intention to work the two series into half hour vehicles, like Huck, with other characters? And did H-B pitch them to Kellogg’s before deciding to syndicate them unsponsored through Screen Gems?

    There were certainly serious plans for Hairbrain. A story about Hanna-Barbera in Life magazine a month after the Variety blurb contained a number of photos of a story conference for both Hairbrain and Lippy (who was wearing a king’s crown, like LeRoy the lion in the old Huckleberry Hound cartoons), and shots of concept drawings of Hairbrain on the floor of Joe Barbera’s office with Barbera and Dan Gordon looking at them. You can click to enlarge them.

    For the record, the players at the story meeting above are, left to right, Dan Gordon, Alan Dinehart, Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna, Howard Hanson (below Hanna), Mike Maltese, Warren Foster (crouched behind Maltese) and Alex Lovy. And it may be tough to see on the office photo but at the far left, there’s a drawing of Quick Draw McGraw riding what may be Baba Looey. One of the other photos has a better view of some of the drawings. I’ve blown it up as best as I can.

    What a neat variety of designs. Some definitely look like Ed Benedict’s. What’s interesting is two of the drawings are of turtles; one at the bottom looks exactly like Touché. Was he the original Dum Dum? Or was he a third character in the series (like, say, Fibber Fox in “Yakky Doodle”)? Ah, well. There are always questions. In any event, a sword-wielding, plume-hatted rabbit was replaced with a sword-wielding, plume-hatted turtle. Writer Tony Benedict tells me he believes the idea of a heroic rabbit was merely filed away for a few years and emerged as Ricochet Rabbit.

    The other characters in the Variety story above were in limbo while the studio figured out what to do next (and became busy with something called “Top Cat”). Finally, the studio was ready, almost a year later. Here’s Variety from October 31, 1961 (note the date on the model sheet to the right).

    Hanna & Barbera Slate 3 More Cartoon Strips For Screen Gems
    Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera have set three new animated cartoons for syndication through Screen Gems, with 156 five-minute shows being developed around “Wally Gator,” “Touche Turtle And Dum Dum” and “Lippy The Lion And The Sad Hyenna.” “Gator” is voiced by Bill Thompson and Paul Frees.

    Frees, of course, never starred on any of these cartoons. Knowing Frees’ cache of voices, it’s altogether possible he was cast as Wally, but the voice might have been a little too close to Captain Peachfuzz on the Bullwinkle cartoons.

    Now it was time to make the cartoons, and get out and sell them to stations. Weekly Variety blurbed on January 31, 1962 that the budget for the three series was $1,500,000 and they would likely be sold on a station-by-station basis, especially in cities with three or more stations, though it mentioned the possibility of regional sales. Variety reported on August 15th that $1,900,000 had been set aside for the 156 cartoons. Compare that to $2,000,000 for 26 “Flintstones” and the same for 24 “Jetsons,” and $140,000 for 12 Loopy De Loops. Broadcasting magazine published the trade ads you see below; the first four pages were taken out on January 29, 1962.

    Broadcasting reported on March 12, 1962 that the first sales of what it called Hanna-Barbera Five-Minute Cartoons had been made to seven stations, the biggest being WPIX in New York. Variety of May 9th stated Westinghouse stations in San Francisco, Boston and Baltimore had picked them up. Variety had this to say on June 21st about a sale to a Los Angeles station.

    175G Hanna-Barbera Sale Made To KCOP
    KCOP will expend $175,000 for unlimited runs of three new all-color cartoon shorts from Hanna- Barbera. Original asking price was $2,600 per title but understood KCOP paid around $1,200. Titles are “Touche Turtle,” “Lippy The Lion” and “Wally Gator.”

    Finally, on August 24th, Variety announced:

    KCOP Early-Birding With New H-B Cartoons
    KCOP will open the station earlier Monday morning to preview three new Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Starting at 7:30 a.m., the three five-minute color featurettes will be shown for the first time on tv. They are “Touche Turtle,” “Wally the Gator” and “Lippy the Lion.” Beginning Sept. 2, they will be seen as a weekly strip at 6:30 p.m.

    Variety got the date wrong. The cartoons debuted in colour on September 3, 1962 on the Beachcomber Bill show (competing against cartoons on two other channels). That can be considered the birth date of Lippy, Wally and the rest, unless you would rather use the KCOP preview date of August 27th. By October 31, Variety reported the cartoons had been sold to 51 stations.

    The one unfortunate thing about the cartoons is the cartoons were aired without any credits. From Variety we learn that veteran Frank Paiker did the camera work and Greg Watson was the film editor, but you need to be familiar with animation styles to pick out the artists and use educated guesses to determine who wrote what. The cartoons are average at best, but their creators should get their due.

    By the way, the Lippy theme song is another one that suffers from Hanna-Barbera Indecipherable Lyric disease. I had no idea the words were “the most loveable, laughable looneys by far” until listening to a version done by the singers on Golden LP-90, released in 1962 (the Randy Horne Singers belted out the version opening each cartoon). I’ve posted their versions of the three theme songs before, but I’ll post them again. You know that Hoyt Curtin composed them, but Jim Timmens did the arrangements on these. Even though they’re a little barren instrumentally compared to what you’re used to hearing, I really like this version of the Wally Gator theme with a piano, trumpet and guitar. It’s a shame the musicians didn’t cut loose—I mean, if a song’s going to be about a swingin’ alligator, it should swing—but it is a kids’ record after all.




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    One of the similarities between Fred Flintstone and his inspiration, Ralph Kramden, is Fred’s unshakeable belief that he’s right when everyone else is wrong—and he’ll prove it. On both “The Flintstones” and “The Honeymooners,” that usually ended in disaster, followed by contrition.

    The four Flintstones comics published on Sundays 50 years ago this month all centred around Fred assuring the world he knows what the score is—and it turns out he doesn’t. There’s more fine artwork as well. The Flintmobile is featured in three of the four cartoons; it’s drawn the same way each time, using the design finally settled on in the animated shorts. Much to my delight, Baby Puss has returned and makes a cameo in the opening panel of the July 19th comic (it has the best punch line of the month). However, Betty Rubble is gone again for a second month, perhaps (as reader Joe Torvicia suggests) undergoing a voice and personality transplant from Bea Benaderet to Gerry Johnson, a most unfortunate decision.

    Favourite panel? The Flintsmobile stuck on the volcano with assorted volcanoes and dinosaurs in the background. The roaring dinosaur in the final cartoon’s pretty funny, too.

    July 5, 1964

    July 12, 1964

    July 19, 1964

    July 26, 1964

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    Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
    Credits: none. Written by Mike Maltese, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey, Paperboys, Mexican Man, Subway Conductor – Daws Butler; Narrator, Wily Witty, Elevator Operator – Don Messick; Mexican Woman, Lady Lavishly – Jean Vander Pyl.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    First Aired: 1961-62 season.
    Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-045, Production J-126.
    Plot: In the big city, El Kabong interrupts his vacation to capture Wily Witty, the jewel thief.

    The West of Quick Draw McGraw is a strange land. It’s kind of like the Old West, but it’s not. There are steam locomotives, but there are modern (1959 model) jeeps. There are adobe haciendas but there are cities with modern (1959 model) skyscrapers. Somehow, it all works so you don’t really notice unless you think about it.

    There were only new six Quick Draw cartoons in our hero’s final season of first-run shows. Three featured El Kabong, which perhaps gives you an idea how much Mike Maltese loved Quick Draw’s alter ego. Maltese tried to put a different spin on this one by plunking Quick Draw/El Kabong (for the only time) in a New York City-like metropolis. But there’s a lot that’s familiar, too. The bad guy has the same voice (by Don Messick) and similar character design as a bunch of bad guys in cartoons through the ‘60s (early Iwao Takamoto influence?). The cartoon opens with a poem expounding on life in El Pueblo. The narrator chats with the characters on screen. And the climactic scene reminds me of Baseball Bugs (also written by Maltese), where Bugs Bunny gets on a cab and a bus to chase after a fly ball. Here, El Kabong and Wily Witty clash with swords in a duel that takes then down an elevator and into a subway car, ending with a taxi ride (as you might expect, Baba Looey is somehow behind the wheel of the cab and drives the bad guy right into prison). Best of all, any on-lookers aren’t fazed by the fight in front of them. It is the big city, after all.

    There are no credits on the various versions of this cartoon I’ve been able to see. Earlier on the blog, opinions were expressed by people who know this kind of thing better than I do that either Hicks Lokey or Harry Holt animated it. Whoever it is draws a lot of dialogue starting with the head looking forward, then raising it for a total of four positions.

    As for character design, Lady Lavishly has a variation on the Wilma Flintstone bun.

    And incidental characters have dots for eyes.

    Some Maltese fun. Here’s the poem:

    The town of El Pueblo was peaceful and calm.
    Vanished forever was cause for alarm.
    (Paperboy: “Extry, extra! Nothin’ but good news! Extry!”)
    The town had been cleansed of villains and wrong
    By the mysterious masked rider, El Kabong.

    The most villainous villain was called Wily Witty.
    From El Pueblo he came to work the big city.

    After Quick Draw bumps into Witty in disguise:

    Quick Draw: Garsh. I’m sure sorry, Don Juan.
    Baba Looey: Say, Quickstraw. I theen that Don Juan look like Wily Witty, the jewel crooks.
    Quick Draw: So what? Villains need vacations, too, you know.
    Baba (to audience): With two weeks stolen pay, I theen.

    During the ball:

    Lavishly: Are you sure you’re not the real Don Juan? (giggles)
    Witty: You dance divinely. Your feet barely touch the ground.
    (cut to sight gag of Lavishly’s feet on top of Witty’s shoes).

    Incidentally, Jean Vander Pyl lets out a great screech when Lady Lavishly notices her priceless Sultana pendant is gone. Messick's casual “What pendant?” is great, too.

    Maltese or Hoyt Curtin or Bill Hanna sure loved the William Tell Overture. There’s a xylophone version of it which accompanies the sword scene. You’ll know much of the rest of the music from the Loopy, Touché and Wally cartoons, or the Flintstones, including that cue which ends with the minor key “Shave and a Haircut.”

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    If you’ve taken a look at the unpublished photos that we’ve linked to on the blog from a 1960 Life magazine shoot promoting Hanna-Barbera, you may have missed one of the cornerstones of the studio’s early success. Noticeable by his absence is the studio’s star voice, Daws Butler. However, if you look closely enough at one picture, Hanna-Barbera’s other original workhorse actor can be spotted in the background through a recording studio’s sound-proof glass at the door of the control room. We’ve blown it up for you.

    Yes, it’s Don Messick. And this picture provides a perfect excuse to post another newspaper feature story about him.

    This is a piece by the National Enterprise Association’s Hollywood writer and was published on March 31, 1983. By then, Mr. Messick had made his name as the voice of a number of H-B cartoon dogs, beginning with everyone’s favourite, Yowp (okay, Woolly on “Ruff and Reddy” was probably the first one), and then moving on to Astro, Bandit, Precious Pupp, Muttley and some Great Dane (whatever happened to that dog anyway?). Naturally, there were other dogs and other voices as Don M. was incredibly versatile.

    By 1983, he had added another major character to his résumé. “The Smurfs” had become a huge hit for Hanna-Barbera. In this story, Mr. Messick talked about his role on the show and gave a little background about his career.

    Speaking for Other People is Big Job for Don Messick
    HOLLYWOOD—Hollywood is full of pretty faces. And pretty voices. The faces you recognize on sight. Not the voices.
    And so it’s high time you got to know Don Messick, one of the most popular and busiest voice men in town.
    You would probably recognize Don Messick’s voice, if he did one of his characters for you.
    He’s the voice of Papa Smurf on that big hit Saturday morning show. He’s the voice of another of the all-time biggies of cartoondom, Scooby-Doo.
    And he’s also heard dozens of times every day via commercials. He is proud of the fact that he is Snap, on those Snap-Crackle-and-Pop cereal commercials.
    He was, when we talked, just about to go off to the studio to do a commercial for an insect spray. He said they hadn’t told him what he was going to be that day—a flea or a roach.
    It really doesn’t bother me,” Messick says. “I can do a flea just as well as a roach.”
    It’s a good life, but it was a long time coming. Don Messick was born in Buffalo, N.Y., but grew up mostly on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
    As a boy, he was intrigued by one of those “throw your voice” ads in a magazine, and he sent away for the device and got it. He still has the booklet that came with it.
    He got a few dummies and began doing a ventriloquist act and, eventually, while still a teen-ager, landed a spot on the local radio station, WBOC, in Salisbury, Md.
    Messick’s dummy, incidentally, was named Woody DeForrest. He earned enough so he could go off to an acting school in Baltimore.
    He went into the Army, then, taking his dummy with him, and he spent most of his service career entertaining the troops. The Army moved him around, and he got his first taste of California, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
    “Seeing California was an awakening for me,” Messick says. “It was like a person who has only seen black-and-white movies seeing his first color movie. When my service was over, I came back to California as far as I could, and I’ve been here since.”
    He started working here as a puppeteers voice on a TV station back in the early days of Los Angeles television. And he has been specializing in voices since. Don Messick would like to be on camera once in a while—he is, after all, a genuine actor—and he hopes that will happen eventually.
    But it is not something frustrating him or gnawing at him. In fact, he has had opportunities to do real acting roles, but turned them down.
    “I turned them down,” he says, “because they interfered with my social plans.”
    Messick lives about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, in Santa Barbera, and his life is centered there. He makes the drive down to L.A. two or three times a week, and tries to do all of his voice-overs on those trips.
    He is, as you might expect, a master of his voice and can do wonders with it. When he auditioned for the Papa Smurf job, he used one voice, a voice he felt was appropriate. It was, he says, a whimsical voice.
    He did a few episodes with that voice, but then the producers felt Papa S. should be more authoritative. So they asked him to use a more authoritative voice. No problem.
    Messick takes very good care of his voice, which is his fortune. He hasn’t smoked in years. He is careful about not getting colds. And he doesn’t strain his voice.
    The result is that he is famous—or sounds famous—but has no problem moving around without getting recognized. It is, he thinks, the best of both worlds.

    Don Messick did get on camera a year and a bit after this story was written, appearing on “The Duck Factory,” which won two Emmys but lasted only 13 episodes despite some good talent in front of, and behind, the screen. To me, the characters never seemed that well-defined, likeable or even interesting, to be honest, and someone needed to tell NBC the laugh track didn’t need to jump in constantly. Despite the show’s failure, it’s happy to see that Mr. Messick got a chance to fulfill an ambition of doing some live-action work. A nice guy deserves to meet some of his life goals.

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Animation – Ken O’Brien, Carlo Vinci; Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (BCDB credits).
    Voice Cast: Dixie, Jinks, Jeeves, Hooey – Daws Butler; Pixie, George, Louie – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    First aired: 1961-62 season.
    Plot: Pixie and Dixie enlist neighbourhood mice to help Mr. Jinks get his mouse-catching job back after being fired by butler Jeeves.

    Back in the 1920s and early 1930s, the ultra-cheap Paul Terry would fill the screen with cycle animation of dozens of mice scurrying about. 30 years later, the thrifty Bill Hanna, Alex Lovy et al wouldn’t even allow that.

    There’s a scene in “Homeless Jinks,” when the throngs of mice helping Pixie and Dixie run outside a house in phoney fear of Mr. Jinks. The shot shows Pixie and Dixie standing against a baseboard. “Here they come,” says Dixie. “And there they go,” adds Pixie. At no time do we see any other mice, fleeing in horror or otherwise. There is simply a sound effect of feet, and Pixie and Dixie turning their heads from one side of the frame to the other, watching the mice that we can’t see. It’s ingenious in its penuriousness but I still feel cheated watching it.

    Granted, we do get one shot of all the mice. Other than some eye blinks, the rodents remain rigid.

    There are no credits on this cartoon but readers Howard Fein and Zartok-35 attribute the animation to Ken O’Brien, the former Disney (and, briefly, Lantz) animator who worked on a few cartoons at Hanna-Barbera. I’ll take their word for it, and some of the drawings of Jinks look very much like another cartoon where O’Brien’s credited. but there’s unmistakably another animator on this cartoon. Near the very end, Jinks swats at the meeces with a broom. Pixie and Dixie churn their legs in mid-air, back up, and stretch themselves to make a diving exit out of the frame. Only Carlo Vinci ever animated like that so he had to do that portion of the cartoon.

    Several bits and pieces have been cobbled together in this cartoon’s plot. The butler with the modified Charles Laughton voice from “Sour Puss” (written by Warren Foster) returns and so does the concept of the-meeces-help-fired-Jinks-get-his-job-back from “Jiggers..It’s Jinks!” (written by Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows). This is another cartoon where the cat and the meeces are friends—Jinks comes back to say goodbye to them after he’s fired—but you know it can’t end that way because he has to mix in his “I hate meeces to pieces” catchphrase in somewhere.

    Where’s the comedy in this one? Well, there’s not a lot of it, unless you like egg-throwing slapstick by Hooey and Louie. Foster—I’m presuming Warren Foster wrote this—even resorts to the hoary old gag of the meece suggesting to the butler that he re-hire Mr. Jinks and the butler replies with “I’m glad I thought of it.” And instead of giving Pixie and Dixie’s mousey cohort a funny name, Foster settles for “George” (fortunately, he resisted any thoughts of dredging up an “Of Mice and Men” routine). After the messy, lazy Jinks is thrown out of the supposedly-miceless house for good by Jeeves, we get a Jinks soliloquy:

    Jinks: They take like, uh, the best years of my nine lives, you know, and then toss me away like a used tea bag.

    After Jinks tells the meeces he’s been fired and leaving for good.

    Pixie: Sure is lonesome around the house without Jinks, huh, Dixie?
    Dixie: Sure is, Pixie. Especially when you figure he’s been gone only ten minutes.

    Pixie and Dixie vow to get Jinks back by filling the house with mice, so Jeeves has to hire the cat to get rid of them. That’s when George (who has Don Messick’s growly voice) agrees to help and “get the boys together.” Jeeves is evidently paralysed with fright. Why else would he just stand there (only turning his head) when he hears the sound of mice? Oh, right. Less animation saves money. Eventually we do get a run cycle. Anyway, the mice do their job (frankly, Hooey and Louie are funnier than Pixie and Dixie in this one) and Jeeves brings home Mr. Jinks who he finds—emulating Sylvester—picking through food remains in a garbage can, using the lid as a tray. “They don’t throw much away these days,” Jinks ruminates as he looks at an apple core. “Let’s face it. I cannot live like this. I’m a spoiled house cat.”

    So Jinks has his job back with a life-time contract. The meeces tell him he has them to thank for it. “Bushwa!” spits the cat. “I am back because, uh, I hate meeces to pieces!” The statement makes no sense on any level but Foster has to fit in Jinks’ catchphrase before the end of the cartoon. And that’s where we are now as Jinks chases the meeces with a yellow (non-wet) broom to end the cartoon.

    George is a unique mouse, and not because he has a turtle-neck sweater with the letter ‘G’ on it. He is green. I don’t know how many green mice are out there. And I don’t think many people, if any, would have seen the show in colour when it originally aired. I wonder if the colour selection had more to do with how George would like on black-and-white sets, much like props and sets on “I Love Lucy” were tinted so they would show up better on black-and-white TVs.

    There’s a nice little Hoyt Curtin cue with an organ and clarinet in the scene where Jinks gets the pink slip. Probably the best-known pieces of music are the xylophone and laughing trombone during the mouse attack scene and the fast xylophone “Fred-the-cops-are-following-us” piece at the end.

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    Yogi Bear and Yogi Berra?

    Joe Barbera once told UPI’s Jack Gaver: “Any similarity [in the names] was pure accident.”

    Mr. Berra once told UPI’s Vernon Scott: “I was going to sue the Yogi Bear program for using my name, until somebody reminded me Yogi isn’t my real name—it’s Lawrence.”

    It would seem highly improbable that Mr. Bear and Mr. Berra would meet, one of them being a cartoon and all. But they did—in the punch-line of a Sunday newspaper comic 50 years ago this month.

    The almost raison d’être for the Yogi (Bear) comics in the middle part of 1964 was to give a free plug for the movie “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear,” which was released on June 3rd. The comics didn’t have a continuing story line per se, but they featured stories about Yogi going to, and traipsing around, Hollywood. The Hollywood series ended in August, and one of the comics included a gag about Mr. Berra—who appeared in cartoon form (one wonders if H-B caricaturist Ben Shenkman handled the design).

    So here are the comics for the month.

    August 2, 1964

    August 9, 1964

    August 16, 1964

    August 23, 1964

    August 30, 1964

    If you want to see the Yogis (Bear and Berra) in full colour, Mark Kausler has posted them on his blog from his personal collection, clipped from newspapers way-back-when. Please go HERE.

    This post will conclude our regular monthly reprints of the Yogi comics. They have simply become impossible to find in complete (three-row) form on-line. My access to some newspapers has been paywalled. In other cases, Google has dropped some old papers as their owner has elected to go elsewhere and paywall them. In still other cases, the newspapers themselves dropped the comic. And in still still other cases, even the two-row versions available have been scanned so poorly that they’re black and unviewable.

    Mark offered to send me his two-row colour comics but I don’t want to put him to the trouble. And, as I have indicated for some time, I am trying to wind down this blog due to a lack of time to post. I have banked posts until the end of the year.

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    It seems that, eventually, every Hanna-Barbera cartoon ended one of two ways. Either characters would laugh uproariously before the camera faded out, or one character would chase another against a repeating background. The chase never ends.

    With that in mind, here’s a sped-up version of an eternal chase from the ending of “Droop-a-Long Yogi” (1962). The run in the cartoon is six drawings on twos. We’ve only posted one drawing apiece. Watch this any time you’re in the mood to see the ending of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon—except the ending never comes!!

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    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Dick Bickenbach, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Mr. Jones – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Lion – Don Messick.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    First aired: 1961-62 season.
    Plot: Yogi believes Ranger Smith wants to ship him to a zoo for stealing picnic baskets.

    Was Warren Foster, one of the best writers in the Golden Age of Animation, so overworked at Hanna-Barbera that he threw this cartoon together?

    Exhibit A: Possibly one of the weakest lines ever uttered by Ranger Smith. In the opening scene, when Mr. Jones demonstrates the ring-a-ding picnic basket, Smith remarks: “That’s the greatest invention since the airplane.” The airplane?! That’s the funniest thing Foster could think of? Granted, Smith is a dullard, but the line is said without a trace of anything resembling deliberate stupidity and there’s no reaction by Jones to show he thinks Smith is some kind of idiot.

    Exhibit B: The cartoon is supposed to be about a ring-a-ding picnic basket, if the title is to be believed. But the ring-a-ding concept vanishes completely (along with the basket) less than a third of the way into the cartoon and the plot goes off in an entirely different direction. It’s as if Foster didn’t have the time or inclination to think up enough ring-a-ding gags, so he melded parts of two cartoons together. At least the concept of Yogi and food pops up throughout the cartoon to tie things together.

    Foster could have been engaging in real subtle humour by giving the picnic basket salesman name of Mr. Jones (to contrast with Mr. Smith, the ranger). The design’s pretty similar. Smith has an overbite (in dialogue), Jones has an underbite. And the end of Smith’s nose is rounded while Jones’ is pointier.

    Jones epitomises what the average Hanna-Barbera male character of the early ‘60s looked like. You can change his outfit and easily plunk him down in a Jetsons cartoon, or a Flintstones, or a Wally Gator. Credit that to Dick Bickenbach, who did the layouts on this cartoon and, as Ed Benedict once groused, designed Ranger Smith. By the time Magilla Gorilla came on the air, the studio’s designs were changing and Iwao Takamoto’s star rose at the studio.

    Lew Marshall was on his way to being a story director so this must have been among the last cartoons he animated. He could come up with some enjoyable drawings at times. I like this one of Yogi, who has tried to eat a berry.

    The problem is you can’t see it. Marshall’s stuff is evenly paced. Every drawing is on twos. Someone like Ed Love might have held this for four frames so it establishes a bit more and makes the animation funnier. Instead, it’s just one of a bunch of head-moving drawings. Whether that’s something indicated on the exposure sheet by whoever timed the cartoon (and it may have been Alex Lovy by this point) or Marshall’s decision, I don’t know.

    Here’s Yogi uncovering a lion in his bed. The lion roars. What’s Yogi’s reaction? For 38 frames, he holds the same pose. No fright take, nothing. Bill Hanna’s budget has been saved again. Too bad. Marshall drew some nice takes in the first season Yogi was on the air (1958-59). Three years later, it was “Faster! Cheaper!”

    Here’s a Yogi multiple outline exit off stage. Yogi leads with his stomach.

    Bob Gentle is the background artist. Unfortunately, there’s no pan over Jellystone Park in the opening. But here’s some of his work.

    Let’s jaunt through the story line. Travelling salesman/inventor Jones sells Ranger Smith a Ring-a-Ding Picnic Basket (“no national park should be without one”). A bell goes off when it’s picked up. That will presumably stop bears from stealing it and any other picnic baskets. Smith plants it but Yogi steals it anyway. Off camera, of course. And, off camera, the ranger threatens to send Yogi to a zoo.

    Now the plot shifts. Ranger Smith is on the phone being told a lion has escaped from a circus train and might be in Jellystone. “An animal like that is menace to all the tourists,” says Smith. “We’ll only shoot if we have to. I’d prefer shipping him to the zoo.” Yogi overhears this and thinks the ranger is talking about him because of his picnic basket thievery, so he starts kissing up by sweeping Smith’s driveway, washing his car, and so on—and giving up picnic baskets. But Smith’s read a psychology book and gets the idea he’s crushed Yogi’s spirit by being too hard on him.

    Yogi can’t handle eating berries so he goes to his cave to find a pizza from last season. He finds the lion in his bed. Tired pun time: Boo Boo reminds Yogi the lion is king of the jungle. “And when any king shows up around here, he’s askin’ to be crowned,” replies the indignant Yogi. I love the way Don Messick doesn’t even try to approximate a lion’s sound. He simply yells “Roar!” Yogi thrashes the lion, Smith is overjoyed that the bear’s spirit is uncrushed and tells Yogi to get himself a picnic basket.

    With a blank look, Yogi tells Boo Boo: “Somehow, pic-a-nic baskets don’t seem the same when the ranger knows about it.” But he quickly changes his attitude and chows down on a sandwich. Boo Boo now gets in the final words, a la Yogi: “When it comes to eatin’, Yogi can’t be beaten. Hey, hey, hey!” It’s a nice change having Boo Boo close out the cartoon like that.

    The Yogi vs Lion scene is underscored by the Flintstones’ cue “Chase” aka “No Breaks.” With any luck, THIS LINK should work. The next cue is the xylophone/laughing trombone piece that’s familiar from a bunch of early ‘60s series (it seems to me Earl Kress once called it the “Paddle faster, Hardy” cue). The cartoon ends with the last couple of bars of Hoyt Curtin’s brassy “The Yogi Bear Show” theme song.

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  • 08/09/14--21:16: He's 91
  • A happy birthday wish to this man.

    Okay, you may know him better as:

    Or as:

    If you haven’t guessed it’s John Stephenson, you must be new to Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

    You can read more about his long career by clicking on this old post. He appeared on camera in a pile of shows, with a regular role on “The People’s Choice,” guest appearances on many others (including “The Beverly Hillbillies;” the picture above is from a 1963 episode), and a hosting job on a documentary show called “Bold Venture” on ABC. Mr. Stephenson told the Milwaukee Journal years ago that he auditioned for both Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble when “The Flintstones” was being cast. Evidently, Joe Barbera heard something in his voice that resulted in a long career as co-starring or incidental voices in Hanna-Barbera cartoons, including Fancy Fancy on “Top Cat” and “Mr Slate” on “The Flintstones.” In a way, his connection with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s animation came earlier when he landed a job with the Philip Morris Co. announcing “I Love Lucy” in 1951 You can hear his voice over the animation that originally opened the show, animation made by the Hanna-Barbera unit at MGM.

    We understand Mr. Stephenson enjoyed his birthday with his family and at least one piece of his favourite banana cream pie. We wish him the best of the day and hope he enjoys good health for birthdays to come.

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