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Articles on this Page
- 02/09/13--07:02: _Snooper and Blabber...
- 02/13/13--08:02: _Ads and Alfy
- 02/16/13--07:08: _Yogi Bear — Gleesom...
- 02/20/13--07:42: _Flintstones Weekend...
- 02/23/13--07:31: _Augie Doggie — Pint...
- 02/27/13--07:19: _I Hear Voices
- 03/02/13--07:59: _Quick Draw McGraw —...
- 03/06/13--07:28: _Yogi Bear Weekend C...
- 03/09/13--07:45: _Pixie and Dixie — W...
- 03/13/13--06:51: _The Man Who Met Sna...
- 03/16/13--07:15: _Huckleberry Hound —...
- 03/20/13--08:38: _Selling Birthdays a...
- 03/22/13--06:36: _More About Yogi's B...
- 03/23/13--08:09: _Snooper and Blabber...
- 03/27/13--06:33: _Ruff, Reddy and a C...
- 03/28/13--07:48: _Flintstones Weekend...
- 03/30/13--07:02: _Yogi Bear — Genial ...
- 04/03/13--05:58: _Don Messick Goes Home
- 04/06/13--07:16: _Augie Doggie — Pati...
- 04/10/13--07:38: _Yogi Bear Weekend C...
- 02/09/13--07:02: Snooper and Blabber — Hop To It
- 02/13/13--08:02: Ads and Alfy
- 02/16/13--07:08: Yogi Bear — Gleesome Threesome
- 02/20/13--07:42: Flintstones Weekend Comics, February 1963
- 02/23/13--07:31: Augie Doggie — Pint Giant
- 02/27/13--07:19: I Hear Voices
- 03/02/13--07:59: Quick Draw McGraw — Yippee Coyote
- 03/06/13--07:28: Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, March 1963
- 03/09/13--07:45: Pixie and Dixie — Woo For Two
- 03/13/13--06:51: The Man Who Met Snagglepuss Only Once
- 03/16/13--07:15: Huckleberry Hound — Huck Hound’s Tale
- 03/20/13--08:38: Selling Birthdays and Corn Flakes
- 03/22/13--06:36: More About Yogi's Birthday Party
- 03/23/13--08:09: Snooper and Blabber — Fleas Be Careful
- 03/27/13--06:33: Ruff, Reddy and a Cat on a Stick
- 03/28/13--07:48: Flintstones Weekend Comics, March 1963
- 03/30/13--07:02: Yogi Bear — Genial Genie
- 04/03/13--05:58: Don Messick Goes Home
- 04/06/13--07:16: Augie Doggie — Patient Pop
- 04/10/13--07:38: Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, April 1963
Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse, Layout – Walt Clinton, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber – Daws Butler; Hazel – Jean Vander Pyl; Slippery Sydney, Matilda – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Spencer Moore.
First Aired: 1960.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-027, Production J-82.
Plot: Snooper tries to recover the Cumbersome Diamond from Slippery Sydney and his getaway kangaroo.
Don Messick could do many voices. He could handle straight roles, like Benton Quest. He could create waving -tongue sounding creatures on The Herculoids. And he was the man behind the Hanna-Barbera studio’s most popular dog. Yes, I’m talking about me, Yowp. But one thing Don M. couldn’t do was an Australian accent. And this cartoon is proof of it.
He wasn’t alone. At one time, TV was populated with Americans doing impressions of Australians who sounded like they just stepped out of London’s East End. Then Paul Hogan came along and the would-be impressionists simply added the words “shrimp” and “barbie” to their repertoire in a bid to sound more convincing. But this cartoon is long before Mr. Hogan so we have to listen to Mr. Messick do a pseudo-Cockney accent. Mind you, Joe Barbera could have brought in Rolf Harris and it wouldn’t have helped this cartoon.
Ken Muse had a reputation at MGM, then at Hanna-Barbera, of churning out footage. He couldn’t cheat at Metro and some of his Tom and Jerry animation is very funny and expressive. At Hanna-Barbera, he could cheat. And he did. This cartoon has cycle animation of Matilda the kangaroo hopping and stomping which enabled Muse to turn out the cartoon faster. In fact, there are two scenes where Muse has a drawing of the kangaroo on a cel that’s moved up and down. And there are a couple of other cycles as well, like when Snooper is jumping around after being crushed into his deer stalker cap—six drawings on ones, except a couple of the drawings are reversed after each cycle to make Snoop look like he’s hopping in different directions. Planned animation (as Bill Hanna called it) indeed!
Art Lozzi does even less in this cartoon. His drawing of a city street is seen throughout most of it. His other backgrounds are: a close-up of Snoop’s car dashboard, part of a tree and a park with trees and a wrought-iron bench. That’s it. Something I’ve spotted in several Lozzi cityscapes in the 1960-61 season is scaffolding and a thin street lamp with a lantern on top. Both are in this cartoon, too.
As the layout artist, Walt Clinton was responsible for designing incidental characters and props. Clinton seems to have liked a specific, P.A. system style of microphone in the Snooper and Blabber cartoons. It’s in this one, too. And the villain has the collar-length ear that Clinton gave to many of his incidental human characters.
The cartoon’s a little different than other Snooper and Blabbers, although it follows the usual template. Snooper accepts a caper during which Blab gives a one-line aside to the audience. Snoop then butchers the English language like Archie on Duffy’s Tavern (the origin of his character’s voice) and makes with a couple of catchphrases. But in this one, Snooper’s client is referred to and never seen. Our heroes don’t go searching for the bad guy, he just shows up. Snooper wins in the end. And the cartoon relies on the injuries and damage caused by the jumps of the kangaroo ordered by the bad guy to provide a large chunk of laugh material.
It opens with a long scene, almost a minute and a half, of dialogue involving Snoop on the car radio with his secretary Hazel. It’s not great. You know you’re in trouble when Blabber has to explain the main dialogue gag about involving jumping and a kangaroo. “Unhand me the phone,” we get from Snooper, as well as “Holy MacCarol, I mean ‘mackerel’.”
Suddenly, the shot cuts to Matilda the kangaroo and Slippery Sydney (in her pouch) hopping down the street. I shouldn’t have to explain the significance of the kangaroo’s name. As for Sydney, I don’t know if that’s the way his name appears on the model sheet, but since there’s a Sydney in Australia, I will guess that’s how it’s spelled. Sydney’s carrying the Cumbersome Diamond (stolen from Lord Cumbersome). Maltese seems to have had a thing for diamonds; the first season of Snooper and Blabber featured thefts of a diamond and a diamond ring, then diamonds were stolen in two cartoons in the second season (this was one of them). Snooper immediately blurts out a catchphrase: “Stop in the name of Private Eye Institute Glee Club.” Matilda stomps on him. “I’m none the wear for the worse, Blab.”
Next, Snoop and Blab are in their car (a red two-door with tail fins). Matilda stomps on that. “Feet were made before cars,” Snooper rightly estimates, and they chase after the crook. “Your erstwhile number is up. We have you surrounded in the rear,” Snoop yells at Sydney. Matilda stomps on Snoop hiding under an open manhole. Maltese can’t resist an obvious groaner here. Snooper is elevated above the manhole on Matilda’s huge foot. “Snoop, what are you doin’ up here?” asks Blab. The response: “Can’t you see there’s somethin’ a foot?” “I’m sorry, Snoop,” answers Blab. Perhaps he’s channelling Maltese apologising for the pun. Blab then clamps the manhole cover on top of the crook and the kangaroo. Snooper reacts with: “You’ll get a gold star for your underground work.” But Maltese runs out of gas. The kangaroo comes out of another manhole and crushes Snooper into his hat. “ The dialogue to end the scene: “Help, Blab. Get me out of here. Help!” “Comin’, Snoop, comin’.”
The next scene has Snooper and Blabber with bedsprings on their feet. Catchphrase time: “Elementary, my dear Blab. Folly that kangaroo, that’s what.” That’s what they do. And now Maltese gives us a plot twist. Matilda thinks the hopping Blab is her son. She tosses Sydney out of her pouch and snuggles up to Blabber. Meanwhile, Sydney pounds two hooks into the pavement (which don’t move into the pavement, either in a medium or a close-up shot, to save animation and help Muse’s footage quota). Snooper’s springs catch in them and he flies up, grabbing onto a tree branch. The cartoon has now left the street and moved into a park. The branch snaps and Snooper lands on Sydney, thus capturing the crook and the diamond. The 40,000 pounds of money is his (Snooper is thinking weight instead of £). The final scene has Matilda carrying Blab in her pouch in more cycle animation. “What in carnation…” exclaims Snooper which, as far as I know, was one of Archie’s malaprops on Duffy’s Tavern. The furrow-browed kangaroo jumps on Snooper again, this time because he demands Blab come out of the pouch. The cartoon ends with the jumping cycle animation as it’s “once around the park.”
The sound cutter gives Matilda’s hopping scenes their own music. It’s Spencer Moore’s “Animation Movement” from Capitol Hi-Q L-23. It wasn’t used in any other Hanna-Barbera cartoon that I know of. It’s rare that Moore would be used in the Snooper series to begin with. The rest of the music is familiar (though I still don’t have a name for one of the cues) and the cutter limits them either to a scene or a shot.
0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:25 - GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE (Green) – Car scene, Blab points.
1:49 - L-1149 ANIMATION MOVEMENT (Moore) – Matilda hops down street.
1:54 - GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Close ups of Sydney and Matilda.
2:10 - L-1149 ANIMATION MOVEMENT (Moore) – Matilda hops down street, Snooper with hand up.
2:17 - CAPERS (Shaindlin) – Sydney and Matilda on street, Matilda stomps on Snoop, Snoop on pavement talks to Blab.
2:40 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Snoop and Blab zip off camera, Matilda stomps on car and hops out of scene.
3:01 - GR-454 THE ARTFUL DODGER SHORT BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Snooper and Blabber pop out of door, zip out of scene.
3:14 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Snooper and Blabber run down street, manhole scene, Snooper in cap.
4:30 - GR-457 DR QUACK BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Snoop and Blab talk, Snoop points.
4:41 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Snoop and Blab hop on bedsprings.
5:08 - PG-160G LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Matilda holds Blab.
5:21 - rising scale vaudeville music (Shaindlin) – Snoop can’t stop, grabs branch, lands on Sydney.
5:59 - PG-161G LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – “Holy mackerel” line.
6:06 - GR-455 THE ARTFUL DODGER BRIDGE No 2 (Green) – Snoop with diamond.
6:16 - L-1149 ANIMATION MOVEMENT (Moore) – Kangaroo hops with Blab, Matilda hops out of scene.
6:36 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Matilda jumps on Blabber, hops with Blab.
7:10 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).
Time to empty some of the mailbox and see what readers have sent. And we’ll have an extra treat at the end.
Billie Towzer has made another journey around the internet and passes on some ads for Hanna-Barbera’s best shows. Kellogg’s bought 5:30-6:00 p.m. on a station in Springfield, Missouri. H-B must have had all kinds of art available for advertising use based on its cartoons. Huck appeared in desert garb in “Legion Bound Hound” while Quick Draw took on a (white) bull in “Bull-Leave Me.”
These ads are from TV Guide for the 1966 Alice special. There were a bunch of things I didn’t like about it at the time (and I haven’t seen it in its entirety since its original airing) which I’ve mentioned here before, but Janet Waldo, Howie Morris, Harvey Korman and some of the other voice actors do a nice job.
Mike Clark has what, no doubt, is a satisfying little avocation. He runs a historical website about WTVT, Channel 13, in Tampa, Florida and has sent me a photo and some background.
Sometime around '61 or '62 (you'd probably know the date better than I would) Channel 13 bought the H-B package of programs. As a promotional gimmick Screen Gems sent H-B character costumes to Tampa (I don't know if the people inside were from Hollywood or if WTVT hired locals) and they were photographed "arriving" at Tampa Airport. Meeting them was WTVT's general manager, Gene Dodson (the man on the right). The other fellow in the shot strongly resembles the station's promotion director at the time, Ned Jay, but I can't absolutely confirm that. He is shaking Mr. Dodson's hand which suggests he may be from outside the employment of WTVT....perhaps he is from Screen Gems. This is my 'best guess.'The photo is courtesy of BIG13.com. Mike would like you to know you can see stories about the local kids show hosts where the HB cartoons were shown at the BIG13 web site. Looking at old photos from TV’s past is always worthwhile.
The children in the photo are probably those of WTVT staffers. You'll note that some of them are barefoot, which in the south was farely common (as a youngster I used to be barefoot at the store, believe it or not). In fact, Mr. Dodson is rather casually dressed as well.
WTVT also produced a special telecast that aired twice. The program was videotaped with their mobile unit and showed the H-B characters walking along the streets of Tampa in search of WTVT. No video or stills exist of this program....but I remember seeing it at the time.
Brent Pearson saw the posting about Jerry Hathcock and passed on a shot of a drawing that Jerry did for him of Dino. Jerry had worked at Disney and arrived at H-B to work on “The Flintstones.” He also animated on “Jonny Quest.”
Occasionally, I get notes from people asking how much cartoon art is worth or where to sell it. I’m a cartoon dog, not an appraiser, so I honestly don’t know how much anything is worth. There are several places that sell animation art; an on-line search will net a few names. Of course, people also sell through on-line sites.
Tim Hollis sent me this sad clipping and attached a note:
By the way, Tim passes on word he’s working on the records chapter of TOONS IN TOYLAND and about to plunge into the Hanna-Barbera Records story. When isn’t he writing a book?
Finally, someone asked me about Alfy Gator, who appeared in four “Yakky Doodle” cartoons. Fibber Fox is my favourite Yakky character and Alfy’s second. Tony Benedict gets the story credit on the Alfy cartoons so I asked him how the character was invented.
Alphy Gator was mine from the start. I was a big time Hitchcock fan. His characters often got away with serious crimes in the body of the show. Only after the last commercial in the epilogue Hitch would inform the audience that the bad guy was eventually caught and sent to jail. That little twist always amused me.Tony sent me a great drawing of the H-B characters combined with old and new pictures of him and layout artist Jerry Eisenberg (and Joe and Bill from their early MGM days) at an internet cafe. If he wants me to take it down, I will, but the characters look so good in this, I thought I’d pass it on. The drawings even have shadows. Tony is working on a project involving his time in animation, including Hanna-Barbera, and I hope it comes about soon.
Thanks to everyone who has helped with this post.
Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Southern Desk Clerk, Bellboy, Park Superintendent – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Short Desk Clerk, Thin Ranger, TV announcer – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Spencer Moore, Geordie Hormel, Jack Shaindlin.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-042.
First Aired: 1960.
Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo think they’re invited on Ranger Smith’s Florida vacation.
So do you walk around with your eyes closed, throwing open doors, and complementing people on their appearance? Yes, with your eyes closed. Ranger Smith does it in “Gleesome Threesome.”
It really shouldn’t bother me. After all, I’m willing to accept that a bear not only talks but he drives a dump truck filled with sand (lord knows where he got it) onto a beach, which also happens in the very same cartoon. But I accept that because it’s in character for Yogi. I can’t picture any character walking around with their eyes shut and telling someone how great they look.
Well, something else bothers me about the plot in the cartoon. But we’ll get to that a little later.
“Gleesome Threesome” is a third season Yogi Bear cartoon. By then, animators seem to be hewing closer to Dick Bickenbach’s model sheets. Yogi looks more consistent from cartoon to cartoon, but I’m still fond of the variations in look that each animator brought to the character in the first two seasons. And the animation was much more uniform and more bland, at least to me, in the third season. So we get Carlo Vinci Light in this cartoon. You can still tell it’s Carlo. There’s one brief moment where Yogi develops a thick bar of teeth.
And Yogi has that three-drawing head tilt in dialogue that Carlo liked using.
It’s a cute little sequence. I like how Boo Boo looks completely embarrassed. There’s virtually no animation, but it gets the feeling across. And that’s all you need. (Note how the TV show is appropriately in black-and-white).
Carlo also likes walk cycles where Yogi moves his shoulders and his butt up and down. He’s animated this one on twos, eight drawings. Again, it’s not as distinctive as walks in earlier seasons and the studio had long eliminated the distracting bongo sound effect during Yogi walk cycles.
The background artist is Dick Thomas. Here’s about half of his first background painting that panned across at the start of the cartoon.
And here’s his drawing of the modern Miami hotel where some of the action takes place.
The cartoon starts with Don Messick’s narration informing us it’s winter at Jellystone Park. Yogi decides before he and Boo Boo hibernate (“Nothin’ left to do but hit the sack-aroo”), they should wish the Ranger a happy vacation. The bears overhear him on the phone to a hotel in Miami making sure his room his room is next to Charlie Behr’s. “The ranger is talkin’ about us,” says Yogi as neither he or Boo Boo seem to be able to spell.
The next scene finds Yogi and Boo Boo checking into the hotel in Miami. How did they get there? I can picture asking that of Warren Foster and getting the answer “Does it really matter?” I guess it doesn’t. Anyway, the main desk clerk is a Southern colonel and he has a line I like. “Weren’t those last guests a little odd?” asks a slightly-drawling little desk clerk. “They’re Yankees, son,” observes the colonel. “And all Yankees are odd. Cold drives them down from the North every year.” I suspect some Southerners still feel that way.
Ranger Smith arrives and cracks a corny “lonesome ranger” pun before heading up to the Behrs’ room (in the meantime, we get the old “give you a tip” gag between Yogi and the bellboy). This is where Smith walks in with his eyes closed and tells “Carolyn” (Boo Boo) how lovely she looks. Boo Boo even tells him he’s not Carolyn but the ranger’s developed some kind of hearing loss. Finally after telling “Charlie” he’s a little heavier around the middle, he opens his eyes. He doesn’t believe what he sees and lopes out of the room. “It must be the long trip down here. Driving day and night. And those bright headlights. No sleep. A rough season at Jellystone.” Smith decides Yogi’s a figment of his imagination until he goes back to the room and is greeted by the bear. Don Messick as Ranger Smith lets out a little “eek.” Just perfect. The ranger passes out.
Yogi and Boo Boo are “government property” so Smith’s stuck with them for the rest of his vacation. But what about Charlie and Marilyn? Where are they going to stay? I can picture asking that of Warren Foster and getting the answer “Does it really matter?” I guess it doesn’t. So the cartoon carries on. Cut to a pool. Yogi attempts “a double Dutchman with a flyin’ twist.” He lands on Ranger Smith (great high leg kick by Carlo). Yogi stuns the ranger by ordering everything on the hotel restaurant menu twice. And he uses a dump truck to bury the ranger (still wearing his uniform) with sand on the beach (“It would take hours the old way,” Yogi observes).
The scene moves ahead in time two weeks and back to the Park Superintendent’s office at Jellystone. For some reason, there’s a flap over Yogi and Boo Boo missing. The Superintendent turns on the TV. The news announcer has the thick glasses that Tony Rivera put on some incidental characters. He talks about the “hilarious antics” of Yogi and Boo Boo in Miami Beach. The Superintendent is clearly angry. “Get me a plane to Miami Beach right away!” he growls. But wait a minute. In the next scene in Miami, he’s not angry at all. He’s happy. This bugs me again. Suddenly there’s a mood change. Yeah, I can see why he’s happy, good publicity for Jellystone and all that, but it comes out of nowhere. Much like the closed-eyed ranger, it’s solely a convenient plot device. It’s a contrived way of inserting a plot twist.
The Superintendent arbitrarily announces Smith will spend a two-month tour with Yogi and Boo Boo. The ranger cant handle it and runs away. The ranger can’t handle the idea and runs off down the street (Carlo gives him a four-drawing run cycle on ones where the ranger’s butt turns toward the camera). Yogi and Boo Boo run after him, so we have yet another Hanna-Barbera cartoon that ends with a chase.
Incidentally, in the last scene, Yogi mentions the title of the cartoon, which conjures images of anything but a Yogi Bear cartoon.
The sound cutter has decided to be neat and tidy. Each music cue fits into a scene.
0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:30 - ZR-51 LIGHT ANIMATION (Hormel) – Jellystone scene.
1:52 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – Shot of hotel, desk clerk scene.
2:58 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Hotel room scenes.
4:29 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Diving board scene.
4:42 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Restaurant scene, sand scene, rangers watching TV scene.
6:02 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Superintendent talks to Smith on street.
6:29 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Ranger turns and runs, chase.
7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).
Little Pebbles Flintstone’s birth (on February 22, 1963) didn’t just take up a half hour of TV time. It was heralded in the Flintstones newspaper comics, both the dailies and weekend editions.
The character changed the dynamic of the show. Family man Freddie couldn’t be seen picking on Mommy Flintstone like he had in the first two seasons of the show, so he got toned down a bit. Too bad. Still, some good cartoons were made with Pebbles at the centre of the plot (“Daddies Anonymous” comes to mind) but the show really wasn’t the same. And the less said about later, post-1966 Flintstones incarnations, the better (the cereal commercials with Fred and Barney were more entertaining than the Saturday morning cartoons).
So here are the Flintstones Sunday comics for this month 50 years ago. The last two deal with the arrival of Pebbles.
Did dinosaurs really live in icy, snowy conditions? They do in the February 3rd comic. The last panel is really a treat on all these comics. I love the smiling alligatorsaurus (or whatever it is). One of Fred’s schemes actually works for a change. The incidental character ice fishermen add nicely to the panel.
Ah, the cutsey neighbour girl Amber returns on February 10th. Once Pebbles came along—and started talking via thought balloons—there really wasn’t a need for Amber any more.
The story of how Wilma broke the news to Fred about the pregnancy is different in the comics than the TV show (Hints? Why didn’t Wilma tell him earlier?). I really like the layout of the last two panels of the February 17th comic.
I love the final panel of the February 24th comic. No, Fred, things haven’t changed since the Stone Age.
As a Pebbles Birthday Bonus, here are the daily comics from February 18-23. The scans are not all that great.
As usual, click on any of the comics to make them bigger.
Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Dick Lundy, Bob Carr (uncredited); Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson. (no credits)
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Mike, Man in Manhole, Man in Window, Man With Packages – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Cop 1 – Doug Young; Hector – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green, Harry Bluestone-Emil Cadkin, Hecky Krasnow, Jack Shaindlin, unknown.
First Aired: rerun, week of May 8, 1961.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-030, Production J-88.
Plot: Doggie Daddy pretends to be a giant after Augie tells a fib to a neighbour boy.
Here’s another cartoon where the star is the dialogue Mike Maltese puts into the mouths of characters in the middle of ridiculous situation. I especially love how Doggie Daddy can’t get his fairy tales straight.
Maltese isn’t just the writer of the cartoon. He’s in it. Well, one of the two cops in this one is named Mike. It’s a pity it’s not a caricature of him. The designs were, according to the Big Cartoon Database, by Paul Sommer. There’s no reason to think otherwise; they don’t look like the work of the other layout artists to me. Monty is the background artist; the style of block letters on the pennants in the opening scene give it away. I like how Augie’s bedroom has a picture of Huckleberry Hound. And Augie’s apparently a weightlifter, too.
BCDB says the animation is by Dick Lundy. I admit I’m sceptical. Lundy drew three Augie cartoons in the first season and they all look different; in “Million-Dollar Robbery,” the characters look hyper at times. He also animated “Patient Pop” in the second season and the main characters look different again. Let’s compare. The frame on the top is from “Pint Giant.” The frame on the bottom is from “Patient Pop.” They’re both from the end of each cartoon when Daddy is laughing, with his head in the farthest right position.
There is a possible explanation. A studio newsletter in the mid-‘60s gave a biography of Bob Carr, saying he did some assistant work on some cartoons before being promoted to a full animator. Some of the drawings, especially of characters with their eyes closed, look like Carr’s to my admittedly not-well-trained eye. So I’m going to speculate he worked on some scenes and Lundy did the rest. Regardless, there’s nothing really all that interesting in the way the characters move in this one. So it’s up to the soundtrack to carry things. Maltese does his best.
Daddy butchers words right off the bat. “Look at dis room! What a mess! I’ll make Augie come in dis instinct and unmess it back neat.” But, first, Daddy observes Augie talking to a human kid, Hector. It’s much in the vein of “Tee or Not Tee Vee” that Maltese wrote in the first season. We get the child-version (as opposed to the boy genius version) of Augie who makes up a story to one-up a bragging school mate. Hector has one of Don Messick’s un-childlike growly back-of-the-throat voices. The kid’s sneering that he’ll play Jack the Giant Killer in the school play and Augie responds by saying he’ll get a “really” giant, one of Maltese’s little dialogue quirks dating back to his days at Warner Bros, and plants some lima beans so a beanstalk will grow by the morning, just like in the fairy tale book.
“After all, who am I to shatter his faith in fairy tales?” says Daddy and the next scene shows him covering the dirt on a makeshift beanstalk. The scene’s in silhouette, which is a nice variation. He’s got Augie’s stilts to put him “in the giant cata-glory.” Morning comes. Augie wakes up (his head top is flat, just like Huckleberry Hound) and he and Hector check out the beanstalk where Daddy’s in a silly costume and holding on. “Fee, fie, and a foe and a fum. Someone has been eatin’ my porridge. I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down.” Hector runs away but Augie chops down the beanstalk.
For reasons of convenience to the plot, Augie isn’t bright enough to recognise Dear Old Dad through the costume (or the voice) or his own stilts. Well, actually, no else does either. Everyone else Daddy meets up with for the rest of the cartoon thinks he’s a giant. Daddy gets tripped up on one of Augie’s skates, sending him 60 miles an hour down the street in a 20 zone. Daddy misquotes Jimmy Durante’s misquote along the way: “Someone stop me before there’s a cat-atstropic.” Of course, since it’s an Augie Doggie cartoon, the rule is if there’s speeding, a cop shows up (the aforementioned Mike and his nameless partner; both non-Irish for a change). Then chase is on but Daddy disappears. The cops decide there was no giant. “Must be the smog.” “Yeah. Makes you see things like giants and stuff.” Turns out Daddy went down a manhole. A sewer worker pops his head up out of the hole and Daddy’s on top of his hard hat. Daws Butler comes up with an odd voice for the sewer worker; I think he’s basing it on William Bendix. “I must be working too hard. I coulda sworn there was someone down here with me.”
“You’ve fee-fied your last fum,” yells Augie, who’s running down the street to lasso dear old dad. “One thing I can’t stand,” he says, “is a giant on stilts.”—as if such a thing is an everyday occurrence (Maybe it is. It would explain the handy bucket of water). Augie finally ropes “the giant” and goes to get help but runs into a guy with Fibber Fox’s voice. The conversation’s plain old silly.
Man: What’s the hurry, sonny?
Augie: I caught a giant! I caught a giant! I caught—
Man: Well, you pick up my packages and I’ll go get your giant.
Augie: Thank you. But be careful. He’s 30 feet tall.
Man: Oh, of course.
Daddy: What happened?
Man: Pardon me. Are you the giant?
Daddy: Uh huh.
Man: Well, how come you’re not 30 feet tall. I was told you were.
Daddy: Very simple. I haven’t been well lately.
Well, time’s just about up, so Maltese has to wrap up the cartoon. Daddy runs away. Cut to a scene of an ill-repaired beanstalk with Daddy pretending to yell at the giant as Augie slides to a stop. Augie’s jumps up and down to the drum kit sound effect before he zooms off to tell Hector he scared off the giant. Daddy’s standard style tag line “After all, what good is a fairy tale widout a happy ending?”
The music fits the action okay, though the sound cutter on this one likes to start new cues in mid-sentence. Sorry I don’t have the titles to some; they may be lost to the ages. The light symphonic string music that, I think, is by Lou De Francesco in the Sam Fox library appears again.
0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:26 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Pan over Augie’s room, Augie talks to Hector, “And when the giant climbs down…”
1:35 - CB-89A ROMANTIC JAUNT (Cadkin-Bluestone) – “Whap!”, Hector walks away, Daddy plants beanstalk.
2:32 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Augie in bed, beanstalk, Daddy as giant.
2:53 - jaunty bassoon and skippy strings (Shaindlin) – Augie and Hector run to beanstalk, “Fee, fie…”
3:06 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – “And a foe…”, Augie chops down beanstalk, Daddy on ground.
3:51 - light symphonic string music (?) – Augie runs, Daddy skates past cops, down manhole, crash.
4:51 - GR-347 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Shot of police car, Augie with lasso, Daddy pokes head out from behind building.
5:26 - GR-457 DR QUACK BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – “I hope so, Augie,” water poured on Daddy.
5:39 - PG-177C LIGHT COMEDY MOVEMENT (Green) – Long shot of Daddy wearing bucket, man in window talks to audience.
5:48 - GR-78 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS BRIDGE No 1 (Green) – Daddy runs, Augie lassos, runs into man.
6:01 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – Man talks to Augie and Daddy.
6:32 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Beanstalk repaired, Augie excited, Daddy talks to audience.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).
You hear their voices on cartoons but, of course, you never see them. They’re the great voice actors that Hanna-Barbera hired. Most of them had training in the days of radio drama and comedy before television bludgeoned it to death. Some did live action television, so their faces may be familiar.
We’ve posted pictures of some of them here before—Daws Butler, Don Messick, Doug Young, the casts of The Flintstones, The Jetsons and Top Cat. And you’ve seen others elsewhere on the internet. But I’ve got a file folder with photos and clippings that I don’t think have been posted, so I’m doing it now.
This is not intended as a complete, definitive photo gallery, so don’t ask “Why isn’t there a picture of Lennie Weinrib?” and then list every cartoon role he ever played. I’m just putting up a miscellany of graphic files I’ve accumulated. Some are trade ads, others are publicity head shots.
Daws Butler improved every cartoon he appeared in, and some needed a lot of help. This shot must be from the early ‘50s when he was working with Stan Freberg, and comes from a biography about him broadcast years ago on PBS. Daws had so many great voices, it’s impossible to pick a favourite. I do have a favourite one-shot voice, though. It’s when Daws did his Fred Allen impression in the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “Skeeter Trouble.” My dad came into the living room when the cartoon was on and remarked that it was Fred Allen. “No, dad, it’s Daws Butler,” I replied. It’s the only time I ever corrected my father; kids didn’t do that back then. But this was important. We were talking cartoons, after all.
Mel Blanc was the King of Theatrical Cartoon Actors. There was no one better. He was a tremendous actor, yet he failed when handed a starring role in a radio sitcom in 1946, though the one-dimensional characters and trite concept were the reasons. He didn’t work for Hanna-Barbera until The Flintstones came along. He was Secret Squirrel and, well, a bunch of other characters that didn’t do a lot for me. This trade newspaper ad is from 1950, which gives you an idea what roles Mel thought were his most important at the time.
I love Howie Morris. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen is Howie as Uncle Goopy on the This is Your Life send up on Sid Caesar’s show. His first H-B role, to the best of my knowledge, was Jet Screamer on The Jetsons, though he was pretty funny as Harlan, Cogswell’s lackey. He starred as Atom Ant, tried to enliven Magilla Gorilla cartoons as Mr. Peebles and got a Kellogg’s cereal gig as the voice of Hillbilly Goat, pushing Sugar Stars. He also told off Joe Barbera in language not fit for television, thus resulting in a change of cartoon addresses to the Filmation studio.
Know who this is? He’s in character as Solomon Levy on The Goldbergs radio show. It’s Alan Reed. This trade ad shot is from 1943. He carved out a good radio career before being hired as Fred Flintstone. His best role was probably that of hammy poet Falstaff Openshaw on Fred Allen’s show; the Falstaff voice got recycled as “Frederick” in the first season of The Flintstones. Reed did dialects on radio as well; Pasquale on Life With Luigi may be his best-known one.
This is the guy that Reed replaced as Fred Flintstone because he couldn’t keep enough gravel in his voice during recording sessions. It’s a picture of a young Bill Thompson, who theatrical cartoon fans will know as Droopy (MGM) and J. Audubon Woodlore (Disney). Old radio fans remember his long stint on “Fibber McGee and Molly” starting in the late ‘30s, interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Navy during the war. He was billed as “Jackie Coogan’s Double” at age five and went into vaudeville at 12. The Fibber gig dried up about the time MGM closed its cartoon studio, so Thompson got a job in 1957 as a community relations executive for Union Oil. That’s what he was doing when he arrived at Hanna-Barbera. He starred as Touché Turtle but didn’t do a lot of work for the studio. He died in July 15, 1971 at age 58.
Paul Winchell entertained audiences on radio, TV and cartoons. His sneering Dick Dastardly on Wacky Races was great, though I suspect his first H-B “appearances” were on The Banana Splits Show (both of which debuted in 1968). Winchell, of course, was Gargamel in the studio’s take on The Smurfs and popped up on other series, and made a fine Tigger for Disney. He was born Paul Wilchinsky and he, his father Sol (a tailor by trade), mother Clara and sister Rita were in Los Angeles by 1940 where Paul was acting in what was left of vaudeville. As you likely know, he was an energetic ventriloquist. You should check out a What’s My Line show where Winchell is on the panel and the mystery guests are Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. You can read Mark Evanier’s remembrance of Paul Winchell HERE.
Since we’re on the topic of ventriloquists, Yakky Doodle’s voice is still with us. Jimmy Weldon’s fame from his television appearances in California in the 1950s with his puppet Webster Webfoot. This photo is from 1959. Weldon had replaced Shari Lewis on “Hi Mom,” shot in New York, and would very soon be back on the West Coast. Red Coffey had been doing the voice of a little duck in the earliest Hanna-Barbera cartoons but when the duck was given his own series in 1961, Weldon won the role. He’s spent time in retirement, if you want to call it that, as a motivational speaker.
Hanna-Barbera’s utility man was John Stephenson, who came on board after The Flintstones went to air in 1960. Besides Mr. Slate, he grumbled a lot about “if it wasn’t for those meddling kids and their dog,” started out playing Dr. Benton Quest until Joe Barbera or someone decided to replace him with Don Messick, tried out his Cary Grant voice on Top Cat, had supporting roles on Breezly and Sneezly and Squiddly Diddly (yeah, I know, not exactly two of H-B’s greatest), used Paul Lynde-inspired voices in a couple of series and even voiced later incarnations of Doggie Daddy when Doug Young left California in 1966. He seems to have been in every one of those mid-1970s Tom and Jerry TV cartoons, the stiff-looking, talky ones where the cat and mouse are friends. I always enjoyed watching him on Hogan’s Heroes because I recognised his voice from cartoons. He was still doing commercials up to a few years ago as part of Dick Orkin’s stock company and is apparently doing well in his late 80s. The bio is from a mid-‘50s Radio-Television Mirror magazine when Stephenson was on the sitcom The People’s Choice.
I’m not a fan of the Cindy Bear character, but here are some publicity photos of the young woman who played her, Julie Bennett. The first one is from 1950, the second from 1951. I suspect Cindy’s voice was inspired by magnolia-scented Leila Ransom on radio’s The Great Gildersleeve, voiced by Shirley Mitchell (imitating Una Merkel), who had the misfortune of appearing in Hanna-Barbera’s Roman Holidays. Bennett’s first role for the studio was on “Masking For Trouble” (1959), a Quick Draw McGraw cartoon. Her whereabouts today, unfortunately, are unknown.
Okay, I’m cheating now. Gil Mack never appeared in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. But he voiced a number of H-B characters on Golden Records recorded in New York City. Gil racked up credits on some great shows, as you can see by this 1940 trade newspaper ad, but imitating Daws Butler and Don Messick’s characters wasn’t exactly his forte.
And I’m cheating again. Jack Shaindlin and John Seely never voiced characters but their music was prominent behind the voices on the soundtracks of H-B cartoons from 1957 until Hoyt Curtin started writing underscores in 1960. Biographies of both Shaindlin and Seely have been posted elsewhere on the blog. These are trade ads; Seely’s is from 1961 and Shaindlin’s from probably a decade earlier. This is as good a post as any to put them on the blog.
This is a funny photo I grabbed off Facebook. You know who it is. But someone didn’t. The caption reads:
Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland.
One of the joys of being an archivist is finding mistakes and correcting them. We found this photo in the Imogene Coca file, but it's not her. Students of 1950s television or fans of voice actors, might recognize the face as that of Arnold Stang. But when and where did he dress up in drag?
One Google search later and we learned that the picture is from an episode of the "Red Skelton Show," broadcast on April 2, 1957. One of Skelton's recurring sketch characters, "Cookie," is in the Navy and there's a chance for shore leave in Japan as the prize in a drama contest. So Red became a six-foot-three Romeo to shipmate Stang's five-foot-three Juliet.
Arnold Stang had to be a great comedian to be able to hold his own on TV with hammy scene-stealers like Skelton and Milton Berle. Here’s Stang with his alter ego in a more familiar photo you’ve seen here before.
Of course, there were many more actors who settled in front of the microphones at the Hanna-Barbera studios. All of them were talented. All of them made fans laugh, even though they couldn’t see us and, in a case of tit for tat, we couldn’t see them.
Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – ?; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson. (no credits)
Voices: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Wagon Master,Yippee Coyote – Daws Butler; Narrator, Banjo Player, Cow – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green, Geordie Hormel, Lou De Francesco, unknown.
First Aired: week of January 16, 1961 (rerun week of May 29, 1961).
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-033, Production J-101.
Plot: Wagon Master Quick Draw battles cow-rustling Yippee Coyote.
It’s great to see all the elements of a cartoon working together, especially in limited animation where the style of movement can’t be depended on to pick up the slack. That’s what “Yippee Coyote” gives the viewer—convoluted logic, a smart-aleck bad guy who fools the good guy with disguises, a fast line of patter and action, and a silly Jerry Lewis voice from Daws Butler that makes almost any dialogue sound funny with incorrect inflection and emphasis. Even the stock music works well, as Jack Shaindlin’s “Crazy Goof” surfaces in several scenes. The only thing really weak is the ending because it doesn’t resolve anything nor does it top any of the previous dialogue routines.
The incidental character designs and props are by layout artist Tony Rivera. His cow is pretty funny. Very basic design. He gets hauled away, with Don Messick giving out a plantive “Mooo!”
And here are some of Rivera’s settlers. Very stripped down stylistically, much like in “Talky Hawky” that season..
There are no credits on this cartoon but the animator’s unmistakeably Dick Lundy. There’s a little rolling snout thing he does with Quick Draw McGraw in a couple of cartoons, and he does it here when Quick Draw laughs. There are three drawings on threes. I’ve slowed down the animation so you can take a look.
This is another cartoon with those rose-coloured, shadowed bluffs in the background (see the cow frame above). Art Lozzi may be responsible; the rolling reddish hills elsewhere in the cartoon are the same as in “Talky Hawky.” The clouds, though, in the opening shot, aren’t the lumpy ones that Lozzi drew in other cartoons around the same time. It looks like these ones have been chopped off at the bottom with a ruler.
The opening scene is of a wagon train crossing the prairie. We hear the clip-clop of Geordie Hormel’s “Western Song” (it’s called that even though there are no lyrics). And we hear Don Messick’s straight-forward narration: “Travelling to California in the early days of the West was a long and dangerous journey. Nevertheless, with banjos on their knees, the brave settlers struggled onward, their safe passage entrusted to one man—the Wagon Master.”
Banjos on their knees? That might seem incongruous, except the wagon master gets bashed with one (it makes the El Kabong guitar sound, not that of a banjo) because a banjo player wants to play the cello instead. Already, Mike Maltese is giving us a ridiculous situation. And then the Wagon Master quits after “the dreaded Indian attack” (as both the narrator and then the Wagon Master call it). “You’re not turnin’ chicken, are ya?” asks the would-be cello player. “Yeah,” answers the Wagon Master, and there’s a cut to a shot of him with arrows in his butt. “I just got my tail feathers.”
I can’t help but wonder if Maltese is taking a shot at Hanna-Barbera’s limited animation. The narrator now comes on and states: “And, so, without a wagon master to lead them, the setters didn’t dare move.” Of course they didn’t move. Animating them would cost the studio money (their heads move and that’s it). Quick Draw and Baba Looey join us in the next scene and Quick Draw agrees to accept the job as wagon master after reading a sign (again, no animation involved).
Quick Draw: Folly me, folks.
Baba: But Queeckstraw, how do you know we heading west?
Quick Draw: That’s simple, Baba boy. When we hit the Atlantic Ocean, it’s in the opposite direction.
Now the heckling bad guy shows up. Lundy gives Yippee Coyote a determined walk, ten drawings on twos, scrunched fists, with a stiff leg on four of the drawings. Combine Maltese’s dialogue and Daws’ sing-songy Jerry Lewis voice and you get:
Yippee: Oh joy oh good news. A wagon train, passing under my sly nose, together with a moo cow. I will get the moo cow I should have milk. Then I shall have rosy cheeks and strong bones and be healthy.
There’s more Lewis-like dialogue after Yippee drops the cow he’s pulling up a cliff on Quick Draw and our hero responds with gunfire. “Oh, you got a bang-bang. Don’t hoit me with a bang-bang, Mister.” Then, after a couple of more shots comes a phoney death scene (well, Maltese did write for Bugs Bunny). “Oh, you got me! Already I got pains and lumps and everything!” Quick Draw is annoyed. “I did not touch you,” he rightly states. “I shot in the air.”
Yippee is unfazed by the news. The dialogue and accompanying actions stream onward. “You, sir, shall hear from my solicitors. I’m telling you to your face. (Opens Quick Draw’s mouth) And to your teeth . (Looks down Quick Draw’s throat). And to your tonsils.” An echo gag follows before we quickly cut to the next routine. Quick Draw is fooled by Yippee’s old-timer disguise, a sombrero and a pince nez. Out of nowhere, Yippee pulls out a huge ear horn, shoves it over Quick Draw then shoots into it to “clean” it so he can hear better.
Unfortunately, Maltese has used up his best gags and the cartoon’s got 90 seconds left. So it practically slows to a stop as we get almost nothing but dialogue the rest of the way. First, Yippee runs. Lundy gives him a basic run cycle of eight drawings, two frames to a drawing. But then during a couple of the cycles he substitutes two of those drawings, and the second one has Yippee gliding in mid-air for ten frames. As you know, Hanna-Barbera characters run past the same stuff in the background as the same background drawing is used again and again. Lundy’s timing is such that Yippee’s feet end up in the same place the next time the background drawing starts over again. Quick Draw, still wearing the tuba-sized ear horn, runs into a blue rock. Quick Draw has busted his clavicle. The rest of the cartoon involves Baba laughing at Quick Draw’s misfortune, Quick Draw stalking off in anger but then Yippee benevolently tripping Baba to bust the burro’s clavicle so Quick Draw can laugh at him, thus reuniting the two cohorts. And that’s how the cartoon ends. Baba, for good measure, does a little laughing roll on the ground and chirps out the mock-Spanish words “bustola clavicola.” Baba, as usual, gets in the tag line: “I like that Quickstraw. He always sees the joke. If it’s on the other foot.” Baba’s drawn with large pupils that Lundy (and Laverne Harding) liked using.
What happened to Yippee Coyote? He joined Scooter Rabbit and Max Chickenhawk in H-B obscurity, never to return. Only six more Quick Draw cartoons were made after the second season and Maltese preferred to concentrate on El Kabong taking on characters more suited to a masked avenger.
The opening music choice works is fine but it strikes me as odd that the sound-cutter didn’t use the stock version of “Oh, Susannah” that was in other Quick Draw cartoons, considering the scene’s main gag involves a banjo on a knee. I’ll bet that’s the way Carl Stalling would have done it. The cutter also uses a cue when the wagon train rolls along that starts with a C and an E in half notes, then a G in a full note in the next bar. I don’t know where it came from but it’s from the same place and composer as triumphant trumpet cue in “Legion Bound Hound” and “Missile Bound Cat.” The unidentified cutter also likes changing cues in mid-sentence.
0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - ZR-39A WESTERN SONG (Hormel) – Wagon train, “Whoa!” line.
0:45 - SF-11 LIGHT MOVEMENT (De Francesco?) – “We’ll camp here,” Wagon Master clobbed with banjo, Indian attack, “Indians?!”
1:22 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) - “What’ll we do, Wagon Master?”, shot of settlers.
1:37 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw and Baba walk, “…time we get thar.”
1:58 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Quick Draw laughs, sign scene.
2:21 - C-E-G western dance cue (?) - Quick Draw leads wagon train.
2:50 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Coyote walking, captures cow.
3:16 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – Quick Draw and Baba walking, cow hoisted, cow lands on Quick Draw.
3:31 - PG-181F MECHANICAL BRIDGE (Green) – Coyote on bluff, runs off camera.
3:41 - drum kit sound effect – Quick Draw with gun in Coyote’s face.
3:48 - GR-333 BUSTLING BRIDGE (Green) – “Don’t hoit me,” dying scene, Coyote puts nose in Quick Draw’s face.
4:10 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Coyote/Quick Draw scene, disguise scene.
4:58 - LFU-117-2 MAD RUSH No 2 (Shaindlin) – Coyote runs, skids toward Baba.
5:11 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Clavicle laugh scene, Quick Draw walks away.
6:04 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Baba runs after Quick Draw, Baba tripped, “That smarts.”
6:18 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – “I thin’ I broke…”, Quick Draw laughs, Baba talks to camera.
6:42 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).
Ranger Smith returns to Jellystone Park after a number of weeks off—in the comics, at least. He appears in two of the five colour comics pages published in papers on Sunday (Saturday in Canada) 50 years ago this month. He’s back with his blonde wife the following month, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
All five are set in Jellystone. All of them have detail in the background but never look cluttered. And a couple have incidental animals; you’ll find them in the Sunday Flintstones comics as well. Boo Boo appears in all but one.
A number of the animated Yogi cartoons featured a grey-haired park superintendent. The March 3rd comic has one of these grey-haired guys but he appears to be a garden-variety ranger. The long final panel has a nice sense of perspective with the rangers in silhouette in the distance and the stuff Yogi has pulled with him in an angle coming into the foreground. I like the top panel, too, with the comic-like diagrams of Yogi. Notice the difference in the ears of Ranger Smith and the grey-haired ranger. The latter has ear innards like Walt Clinton designed in the various H-B animated series.
Hammy Yogi decides to hog his way into a movie, just like in the animated series, except this one’s a mediaeval epic in the March 10th comic. I like how lights, cameras and actors are placed in the background to add to the filmmaking feeling, even in the opening panel. Yogi goes on another rhyme spasm. “Bear”? “Maidens fair”? What maidens? Oh, well.
I wish the version of final panel of the March 17th comic you see here was clearer; it’s a little hard to see the lamb looks somewhat embarrassed. The poses of Yogi throughout the comic are very nice; we even get a three-quarter rear view and an overhead shot in the next panel. You can see his foot sticking up from behind the fence in the bottom row, second panel. A nice little touch. Jellystone evidently isn’t your average national park. It has a Wild West Show. A few weeks earlier, it had a circus.
Oh, Jellystone has its own airport, too. At least it does on March 24th. It’s one thing to draw characters but to be able to draw a solid airplane as well is quite admirable. My favourite drawing, though, is the placid deer looking up to see why leaflets are falling. The slightly-angled trees and the snow-capped peaks were found in a number of Harvey Eisenberg forest settings. The story’s clever and so is the end gag.
Chipmunks watch the opening activities in the first panel of the March 31st comic. I like the sense of depth in the first panel in the second row by having some fir trees in silhouette. I don’t get the last line about trapdoor spiders. Yogi dug the hole, not a spider. Guess I’m being too literal. Notice that Yogi never talks about “pic-a-nic” baskets, just “goodies.” There’s no dot over the “I” in “Yogi” in the first panel, unless the others this month.
As usual, click on each comic for a better look. These are the best scans I could find.
Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Carr; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Warren Foster; Story Direction – Alex Lovy; Titles – Lawrence Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Mr Jinks, Dixie – Daws Butler; Pixie, Marcel, Telegram Boy – Don Messick; Brigette – Julie Bennett.
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, Raoul Kraushaar?, Geordie Hormel.
First Aired: week of December 5, 1960 (rerun, week of April 24, 1961).
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-045, Production E-119.
Plot: Mr Jinks thinks the kitten next door wants to marry him.
There’s a great routine in the climax of the Warner Bros. cartoon “Fool Coverage” (1952, written by Tedd Pierce) where Porky Pig qualifies for an insurance policy payout from Daffy Duck. The list of conditions keeps growing, becoming more and more outlandish and impossible, but Porky meets them all. The same sort of thing happens in this Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Mr. Jinks is challenged to a duel and told to choose the weapons. Jinks tries to come up with one that doesn’t exist so the duel can’t go ahead.
Jinks(confidently): Okay, pops. The weapons I choose are, uh, Turkish duelling pistols.
(Marcel hands him the pistols).
Marcel: Turkish duelling pistols, m’sieur.
Jinks(hesitantly): With p-p-pearl handles?
(Marcel flips over the pistols to show off the handles).
Marcel: Pearl handles, m’sieur.
Jinks: Made in (gulps) 1760?
Marcel: Look at zee date.
Jinks: 1760. Fhoo. (looks at camera) They’re more plentiful than I thought.
Jinksie has always affected hip-type coolness but in “Woo For Two,” he fashions himself a ladies’ man, which fits his personality (more so than the asexual meeces getting excited over a fake girl mouse in “Mouse Trapped” the following season). But his coolness is fake, readily demonstrated by the inept way he tries to impress the kitten when he meets her. And when he’s not around her, he's merely lovestruck.
Much of Warren Foster’s plot is based on misunderstanding, part of which is contrived. He sends a love note to Brigette, the kitten next door. She knows it’s a love note. And she responds to it. But she also knows she’s unavailable as she has a fiancé. Logic would seem to dictate that she’d tell that to Jinks in her response, but she doesn’t. Of course, there wouldn’t be a cartoon if she did, or it’d be considerably different than the one Foster wrote.
This is another cartoon where the meeces maintain a healthy suspicion of the cat during the full seven minutes. Even Jinks says he “likes” the meeces—“and I use that term lucidly”—at the beginning of the cartoon when he surprises them with a large slice of Swiss cheese on a plate. Dixie reveals the reason—Jinks is in love with the heretofore unknown French girl cat next door. He’s been sending her notes. The scene fades to Jinks reading one of them:
Roses are red, violets are blue, like.
How’s about some parlez-vous, like?
Then he folds it up and, ad-libbing another rhyming couplet, tosses it like a paper airplane. It lands at the feet of Brigette. “I must say he writes zee funny love letters. I will invite him over, just to be, uh, zee good neighbour.” Can someone explain why cartoons have a peculiar brand of Frenglish where “the” is pronounced “zee”? In French, “the” is either “le”, “la” or “les.” The “th” digraph is pronounced “t.” Where does “zee” come from? Pepe LePew?
Anyway, the girl cat is played by the lovely Julie Bennett in her only appearance in a Pixie and Dixie cartoon. Somehow, I don’t think Don Messick’s falsetto would have worked as Brigette.
Meanwhile, back at the meeces’ place, Jinks is reading his next soon-to-be-sent letter when a paper airplane response from Brigette flies into the cat’s mouth. “She loves me! She ans-wered my letter,” exclaims the happy Jinks, who sniffs the note. “My favourite perfume! Liverwurst Number 5.” The note begins “Dear Sir” and ends “Respectfully yours.” Jinks misconstrues the formality as love. We next find him in a medium-close shot behind the fence separating his home with Brigette’s. “I’ll just play it cool. Dignified. Sort of the, you know, uh, hard-to-get type.” And that’s when Jinks shouts: “Hiya, Bridget! Bet ya can’t do this!” The cat is standing on his hands twirling his feet, then splits his feet and bounces on his butt.
Brigette’s opinion of Jinks suddenly changes. She seemed a little enchanted with his love letters, but now thinks he’s “zee screwball.” Jinks now gets filled with zee LePew-esque sexual over-confidence. “Well, uh, let’s not fight it, baby. Uh, you know, I mean, this is bigger than two pussycats.” His attempt to kiss Brigette is met with a sock in the face. “Aw, she’s a croquette, like. Leads a guy on and POW!” he tells the meeces in the next scene.
The meeces stroll along the grass, mulling over the situation when Pixie (except it’s Dixie talking with Pixie’s voice coming out of him) notices Marcel, Brigette’s finacé, at the front gate. The two French cats are going to get married today. Meanwhile, Jinks is in his basket, mulling over the situation himself and concludes when Brigette turned him down because of “an engagement” it means the two of them are now engaged. So he bolts for the home next door, where Pixie and Dixie are explaining Jinks’ motivation to the French cats. Marcel decides to “scare heem away”—apparently, an explanatory conversation isn’t a possibility—and that’s when Jinks walks into the scene on his hands. “I see you brought you, uh, brought your father for the wedding. Hiya, pops! You’re not, like, uh, losin’ a daughter, uh, you are gaining a hip cat.” Marcel flips him over and then challenges him to the duel mentioned above. Marcel only shoots a blank at Jinks, which the meeces explain to him after a dying scene. “Well, oh yeah, mm hmm. That explains why there were no holes in my pelt.”
So things are now back to normal. Jinks is chasing the “miserable meeces” with a broom into their hole (Pixie and Dixie pass the same light socket six times before the shot cuts to Jinks running past the same painting three times). But then comes a mysterious telegram. It’s from Cashmiri Lovesong, the big movie star, who wants to see Jinks next week. Well, actually, it’s not. The meeces realise Jinks won’t chase them when he’s in love so they plan to keep stringing him along with phoney telegrams. And they laugh about it as the cartoon fades to black.
The sound cutter didn’t bother hunting around for a lot of music for this one. Jack Shaindlin’s “Recess” is used twice and so are two other cues. We have cue changes in mid-dialogue in some scenes.
0:00 - Pixie and Dixie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:13 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Jinks brings cheese to meeces, love letter sent to kitten, gets return note in his mouth.
1:30 - creepy muted trumpet music (Kraushaar?) – Jinks looks down at note, “come over this afternoon…”
1:56 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – “We can converse,” Jinks at fence.
2:31 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Jinks jumps.
2:41 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Kitten talks, Jinks slapped, swollen eye.
3:09 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Meeces walk, Marcel shows up, Jinks in basket, Jinks walks on hands, “Hiya, Pops.”
4:12 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “You’re not, like …”, Jinks chooses weapons, Jinks dying scene.
5:20 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Marcel reveals the bullets are fake, Jinks gets up.
5:45 - ZR-48 FAST MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks chases meeces, broom comes down.
5:54 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) (Shaindlin) – Shot of meeces in hole, telegram scene, meeces laugh.
6:56 - Pixie and Dixie End Title music (Curtin).
Many people from animation’s Golden Age eventually punched time cards at Hanna-Barbera during its first dozen years. Some stayed for long periods. Others seem to have worked on a cartoon or two, possibly on a freelance basis, then moved on. One of them was Gil Turner.
Turner was one of a number of people who moved from studio to studio, though calling him a journeyman animator is perhaps unfair because he was elevated to a director’s chair at UPA. You may know his name from Warner Bros.; he worked in the Hardaway-Dalton unit in the late ‘30s and then for Friz Freleng. You could recall him from Woody Woodpecker cartoons as he had a stop at Walter Lantz in the early ‘50s as well. But he also popped in at Hanna-Barbera and apparently worked on one cartoon—the Snagglepuss entry “Remember Your Lions” (1961), with a funny story by Mike Maltese that’s so Warner-esque (dim adversary fooled by disguises, bad puns), you expect to see a Snag-in-drag scene.
There’s plenty about Turner’s non-theatrical work on the internet. His work in comic books gets more praise than what he did in animated cartoons. David Gerstein, a fine and meticulous researcher in both mediums, noted:
[Turner] successfully turned the LITTLE RED RIDING RABBIT model of the Wolf into Disney's own model. That always amuses me. What I mean is—instead of drawing the Disney Wolf, he drew the Looney Tunes wolf in the Disney wolf's outfit.
But there’s not much biographical information about him, so I’ll post a little bit. I was fortunate to find two newspaper obituaries (see one to the left). And census records have a few things to add.
Gilbert H. Turner was born in December 1, 1911 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the eldest of two sons of Charles Edward and Alice Marie (Gilbert) Turner. The family was living in Chatsworth, California by 1920. His father was a warehouse clerk for the Los Angeles County road department. Turner began his animation career at Walt Disney in 1932. The website coa.inducks.org states he spent the years 1936 to 1938 at Jam Handy in Detroit before going to Leon Schlesinger’s studio where he was paid $3900 a year. Martha Sigall relates in her autobiography that Tex Avery played a prank on Turner by filling a bottle in the studio’s Coke machine with alcohol, recapping it, then watching the reaction of Turner, who thought he was drinking pop (Tex Avery’s interview/biography by Joe Adamson has the trick played on Art Goble, but Avery wasn’t sure). Martha also relates how Turner stripped down to his underwear in the un-air-conditioned studio one summer day and someone stole all his clothes—then he got paged to go to Henry Binder’s office immediately. Binder, Schlesinger’s right-hand man, was in on the gag. And if that isn’t enough, she tells how Turner was working one day on a long panorama drawing of birds to be used as a stock shot when paint water from the next floor spilled through a crack and down onto Turner’s drawing. Ah, life in an animation studio!
Unlike many animators, it seems Turner wasn’t drafted during the war. He left Warners to work at J. Richard Weston’s Carry-Weston studio (1357 N. Gordon St. Hollywood) along with ex-Warners staff members Jack Bradbury and Ray Patin, then spent his time either working in comics or animation. One of his more interesting comic strips was “Holly Wood.” The interesting part is it appeared for a time on the Wednesday comic page of the Redwood Journal Press-Dispatch, which appears to have been drawn by people involved in animation, including Patin, Gus Jekel (“Pam”), Jerry Hathcock (“Sleepy Holler”) and Tom Ray (“Starlight,” a celebrity gossip panel). Patin was running his own production house at the time; whether there was a deal between it and the paper, I don’t know. The comic below is from August 23, 1950.
Turner animated Barney Bear in the Lah-Blair unit at MGM then later worked on Barney at Western Publishing. Read more HERE. The ‘50s seem to have taken him to Patin’s studio, UPA, then a brief stop at H-B before heading to Format Films where he directed segments of “The Alvin Show” (1961). Turner retired in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1963 and took up a job with the Richardson Camera Co. That’s where he died of cancer on Sunday, March 19, 1967, about 2½ months after his father. Like Warner’s Tom McKimson and cartoon voice actors Mel Blanc and Walter Tetley, Turner was a member of the Masons. The fraternity conducted his funeral. Like Blanc, he was also an active Shriner. His wife Angelyn returned to Los Angeles where she died in 1988.
His one H-B cartoon is distinctive in that he draws Snagglepuss zipping off camera in outline with brush lines inside. Offhand, I can’t name anyone else at Hanna-Barbera in the first years of the studio (“Flintstones” and before) who did this. Here are some examples.
I should point out the credits may be suspect. Fernando Montealegre is listed as the background artist but there’s one city exterior with a lumpy cloud in the sky that looks like Art Lozzi’s work. Lozzi once said some of his paintings appeared in cartoons which gave the credit to someone else.
Turner’s time at Hanna-Barbara may have been undistinguished due to its briefness, but he did have a long career in cartooning, and he’s a favourite among Disney Wolf comic enthusiasts. It shows the calibre of people Bill and Joe were able to attract.
Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ed de Mattia; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Story – Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voices: Huckleberry Hound, Great-Great Grandson, Barker – Daws Butler; Chief Crazy Coyote, Wild West Show Manager – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose, Spencer Moore, unknown.
First aired: week of November 28, 1960.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-045.
Plot: Buffalo Huck of the Wild West Show tries to re-capture Chief Crazy Coyote.
This third-season cartoon is a sequel of “Hokum Smokum,” the first-season Huck cartoon by writer Charlie Shows. It has the same plot device and Warren Foster has used some of the same gag elements. I like the first one better. It has a silly Joe Besser horse and Carlo Vinci’s animation.
Ed de Mattia animates this and he has his own particular quirks, at least in a couple of his cartoons from the 1960-61 season that I’ve looked at. Here he is getting Huck to pop from pose-to-pose when singing “Clementine.” The middle pose is held for three frames.
I mentioned in “Do or Diet” that de Mattia liked hand-gestures. In several scenes, the great-great grandson taps a finger against his other arm and points (in re-used animation). The one hand looks deformed.
And, as in “Do or Diet,” de Mattia has a big grille of teeth during certain takes. Here’s one during a cane-bopping, a gag taken from “Hokum Smokum.”
Notice above that de Mattia has different coloured squiggly lines when shaking is involved. It happens later when Huck is on a pole being chopped down.
If you’ve seen “Hokum Smokum,” you know the basic story. Huckleberry Hound, now in his dotage, relates a story to his great-great grandson of how he captured Chief Crazy Coyote in his old West days. This one’s different than the first story, Huck tells the great-great grandson. Ah, but the kid has heard this one, too, and keeps interrupting to tell it, only to get knocked on the noggin by Huck’s cane.
Huck: Are you tellin’ this story or me?
Kid: I’ll toss ya for it.
The cartoon flashes back and forth from the past to the present.
● Huck is clobbered with a tomahawk.
● Huck follows footprints (made by Crazy Coyote with a rubber stamp) up to the top of a dead tree before the Indian chops it down (and Huck with it).
● Huck’s long Kentucky rifle is too long, so Huck backs up to get a shot, only to back over a cliff.
● After Huck “clumb” back up the cliff, he and Crazy Coyote exchange gunfire from behind a rock (and miss). Huck knows the chief has used up his six bullets and lets him fire “Honest—you should pardon expression—Injun?” asks the Chief. BOOM!! “I forgot the Chief had a seven shooter.”
● Huck decides to rush Crazy Coyote before the chief can load another arrow into his bow. Huck, full of arrows, retreats. Cut to a shot of the Indian with a machine gun shooting arrows, a two-drawing cycle on twos. I’ve slowed it down so you can see the drawings.
● The two are out of ammunition so Huck bashes the Chief on the head with the butt of his pistol while Crazy Coyote clubs Huck with his tomahawk. “Hey, just a minute, Chief. We ain’t getting’ nothin’ out of this. If we’re gonna fight, we might as well get remunerated for it.”
So the scene shifts back to the background drawing of the Wild West Show and another background drawing of a new poster showing Buffalo Huck taking on Crazy Coyote “in a fight to the finish, four times daily,” cries a barker. Cut to the two clouting each other on the head. “The people love our act, Chief. And they paid a heap-a money to see us,” notes Huck. The Chief has his eye on the viewers. “Me know. And they call me Crazy Coyote,” he says and gives out his usual hee-haw laugh before the clouting resumes.
So the cartoon fades back into the present. Great-great grandson asks “Whatever happened to Chief Crazy Coyote?” Foster now borrows the ending of the Quick Draw McGraw/Chief Little Runt cartoon “Scat, Scout, Scat” from the previous year. Crazy, who hasn’t aged a bit, pops up from behind Huck’s living room chair and conks him one on the head. “Does that answer-um question?” More hee-haw laughter. Farewell, Chief. Thus ends his final cartoon. And thus ends Ed de Mattia’s entanglement with Huck Hound.
Daws recycled the voice of old-timer Huck into Henry Orbit on The Jetsons.
There’s a circus music cue that opens with a fanfare I’ve never heard before; it’s used during the establishing shot of the Wild West Show. The “tom tom” music that was used in various cartoons in earlier seasons reappears; I suspect it’s by Spencer Moore or Geordie Hormel on one of the Capitol Hi-Q “X” series reels. And Jack Shaindlin’s “On the Run?” makes a four-second appearance during a running scene. That’s quick.
0:00 - Huckleberry Hound Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin).
0:13 - Clementine (Trad.) – Great-Great Grandson walks, Huck brings him back with cane.
0:22 - C-14 DOMESTIC LIGHT (Loose) – Living room scene.
1:01 - circus fanfare music (Shaindlin?) – shot of wild west show tent, sign, Huck strolls into tent.
1:15 - Clementine (Trad.) – Huck stops, sings, gets booed.
1:26 - C-14 DOMESTIC LIGHT (Loose) – Living room scene, Circus manager scene.
2:09 - C-19 LIGHT ACTIVITY (Loose) – Huck tromps on desert.
2:21 - Clementine (Trad.) – Huck sings, arrow fired at him.
2:24 - four beat tom-tom/flute cue (?) – Crazy Coyote “hee-haws,” living room scene, Huck on Chief’s trail, chops down tree.
3:33 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Living room scene, long rifle scene.
4:16 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Huck behind cactus, goes behind rock.
4:26 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Gunfire.
4:30 - LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – “That did it,” Huck shot, living room scene, Crazy Coyote fires arrows, “Charge!”
5:24 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Off camera sound effects, Huck pierced by arrows, Crazy Coyote with automatic rifle.
5:40 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Huck walks with gun, clobbering, Huck and Crazy Coyote agree.
6:00 - circus fanfare music (Shaindlin?) – shot of tent, clobbering in tent.
6:41 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Living room scene, Crazy Coyote “hee haws.”
6:58 - Huckleberry Hound Sub- End Title theme (Curtin).
It’s one thing to come up with loveable cartoons characters, and it’s another to package them into a programme that sponsors and stations want to pick up (and kids want to watch). But it’s yet another to have the skills to promote them. The folks at Hanna-Barbera found people with those skills in a real hurry not long after their studio opened in 1957.
Sure, the company began with the deals you might expect—for comic books, toys and records. And it grew from there. But a couple of promotions from the pre-Flintstone era at the studio (which is the focus of this blog, though we stray a bit) are admirable considering the coordination that was involved in pulling them off. One was Huckleberry Hound’s presidential run in 1960 (which combined comic books, cereal offers and personal appearances). The other is the Yogi Bear birthday party of 1961.
Yogi’s a great example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease. He was louder and brasher than the calm, somewhat naïve Huck, and pretty soon eclipsed the hound in the studio’s star system. So while he and Huck (and Mr. Jinks and the meeces, for that matter) all celebrated their birthdays on the same date—they all debuted together on TV—Yogi got the party. And the promotional people were adept enough to work out a plan to involve newspapers and television stations in their campaign; by then the Yogi Sunday comic strip was running.
Here’s a good example from the Oakland Tribune of September 3, 1961. The Yogi art accompanying the Tribune obviously came from the studio but it’s only based on a scene in the Yogi birthday cartoon, not from the actual cartoon itself (which is available on DVD but shorn of credits).
Yogi Bear Birthday Near; Enter His Coloring Contest
Hey, kids! Yogi Bear is having a birthday.
You can help celebrate it by entering an exciting Yogi Bear Coloring Contest.
Get out your crayons, pencils and paints. There are goody good goodies in store for you if you can come up with the liveliest color scheme and for the “smarter-than-average” bear.
Yogi himself, flying high with a handful of balloons, (he may be the first bear in space), is pictured in today’s issue of The Tribune.
Yogi Bear Coloring Contest entry blanks will appear again in the Sept. 6th, 8th and 10th issues. Clip yours, color it any scheme you choose and send it in with your name, age and address to contest headquarters, P.O. Box 836, Oakland 4.
WIN PARTY TRIP
If you’re age 10 and under, you can win a trip to Yogi’s birthday party. The party marks Yogi’s first year in the Tribune and on KTVU, Channel 2. Both are sponsoring the contest The youngsters selected as the 100 best artists will be guests of KTVU on Oct. 2.
A host of lesser prizes is offered, everything from candy to statuettes of our hero Yogi and his friends, Baba Looey, Quick Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound and many others.
There are books of favorite children’s stories, too.
Every boy and girl who enters will receive a gaily colored certificate with pictures of Yogi and all his friends on it.
Awards will be given in three age groups—age 6 years and under, ages 7 and 8, and ages 9 and 10. Entries will be judged on beauty, imagination in coloring, neatness and originality.
YOU COLOR HIM
No fair! You can’t make Yogi bigger than he is in the panel. You have to color him right on the newspaper picture.
You can enter as many coloring panels as you want to but have to color them yourself.
And if you’re long on determination but short on inspiration, you can get ideas from the Yogi Bear comic strip in the Sunday Tribune or tune Channel 2 every Monday at 6:30 p.m. to watch Yogi and company in action.
Television stations on the “Kellogg’s Network” were encouraged (through Kellogg advertising dollars) to have their local kids show host put on a special early evening Yogi birthday party programme in connection with the Yogi Bear birthday cartoon, with youngins in the studio audience. Not all were tied in with a colouring contest; there was a make-a-birthday-card contest in some cities. How many stations took part, I don’t know, but one in Alaska solicited kids to drop in.
The fun didn’t stop with television and newspapers, either, thanks to those clever promotional wizards. If you happened to be at Pomeroy’s Department Store in Reading, Pennsylvania at noon on October 5, 1961, you could have met Huck, Quick Draw and Baba Looey in person opening the new toy department—and celebrating Yogi’s birthday. Yogi, presumably, was tuckered out from all the nation-wide birthday bashes and couldn’t make it. And, as we mentioned on the blog in this post, the Yogi newspaper comic was enlisted to promote the birthday, though not the ancillary events surrounding it.
Since Kellogg’s was tied into it, there were box ads in newspapers trumpeting the following: “Look for Yogi's special birthday packages of Kellogg's Corn Flakes for how to get your FREE Yogi Bear Birthday Dell Comic.” You won’t be surprised to hear a box top was involved. It must have taken a huge effort to put all the elements of the promotion together. The folks who did it (I suspect Kellogg’s ad agency, Leo Burnett, had a hand in it) couldn’t have been more facile.
The Yogi birthday party cartoon was unique. It took up all three segments of the half-hour show. Hanna-Barbera already had experience with half-hour comedies on “The Flintstones” and the new “Top Cat” series. The Yogi story (by Warren Foster, I presume) has echoes of “The Flintstones” with punny characters that very gently lampoon Fred Astaire (voice by Doug Young), Bobby Darin (it sounds like Duke Mitchell provides the voice; the swingin’ cat Darin stand-in does everything but sing “Listen to the Rockin’ Bird”) and Liberace (voice by Don Messick). While it’s nowhere close to my favourite Yogi show, it proved the bear had enough personality to carry more than a seven-minute short—something Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera likely kept in the back of their mind when they decided to make a feature film. The character who really built the H-B empire, a blue dog from the Carolinas, would have to wait until 1988 for his shot at feature stardom, and then in the lesser world of TV movies. Perhaps he deserved better but that’s show biz.
Here’s a fine, full-page cover for the Sunday supplement of the Miami News of October 1, 1961 where there’s a little bit more information about the airing of the Yogi Bear Birthday Party cartoon on stations during the week ahead (Boo Boo looks like he’s day-dreaming).
The show wasn’t a special in that it pre-empted regular programming. It ran in the usual half-hour slot that Kellogg’s bartered/bought for Yogi on whatever station normally ran it. Stations were encouraged to have their kids show host front some kind of on-air birthday party with youngsters in the studio audience. In Miami, the News said:
A SPECIAL Yogi Bear show—in color—on Channel 7 at 7 p.m. Wednesday will mark the popular cartoon character’s birthday. Channel 7 officials here are conducting a contest in which young viewers send in birthday cards—of their own design—wishing Yogi a Happy Birthday.
Designers of the 100 cards judged best will be invited to attend the special program Wednesday at the WCKT studios. Ice cream, cake, favors and a special three-minute break during the show in which prizes will be awarded to contestants will comprise the event.
So the Miami station had an in-studio cut-in during the Yogi half-hour. Kellogg’s didn’t buy additional time. That seems to have been the case almost everywhere I’ve looked as stations had other programmes on either side of Yogi they were committed to air (in Miami, Yogi was between “Huntley-Brinkley” and “Wagon Train.”) But they went all out in Fairbanks, Alaska, with a special broadcast. 228 kids showed up. The Daily Miner of October 5, 1961 reported:
Yogi Bear Celebration
Yogi Bear is going to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, with a special birthday party program, attended by Huckleberry Hound, Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith and other notables. The party will be seen on television from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday evening on Channel Two.
The local birthday party program for Yogi will be held in the USO. It will be emceed by Wee Willy Wally of KFAR-TV. Winners of the Yogi Bear contest will participate and 12 of the winners will receive prizes which will be announced on the air as the climax of the Yogi Bear Birthday Party program. The children invited to the USO are listed in tonight's paper on page six. Children are requested to be at the USO by 6:45 Friday evening and the party will last until 8 p.m.
It was originally planned to have the party at the KFAR-TV studios but the location had to be changed due to lack of space.
The Los Angeles Times of October 5, 1961 seemed to indicate Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera actually put in an appearance on the birthday broadcast but the Google News archive is now impossible to search so I can’t find all of the article.
It’s unfortunate the version of the cartoon that’s on DVD has no credits on it. I suspect if they existed, the late Earl Kress would have found them to ensure they were on the DVD. It appears Dick Bickenbach did the layouts, Art Lozzi was the background artist and it looks like Don Patterson animated at least some of the cartoon. Here are a few shots:
Yes, it would have been cool to have multiple Yowps in the dog pack instead of an anonymous one-shot character.
This cartoon was unique. Hanna-Barbera never highlighted one character in an entire syndicated half-hour again. One wonders why the studio did it. Just to sell cereal? Perhaps. But this show aired when cartoon competition started getting heavy. The Miami News edition also contains an article about the explosion of new animation on TV. The Yogi birthday would certainly have given the series some needed attention amidst the distracting siren call of “The Alvin Show,” “Calvin and the Colonel” and cartoons looking for an audience. More than the usual effort was put in, with Hoyt Curtin contributing an original song (are those the Randy Horne singers in the background?), a voice cast of five and what appear to be an awful lot of scene cuts in some places.
It was also a swan song of sorts. Hanna-Barbera was evolving and moving away from the sponsored, self-contained, three-characters-in-a-half-hour style of show (“Magilla Gorilla” and “Peter Potamus” excepted). The studio already had two shows on prime time and more planned. Its new syndicated cartoons were shorter and weren’t part of a packaged show. Soon the studio would be enticing networks to dump live-action shows out of Saturday morning time slots.
And Yogi was moving on, too. To a theatre near you.
Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snooper, Blabber, Dog, Flea circus owner – Daws Butler; Gisele – Julie Bennett; Narrator, Toot Sweet, Slick Flea – Don Messick.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: 1960
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-029, Production J-86.
Plot: Snooper helps Toot Sweet rescue his bride-to-be, Gisele, from an evil flea.
“Toot Sweet! Say, he’s the French flea who helped us solve that poodle caper a year ago.” Yes, Snooper, you’re absolutely right about that.
Toot Sweet was featured in three Snooper and Blabber cartoons, the first one being “Poodle Toodle-Oo!” in the first season, followed by this cartoon one season later, and then “Flea For All” later in the year. Mike Maltese wrote “Fleas Be Careful” and it has a superficial resemblance to one of his cartoons for Walter Lantz, “Flea For Two” (released 1955). Both feature a flea rescuing his fiancée from a slick flea, and have scenes involving champagne glasses and the little hero busting down a hotel room door.
You can always count on Maltese to fit a silly non sequitur into his story. In this one Snooper has a collection of “villainous moustaches.” They’re attached to fake noses in a display case. Why does he have one? Just for the hell of it. The collection, having performed its site-gag purpose, never appears again. The humour in the cartoon comes, as it usually does by the end of 1960, by Maltese’s Ed Gardner-inspired dialogue and Daws Butler’s word bending. Lew Marshall’s animation is lacklustre.
Well, Don Messick does a nice job here, too. He’s both the good and the bad flea (meaning there are parts of some scenes where he’s talking to himself) and provides a nice quiet, über-serious narrator. The cartoon starts with a pan over a row of brownstones (which look pink in the crappy versions of the cartoon available on-line) then cuts to a close-up of a window. Yes, the private eye-ball is back!
“Let’s go inside and see how a famous detective operates,” invites the narrator, who chats with Blab about the latest Snooper and Blabber case that “all started one dismal, foggy evening.” That means it’s flashback time, with the occasion pop back into the present as Blab relates what happened. Toot Sweet pulls up to Snooper’s apartment/office in a Snuffles-like dog; the fare is a bone and a half. The flea tosses two bones and tells him to keep the change. “Harken to that door knock and ans-wer it,” says Snoop, then asks the flea. “To what do we contribute this sudden visit?” Blab, back in the present, outlines to the narrator (who remains silent the rest of the cartoon) the story of how Toot Sweet’s girl-friend, Gisele, was lured by a slick flea with a promise of stardom in a flea circus on Broadway. “I could tell Snoop’s nimble brain was workin’ fast.” We get a shot of Snoop’s head stretching in four drawings, all on twos, I think. The popping and bubbling sound effects are what makes the take. Lew Marshall’s drawings are tame. Below right, you see the most stretched Snoop’s head gets. It wouldn’t take any extra effort to make the drawings more exaggerated and funny but the studio was settling into blandness. It’s a shame.
“Me thimble brain tells me to go clue-huntin’ at the flea circus on Broadway,” cries Snoop, as he grasps the obvious. Next comes a scene where Snoop questions a side-of-the-mouth flea circus owner, kind of a low-key Sheldon Leonard type with a square-headed design by Paul Sommer.
Owner: It’s like I said. Dey was here. She an’ a slick-lookin’ flea.
Snoop: Uh, yes, sir. Then what happened?
Owner: I auditioned her. She couldn’ sing, like I said. She couldn’ sing at all. So I said ‘no.’ What else could I do? Den dey left.
Snoop: Uh, they left?
Owner: Uh, like I said, dey left.
The flea circus owner points to the building where Gisele went with the fast-talker flea. We hear cries of help. The rescue’s interrupted a bit as Blabber tries to mooch free tickets to the flea circus. The slick-looking flea holds what’s supposed to be a champagne glass. “Come on, baby, just one little sip. It’s only soda,” says the flea, who turns to the camera and adds: “That’s right. It really is only soda.” Snoop bangs on the door. We don’t get a “Halt in the name of the…” catchphrase. Instead, we hear an “Open in the name of the Private Eye Open Door Policy!”
Toot Sweet breaks down the door and the gag here is the fight between the two fleas is in long shot so all you see is little dots bouncing around on the screen as the camera shakes and some familiar H-B sound effects play in the background. The teeney figure gag was used as far back as Tex Avery’s “Hamateur Night” (1938) at Warners. Snooper interrupts things, telling them they should “leave us settle this like gentle-fleas.” That means with pistols at five paces. Only the bad guy fleas fires early. “Oo la la! I am what you call ‘plugged’,” says Toot Sweet, clutching his chest. Then the bad guy turns the gun on Snooper and Blabber. Blab laughs. “Somehow, a stark-ravin’-mad flea strikes me as funny.” Gisele has had enough. She drops a flower pot on top of the bad guy. I guess she didn’t need help after all. “Like any villain, all I can do is say ‘Coises!’ I give up.” But Blab doesn’t need to “call an ambulance has-tily, to wit.” Toot Sweet is fine. “Like any hero, it was only a flesh wound.”
The final scene’s back in the present. Toot Sweet and Gisele (as dots) bound down what we presume to be church steps outside and onto the taxi-dog to Niagara Falls. “There goes another happy groom into the oblivion of marital matrimony,” observes Snoop. “To which us private eyes are denied, huh, Snoop?” adds Blab. “You can say that again,” says Snoop. Yeah, the obvious dialogue follows. Blab’s tag line is not one of Maltese’s strongest: “Snoop has got a soft heart. That’s why I love him.” I guess he was going for sentiment. Or maybe irony. Oh, well, the cartoon’s over.
A solo electric church belts out three bars of ‘The Wedding March.’ I suspect it’s from one of the Capitol Hi-Q ‘X’ series reels. One bit of music selection is really unfortunate. During the shooting/death scene. Phil Green’s “The Tin Dragoons” saws and clomps away, not providing the least bit of urgency to match what’s on the screen. Conversely, the Jack Shaindlin suspense-string cue used when Gisele yells for help (I don’t have a name for it) is a good selection as it fits the mood. And why the cutter chose four seconds of Green’s “Custard Pie Capers” when the dog is running is beyond me. He could have simply four seconds of the next cue joined in progress and it wouldn’t have made any difference.
0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title theme (Curtin, Hanna, Barbera).
0:24 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Shot of row houses, shot of window.
0:43 - GR-74 POPCORN (Green) – Narrator talks to Blab, office scene.
1:29 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Dog runs down street, skids to a stop.
1:32 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – Toot Sweet/dog scene, flea in office scene.
2:24 - GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY (Green) – Blab talks to narrator, Snoop talks to Blab in office.
3:01 - GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Snooper questions ticket taker, “Yoo Hoo!”
3:30 - related to Excitement Under Dialogue (Shaindlin) – “Toot Sweet!”, Gisele at window, Slick Flea with champagne glass, elevator light turns on.
4:14 - ASININE (Shaindlin) – “We’re comin’ Gisele,” breaks down door, fight.
5:08 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Pistol scene, Toot Sweet okay.
6:17 - GR-334 LIGHT AGITATED BRIDGE (Green) – Blab in office scene.
6:31 - Wedding March (Trad.) – Fleas down stairs, call for taxi.
6:39 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Dog pulls up, end of cartoon.
7:09 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).
Most people think of “Ruff and Reddy” in purely historical terms. The show comes up when the origins of the Hanna-Barbera studio are reviewed. Few people really consider it to have entertainment value. I don’t even remember watching it as a kid in the early ‘60s and I saw just about any cartoon that was on TV. Bugs and Daffy were funny. Huck and Quick Draw were funny. Ruff and Reddy weren’t. I don’t even find them likeable, especially Reddy. But they launched the H-B empire, and that’s their claim to fame.
NBC worked out a five-year deal in 1957 to air the Ruff and Reddy cartoons, which were originally part of a Saturday morning, half-hour package that also contained old theatrical shorts from the Screen Gems (Columbia) studio, woven together by a live action host and his puppets. It lasted three years. Then NBC brought back the Ruff and Reddy cartoons on September 29, 1963 for another two seasons. The format was changed. “Lo the Poor Buffal” and other lame Columbia shorts were retired and Ruff and Reddy’s adventures were tuned in on a screen by a host named Captain Bob, who interacted with puppets between the cartoons. It aired out of New York City. You can read more on Ron Kurer’s fine site HERE.
Someone on-line has posted a dub of a black-and-white print of the Captain Bob version of the show that was broadcast May 4, 1963. The best part may be the animated commercials for Fruit Stripe gum which will bring back memories to those of us of a certain age. The production values are ultra-low by network standards. It sounds like someone borrowed the Wurlitzer organ used on “Concentration” (which also aired out of NBC New York) and the cat drawing that’s moved across the set on a bobbing stick is so cheesy it’s funny. You can even hear what sounds like someone leaning back in a metal chair while the announcer is opening the show.
The Ruff and Reddy adventure that’s shown comes from the first season (1957-58) and is from Series ‘C’, “Westward Ho Ho Ho.” I think the animation is by Carlo Vinci. It features music from the Capitol Hi-Q ‘D’ series and some of it never appeared in any other Hanna-Barbera series. And you can catch a personal favourite, TC-205 LIGHT MOVEMENT, when the sheep appear in the first cartoon.
Little Pebbly-Poo didn’t dominate the Flintstones Sunday comics in the weeks after she was born. For the month of March, she entered into plot of only one comic and made a cameo appearance in the optional top row of another. But we get all four main characters and both pets over the course of the month.
Want to complain about anachronisms? How about March 3, 1963, when teenagers are listening to KTLA? KTLA (a TV station) wasn’t invented until 1947, 1939 if you want to use the original call sign. There’s an incidental dino-dog in the opening panel. It’d be nice if the teenagers were named after Hanna-Barbera staffers (next month, it seems Gene Hazelton shows up). Barney’s got a lot of dots on his fur.
So is the woman in the fox stole in the second row trying to pick up Fred? (Notice in the same drawing the brontosaurus peering out from behind a building). The last drawing’s great. A smoking volcano in the background fills the panel nicely. The sleeping Baby Puss in the opening panel is a plus. The comic is from March 10, 1963.
The boss in the March 17, 1963 comic isn’t quite Mr. Slate. Same tie and glasses, but this boss has a bit of hair and he isn’t the same shape as Slate. Barney works with Fred. The panel in the second row where Fred’s dino drops the boulder is a bit cluttered but I imagine the colour helps things stand out from each other a bit. Very nice poses on the worker and Fred. Pebbles and a cute toy tyrannosaurus appear in the opening panel. Note the stone-ish dots in the title, same as in the comic two weeks earlier.
The opening and closing panels are the highlights of the March 24, 1963 comic. This time, the mountains aren’t volcanos. Dino’s sleeping this time in the first panel instead of Baby Puss. That Barney’s “one of the good ones,” as Warren Foster would say.
Pebbles is sleeping in the opening panel in the March 31, 1963 comic. (This time, there’s a toy mastodon. Did Ideal make those?) Hazelton, or whoever did the story, came up with a variation of the old alum gag from the Warners cartoons. The middle row has the garbage dinosaur in silhouette in the background. Evidently, the garbage man is a fan of Popeye. Nice weight shift on Fred as he carries the garbage can.
As usual, you can click on each comic to enlarge it. We get dinosaurs aplenty next month.
Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy, Layout – Paul Sommer, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Senator – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Genie, Ranger Smith, NORAD officer, Jet Pilot – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore, Jack Shaindlin.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-048.
First Aired: likely 1961.
Plot: Boo Boo finds a magic lamp and Yogi wishes for a magic carpet.
At the end of “Genial Genie,” Yogi regrets to Boo Boo “That Mr. Genie, he talked me into wishin’ for a flyin’ carpet when I coulda wished for a five-year supply of pizza pie.” Quite true. But we wouldn’t have had much of a cartoon then.
Actually, we don’t have much of a cartoon anyway. It’s pleasant enough and Warren Foster’s story structure is good. But there’s no real bite to it—and Foster had a chance to bite during the NORAD scene. We mainly get some puns and a few of Yogi’s rhyming phrases; no great lines like “Oh, sweet spirits of Camphor! Can’t a man get any nourishment around here?” like Foster wrote for another genie in the fine Bugs Bunny cartoon “A-Lad-in His Lamp” (released 1948). And Don Messick comes up with a voice for the genie that evokes Frank Nelson’s floorwalker character on the Jack Benny radio show; Messick used it for a floorwalker in a Snooper and Blabber cartoon about a year earlier.
Oh, there’s another connection between this cartoon and “A-Lad-in His Lamp.” Both featured backgrounds by Dick Thomas. Here he provides a nice, pleasant one at the opening of the cartoon. Like many H-B efforts, there’s a slow pan over opening narration to start things off.
The animator is Dick Lundy. I’ve mentioned his three-drawing head roll before. Here it is, Genie-style.
Well, maybe Lundy didn’t animate all of it. Yogi looks ugly in a few scenes. Look at his hand below. Does that look like something from a Disney animator and a top Walter Lantz director?
It looks like the legs are animated but you can’t see them because of the tight shot. That could have been on Foster’s storyboard or a decision made in layout. Paul Sommer is the layout artist here. He seems to have loved those little round eyes that Ed Benedict used on occasion. Take a look at the Senator and the NORAD commander.
In one scene, there’s a stupid-looking version of Ranger Smith, complete with overbite.
Sommer does try to make things a bit different in the opening. The narrator explains Jellystone has rustic tourist cabins that are thoroughly examined by that self-appointed inspector, Yogi Bear. Yogi and Boo Boo pop up in silhouette out of the bushes. Yogi’s rhymes: he calls Boo Boo “my fuddy-duddy buddy,” and “Old Mother Hubbard must have lived here. When Yogi got there, the cupboard was bare.” Ranger Smith catches Yogi sneaking out the back window, sticking his foot in a pail in the process. “Mr. Ranger, sir. Did you see the close call I almost had. I almost kicked the bucket.” Yogi repeats the joke twice in case we didn’t get it. Smith checkmates the year’s BS about checking for fire hazards by asking “And were there any matches left burning in the ice box.” A ship-to-the-St. Louis-zoo threat follows.
Boo Boo find “a metal teapot or something” in the next scene and misreads the inscription as “A lad’s lamp.” Yogi: “It’ll never replace the flashlight.” Boo Boo rubs the lamp and you know what happens next. “I am the genie of the lamp,” says Almost Frank Nelson, “And, please, no cracks about ‘Jeannie with the light brown hair.’ I’ve heard it a thousand times.” Yogi’s granted a wish by the genie. Yogi thinks. “Oh, come now. Don’t make me sorry I promised you,” says the annoyed genie. “How about a magic carpet? Get you around wherever you want to go. We’re featuring a new compact model this year.” Yogi’s sold. He asks for a red one. “You’ll take what I give you. You’re beginning to bug me already.” Yogi agrees to the genie’s request to throw the lamp away so someone else can make a wish.
Yogi decides to use his (blue) carpet to stage an air-raid on the pic-a-nic baskets. But the rug accidentally takes off. Foster reuses a sight gag from “A-Lad-in His Lamp.” Both Yogi and Bugs Bunny have their faces covered by their carpet after takeoff.
Ranger Smith laughs off Boo Boo’s plea for help as a “fable.” Meanwhile, NORAD picks up Yogi as a radar blip and launches missiles at him. Here was a chance for Foster to do some U.S military satire; he did it in other cartoons. If it’s there, it’s extremely weak. A Senator is being shown the latest NORAD equipment by a base commander, but all he does is repeat the commander’s words or say “Uh, huh.” He’s wearing a white suit and a cowboy hat for Daws doesn’t give him an accent of any kind; he sounds just like the Jellystone Park superintendent from cartoons earlier in the season. Anyway, the missiles rip through the carpet and Yogi finds himself riding one until the genie rescues him. Boo Boo had seen where Yogi threw the lamp, retrieved it and wished for Yogi’s safe return. The cartoon ends with Yogi crying that he wished for a carpet instead of pizzas. Yogi has a pretty thick outline when riding the missile. I wonder whether another animator did that bit.
The music is timed to fit a particular scene, for the most part, in this cartoon, though the cutter changes Jack Shaindlin cues in mid-sentence at the end “Rodeo Day” finishes with a bit more punch than “Recess.” The twinkling harp musical effect is heard twice; it was used for a few more years at Hanna-Barbera on The Flintstones.
0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:30 - C-3 DOMESTIC CHILDREN (Loose) – Opening narration, Yogi and Boo Boo talk.
1:09 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi goes into cabin, Ranger shows up.
1:43 - LAF-25-3 zig-zag string and bassoon (Shaindlin) – Yogi at back window, talks to Ranger.
2:27 - ZR-52 LIGHT QUIET (Hormel) – Yogi and Boo Boo walk, Boo Boo rubs lamp.
3:07 - harp music – smoke comes out of lamp.
3:14 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi talks about trimming the wick.
3:17 - ZR-49 LIGHT EERIE (Hormel) – Genie appears, floats over to Yogi.
3:22 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi talks to Genie.
4:26 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – Carpet appears, Yogi tosses lamp.
4:46 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – “Nice throw, Yogi,” carpet takes off.
5:02 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Yogi on carpet, Ranger and Boo Boo scene.
5:39 - C-19 LIGHT ACTIVITY (Loose) – NORAD scene.
6:06 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Yogi carpet/rescue scene.
6:46 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Yogi and Boo Boo walk and talk, “When I coulda wished….”
7:04 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – “For a five year supply…,” iris out.
7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).
It’s a long way from the oyster grounds of Chesapeake Bay to the sound stages of California’s film studios—but that’s the trip that Don Messick made.
Members of the Messick family had been harvesting oysters in that part of Maryland since the 19th century. Don’s grandfather John was a life-long oysterman, starting by age 11. But Don’s imagination took him to radio and that took him to Hollywood and that took him to microphone at Hanna-Barbera to voice some of the most enjoyable TV cartoon characters you’d ever want to meet. Daws Butler may have played the title roles in the Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw shows but Don was indispensable in the early days at Hanna-Barbera and eventually starred as one of the biggest characters in TV cartoon history (Scooby Doo).
Don was born in Buffalo, New York on September 7, 1926 to Binford Earl and Lena (Hughes) Messick. They were living in Manhattan in 1930 but soon relocated back to Maryland to be near all the relatives. In fact, Don and his parents lived with his grandfather for awhile. His father wasn’t in the oyster business; he was with the Washington and Electric Railroad when the U.S. got involved in World War One and was painting houses in 1940. His father never saw Don’s success. Earl Messick was accidentally killed with two other men on the morning of June 28, 1944 when a 35-foot metal pole being lowered for painting at the Nanticoke High School came out of a socket and hit a high-tension wire carrying 6,900 volts.
Don was doing cartoon voices before he was doing cartoons. He was a teenaged ventriloquist and was soon performing on the radio (it worked for Edgar Bergen, after all), though his occupation was listed as “clerk” when he enlisted for military service on January 11, 1945. After his discharge, he decided to head west. He met Daws Butler doing radio work and Daws, it seems, got him in to MGM to voice cartoons for Tex Avery. Along the way, he got married. It’s interesting to note his middle name was Earl but, unlike his father, he spelled it with an “e” on the end.
His family, including his younger brother Floyd Thomas Messick, stayed in Jesterville while Don made a career of voicing cartoon characters seen by millions. So Don had a reason to head back to Maryland. That’s what he did in 1975 and it was a big enough deal for the newspaper in Salisbury, the biggest nearby town, to interview old friends and do a profile of him. The Salisbury Sunday Times even dug up his picture from the High School Annual, but the copy I have is a scanned photocopy from the paper and not really viewable.
This story was published on April 6, 1975. Somehow, it omitted Don’s fine performances as Yowp.
Don Messick Knew What He Wanted
By DICK FLEMING
Of The Times Staff
Next weekend Don Messick will visit Salisbury where he is to be welcomed as a “local boy who made good.”
The 48-year-old freelance voice performer who has participated in countless cartoon and commercial productions, will be guest of honor for the area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet Saturday at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center.
A native of Buffalo, N. Y., Mr. Messick lived in Jesterville near here during his teenage years and got his first taste of performing in school productions and on a local live radio broadcast.
Mr. Messick set out from Salisbury for Baltimore where he studied drama and made appearances in various radio and treatre presentations. He also carried his ventriloquist act to local variety productions and vaudeville on the road to Hollywood.
He arrived there in 1950, and in 1957 became a freelance performer. Among his more well-known performances have been vocal work in Yogi Bear (“Boo Boo”, “Ranger Smith”), Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (“Scooby”), The Jetsons (“Astro” the family dog) and The Flintstones (“Bamm Bamm”).
Mr. Messick is a bonafide celebrity and will be welcomed here as such. In addition to being the Chamber’s guest, he will be presented with a certificate of honorary citizenship of Salisbury, and Mayor Elmer F. Ruark has proclaimed, Saturday, April 12, “Don Messick Day” in the city.
But perhaps the most fitting tribute to Mr. Messick is the fend memories of him held by the persons with whom he was acquainted before setting out on the road to stardom. He is the "ambitious little boy who knew what he wanted to do.”
AS A youth, Mr. Messick apparently led a dual rose as entertainer and serious-minded young man, and kept the two people separate. Most of his old acquaintances remember him as a "quiet, shy boy." It was when he assumed the character of "the voice" that he became outgoing and noticeable.
That point is illustrated by Mrs. Nellie Collins, who grew up down the road from the Messick family.
“I knew who he was and we knew his family,” she recalled. “But I can’t remember a lot about what he was like back then.”
“He was a couple of years below me in school and the older ones never paid that much attention to the younger children.”
She did remember, however, the sight of the young boy and his everpresent dummy. A budding ventriloquist already, he was seldom seen without it, most recall.
But he was considered by his friends as one of the group and even when he was performing on WBOC radio with his own show at age 14, he wasn't really thought of by them as a celebrity.
Mrs. Collins explained, "We didn't really have the luxury in those days of sitting around and listening to the radio. We lived on a farm and there was a lot of work to be done. Once that was finished, then maybe we could hear the radio.”
Most of his schoolmates at the old Nanticoke High School were treated to at least one of Mr. Messick’s early performances, however. The school assembled in the auditorium on one occasion to watch his one-man show.
ONE OF Mr. Messick's acquaintances from Nanticoke High who remembers him well is Sheldon Dawson, now Wicomico County assistant superintendent of schools. Mr. Dawson served as English teacher and critic for the young ventriloquist.
Mr. Dawson remembered the boy as being "shy and reserved, studious, a good writer.” And outgoing when he picked up his dummy under his arm. He hadn’t changed much on his last visit to Salisbury, Mr. Dawson said.
“He was still his same old self, very reserved, until it was time to entertain the kids with some of his voices.”
Mr Messick was serious about school work, the former teacher said, but he did on occasion manage to work his act into the classroom routine, sometimes helping to make a point in an English class through the use of the dummy.
Often, those persons with an inclination toward entertainment crave the attention of friends and companions, and in school, such people are apt to assume a role such as the "class clown." Not so, however, with Mr. Messick, Mr. Dawson said. Mr. Messick’s normal speaking voice, Mr. Dawson recalled, was not particularly distinctive except perhaps for his diction. He said though that by being acquainted with the man as well as "the voice," he can hear traces of young Don Messick in the characters for which he vocalizes.
When Mr. Messick began performing a weekly program on WBOC radio in the early 1940s, he wrote his own scripts and worked by himself. He often tried out his skits on Mr. Dawson for a preview reaction to the material.
MR. MESSICK got his start on the radio show in a talent search and impressed the staff of the station. Among them, now general manager Sam Carey took an interest in the young man. Mrs. Carey drove to Jesterville every Sunday to pick the boy up at his home and carry him to the station.
According to Mr. Carey, the station put out a call on the air for local talent to come in and be auditioned.
"He came in," Mr. Carey recalled, "and at that point he had the dummy under his arm and his routines memorized.
“He came in self assured and went right at it, giving us a five or six minute skit," Mr. Carey said. "He had everybody there captured.”
Either the young man approached the 'station or vice versa, Mr. Carey isn't sure which, and Don Messick had his own 15 minute radio show every Sunday afternoon.
Jack Ward, vice president of operations, recalled that Mr. Messick “worked by himself, did everything himself.
“He would come in and practice the script for an hour or so and rehearse the voices. He knew what he was looking for.”
A 1941 yearbook from the old Nanticoke school recognizes the young man as vice president and historian for the sophomore class.
Ironically, he wrote in the class history in that yearbook:
"While we are one of the smallest classes we have made ourselves known with, for instance, more than the average participation in extra-curricular activities.
“Finally, with a group more or less compact in size, ideas and ideals, we look forward to continued and increasing success.”
For at least one member of the Class of ’43, the prophecy has come true.
Don passed away in Monterey, California on October 25, 1997. We’ve linked to a fine remembrance of Don on Mark Evanier’s web site before but let’s do it again. Click here. Even if you’ve seen it before, read it again. It’s a touching tribute to a fine actor.
Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Dick Lundy; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Bob Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Doggie Daddy – Doug Young; Augie, Cat – Daws Butler.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Hecky Krasnow.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-032, Production J-98.
First Aired: week of November 28, 1960 (rerun, week of May 29, 1961).
Plot: A cat with a hankering for steak takes advantage of a bed-ridden Doggie Daddy.
Daws Butler used comedian Shelly Berman as the starting point for one of his character voices. It’s familiar to people who’ve seen Yakky Doodle cartoons as the voice of Fibber Fox. But Daws used it before that elsewhere, both at Hanna-Barbera and Jay Ward. You can hear it in four different cartoons in the Augie Doggie series in the 1960-61 season: “It’s a Mice Day” (white cat), “Pint Giant” (man with packages), “Playmate Pup” (radio announcer) and this one (another white cat).
This is one of three Augies that Dick Lundy animated in 1960-61. Just for fun, I compared the run cycle Lundy gave to the cat in this cartoon to the one he gave Yippee Coyote in a Quick Draw McGraw cartoon the same year. Both have eight drawings. The coyote is constructed taller than the cat, so Yippee bends a knee when running while the unnamed cat doesn’t. And the cat has kind of a roll in his run where we can see the pad of his left foot. So Lundy isn’t drawing a stock run for every character.
Mike Maltese’s plot bears no resemblance to the title card. At no time does Augie play “doctor.” It has a vague similarity to “Crow Cronies” from the previous season, where Doggie Daddy is preyed on by a crow and Augie refuses to believe anything dear old dad says about him. A phoney doctor disguise/examination is trotted out in both cartoons. Actually, Maltese used a white cat in disguise in “Hum Sweet Hum” in the first season, complete with the same German accent that Daws Butler affects in this cartoon. Maltese manages to hold the viewer’s interest in seeing whether Daddy triumphs over the scheming cat (he does in a rare complete victory).
Maltese doesn’t waste time getting into things. The cartoon opens with Daddy sleeping. Augie is reading a psychology book which says “Even when daddies don’t feel well, they won’t show it so their children won’t worry.” “Oh, the shame of it!” exclaims
Sylvester Junior Augie. He covers Daddy with a blanket “so he won’t catch cold.” All that does is startle the old dog who runs into a book case and stubs his toe. But, no. Augie reaches the conclusion Dad has a broken leg and is hiding it from him. So Daddy decides to go along with it.
For reasons of plot development, Augie doesn’t do the logical thing and call a doctor or an ambulance. Instead, he (between scenes) puts Daddy’s leg in a huge cast in a sling and prepares a T-bone steak for “helpless dad.” The white cat just happens to be outside the daddy bedroom window at the time and overhears what’s going on. Maltese comes up with a line reminiscent of Casper Caveman in the April 1939 Warner’s cartoon “Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur”: “My favourite vegetable—duck!” In this case it’s “My favourite fruit—T-bone steak!” (Maltese went into the Warner’s story department in August 1939). So the cat starts stealing steaks. “But dad, we have no cat. It’s a hallucination,” says Augie, or “hallu-cil-ilation” as Daddy pronounces it. The cat realises dear old dad can’t move so he embarks on some terrorisation, all the while Augie thinking his dad has a fever which morphs into hysteria. The cat clubs Augie on the head after Daddy tells the boy he’ll do something drastic if he isn’t let out of bed. Naturally, Augie thinks Daddy did it. The cat gets Daddy to laugh uncontrollably by tickling his foot twice (including after dear old dad says “hitting you would make me feel very sad.”).
Now, Augie rushes outside and calls for a doctor. Enter the cat in surgeon’s garb and spouting a German accent. The “doctor” diagnoses Daddy as having “Catophrena Hallucinotions.” Even Daddy’s fooled by the disguise. “But doc, I only stubbed my toe,” he protests. “Dat is the vay dat it starts,” responds the cat, who runs down the symptoms—a craving for T-bone steaks and an insistence that a cat has stolen them.” The only cure? Lots of T-bone steaks, which Augie rushes to bring in. We’ve now reached the climax of the cartoon as the evil cat threatens to operate on Daddy with a saw—but trips himself up when he starts talking in his real voice. Daddy realises who the doctor really is. The cat is standing on a rug (which has been in Daddy’s bedroom since the beginning of the cartoon and didn’t just magically appear). Daddy pulls the cat to his face. “I could stick around for a game of chequers,” says the nervous moocher. “Good. And I’ll make the first move,” as Daddy tosses him out the window, smashing him against a tree. Exit the phoney doctor. The last scene has Daddy cooking a T-bone steak for Augie. Daddy fits in a “my son, my son,” but doesn’t end the cartoon with an “After all, how many….” catchphrase. In fact, he doesn’t even mangle many words for a change. Whether Maltese wasn’t inspired, I don’t know, but the cartoon’s a pleasant enough one, helped along by the usual top-notch Daws Butler/Doug Young voice work.
The music is tidy, with cues fitting nicely into scenes. The opening “And They All Lived Happily Ever After” from the Kiddie Comedy Suite by Phil Green is known in the Capitol Hi-Q series as “EM-131E Lullaby,” so I suspect that’s why it seems to be used in sleep scenes in Augie cartoons.
0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:26 - GR-259 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – Daddy snoozes, blanket toss.
0:58 - GR-347 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Daddy struggles with blanket, crash.
1:08 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – “Did you hurt yourself?” Daddy pretends leg is broken.
1:43 - jaunty bassoon and skipping strings (Shaindlin) – Dad in bed, cat grabs steak, cat whacks Daddy with steak, Augie runs with ice.
3:20 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – Daddy with ice on head, tickling scene.
4:04 - GR-87 SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD (Green) – Augie holds ice, hit by cat, Augie runs away.
4:44 - LFU-117-1 MAD RUSH No 1 (Shaindlin) – Shot of house exterior, Augie gets “doctor.”
5:09 - THE HAPPY COBBLER (Krasnow) – Doctor examination scene.
5:54 - CAPERS (Shaindlin) – Cat with saw, clobbered, runs away.
6:54 - tick tock/flute music (Shaindlin) – Daddy cooks steak.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).
Frolicking Disney-like animals are not something you’d usually see in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, though a number of the studio’s artists had worked for Disney. But that’s partly because of the fiscal restraints of TV animation. In comics, that’s not a problem, so we get cutsey animals in the Yogi Bear Sunday newspaper comics 50 years ago this month.
April 7th has a flying squirrel that wouldn’t be caught dead in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon. Though, to think of it, that could be pretty funny. Ranger Smith is particularly moody in this one.
More refugees from Bambi greet us on April 14th, with a Cupid to match. Cindy evidently doesn’t care who comes on to her. Yogi doesn’t seem all that concerned, either. Hearts aplenty, including in one enveloping the title in the opening panel. I wonder why this story wasn’t saved for Valentine’s Day.
The final drawing on April 21st is a lot of fun with the multiple Yogis. Sorry I can’t get a better version. The terrified look on the Ranger in the previous panel is pretty good, too. What kind of copying machine has a huge entrance like that, anyway? Oh, right. It’s supposed to be a tall tale.
Other than the appearance of the nameless Mrs. Smith, the plot of the April 28th comic reminds me of one of those cartoons-between-the-cartoons on the Yogi show. This is the first time I can recall seeing a split upper-lower panel.
As usual, click on each comic to enlarge it.