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Stuff about early Hanna-Barbera cartoons

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    The Huckleberry Hound Show was in a bit of turmoil in the 1960-61 season, despite coming off a Emmy win earlier in the year. And you can blame Mr. Magoo.

    Kellogg’s was looking for another half-hour cartoon show to sponsor in syndication; it already had the Huck show, Quick Draw McGraw and Woody Woodpecker running in the early evenings. The company’s ad agency, Leo Burnett, thought it had worked out a deal with Hank Saperstein for a Mr. Magoo series; Variety of August 3, 1960 intimated it had already been pitched to KGO-TV in San Francisco. But the deal collapsed. Saperstein’s UPA pulled out, complaining Burnett was interfering too much in the creative aspects of the show (Variety, Sept. 6, 1960).

    Hanna-Barbera was ready. Kind of. It sold a half-hour Yogi Bear show to Kellogg’s, with the idea that a new “Wacko” wolf character would replace Yogi on the Huck series (Weekly Variety, Oct. 12, 1960). The problem was that complete Yogi Bear half-hours would have to be ready by late January. Hanna-Barbera couldn’t produce all the cartoons it needed in time. So, for a time, Yogi was doubling on the Huck show while “Wacko” (now “Hokey”) cartoons were being made to replace him. And some segments of the Yogi Bear Show were filled with Augie Doggie and Snooper and Blabber until enough Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle cartoons were ready.

    That brings us to the production schedule for the final seasons of the Huckleberry Hound Show from the files of Leo Burnett, the ad agency representing Kellogg’s, which paid for the half-hour cartoon show. A document dated August 3, 1961 reveals six Yogi cartoons were printed and broadcast on the Huck show, then aired as reruns on the Yogi show. It also states that “Do or Diet,” “Biggest Showoff on Earth” and “Genial Genie” (marked with an asterisk below) were intended for use on the Huck show but not used. Indeed, “Genial Genie” was the cartoon that appeared on the debut half-hour of the Yogi Bear Show on the week of January 30, 1961. Four cartoons made after that (marked with a dagger below) were apparently scheduled for the Huck show but prints were only made when the Yogi show began to air.

    Hokey Wolf didn’t appear until the end of March or beginning of April on the Huck show; sources conflict. This means any internet sources that talk about Hokey wolf cartoons appearing at the start of Huck’s third season in September 1960 are full of it. Hokey hadn’t even been invented yet. The same if you read claims the Yogi Bear Show started in September. As you can see below, the Hokey cartoons were begun after all the Hucks, Pixie and Dixies and Yogis were in production.

    Like the second season, the “K” episode numbers are misleading. In the second, third and fourth seasons of the Huck show, old cartoons were interspersed with new ones. In other words, all the new productions didn’t air first. The cartoons don’t appear to have aired in the “K” episodes as listed, though they were apparently copyrighted that way.

    You’ll notice the names of several new animators brought in to handle the large production boost. My guess is some worked on a freelance basis (Don Williams, for example); it seems to me some of these people were either animating on the Magoo and Dick Tracy TV cartoons or the TV Popeyes around this time. I haven’t really examined it closely.

    Artie Davis appears as an animator toward the end of the list after leaving Warner Bros. in a dispute over a promise to direct. I don’t have an accurate list of Hokey Wolf animators; versions of the cartoons available are without credits. I can recognise a few of the animators such as Don Williams, a really tame George Nicholas and Ken Muse, but have left off the names. Carlo Vinci was engaged elsewhere than the Huck show with the exception of one Yogi Bear cartoon.

    E-143 has the distinction of being the last production which used the Capitol Hi-Q and Langlois Filmusic libraries (it opens with my favourite Jack Shaindlin cue, “Toboggan Run”). The last Huck on the list, “Cluck and Dagger,” all the Hokeys and the cartoons made for airing in the 1961-62 TV season had background cues supplied by Hoyt Curtin.

    Some of the best Huck cartoons came out of this season. “Spud Dud,” “Science Friction” and “The Unmasked Avenger” with Huck as the Purple Pumpernickel are among my favourites. Yogi Bear’s “Oinks and Boinks” is a pretty funny send-up of the Three Little Pigs, reminiscent of Warren Foster’s Bugs Bunny/Three Pigs cartoon at Warners. And even Hokey Wolf has some good bits (Bea Benaderet supplies voices in one cartoon). Hokey and Ding-a-ling get arrested in ancient times in “Poached Yeggs” and are threatened with death. Ding turns to the camera and says “And they call this Merrie olde England.”

    E-106 Oinks and Boinks (K-040) Yogi/Patterson
    E-107 Booby Trapped Bear (K-041) Yogi/Marshall
    E-108 Spud Dud (K-040) Huck/Nicholas
    E-109 High Jinks (K-043) P&D/Lundy
    E-110 Legion Bound Hound (K-041) Huck/Muse
    E-111 Price For Mice (K-041) P&D/Muse
    E-112 Gleesome Threesome (K-042) Yogi/Vinci
    E-113 Science Friction (K-042) Huck/Love
    E-114 Plutocrat Cat (K-042) P&D/Marshall
    E-115 A Bear Pair (K-043) Yogi/Muse
    E-116 Pied Piper Pipe (K-040) P&D/Patterson
    E-117 Spy Guy (K-044) Yogi/Love
    E-118 Nuts Over Mutts (K-044) Huck/Love
    E-119 Woo For Two (K-045) P&D/Carr
    E-120 Knight School (K-043) Huck/Marshall
    E-121 Huck Hound’s Tale (K-045) Huck/Love
    E-122 Party Peeper Jinks (K-044) P&D/Lundy
    E-123 Do or Diet (K-045) Yogi/deMattia
    E-124 The Unmasked Avenger (K-046) Huck/Williams
    E-125 A Wise Quack (K-046) P&D/Carr
    *E-126 Bears and Bees (K-046) Yogi/Lokey
    E-127 Missile Bound Cat (K-048) P&D/Marshall
    *E-128 Biggest Show-Off on Earth (K-047) Yogi/deMattia
    E-129 Hillbilly Huck (K-048) Huck/Lokey
    *E-130 Genial Genie (K-048) Yogi/Lundy
    E-131 Kind To Meeces Week (K-047) P&D/Lokey
    E-132 Fast Gun Huck (K-047) Huck/Case
    E-133 Cub Scout Boo Boo (K-049) Yogi/Carr
    E-134 Home Sweet Jellystone (K-050) Yogi/Case
    E-135 Crew Cat (K-049) P&D/Case
    E-136 Astro-Nut Huck (K-051) Huck/Marshall
    E-137 Love Bugged Bear (K-051) Yogi/Carr
    E-138 Huck and Ladder (K-050) Huck/Lokey
    E-139 Jinxed Jinks (K-050) P&D/Davis
    E-140 Lawman Huck (K-048) Huck/Carr
    E-141 Light-Headed Cat (K-051) P&D/Marshall
    E-142 Bareface Disguise (K-052) Yogi/Davis
    E-143 Mouse For Rent (K-052) P&D/Carr
    E-144 Cluck and Dagger (K-052) Huck/Davis
    E-145 Tricks and Treats (W-1) Hokey/Patterson
    E-146 Hokey Dokey (W-2) Hokey
    E-147 Lamb-Basted Wolf (W-5) Hokey
    E-148 Which Witch is Which (W-3) Hokey/Nicholas
    E-149 Pick a Chick (W-4) Hokey
    E-150 Robot Plot (W-7) Hokey
    E-151 Boobs in the Woods (W-8) Hokey
    E-152 Castle Hassle (W-6) Hokey
    E-153 Booty on the Bounty (W-13) Hokey
    E-154 Hokey in the Pokey (W-11) Hokey/Patterson
    E-155 Who’s Zoo (W-9) Hokey
    E-156 Dogged Sheep Dog (W-10) Hokey
    E-157 Too Much to Bear (W-16) Hokey/Muse
    E-158 Movies Are Bitter Than Ever (W-12) Hokey
    E-159 Poached Yeggs (W-14) Hokey
    E-160 Hokey cartoon for 1961-62 season.
    E-161 Rushing Wolf Hound (W-15) Hokey/Patterson
    E-162 The Glass Sneaker (W-18) Hokey
    E-163 Indian Giver (W-19) Hokey
    E-164 Chock Full Chuck Wagon (W-17) Hokey/Muse
    E-165 Bring ‘Em Back a Live One (W-21) Hokey
    E-166 A Star is Bored (W-23) Hokey/Love
    E-167 Hokey cartoon for 1961-62 season.
    E-168 West of the Pesos (W-24) Hokey

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  • 06/06/18--07:00: Not-Quite-Duckpin Duck
  • Daws Butler and Don Messick provided almost all of the voices for Hanna-Barbera cartoons during the first two years of the studio’s life. One notable exception was someone who provided a speciality voice—nightclub comedian Red Coffey or Coffee (he used both spellings through the 1950s and finally settled on the double-e ending).

    Coffey found his way into cartoons when he was hired to voice a duckling for MGM’s Tom and Jerry series. His first cartoon was apparently Little Quacker, released to theatres at the start of 1950. Evidently Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera loved the pathetic duck character, as he flew over to H-B about a year after MGM shut down its cartoon operations and was cast in an early Yogi Bear cartoon, Slumber Party Smarty (1958), on the Huckleberry Hound Show. A few more H-B cartoon appearances followed. But when the duck went through a bit of a makeover and emerged as Yakky Doodle in 1961, Jimmy Weldon provided his voice (though Coffey voiced in him in a few of the mini-cartoons that aired during the Yogi Bear Show).

    We cobbled together some information about Coffey in this post. We’ve got a side-bar on him, courtesy of this piece in the Los Angeles Times of April 26, 1959. He seems to be trying out jokes for his act more than anything.

    A few people have written in over the years saying they worked with Coffey and his wife and he was a pleasant enough chap. He comes across that way in this story. Sorry the picture isn’t of better quality.

    Red Coffee Bowls for Laughs and Strikes Up High Averages

    There is hilarity in the bowling sport because of one of its participants. The participant is Red Coffee.
    “As a little boy I took up the game. Now that I’m a grownup, the game is taking me.”
    Coffee, a night club entertainer, averaged 184 at Van Nuys Bowl, 1856 at Tarzana and 187 at Kirkwoods in leagues this season. “I averaged best on the scales. For a penny a throw, I hit 235 every time.”
    Coming back from a strike during practice at Monterey Park Lanes, he said, “I finally got the ball working, now I’m unemployed.”
    ‘Terrific Ball’
    Coffee likes to talk about his game. “I throw such a terrific ball, the termites get nervous.”
    Red is teamed with his songster Jerry Wallace and has played from here to Las Vegas to Buffalo, N.Y. “I take my bowling ball wherever I go. I went bowling with a girl in Detroit. She had a smile like the 7-10 split.”
    Coffee, also an accomplished voice effects man for movie cartoons, can tell you about rough lane conditions he has been up against. “These alleys I played in Buffalo were so slick, Sonja Henie was settin’ pins. This pair I hit in Oshkosh were slow enough to make Step ‘N’ Fetch It look like Jesse Owens.”
    Tossed 300
    Red was born in Arkansas City, Kan., but grew up in Cushing, Okla., where he tossed a 300 game. “You got to watch out in Cushing. They have fast gutters there.”
    Coffee, who invaded Southern France in a parachute during the war, likes pot game and tournament action. “I don’t win much. An ant with a double hernia carried away what I won in my last tournament.”
    Coffee’s trademarks on a bowling lane are his tan baseball cap and hanging shirttail.

    Coffey and his wife Karen formed a revue in the 1960s and took it on the road. You can read reviews from Variety from 1970 (left) and 1972 (right) and will notice that he pulled out his version of the duck voice. As best as I can tell, he only got screen credit at Hanna-Barbera for a Loopy de Loop cartoon he worked on.

    Long-time readers here will know I’m not a fan of the duck character, but writers Mike Maltese and Tony Benedict did their best to tone down most of the things I don’t like about him. The duck voice talent is a different story, though I personally like Jimmy Weldon’s duck voice better than Coffey’s. All the voice talents in those early days at Hanna-Barbera deserve a bit of recognition today, and that includes 300-bowling comic Red Coffey.

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  • 06/09/18--07:00: Hard Landing Huck
  • Hanna-Barbera cartoons in the early going displayed some of the design principles you’d find in animated TV commercials and theatrical shorts of the mid-to-late 1950s. Not as stylised as, say, an MGM cartoon from the studio’s last days in 1957, but still visually modern for their time.

    I can’t clip together the full background from this cartoon-between-the-cartoons starring Huckleberry Hound, but here are a couple of frames. I really like how this patio is rendered. The chairs are transparent, the grass isn’t green and the table is not in real perspective. I’ll bet you this is the work of Fernando Montealegre. Note the anchor in the window.

    Here, the house isn’t painted in. It’s a simple line-drawing with geometric shapes of colour. The foliage of the tree has no outline. I gather (please correct me if I’m wrong), that Monty cut out the shape of the greenery on a cel then used a sponge to daub the paint onto the background. I guess this style became passé but I think it’s pretty attractive.

    Now onto character stuff.

    A proud-looking Huck. Maybe he’s proud his swimming trunks can hold themselves on their own.

    Whoever wrote this telegraphs the gag, at least if you’ve seen enough cartoons. Huck stops in mid-air and looks worried. Yeah, you know there’ll be no water in the pool.

    If this were done a few years later, Huck would simply drop out of the frame, there’d be a camera shake followed by a cut to Huck prone on the cement. However, we get to see the impact.

    And if this scene were animated a few years later, Huck would be rigid except for his muzzle. Here, his head changes direction and he gestures as he explains to us he’s lucky there was no water in the pool because he can’t swim. This looks like Ed Love’s work.

    These mini-cartoons may not be grab-your-gut hilarious, but they’re pleasant and nice enough to look at and, for 20 seconds of TV animation, that’s good enough for me.

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    The artists at Hanna-Barbera drew more than cartoons and comic strips. There was publicity art as well.

    To the left, you can look at a really attractive drawing that was the cover of the TV sections of the Long Beach Independent-Press-Telegram from 1960. It isn’t promoting any of the cartoons (since Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw never appeared together back then). The caption refers to Fourth of July celebrations that were marked on various channels in the area. I wish I could tell you the artist.

    Of course, there was art promoting the series as well that papers could use with accompanying articles. Below is one from 1959. In this case, there was no article. There was only a caption below it. This piece may have been in colour, judging by the shading in the photocopy.

    The characters got together in a little logo that was printed on game boxes and elsewhere. In later years, they showed up on the final title card on the TV cartoons themselves. The Huck cast is from after 1961, when Yogi left and Hokey Wolf was added. The Flintstones cast is from 1964 when Hoppy was added to the cast in yet another publicity gimmick. This copy was with an article in a trade magazine. I’ve never understood why the women are posed with their left arm extended. If anyone has an idea, let me know.

    We’ve posted other H-B publicity art elsewhere (there seems to have been all kinds of it); this is the last that’s sitting in our hard drive.

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  • 06/16/18--13:09: Jumping With Jinks
  • The Huckleberry Hound Show was more than a few amusing cartoons. It was a full half-hour programme with all kind of things going on in between the cartoons, things that disappeared when the cartoons were later syndicated on their own.

    The show, for a time in the early going, centred around a circus motif, which worked really well. Here are some frames from one of the pre-closings of the show, where Huck and the other characters are on a trampoline urging us to tune in again.

    This scene features Mr. Jinks failing to catch the meeces. Notice how Jinks’ hand grows for emphasis sake; I’ve pointed out on the Tralfaz a few instances on the same thing being done in theatrical animation. The meeces are, naturally, self-satisfied, knowing they’ll win because Jinks is the bad guy and the bad guy always loses in cartoons.

    Jinks has an awful lot of angles, doesn’t he? Even his tail hangs down at an angle instead of having an ‘s’ shaped bend. I don’t know who animated this but my wild guess is it’s someone different than whoever animated Huck (Phil Duncan?) earlier in the sequence.

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  • 06/20/18--07:09: Wilma and Brickrock
  • Today we can enjoy DVDs or on-line streams of our favourite old cartoons (or bootlegs in some cases). A generation ago, baby boomers ooh-ed and aww-ed about the latest home entertainment technology of the day—video cassettes. Yes, people could actually see some of their favourite cartoons without having to wait for them to appear on TV.

    Who better to give free plugs for these wondrous new products than the people who appeared on the cartoons?

    Mel Blanc and Jean Vander Pyl were the only main cast members of The Flintstones who were alive when episodes of the ‘60s show first started appearing on home video. Blanc had a whole new career at the time as a raconteur, showing up on talk shows to gab about the old days of the Jack Benny radio show and throw in samples of the voices of his characters (mainly the Maxwell, an English horse and Warner Bros. cartoon stars) that everyone instantly recognised. Vander Pyl seems to have been less in demand. Of the four main actors, her career was arguably the one with the lowest profile. She wasn’t known for much more than being Wilma Flintstone.

    Still, we’ve stumbled across this story dated August 27, 1987. In the few interviews I’ve read, she strikes me as a modest, open person, and I’m glad to see she got more recognition in her later years (especially when the live-action Flintstones movie came out). The columnist asks the right (if obvious) questions—“What about the Honeymooners connection?” “Are the old cartoons better than the new ones?” “Are you surprised with the show’s success?”

    The many voices of the Flintstone family the work of one
    By Mike Cidoni

    Gannett News Service
    Jean Vander Pyl is never alone, even when she’s by herself.
    Forget Sybil. Vander Pyl is a REAL mistress of multiple personalities. Each of hers collects a paycheck.
    And there’s another check on the way, as Vander Pyl — the voices of Wilma and Pebbles Flintstone as well as eight occasional characters on “The Jetsons” — picks up her profits from the videocassette “The Flintstones: The First Episodes” (Worldvision, $29.95). The tape (arriving Aug. 29) features the animated series’ first four shows, which aired on ABC in the fall of 1990. When Vander Pyl picks up the phone, you half expect a blast from that past, you expect to hear Wilma; perhaps Pebbles and Bamm Bamm cooing in the background; maybe a few of Fred’s brontosaurus burgers broiling on the grill.
    What yon get is a voice that’s husky, warm, matronly.
    You get a feeling that Vander Pyl loves creating the voices of Wilma and Pebbles Flintstone. She loves to review the show’s original episodes. She has a gay old time whenever she returns to Bedrock.
    Yon also get a little perplexed and a lot bedazzled.
    Give Vander Pyl a cue. Any cue. And out comes a quiver. Then a nasally quake.
    One word reveals it all. It’s Wilma, alright.
    “And you’ll never believe it," says the 67-year-old Vander Pyl. “That’s all I need to say and I get surrounded by people. I’m more popular now than I was 20 years ago. It’s still a big deal.”
    And it still gives the San Clemente-based Vander Pyl a bounty of work. She says her character is featured in a new series of ads, including one for MasterCard of England.
    While she’s grateful for the recent Flintstone gigs, Vander Pyl agrees that they don’t make ’em — or write ’em — like they used to.
    “Amen,” she says. “The writing, that parody, that wit. It was really ahead of its time. The originals — from 1960-66 — that we did ... Everybody says they’re the best. I have met so many people, kids 35 and 40, who grew up with the originals.”
    Those first “Flintstone” shows, which make up the longest-running animated series in prime-time history, are now in syndication. They’ve also inspired a string of spin-offs including the Saturday-morning series “Pebbles and Bamm Bamm” and ABC’s current “The Flintstones Kids.”
    Hanna-Barbera also is in pre-production with its big-budget live-action “Flintstones” feature starring Jim Belushi as the hard-headed Fred.
    Vander Pyl hopes the new projects will recapture the spirit and success of the earliest episodes.
    “(Producers) Mr. Barbera and Mr. Hanna were such pioneers,” she explains. “They had seen that something like 90 percent of ‘Huckleberry Hound’s audience was over the age of 19. So they decided to try an experiment an animated series strictly for adults that would air in prime time.”
    The late Alan Reed gave a voice to Fred. Mel (“Bugs Bunny”) Blanc played neighbor Barney Rabble. Vander Pyl originally auditioned for the role of Barney’s wife, Betty. But she lost the part to the late Bea Benaderet (who simultaneously played Kate, the mother, on CBS’ “Petticoat Junction.”)
    “Almost all of us came from radio,” Vander Pyl says. “And in radio days, if you couldn’t do two or three characters in one show, you didn’t work. Who’s gonna pay for three actors if you can get just one to do three parts?"
    Impressed with Vander Pyl’s versatility, Barbera cast her as Wilma.
    “He showed us some drawings and told us ‘This show was kind of inspired by “The Honeymooners’.” So, at first, Vander Pyl based Wilma on Jackie Gleason’s “Honeymooners” wife, Audrey Meadows.
    “You know what I mean,” Vander Pyl explains. Then she breaks into flat, through-the-nose Meadows impersonation. “Oh, Raaalph!”
    She says Barbera’s direct command to clone “The Honeymooners” separates “The Flintstones: The First Episodes” from the rest in the series.
    "When we first started the show, we were all striving — more or less — for that ... I have to come out and say it. We were copying THEM,” she says, laughing. “But it only lasted for about three or four shows because we quickly eased into our characters. Now, I think Wilma’s more like me. A caricature version. People that know me well can spot me in Wilma. I get awfully angry at men sometimes.”
    Oddly enough, in its debut season (1960-61), “The Flintstones” scored a higher Nielsen ranking than its original inspiration. It also had a longer run (the original “Honeymooners” ran just a season, “The Flintstones” ran for six).
    “And nobody really expected it to go that long. It was just something they were going to try out,” she says.
    Vander Pyl may have won the audition for Wilma, but it wasn’t her first role at Hanna-Barbera. When the studio expanded in 1959 to add the half-hour Quick Draw McGraw Show, Joe Barbera went out to look for new voices. One was Vander Pyl, whose first role was Mrs. J. Evil Scientist on a Snooper and Blabber cartoon.

    Vander Pyl and the Flintstones’ cast received an unexpected honour in the series’ second season. This is likely a news release from studio PR flack Arnie Carr and appeared in the Binghamton Press of January 6, 1962.

    Flintstones Are Invited To Film Festival
    A new honor has just been bestowed on the ABC-TV television program, The Flintstones, in the form of an invitation to enter the Monte Carlo TV Film Festival being held this month.
    The invitation specifically requested that the Flintstone episode, "Alvin Brickrock Presents," represent the Flintstones show in the comedy category.
    "Alvin Brickrock Presents" has to do with a neighbor of the Flintstones and the Bubbles, Alvin Brickrock, whose strange activities with spades, shovels, and coffin-like boxes leads Flintstone and Rubble to suspect that Alvin has done away with his wife — whose absence from the Brickrock home is not satisfactorily explained.
    To qualify for the Monte Carlo Festival, the "Brickrock" script had to be translated into French and dubbed with French subtitles. Elliot Field, well-known Hollywood "voice," stars as Alvin Brickrock. Wilma and Fred Flintstone are played by Jean Vander Pyl and Alan Reed, Betty and Barney Rubble by Bea Benaderet and Mel Blanc.
    Someone else hired at Hanna-Barbera in 1959 appeared in the cartoon mentioned above. It was Color Radio KFWB disc jockey Elliot Field. Elliot was hired as the voice of Blabber Mouse and appeared in the first four Snooper and Blabber cartoons (and provided incidental voices). However, he explained to me once he ended up in hospital for surgery and when he was fit again, Daws Butler had taken over the role. As you can see, he came back to the studio, but any further cartoon work was cut short by a radio career move to Detroit.

    Elliot sent a note several days ago to let me know he’s still out there. He’s the last of the pre-1960 Hanna-Barbera voice actors kicking around (Jimmy Weldon wasn’t hired to be Yakky Doodle until late 1960). We wish Elliot good health and hope to hear from him again. His book about his time in ‘60s rock-jock radio, commercials and animation is still available.

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  • 06/23/18--07:22: Meet the You-Know-Whos
  • “An inked disaster” is how the venerable New York Times referred to the debut of The Flintstones in 1960 (read the review HERE). Some critics weren’t all that impressed when the series first aired, partly because they it kept being pushed by ABC and Screen Gems as an “adult comedy,” they thought it would be a little more sophisticated and satiric.

    The series turned out to have simple but creative spoofs of suburban living conditions of the 1950s transposed to the Stone Age, or at least the impressions everyone had of it.

    Here’s a full-page feature story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s “Sunday Magazine” of February 19, 1961. The writer evidently wasn’t altogether impressed (he had already written about the series before it aired; you can read what he had to say HERE). The interesting thing to me is the revelation that The Flintstones never had a pilot film. For some time, people have been referring to a 90-second-or-so reel of animation of The Flagstones as a “pilot,” which it never was. Could we please put that to rest now?

    The publicity set-up photos came with the article.

    Meet 'The Flintstones' of Bedrock
    By Arnold Zeitlin

    JOSEPH BARBERA AND William Hannah are two of the most inventive men in the television business and in the face of nervous concern by paid-in-full members of the Screen Actors Guild they are demonstrating a canny facility for inventing flesh-and-blood actors off your home television screens and replacing them with their own pen-and-ink creations.
    Their most recent contribution to the attrition of live talent on television is the weekly series, "The Flintstones," seen Friday nights over Channel 4. The series of half hour animated cartoons, which they insist are for adults, has compounded the reputation the adept pair earned with the appearance of "Huckleberry Hound" on television screens across the country. The program, which was created with the kiddies in mind, is seen on Channel 2.
    FOR VIEWERS SEEKING sophisticated comedy or devilish satire, "The Flintstones" would be a dead waste of time. Despite considerable promise before the start of the current television season, the program's first, 'The Flintstones" is a situation comedy to rank with the ranker days of "Life with Riley" and other such efforts.
    "The Flintstones" sounds and looks better on paper than it does on the screen, a circumstance which makes easily believable the story behind its sale to sponsors.
    Barbera, a dark haired, dark complexioned man with an earnest and disarming approach [sic], did not stoop to taking a pilot film with him when he met with potential buyers in New York City.
    Instead, he spread the story board (sketches of the finished program) around a Madison Avenue office and proceeded to act all the parts himself. "The Flintstones" became a purchase.
    'The Flintstones" seems to have caught on, despite, or perhaps, because of the puerility of its content. The program has a saving grace for the watcher who is excited by invention. It is crammed with the wildest contraptions since the heyday of the Rube Goldberg spectacular.
    “The Flintstones” tell the story of an ordinary couple, their neighbors, their work-a-day world. With one difference. The couple, Fred and Wilma Flintstone, live in the Stone Age.
    Barbera and Hannah, therefore, boyishly have invented one fantastic anachronism after the other to suggest modern times.
    WIILMA VACCUM cleans her home, a stone hut of course, with the leathery trunk of an elephant with elephant still attached. A big beaked Dodo bird was resurrected from extinction to serve as record player needle ("So, it's a living," the bird confesses to the audience).
    Fred operates a dinosaur-powered crane for the Rock Head & Quarry Cave Construction Company. A lizard serves as the brake for Fred's coupe with the stone wheels. He uses his feet for locomotion. Name of his city is Bedrock ("Any city in the United States could be this town." insists Barbera), it has a newspaper called the Bugle, chipped in stone tablets.

    WHEN A STONE AGE movie company arrived in Bedrock one episode to make the movie, "Monster of the Tarpits." it came from a place called Hollyrock. A lizard with bucked teeth, for instance, is Wilma's can opener.
    "Have you ever tried to cast a can opener?" said Barbera.
    To demonstrate their basically generous attitude toward live actors, Barbera and Hannah have employed four good ones to supply voices for their animated offspring. Alan Reed and Jean Vander Pyl play the Flintstones. Bea Benaderet and Mel Blanc speak for the Barney Rubbles, the neighbors.
    Huckleberry Hound was the first Barbera-Hannah character of consequence ("I love Huck," says Barbera, “he's so pure.”)
    The two animators had worked 20 years from 1937 for MGM Studios, producing “Tom and Jerry” cartoons. In 1957, ( "business was on its ear": Barbera), the two men quit before they were fired. Shortly afterward, MGM discontinued 'Tom and Jerry" production.
    THE SUCCESS OF HUCK and his cohorts, most singularly a character named Yogi Bear (who probably will get his own series) attracted letters from adults, inspiring the idea of a series in so-called adult hours.
    The fears of live television actors notwithstanding, more animated cartoon programs doubtlessly will dot the schedule starting next fall. Barbera and Hannah will be leading the way, of course.
    Barbera recalls it was considered a full year's work when they turned out six “Tom and Jerry” features (eight minutes each) for MGM. Last year, they produced 52 half hours, with more scheduled.
    "I'll never understand," says a mystified Barbera. "what the hell we were doing in those days."

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    Mike Maltese seems to have had an affinity for Western characters. At Warner Bros., he invented Yosemite Sam. Then about 15 years later, he came up with Quick Draw McGraw for Hanna-Barbera.

    Quick Draw is my favourite series. Maltese managed to make fun of pretty much every Western cliché. For good measure, he added in Snuffles, the dog who was loyal only to whoever would feed him a biscuit. For even better measure, he added Quick Draw’s Zorro-like alter ego, El Kabong, who was feared or respected by other characters despite his obvious incompetence. And, just to add to things, several cartoons pitted Quick Draw against the sheep-stealing orange Snagglepuss, who may have been funnier as a villain than as the pink thespian of his own series. Plus, Maltese borrowed bits of dialogue and ideas from his old Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoons (For example, orange Snagglepuss, in Lamb Chopped, cries “Yoicks and away!” a la Daffy Duck in Robin Hood Daffy, released about a year earlier).

    The Quick Draw McGraw Show debuted on the week of September 28, 1959. It was nominated for an Emmy but lost to H-B’s other syndicated effort for Kellogg’s, the Huckleberry Hound Show.

    This National Enterprise Association column appeared in newspapers starting around October 24, 1959. I am pretty much 100% certain I posted it in this blog years ago but I can’t find it. Perhaps I deleted it by accident. Regardless, here it is. Why the writer decided to omit the Augie Doggie/Doggie Daddy element on the show, I don’t know. However, he picked up on some of Maltese’s funnier ideas, and gives you a good idea why I’ve always liked the show.

    Westerns, Private Eyes Get Kidded—By Animal Kingdom
    NEA Staff Correspondent
    HOLLYWOOD (NEA) — Quick Draw McGraw knew exactly how and where to handle the problem. The damsel in distress who had written, "Am in danger, need help at once," signed her initials, "T. H. L. Q."
    With born horse sense, Quick Draw — who is a HORSE and TV's newest fast gun — knew the initials meant "Typical Helpless Lumber Queen."
    All the boys were there for the private eye convention and among them were: H. Two Oh, famous underwater private eye; Sky Hi, space private eye; Forchoon Cookie, well-known Chinese private eye, and Snooper, a cat, and his partner, Blabber, a mouse.
    Today I give you Quick Draw McGraw and his partner, Bobba [sic] Looey, a Mexican burro, and Snooper and Blabber, private eyes, as proof that at least someone has a sense of humor about TV western heroes and private eyes.
    The "Someones" are Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who for 20 years were responsible for the hilarious cat and mouse MGM cartoon team, "Tom and Jerry."
    When the studio fired them two years ago, they moved over to TV to become the only company turning out new and original cartoons made especially for television.
    "RUFF and READY," [sic] "Huckleberry Hound" and "Yogi Bear" were their first animated cartoon TV stars and this season they've caught up with the western and private eye cycle.
    Horselaughing with them, via 150 TV stations today, is Quick Draw McGraw, a talkin', shootin' horse and the only western star able to look a "bad man in the eye while swishing his tail and standing on four legs.
    Helping Quick Draw tame the west is his slightly dumb sidekick, Bobba Looey, the burro. As Bat Masterson is proficient with a cane, Quick Draw is handy with a guitar, even becoming a singing horse at times.
    But spoofing desperate human western heroes, on the adult level, gives Producers Hanna and Barbera their biggest laughs for an audience reported to be 60 per cent adult.
    SNOOPER, "the world's greatest private eye," is a cat and his assistant. Blabber, a mouse, and they LOST their first case (proving that Hanna and Barbara can thumb their noses at Madison Ave.)
    Like most all the TV's private eyes, Snooper and Blabber wear trench coats, collars up, and they even have a girl Friday. She's never seen but her voice comes over the telephone in their car.
    "She's not too bright," Blabber explains, "but she's kind to her parakeet."
    While other private eyes on TV are concerned only with murder, Snooper and Blabber wrestle with other problems, such as "The Case of the Missing Bank Building."
    WHEN THEY WERE FIRED by MGM, Hanna and Barbera offered to produce cartoons for the studio's TV production company. MGM said it couldn't be done so Hanna and Barbera became the first do-it-yourself-kids in the TV animation business.
    Today one sponsor spends 12 million dollars annually on Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw and a staff of 150 artists and technicians are working on around-the-clock shifts for the multi-million-dollar Hanna and Barbera Productions.
    With the assembly-line planning and the use of 80 per cent fewer drawings — "without sacrificing quality"— they have produced in two years more cartoon shows for TV than they did in 20 years at MGM.

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  • 06/30/18--07:11: The Hanna-Barbera Tricks
  • Hanna-Barbera was given X amount of time and X amount of money to make TV cartoons. “X” in TV cartoons didn’t equal “X” in theatrical cartoons. There was less time and less money. Chuck Jones could sneer at “illustrated radio” all he wanted, but if someone handed him $300 and told him to buy a car, he wouldn’t be getting a new Cadillac. He’d get the best he could for $300.

    Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera didn’t invent held drawings, background pans and walk cycles. You could find them in theatrical cartoons, too. But the H-B studio had to rely on them more than the old theatrical cartoon factories because it didn’t have the time or money to do it any other way.

    Here are some examples from the Yogi Bear cartoon “Big Brave Bear” (1958).

    The cartoon opens with the camera fixed on of one of Monty’s well-composed background drawings; the same kind of establishing shot you’d find in some Bob McKimson cartoons at Warners. No cels to ink and paint, no time-consuming movement by the cameraman. Frank Paiker, or whoever was operating the camera, simply clicked the number of times indicated on the exposure sheet and then cross-faded into the next scene.

    Here’s a recreation of the second scene. The camera panned slowly left to right over a background drawing and came across Boo Boo and Yogi. The only animation is a cycle of Yogi’s right lower leg lazily going up and down. There’s just enough movement to keep the scene from being static. This stock cue from Geordie Hormel plays in the background.

    Opening dialogue? It’s as simple as it can be. No wild gestures. No body movement. There’s no time or money. Yogi and Boo Boo remain stuck on a cel as the mouth changes shape to reflect vowels in Daws Butler’s and Don Messick’s voices. If you look closely, though, you will see the backgrounds are not the same as in the pan shot.

    Carlo Vinci animated this cartoon. At least for the first few years at Hanna-Barbera, Carlo tried to avoid stiff walk cycles. Here’s a loping little walk in eight drawings, each exposed on two frames, with the background moved slightly. I’m sorry I can’t isolate Boo Boo so you can see it better; the jerking background may be distracting. But you can see Boo Boo changes in every drawing; it’s full animation.

    Hanna-Barbera cartoons appear rife with repeating backgrounds, where Pixie and Dixie would run past the same light socket six times, or Huckleberry Hound would stroll in front of the same trees five times. Pixie, Dixie and Huck would all move in cycle animation. But there were times in the first number of cartoons on the Huck half-hour where there would be no movement at all; something would slide across a background until the background ran out and had to start again. Here is an example where the gangster’s car doesn’t move; not even the wheels. It takes 32 frames (16 frames per second) for the car to reach one end of the background to the other before repeating. What you see below been slowed down. I admire the early Hanna-Barbera background work. The trees are outlines, the colours are sponged over top. (Dick Bickenbach seems to have loved cars with no doors in medium-long shot).

    Though the animation isn’t exactly lush in TV cartoons, Carlo fitted in some nice expressions in some of the early Huck shows, including “The Buzzin’ Bear” and “Hookey Daze.” I like this realisation/shock take from Boo Boo below in this cartoon. It’s a shame things got tamer as the years went on.

    Overall, the animation short-cuts the H-B staff had to go with in the early cartoons were used pretty well. Combined with good voice work, pleasing art and (though not in every short) solid stories, the studio got a lot of mileage for their “X.” Certainly the cartoons pleased kids 60 years ago and, I’d hope, do so today.

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  • 07/04/18--12:00: Tally Ho, Carlo
  • One disadvantage we kids had watching the Huckleberry Hound Show in the late 1950s and early 1960s is the cartoons were in black and white. Most TV programming was not in colour at the time, so Screen Gems sent 16 mm black-and-white prints to stations to broadcast, though the show had been wisely shot in colour.

    This means youngsters way-back-when didn’t get the full effect of some of the great colour work in the background artwork of the cartoons. Here’s a lovely example from the third Yogi Bear cartoon put into production, “Tally Ho-Ho-Ho” (1958). I really like the shades of yellow and green and, especially, the stylised groves of autumnal trees. This is the work of Fernando Montealegre. He, Art Lozzi and Bob Gentle handled most of the background work in the show’s first season. You can see the large foreground rock on both sides; this was a repeating background.

    The animators in the cartoon are Carlo Vinci and Mike Lah. I really like Lah’s animation in this one; he gives Yogi a crazy exit scene that you’d never find in later cartoons. Because this is an early Yogi, Carlo’s animation isn’t altogether fluid (the studio evidently was on a tighter budget in the first few cartoons), but he manages to fit in some interesting poses. Here’s Yogi surprised seeing a hunter with a gun. The head stretch is typical early-HB Vinci.

    Check out the trees in the background. Monty varies the colours; the trunks and branches are either brown, grey or green.

    Yogi gets shot at by the hunter, played by Professor Gizmo of the Ruff and Reddy series (he’s the same design with the same voice as Gizmo). Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows cough up the old water-leaks-through-body-holes gag that Tex Avery loved at MGM. We get some neat poses, backed up by Bill Hanna’s fine timing.

    More reactions from Yogi. He thinks he’s fooled the hunter until bullets whiz past him. The second drawing is held for 20 frames while the bullets go by; the third drawing is on the screen for 10 frames.

    We posted some of these drawings about nine years ago when we reviewed this cartoon, but we’ll put them up again anyway. These are Mike Lah’s poses as Yogi runs in place then zips out of the scene.

    One other thing should be mentioned—Yogi’s entire face is tan coloured. He was drawn that way for the first six cartoons before someone decided to limit the colour to his muzzle alone.

    One of the things I like about the first-season Yogis is there was no formula. Boo Boo wasn’t in a number of cartoons. Ranger Smith hadn’t been invented yet. Jellystone wasn’t specified as Yogi’s home. This cartoon has two characters (besides a silent elk that does little in its brief appearance) and they carry the plot nicely. The Yogi formula was, looking back, the right direction for the studio but the character was stronger and richer in the Barbera-Shows-Gordon period and it’s a shame the studio decided to go in another direction, helped by good poses and attractive background artwork.

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  • 07/08/18--10:45: The Biggest Show in Town?
  • Were the theme song singers right? Was the biggest show in town Huckleberry Hound for all you guys and gals? The answer is “it depends.”

    When the Huck show debuted in 1958, a company called the American Research Bureau (now Arbitron) provided a diary-based ratings system for TV shows in various cities. Among the things it measured were ratings for syndicated shows, such as Huckleberry Hound. The results were published in Variety. You’ve read here in contemporary newspaper reports how Huck became a fad. The show’s early ARB numbers reveal it was able to hold its own against all kinds of syndicated programming—and there was an awful lot of it.

    Posts about numbers are boring posts, so I’ll apologise in advance if you find this post boring. But I want to go through some of the ratings Huck got in its first few months on the air. Variety wasn’t consistent in which cities were published month to month, so that’s why some markets only appear once. The magazine eventually changed its system in 1959 to publish only the top ten syndicated programmes in a city. And in the second week of January 1959, Huckleberry Hound was the No. 1 syndicated programme in the Seattle-Tacoma area. It was the Biggest Show in Town, at least of the syndicated type.

    Variety originally ran the top 20 syndicated shows, chopping the number to the top 10 just after the start of 1959. The first number below is the rating and the second number is the share. One rating point equals 1% of the number of homes with TVs in the market area. The share is the percentage of TV sets tuned to a show in the market. We found that in one rating period in Spokane, Sky King had a 100% share. That’s because it was on at a time when the other stations in the city hadn’t signed on for the day. Interestingly, Huck never cracked the top 20 in Chicago in the first few months after it began airing.

    You’ll also found ratings for other syndicated cartoon shows. The Woody Woodpecker Show, the version sponsored by Kellogg’s and emceed by Universal cartoon studio boss Walter Lantz, was extremely popular and rated well in cities where Huck was below the top 20. The Popeye and Looney Tunes cartoons were syndicated by AAP (later UAA), while CBS syndicated Terrytoons and the old Farmer Al Falfa shorts. Huck and Woody ran as part of a five-days-a-week Kellogg’s strip along with Superman and two other filmed shows. The last Variety refers to Huck winning its time slot, showing again it was the Biggest Show in Town (depending on how you look at things).

    October 10-17, 1958
    1. Sea Hunt 32.4 67
    13. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WPIX 5.6 19
    (Popeye, No. 8)

    1. Divorce Court 16.7 25
    7. Huckleberry Hound (Tue. 6:30) KNXT 11.4 29
    (Popeye, No. 14)

    1. Sheriff of Cochise 24.5 44
    19. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 6:30) KTVU 10.9 22

    1. Big Story 31.5 66
    11. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) WSB 14.9 48
    (Looney Tunes, No. 12; Woody Woodpecker, No. 15)

    1. Casey Jones 20.3 47
    9. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WJZ 12.8 52
    (Popeye, No. 7; Woody Woodpecker, No. 9)

    1. Silent Service 35.5 65
    17. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:30) WGR 15.5 55

    1. Death Valley Days 25.5 40
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Tue. 6:30) WCCO 10.9 22
    (Popeye, No. 9; Looney Tunes, No. 11; Woody Woodpecker, No. 12)

    1. Man Without a Gun 22.5 42
    11. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KGW 15.5 41

    1. Gray Ghost 38.1 57 11. Huckleberry Hound (Fri. 6:00) WVET 19.8 57
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 6; Popeye, No. 7)

    October 10-30
    1. Rescue 8 33 53
    16. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 7:00) KBAK 21.5 42

    1. 26 Men 24.3 49
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Mon. 6:00) WCHS 13.8 30

    1. Harbor Command 39.3 60
    18. Huckleberry Hound (Fri. 6:00) WOC 17.5 43

    1. Sheriff of Cochise 34.5 57
    3. Huckleberry Hound (Fri. 7:30) KCRA 32.4 47

    1. MacKenzie’s Raiders 25.8 41
    13. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) KAKE 16.3 52
    (Looney Tunes, No. 7; Popeye, No. 10; Bugs Bunny, No. 11; Woody Woodpecker, No. 14)

    Top 20 National Syndicated Shows
    (Based on U.S. Pulse Spot Film Report for October).
    Compilation of the top 20 syndicated shows in the U.S. is based on 22 basic markets, representing about 16,391,500 tv homes.
    Pulse, in compiling the list, utilizes a weighted average keyed to the number of sets in each of the 22 markets. The weighted average takes in only the markets in which the program has been telecast. In order to qualify, a property must be telecast in at least ten of the 22 markets. Total number of the 22 basic markets included in the rating compilation for each series is listed in the brackets.
    The markets include Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco-Oakland, Seattle-Tacoma, St. Louis and Washington.
    Top 20
    1. SEA HUNT (20) 21.1
    19. HUCKLEBERRY HOUND (19) 8.6

    November 5-12
    Huck not in Top 20

    1. Mr. Adams and Eve 16.4 26
    15. Huckleberry Hound (Tue. 6:30) KNXT 10.7 25
    (Popeye, No. 13)

    1. Big Story 32.2 67
    9. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) WSB 14.2 41
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 8; Looney Tunes, No. 13; Popeye, No. 16)

    1. Death Valley Days 23.3 47
    7. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WJZ 15.3 63
    (Popeye, No. 4; Woody Woodpecker, No. 5)

    1. Silent Service 36.5 65
    15. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:30) WGR 16.3 58

    1. Highway Patrol 27.4 66
    13. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 6:00) WCPO 14.2 48
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 7)

    1. Sea Hunt 29.2 53
    15. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WTVN 14.5 43
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 6)

    1. State Trooper 23.5 38
    15. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) KTRK 12.8 47
    (Popeye, No. 8; Woody Woodpecker, No. 14)

    1. Gray Ghost 35 58
    2. Huckleberry Hound (Mon. 6:00) WATE 29.3 62
    (Tied with Badge 714 and Highway Patrol)
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 4)

    1. Highway Patrol 44.8 56
    8. Huckleberry Hound (Tues. 6:30) WAVE 24.8 48
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 15)

    1. Highway Patrol 28.5 59
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 7:00) WCKT 18.9 40
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 10)

    1. Casey Jones 19.5 46
    6. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KGW 15.9 39

    1. Sheriff of Cochise 23.5 43
    11. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 6:00) WTVR 12.9 44
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 6; Farmer Al Falfa, No. 9)

    1. Death Valley Days 34.7 56
    13. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KONO 16.9 39
    (Popeye, No. 14; Woody Woodpecker, No. 17)

    1. Sea Hunt 25 53
    10. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KFSD 15.2 36
    (Popeye, No. 12)

    December 1-8
    1. Sea Hunt 32.6 61
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WPIX 7.2 19
    (Popeye, No. 7; Woody Woodpecker, No. 8; Terrytoons, No. 15)

    1. San Francisco Beat/Sea Hunt 14.7 23
    7. Huckleberry Hound (Tues. 6:30) KNXT 12.5 28
    (Popeye, No. 12)

    1. Whirlybirds 32.2 65
    7. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) WSB 18.2 48
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 10; Looney Tunes, No. 11; Popeye, No. 14)

    1. Death Valley Days 28.3 44
    7. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WJZ 16.3 59

    1. Highway Patrol 29.2 67
    5. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 6:00) WCPO 19.5 68

    1. Sea Hunt 28.5 54
    10. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 7:00) CKLW 14.5 27
    (Popeye, No. 2; Woody Woodpecker, No. 3; Bugs Bunny No. 10 w/28 share)

    1. Death Valley Days 25.8 71
    15. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WPRO 10.3 51
    (Popeye, No. 12; Woody Woodpecker, No. 15)

    January 2-9, 1959
    1. Sea Hunt 27.9 52
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WPIX 8.7 21
    (Popeye, No. 13; Woody Woodpecker, No. 20)

    1. Mr. Adams and Eve 18.4 28
    10. Huckleberry Hound (Tues. 6:30) KNXT 11.9 35
    (Popeye, No. 6)

    1. Whirlybirds 31.4 68
    9. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) WSB 18.8 48
    (Popeye, No. 14; Woody Woodpecker, No. 15; Looney Tunes, No. 16)

    1. Death Valley Days 23.8 41
    4. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WJZ 17.8 61
    (Tied with Superman)
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 2; Popeye Nos. 3, 4)

    1. Gray Ghost 24.9 50
    11. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WNAC 18.5 43

    1. Death Valley Days 27.5 41
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WTVN 16.2 43
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 3)

    DETROIT 1. Sea Hunt 27.9 51
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 8:00) CKLW 13.9 27
    (Popeye, No. 4; Bugs Bunny, No. 6; Woody Woodpecker, No. 8, Farmer Al Falfa, No. 13)

    1. People’s Choice 20.8 39
    2. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 6:00) KJEO 20.3 52
    (Popeye, No. 5)

    1. Whirlybirds 25.2 53
    14. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WISN 14.3 45
    (Terry Toons, No. 7; Woody Woodpecker, No. 9)

    OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 2-29)
    1. Silent Service 30.7 52
    16. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WKY 18.8 48
    (Popeye, No. 10; Crusader Rabbit, No. 14; Woody Woodpecker, No. 17)

    1. State Trooper 23.2 44
    13. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KGW 18.5 40
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 20)

    1. Whirlybirds 23.9 49
    11. Huckleberry Hound (Wed. 6:00 WTVR 16.2 44
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 8; Farmer Al Falfa, No. 15)

    1. Highway Patrol 26.2 44
    15. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs 6:00) KING 15.5 36
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 12)

    SPOKANE (Jan. 2-29)
    1. Death Valley Days 35.8 57
    8. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KREM 20.8 50
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 2; Popeye, No. 4)

    TACOMA (Jan. 8-14)
    1. Citizen Soldier 25.3 38
    10. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KING 15.3 33
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 11)

    Top 20 National Syndicated Shows
    (Based on U.S. Pulse Spot Film Report for January).
    1. Sea Hunt (22) Ziv 21.0
    18. Huckleberry Hound (21) Screen Gems 18.1

    January 5-11, 1959
    TOP TEN only
    1. Rescue 8 (Tues. 7:00) KRCA Screen Gems 17.2 32.3
    7. Huckleberry Hound (Tues. 6:30) KNXT Screen Gems 12.0 27.8
    (Popeye, No. 8)

    1. Whirlybirds (Wed. 7:00) WSB CBS 32.4 71.2
    9. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) WSB Screen Gems 19.1 56.7
    (Popeye, No. 3; Woody Woodpecker, No. 5, Looney Tunes/Bosko No. 10)

    1. Death Valley Days (Mon. 7:30) WJZ 24.0 39.9
    5T. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WJZ 19.7 66.8
    (Popeye No. 2; Woody Woodpecker, No. 3; Popeye, No. 5T)

    1. Sea Hunt (Mon. 7:30) WBNS 35.2 62.1
    9. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:30) WTVN 22.9 60.1
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 2)

    1. Death Valley Days (Sat. 9:30) KRLD U.S. Borax 25.8 46.8
    6. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KFJZ Screen Gems 16.9 39.4
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 5)

    1. Sky King (Sun. 6:00) WHNC 24.1 60.1
    3. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) WHNC 19.6 53.8
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 2; Popeye, No. 4)

    1. Mike Hammer (Sat. 9:30) KCMO MCA 27.9 56.3
    2t. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KMBC Screen Gems 25.0 53.6

    1. Sea Hunt (Fri. 7:00) WTVJ 40.1 67.9
    10T. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 7:00) WCKT 21.6 41.2

    1. Death Valley Days (Sat. 9:30) WCCO 24.4 49.3
    9. Huckleberry Hound (Tues. 6:30) WCCO 15.4 23.8
    (Woody Woodpeckerm, No. 2; Popeye No. 3)

    1. State Trooper (Sat, 10:3Q) KDKA MCA 34.7 56.6
    3. Huckleberry Hound (Mon. 7:30) WTAE Screen Gems 23.8 42.1

    PORTLAND, Ore.
    1. State Trooper (Tues. 7:00) KGW MCA 38.5 70.0
    2. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KGW Screen Gems 32.6 56.4
    (Woody Woodpecker, No. 6)

    1. Sea Hunt (Thurs. 7:00) KFMB Ziv 34.0 52.6
    2. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KFSD Screen Gems 26.2 49.4
    (Popeye, No. 3; Woody Woodpecker, No. 5)

    SEATTLE-TACOMA 1. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 6:00) KING 26.6 49.5
    (Beat local news, Huntley-Brinkley on KOMO)

    1. Sea Hunt (Wed. 7:00) WSYR 36.3 58.8
    10. Huckleberry Hound (Thurs. 5:00) WSYR 25.0 74.6
    (Popeye, No. 3; Woody Woodpecker, No. 4)

    From Variety, February 25, 1959
    High status of "Huckleberry Hound," the nationally-spotted Kellogg cartoon show sold by Screen Gems, is reflected (in the Pulse top 20 chart this week) and in the ARB tv rundown.
    Kellogg sponsors the stanza in slightly over 200 tv markets. In the 85 markets covered by ARB for the months of October, November and December, the SG show, the last report available in each market shows "HH" has copped first place over the competition 75 out of 85 times.

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    Here’s a Boo Boo take from Scooter Looter (first aired in 1959). Bill Hanna holds the second drawing for four frames. We’ve skipped a few frames. The animator is Carlo Vinci.

    Boo Boo, as you likely know, was voiced by Don Messick, who was the number two voice man (out of two) at Hanna-Barbera at the time. Daws Butler got most of the starring roles at the studio pre-1960—Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Mr. Jinks, Quick Draw McGraw, Super Snooper. Messick contented himself with Ruff and one of the meeces; Boo Boo wasn’t a regular character in the first season (1958-59) of Yogi Bear cartoons (and Ranger Smith wasn’t invented until the 1959-60 season).

    Yet Don M. had staying power. He provided major and incidental character voices through the 1960s, including on Hanna-Barbera’s non-comedy series, then won the role of a clumsy Great Dane who many exposit is the studio’s most popular creation of all time. In the 1980s, he co-starred on The Smurfs, perhaps H-B’s biggest Saturday morning success of the decade, before veering into Warner Bros.’ so-called “Silver Age,” voicing Hamton in Tiny Toons Adventures. Alas, by this time Daws had passed away.

    Messick’s career paralleled Butler’s after World War Two. Both had series on radio. Both worked for Bob Clampett in the 1950s days of televised puppet shows. Both voiced MGM cartoon characters. And both were commercial voices.

    By 1978, things had changed at Hanna-Barbera. The voice department wasn’t a two-man operation any more. Things had changed in commercial voice-over work, too. In the early days of TV, advertising was deemed beneath the dignity of most actors. But then they looked at the cash windfall commercials paid. Money wins over dignity every time.

    Here’s Messick talking about in an article in Backstage by Robert Goldrich, dated September 8, 1978.

    Nearly 130 voice actors are working for Hanna Barbera Productions this season. By contrast, 10 years ago the studio only hired about 20. “The networks want more characters in the cartoons,” explained Art Scott, VP and recording director of many H-B programs. “While years ago the average program had five characters who could be voice by two people, Hanna-Barbera is now producing shows like ‘Challenge of the Superfriends,’ which has a regular cast of 19, plus many incidental characters.”
    Yet while the market for cartoon voices is on the rise, major star personalities are making gains in another long time vehicle for voice actors—namely commercials.
    Business Week recently noted that the number of TV spots featuring celebrities has jumped from one in five to one in three in the past five years, and this trend has undoubtedly seeped into the voiceover industry. ...
    Yet there are some firmly entrenched voice actors who remain unscathed by this inundation of well-known stars. One is Don Messick, cartoon voice of Boo Boo Bear, Scooby-Doo, Mumbly, Astro on the Jetsons, Bam Bam of the Flintstones, and an assortment of other characters too numerous to mention. Don’s recent spot credits include the voices of Lava Soap’s “Wise Old Towel,” Kelloggs Rice Crispies Crackle of “Snap, Crackle & Pop” fame, a cat for Purina’s Special Dinners, and an owl for Green Giant’s Nibblets Corn.
    “I see major accounts out to get the best of both worlds,” Messick explained. “For instance Kelloggs is using Dick Cavett’s voice on some radio commercials but they are continuing the highly successful ‘Snap, Crackle & Pop.’ Animated commercials are as effective as ever and thus there is still a market for the voice characterizations artists like myself can provide. For me, the creative challenge is that it is more difficult to establish such a voice in a 30-second spot than it is in a series of cartoons.”
    Pointing out another difference, Messick noted that cartoons put more of a strain on the voice than commercial work. For instance, Don has done as many as seven voices for one Laff Olympics cartoon. This is a common practice. It’s economical for the studio to have the actor do several voices. The cartoon pay scale is set up so that actors are paid a fixed rate for providing one to three voices. There is a higher rate for four to six voices, and so on. Thus even if the actor is doing three voices, he is paid the same rate as someone doing one voice.
    Don M. expanded his career as time went on. Unlike Daws Butler, or even Mel Blanc for that matter, he appeared on camera in a weekly role in a sitcom. His career could have taken a different turn, but The Duck Factory didn’t jell and was cancelled. He was cast in re-enactments of old radio shows on a Los Angeles station. He narrated stage productions of “Peter and the Wolf.” And he even toured parts of the U.S. with animation exhibitions, demonstrating some of his famous voices and talking about his life in cartoons.

    As you can see, he continued to accumulate all kinds of credits and was in great demand. His career ended only because of his health. He suddenly retired one day and then died of natural causes at the age of 71 in 1997. Hanna-Barbera took out a full-page ad in Variety in his honour, a drawing by Iwao Takamoto of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo bowing their heads. He brought to life almost innumerable characters for the studio, including a dog that only said “Yowp” and a small ursine friend who was run down by an out-of-control Jellystone Park scooter.

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  • 07/14/18--08:01: Your Huckleberry Home
  • Were any cartoon characters merchandised more around 1960 than the creations of Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and their veteran staff? There seems to have been an incredible variety of things on which Huck, Yogi and the others made their appearances.

    Over the years, readers of this blog have passed along pictures of their merchandise discoveries. We have another roundup of them today. You can click on each picture to make it bigger. Our focus today is on Huckleberry Hound.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (which Huck played in one of his cartoons) to figure out this 1960s game is from Japan. Whether a North American version exists, I don’t know. Nor can I guess the object of the game, other than to get from the southwest corner to the northeast one. Some of the “Hanna-Barbera” characters look like something from the mid-‘60s. Apparently this was made by Nintendo. (Since putting up this post, I found more about the 珍犬ハックル ゲーム board game on this blog.)

    Now you can make Huck look like Groucho or Robert Q. Lewis, thanks to the twist of a dial and a special pencil. This Multiple Products Co. toy was from the late ‘50s when Hanna-Barbera was still “H-B Enterprises.” Evidently no one told the company the proper spelling was “Jinks.”

    Kids gloves. I’m not sure of the manufacturer.

    This charm bracelet came out during the first season of the Huck show (1958-59). The studio only had a limited number of starring characters, so it would merchandise incidental characters, too, including a well-known cartoon dog (ahem). In this case, Li’l Tom Tom, who appeared in one Yogi Bear cartoon, is included. Perhaps the company didn’t find Yowp so “charm”-ing.

    Fruit of the Loom is known for its underwear, but it also made bed sheets. Here is proof. Yakky Doodle shows up for some reason; he never appeared with Huck. Besides Pixie and Dixie, we get the dragon from “Dragon-Slayer Huck,” and the circus lion from “Lion Tamer Huck,” though the version in the cartoon was drawn much better (by Mike Lah).

    What rhymes with Huck? How about “puck”? This was made by General Tire and Rubber Co., and I gather it was sold in Canada. Hanna-Barbera would have better puck luck with Peter Puck about 20 years later on those NHL telecasts.

    Does this mean the character’s name is Puckleberry Hound? Okay, I’ll stop.

    From Decoware comes this metal garbage can, 12¼ by 10¼ and 9 inches thick. The presence of Hokey Wolf puts it after 1960. Snagglepuss is orange instead of pink. Iggy and Ziggy, the crows who heckled Huck in two cartoons, fly around. And Li’l Tom Tom shows up yet again. Several different types of these H-B waste paper baskets were made.

    Here’s a late addition to the post. Reader Mike Rossi sent me pictures of a German card game from 1967.

    You’ve got to love those on-model drawings. Is Yakky wearing a dress?

    A kid around 1960 didn’t have to “tune up your TV set for Huckleberry Hound.” He or she could have Huck all over the place in their very own home, thanks to licensed products.

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    To your right, you see a drawing of Fred Flintstone and a model sheet of Wilma Flinstone. Oh, and there's a young man, too.

    The young man is Tony Benedict. When he arrived at Hanna-Barbera, the studio had a grand total of two writers—Mike Maltese and Warren Foster, two of the finest cartoon comedy writers of all time who helped bring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other Warner Bros. characters to live. As Hanna-Barbera kept expanding, so did the staff. Young Tony came over from UPA and was soon getting story credits on Huckleberry Hound and Yakky Doodle cartoons.

    Tony worked on The Flintstones and The Jetsons, supplying story ideas and sketches. He stuck around the studio until it turned toward superhero and fantasy series and was bought by Taft.

    Some time ago, he put together a documentary video. Now, he's putting his Hanna-Barbera life in a book. As he puts it...

    "THE LAUGH DAYS OF HANNA BARBERA 1960-1967" is not only a book but an online gallery of art and humor from those glamour days of yore.
    Ten years of vintage 1960's drawings, caricatures, paintings, photos, and jokes from that period ONLY.
    The book is a work in progress but many of it's images are now available at tony-benedict.pixels.com.
    They are prints for sale. Select an image you like, choose a frame and it will be shipped to you in a few days ready to hang on your wall. Easy and unique holiday gifts. You will need to sign up but that is FREE and you can enjoy more than 100 old time big time Hanna Barbera images....and more.
    So... Please have a peek. Humor is the best medicine.

    Tony is among a handful of people around today who has some first-hand experience at the studio when it moved into prime-time and sparked the growth of cartoons on Saturday morning TV. Some of the pics on his site he has posted before, but hunt around his site and re-live some memories from a man who was there.

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  • 07/22/18--12:41: Huck the Cartoonist
  • The artists in the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons all had loads of animation experience and were quite capable of giving their characters interesting and good expressions.

    Here’s a neat one of Huck, promoting an “amusin’ cartoon” starring Pixie and Dixie.

    This comes from one of the little cartoons before the main cartoon. In some of them, Huck's lips stuck way out when he said the “ooo” in “cartoon.” He does it in this bumper but not as exaggerated as elsewhere.

    Here’s Bill Hanna’s budgetary fantasy. There’s no separate animating, inking and painting. It’s all done at once! Just use a paint brush and it wipes on all the necessary colours and ink lines.

    Pixie and Dixie rush off the paper to see their own cartoon.

    By the way, Don Messick wasn’t called in to record in this session. Daws Butler plays Pixie and Dixie.

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    No, a character from The Flintstones didn’t one day suddenly cross over into the world of Pixie and Dixie (though it would make more sense than some of the ridiculous “Hanna-Barbera” cross-overs of today). This monster has been conjured up by Mr. Jinks in Magician Jinks, one of the last cartoons with the meeces put into production on the Huckleberry Hound Show.

    And who is responsible for this incidental character?

    To the right, you see the credits for this particular cartoon. You will notice the name of one Jerry Eisenberg. Jerry was newly-landed at Hanna-Barbera, which was continuing to expand its operations. The studio had The Flintstones and Top Cat in prime time, was still producing cartoons for the Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw half-hour shows for Kellogg’s, churning out the disappointing Loopy De Loop series for Columbia Pictures and working on new concepts, such as Hairbrain Hare. Jerry had already rubbed elbows with some of the great Golden Age artists who didn’t work for Walt Disney. He came from Warner Bros. and had already worked for Joe Barbera as an assistant in-betweener at MGM before the company decided to shut down its cartoon studio. His father was Harvey Eisenberg, known perhaps more for his work in comic books than animation, which went back to the days of the Van Beuren studio in New York.

    For a minute, it appears as if Alfie Gator will succeed in his quest for a culinary delight—a duck dinner (out of camera range, Fibber Fox swats the gator’s butt, forcing Yakky Doodle back out of his mouth. Alas). Alfie was a parody of Alfred Hitchcock, specifically the TV host version, where Hitch would appear in silhouette to “Funeral March of a Marionette” and introduce tonight’s stawwww-ry.

    Alfie was one of the characters created by the writer whose name you see on the right. Tony Benedict arrived at Hanna-Barbera from UPA and was put to work drawing story sketches. He was soon working on stories for Huck Hound and Yakky Doodle in addition to The Flintstones, The Jetsons and so on. My favourite creation of Tony’s is the comic relief dog Astro. Tony stayed on at Hanna-Barbera until the rise of adventure cartoons and the studio’s sale by Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, and various Columbia pictures interests to Taft Broadcasting. Before his stop at UPA, he began his animation career at Walt Disney.

    The credits you see to the right are not from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. The title card is from the Beany and Cecil show from Bob Clampett’s studio. Clampett had a bunch of plans for various animated series, including one starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, but things fell apart when prime time cartoons failed in 1961-62 and the networks, for the most part, stayed away from the idea. Willie Ito then moved on to Hanna-Barbera where he provided layouts for a number of series. Like Eisenberg, he had worked in the Chuck Jones unit at Warner Bros. and like Benedict, he got some early grounding at Walt Disney (where he eventually returned).

    Getting the opportunity to hear first-hand experiences in animation from these veterans should never be missed. That opportunity is today. The three will be appearing on “Stu’s Show,” which has become far more elaborate and graduated to streaming video (you can still listen to the programme as well). Want tales about putting together The Flintstones? Want to learn what Joe Barbera ate for lunch? Want to hear what kind of practical jokes O.B. Barkley pulled? (O.B. was an assistant animator at MGM and Warners). If anyone knows, it’s these men.

    Read more below to find out more about this afternoon’s show. Click here for the link to the broadcast at 4 p.m. Pacific.

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    “Yowp, you’ve got to do more than just upload an animation cycle in this post about Snooper and Blabber,” I said to myself. But there isn’t an awful lot to say that hasn’t been said before on this blog. I’ve exhausted my sources of newspaper articles published about the Quick Draw McGraw Show in the first few years of its existence; Charles Witbeck devoted a whole column to Toot Sweet, the French flea friend in several Snooper cartoons. Model sheets have been posted; I can’t recall if the one to the right has been put up before.

    I did stumble across two articles which are amusing when taken together. There has been no end of self-appointed experts looking way down upon the masses and telling parents what their children should watch. The articles are amusing because they give completely opposing views. Incidentally, these are the types satirised by the great Warren Foster in that Jetsons episode where all television of the future has been forced to become “educational”—and is completely boring.

    The National Association for Better Radio and Television proclaimed in its 1965 booklet (available for $1 from its headquarters in Los Angeles):

    QUICK DRAW McGRAW—CBS, Saturdays. Recommended for children. Three cartoons (Augie Doggie, the detective team of Snooper and Blabber and Quick Draw McGraw) in a show with consistent satiric wit and gentle humor. Action and story interest. Too many commercials.
    On the other hand, there is an 11-page pontification in the November 1963 edition of Canada’s Chatelaine magazine by psychologist Douglas William Jones, partly quoting the head of something called Social Research Incorporated. It talks about “inner needs,” “deeper instincts” and other psycho-babble. Snooper and Blabber, in his estimation, are “harmful.” Oh, not just them. All cartoons are harmful, with the exception of the ones appear on that programme hosted by the benevolent, benign Walt Disney.

    Almost all children’s shows were bad, too, though he liked the CBC’s Razzle Dazzle. Of hoary old Howdy Doody, he wrote:

    It was found that the show appealed to the repressed hostilities of children, hostilities they cannot express openly. It did this by making fun of adults or depicting them in unattractive ways. The “bad” characters were all adults. They were represented as being extremely powerful or downright foolish.
    Then he informs us:
    In my own analysis of cartoons, a good example of thinly disguised, symbolic parent-child relationships could be found in the Quick Draw McGraw series. The bigger stronger figure is shown as a bumbling complacent nitwit. He dreams big dreams, and starts out on heroic missions. In the end the smaller younger characters do all the work and solve all the problems. It is worth noting that they sometimes appear to let the adult figure take the credit. In other cartoons, the childlike figures get away with outrageous behavior. Pixie and Dixie, with their traditional enemy Mr. Jinx [sic]; Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd—the list can be extended indefinitely.
    All this is news to me. I never thought of Snooper as some kind of father substitute. He was a private eye that did and said funny things and sometimes even won a case. I probably have more “hostilities” for people who invent imaginary hostilities than I do for people or drawings in television comedy shows. I laughed at cartoons and then went on to other things as the day wore on. I suspect you did, too.

    What else can I tell you about Snooper and Blabber? Well...

    ● All 45 Snooper and Blabber cartoons over three seasons were written by Mike Maltese. He once said could bang out a storyboard for one in less than a week.
    ● Blab was played in the first four cartoons by KFWB drive announcer Elliot Field.
    ● Daws Butler said the voice of Snooper was based on comic actor Tom D’Andrea, not Ed Gardner as Archie on the radio show “Duffy’s Tavern,” though Maltese borrowed from Archie’s vocabulary to craft dialogue.
    ● Jean Vander Pyl’s first role at Hanna-Barbera was in a Snooper and Blabber cartoon (Big Diaper Caper) where she played Mrs. J. Evil Scientist, using her Tallulah Bankhead voice.
    ● Moaning hyena Hardy Har-Har was a character in one Snooper and Blabber cartoon (Laughing Guess). Maltese banked the idea and revamped it several years later for another series. Something to do with a lion that was lippy.
    ● The orange version of Snagglepuss was Snooper and Blabber’s nemesis in two cartoons.
    ● “Tralfaz” makes an appearance, as our heroes spend one cartoon (De-Duck-Tives) coping with a rare, but annoying, Tralfazian duck (voiced by Red Coffey).

    Perhaps my favourite routine in a Snooper and Blabber cartoon comes in A Prince of a Fella where Snow White speaks in a Katharine Hepburn voice and goes on about calla lilies. It seemed so silly to me as a kid. I had no idea at the time it was from dialogue in a Hepburn movie.

    Here is the promised endless cycle, slowed down a bit from the cartoon it appeared in. It’s from the opening of Observant Servants. Ed Love provided the animation. The cityscape is by Bob Gentle. Both were MGM veterans. It takes 16 drawings to get from one end of the background painting to the other.

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    Mike Lah was Yogi Bear’s first animator, and his style at Hanna-Barbera was deceptively simple. His Yogi doesn’t look quite like the Yogi you think of; it seems a little sketchier. But Lah was able to get solid expressions into his characters.

    Here’s an example from Pie Pirates, Yogi’s first cartoon. These are good drawings of Yogi laughing, but you’d never see anyone else draw him like this.

    Yogi realises something’s wrong (his barrel is about to fall apart). See what Lah does with his eyes. He really liked that small-mouthed stare you see in the first drawing, and he would draw eyes that were different sizes, with different sized pupils, for effect.

    The earliest cartoons on the Huck show evidently had smaller budgets so Bill Hanna didn’t have time or money for such niceties as in-betweens if he could get away without them. These two drawings are consecutive. Yogi pops from one pose to the next (Lah liked the extended-arm run).

    Yogi’s nemesis is a bulldog that is preventing him from grabbing a huckleberry pie cooling on a window sill. Lah drew him a fair amount of time with half an eye closed. Even with limited animation, Lah puts expressions into the angry dog. Does the bottom one remind you of Spike in a Tex Avery MGM cartoon that Lah would have worked on?

    Lah pretty much eased out of his work at Hanna-Barbera by the first season of the Huckleberry Hound Show and carried on making commercials at Quartet Films, which he and his wife (Bill Hanna’s wife’s sister) eventually ran. He told Darryl Van Citters in 1977 he was supposed to be part of the ownership group of H-B Enterprises when it started in 1957 but it sounds like he couldn’t come up with investment cash. It’s a shame because I would have liked to have seen how Lah would have handled drawing the Flintstones and some of the later characters.

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  • 08/01/18--07:00: Words of Willie Ito
  • Willie Ito is one of a handful of people still around who not only worked on the original Bugs Bunny cartoons at Warner Bros., but on the original Flintstones series. Willie’s career began and ended with Disney and included a stop at Bob Clampett’s short-lived Snowball, Inc.

    There aren’t too many people left who received screen credit in the first half-dozen years of the Hanna-Barbera studio’s life, but Ito is one of them. I’ve never had the pleasure of chatting with him, but others have done it on the record. Most recently, webcaster Stu Shostak gathered Ito, fellow layout man Jerry Eisenberg (next to Willie in the 1964-ish photo to the right) and writer Tony Benedict on his show to reminisce and explain how the cartoons were made. The interview was excellent. Stu has given me permission to transcribe some of what Willie Ito had to say. The transcription is missing some repeat words and I have paraphrased Stu’s questions. (Some of the screen shots come from either Jerry’s or Tony’s home movies).

    ‘Snow White’ was the first movie you saw?
    When the seven dwarfs marched on the big screen in Technicolor saying “Heigh ho, heigh ho,” I says “That’s what I wanna be.”

    Talk about the internment during the war.
    Then that infamous day happened. 120,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast from Seattle to San Diego, we were all sent to the middle of a desert. It was totally miserable. And because of the fact that it was too hot to go outside during the summer, and too cold to go outside, I stayed in and just drew and drew. And, of course, one of the things that I did was, we were given Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogues to buy our dry goods from and so every three months they would send us new catalogues. So with the old one, I would draw on the margins. You know, walks and bouncing balls and all that.
    Yeah [my parents noticed my artistic ability], because when I was in grammar school before being interned, my teacher on the report cards says “Willie likes to daydream and draw a lot.” That was the American school. After the American school, I would have to go to Japanese school and so it was very strict, so at 4 o’clock I would report to Japanese school and we would sit there with our hands folded and the teacher would come in and we would bow and very disciplined. But once in a while I’d get a little bored and start drawing and the teacher would come up from behind me with a ruler and whap me across the [hand]. But I survived that at American school.

    What was your first animation job?
    I started my career at Walt Disney studio and I was hired by Iwao Takamoto. Of course, we were working on ‘Lady and the Tramp’ at that time. I was an apprentice in-betweener, struggling to maintain the kind of work that Iwao was doing because I was following him.
    The first scene I was assigned to was the iconic spaghetti kissing scene. Iwao was such a strickler [sic] for perfection that after about three weeks, I kept thinking “my father says ‘you know, you should get a barber’s license’—like, he was a barber—‘so you’ll have something to fall back on.’” I started seriously thinking about that.

    You went from Disney to Warners.
    Then I was in Chuck’s unit [at Warner Bros.] doing various, well, basically I was Ken Harris’ assistant but Chuck knew I wanted to eventually do character design or storyboards or whatever. So he would occasionally throw me a bone and say “Hey, have Willie design these incidental characters from one of the Bugs Bunny shows and all that,” which I did. Hawley Pratt, who was a layout man in Friz Freleng’s unit, Friz was going to move him up to directorship, so he needed to train a layout man, so Friz asked Chuck if I could be borrowed for one picture to see how I do. So I went over to Friz’s unit, laid out “Prince Violent,” which later was changed to “Prince Varmint” for television’s sake, they kind of softened it.
    I finish my very first layout assignment and my very first Warner Bros. screen credit. And I was really ready for the next picture. Then I get a call from Bob Clampett’s studio saying “Hey, I understand you like to do character designs.” “Well, yeah, I sure do.” They said “Would you like to come over because ‘The Beany and Cecil Show,’ which were puppets, was now going to be done in animation.” And I thought ‘Wow, what an opportunity’ and while I was thinking about it, he said “And we’re going to double your salary.” Goodbye, Friz. Goodbye, Chuck.
    Then Chuck calls me aside and said “You know, this is television that you’re going to be working in, it’s all fly-by-night. We’re a major studio and we’re going to be making short subjects forever.” Well, six months later, Warner Bros. started [closing the studio].

    You were at Snowball for a year, Beany and Cecil wasn’t renewed, and Clampett tried other concepts but none of them were picked up.
    In fact, the big show we worked on was the Edgar Bergan/Charlie McCarthy show. And so we did this beautiful presentation and I borrowed a lot of the artwork from Jerry’s father Harvey Eisenberg, a beautiful Charlie McCarthy comic book from Dell. And so I lifted a lot of the great shots and blew it up and we had a board, just a beautiful presentation. And Edgar Bergen, Frances Bergen, who’s Edgar’s wife and Candice Bergen, who was still like a little eight-year-old girl, they all came up to the studio and reviewed it. Edgar was very happy with what he saw. So we thought, “Wow, we got it locked in. ABC’s going to buy that show.” But, meanwhile, Hanna-Barbera also had an open time slot. And at that point, the studio was starting to vie for whatever time slot was open. Hanna-Barbera has already established a track record. Finally, when it was apparent that Bob wasn’t going to have another show, Alex Lovy called and said “Hey, kid, I hear you’re wrapping it up at Clampett’s. We’re looking for layout guys.” So I says, “Maybe I’d better take this.” So I went over and then that Monday morning I walk into the Hanna-Barbera layout department and there, sitting there, was Jerry, Iwao Takamoto and a few of my other acquaintances, and I says “Oh, my gosh, this is like home week.” I’m going to stay here.
    Then after that one of my layout guys I was working with, Homer Jonas, came over and Tony Sgroi came over.
    So suddenly Hanna-Barbera was really getting a lot of the [people from other places]. And, of course, Disney’s shorts department closed up. So all of a sudden—guys like Nick Nichols, and all that, they were from Disney’s shorts department.
    Before I actually went over to Clampett, I just thought, “You know, I think I’ll kind of make the rounds of the studios. So I went to visit Joe at the old Charlie Chaplin studio on La Brea. I had an appointment to see Joe, I had never met Joe before, but walking into the Charlie Chaplin studio was rather intimidating. God, this was the master of comedy. And the studio had that nice, old-fashioned flair, but then you could see sound stages and all that, and I thought “Well this is a real movie studio.”
    I go into see Joe and Joe says “Hi, how are you, kid? Sit down.” then I show him my portfolio, and he looks at my portfolio said “Oh, yeah, it’s nice but we don’t draw this way.” “Oh, okay, thank you, Joe,” and then in retrospect, years later, we’re all drawing that style.

    What did a layout artist do at Hanna-Barbera in those days?
    Basically, layout, we make the blueprint of the film, so taking the storyboards or whatever, then we plan the film. We indicate trucks and all of the camera things. We suggest it. Occasionally, there’ll be, like, on the storyboard, a character, and then you’ll see in red pencil, “See me, Joe.”
    We would turn our stack of work in to the production coordinator, then they take out the background layouts, send them to the background department and then the timing director or, like, Nick Nichols will go over the storyboard and get the scenes and assign it to his respective animators. So now it was being divvied up throughout the studio.

    Did layout artists design any characters?
    We in layout, especially during presentation time, we would get assigned a bunch of characters, we make roughs, we do our own interpretation of it and whatever. But then you start to hone in and then maybe Jerry will make a rough of a character idea, myself, and all that. Then it gets run by Iwao Takamoto and then he would kind of put his touch to it and then Joe would look at us and, “Yeah, we like that character.” So even though it’s a compilation of a number of the layout men’s interpretation, at the end, Iwao does the final touch on there and it has that Iwao Takamoto look.

    What about creating characters?
    A lot of these storyboard guys like Lew Marshall and [Tony Benedict], they were veterans of the animation business so they are able to design characters that will work. So we would sometimes say “Hey, I like the way this character is designed on this story and we just kind of expand on the actual design that the story guys conceived of. Sometimes we would just start from scratch.

    What about sitcom writers brought in to work on the half-hour shows?
    With the original cartoon writers, like Tony and Mike Maltese and Warren Foster, they did stories and made little sketches and pinned them on the board, so they were writers. But then when scripts came in from live action writers they had to start a whole new department of story board artists, storyboard editors and all that. So they would read the script and then story-direct and all that. That later became a whole department throughout the industry.

    Was there a runaway production back then?
    This is where sourcing the work out of the country came up. No, not quite that far back [as the early ‘60s] but later as the studio grew they took on more shows and more shows. You know, Joe would go back to New York and then call Bill Sunday night and say “Hey Bill, you gotta staff up because I sold another show. And Bill will say (growling) “How the hell am I going to find all these people?” He had to get old animators from Fleischer and Terrytoons to freelance. And now these guys were what you call “rubber hose animators.” Like the old black-and-white Mickey Mouse cartoons, no elbows, it was all just rubber hose. And now, so, Joe is selling shows like ‘Space Ghost’ and ‘Jonny Quest’ and all of this [adventure stuff]. And I was working on a show called ‘Mighty Mightors’ [sic] and that was kind of a lesser show so a lot of, you might say, B or C animators [were assigned]. Oh, it was embarrassing to watch. And then, of course, at that point, they say “Hey, you know, we got to get strong comic book people like Doug Wildey and Alex Toth.”
    That’s where it required very strong poses, from one pose to the other, and it’s these comic book-trained artists that could get the superhero, that strong pose. So the rubber hose animators put in-between drawings to this pose, and then from that pose to the next.

    What about practical jokes at the studio?
    Willie: Well, herein lies that joke where someone asks Joe “Hey, how many people work at the studio?” He said “Half.” We always thought that Joe would roam around and see all these gag cartoons in the cubbyholes that we were working in and it’s like, well, that all takes time. That one drawing could have been one scene, you know, one layout.
    Stu: Did Hanna say stuff that like?
    Willie: Why, I’m sure Hanna thought it.
    Stu: Did they do a lot of Asian humor at you and Iwao?
    Willie: We never took offence. Well, you know, Jerry had a sword and we would take the sword and we would...run around like samurai warriors.
    One thing we never had back then was H.R. That’s like the death of all big companies.

    You got mixed up with Iwao Takamoto.
    If I did anything wrong, Joe always thought I was evil. I would take credit if it was good, and if he was criticizing “Iwao did it.” Joe would confuse it. He would be calling me “Iwao.” But I won’t correct him. (Mixing up pay cheques) That was always correct.
    That’s like being mistaken for Iwao by Ralph Bakshi. I get a phone call at Hanna-Barbera. And it says, uh, “Willie Ito, this is Ralph Bakshi’s secretary. Ralph would like to meet with you.” I says “Oh, gee whiz, okay.” So we set a time and date and then I’m driving down Melrose Studios, it’s almost 12 o’clock, and I see Ralph and a couple of animators walking up Melrose and I said “That’s Ralph and we have an appointment.” But I continue, I get to the studio, I park, I go in and the secretary says “Well, Ralph’s out for lunch but he’ll be back around one. So if you’d like to wait...” So I sit there patiently waiting and then Ralph comes in and then he calls me into his office and sit down and then he proceeds to interview me, so I’m talking and then they realise this and Ralph says “You’re not Iwao! I don’t want you.”

    Incidentally, the ‘B’ and ‘C’ animators on the credits of Mighty Mightor include MGM vets Ken Muse, Jerry Hathcock, Irv Spence, Ed Barge, Dick Lundy and Don Patterson, as well as ex-Disney-ites George Goepper, George Rowley and George Kreisl. That’s not bad for a “B” crew; Spence even supervised animation on Jonny Quest (a far cry from his work with Tex Avery in the ‘30s). Willie, Jerry and Iwao provided layouts along with Steve Nakagawa, Phil Lewis and future union business agent Lou Appet.

    Mr. Ito said much more in the interview and Jerry Eisenberg provided a little more elaboration on some of the things he mentioned in an interview on this blog some time ago. You can click on this link to go to Stu’s site to see or hear it for a paltry sum. Scroll through the menu and see what else interests you. (I get no kickback for this).

    By the way, Jerry mentioned in 2011 he wanted to do a second interview. Here is it more than seven years later and we still haven’t done it (my fault). We shall endeavour to rectify that. Jerry mentioned on Stu’s Show he had a story about Frank Paiker, the head of the Hanna-Barbera camera department whose career went back to the early 1920s. He never did tell it. Perhaps I can roust that out of him.

    0 0

    Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
    Credits: Animation – Don Patterson; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
    Voice Cast: Hokey Wolf, Farmer Smith, Humphrey – Daws Butler; Ding-a-Ling, Humane Society Woman – Doug Young.
    Music: Hoyt Curtin.
    Production No E-145.
    First aired: week of March 13, 1961.
    Plot: Hokey cons a farmer into giving him free grub by feigning a leg injury.
    Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.

    The most interesting animation in the first Hokey Wolf cartoon is when our hero places his finger in the rifle of Farmer Smith, daring him to shoot. He does. Here are the individual drawings. The third drawing is shot on twos, the rest on ones. (P.S.: nice going on the DVNR on the DVD, Warner Home Video).

    Hokey Wolf really doesn’t interest me and I’ve been working through my head about why that is. In this particular cartoon, Warren Foster has written a solid story, Daws Butler’s voices are tops as always and Monty has some interesting colour choices in his backgrounds, but I just can’t get into it. Maybe it’s because Hanna-Barbera wasn’t just borrowing from sitcoms— The Honeymooners or, in this case, Phil Silvers—it was now borrowing from itself. Tall schemer, short conscience? Sorry, I’d rather watch Yogi Bear and Boo Boo do the same thing (the praise Ding-a-Ling heaps on Hokey must be inspired by the 1954 Warners cartoon “Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide” written by Foster). And how many more times did H-B use that formula?

    Don Patterson, a veteran of “Fantasia,” “Dumbo” and some crazy takes in “A Fine Feathered Frenzy” at the cost-conscious Walter Lantz studio, is pretty much reduced to walk cycles and characters standing around talking. He gives it a good try every once in a while. Here’s Hokey faking having his leg in a trap and howling in “pain.” The only thing that moves here is the head.

    A good effect is a flash camera effect, where the screen turns white when a “photo” is taken. You can see the same thing in the Yogi Bear cartoon, Space Bear, which was also animated by Patterson.

    Whether it came from Foster’s storyboard or Paul Sommer’s layouts, I don’t know, but there’s silhouette animation of Farmer Smith.

    Sommer would have designed the incidental characters. I like Humphrey, the photographer.

    I mentioned above that the backgrounds were painted by Fernando Montealegre, if the credits are correct. As you can see by the interior above, he abandoned the great, stylised flat designs which I really like in those 1958 Huck and Yogi cartoons. Here is his farmhouse.

    Foster gives Hokey some nice dialogue here: “Neat. Well-kept. You’ll notice around that wheat field a little border of dichondra. It makes it dressy. Gives every evidence of being stocked with good, whoooolesome food.”

    Hokey, a la Phil Silvers’, keeps up a steady stream of disorienting patter. “Well, it’s lucky for you,” he says to the rifle-toting farmer,” I am a no-good, thieving, low-down, good-for-nothing wolf, or I’d sue you for slander. Ding-boy, snap this picture (click). Good boy. Now a close-up of the cruel trap. (click) And another one like this (Hokey pulls rifle up to his face). For protection, you know. It’s my best side (click). Now get one of the defendant. Smile. That’s it (click).” When the farmer asks what it’s all about, Hokey explains he needs evidence for court. “Cruelty?” says the farmer. Hokey moves his trapped leg. “This isn’t exactly a charm bracelet on my leg, you know.”

    The farmer doesn’t have time to think that he never laid a trap. “You didn’t know (it was Be Kind to Animals Week)! But the whole world will know. I can see the headlines now: “Jury Convicts Farmer...” uh, come, come, the name. This must be spontaneous.” It’s the kind of finger-snapping line Silvers’ Bilko (or, later, Top Cat) might blurt out. Anyway, the farmer is conned into taking him into the home to feed him back to health, similar to the plot of the 1958 Yogi Bear cartoon Tally Ho Ho Ho (“Here it is, wolf,” says the farmer. “Some nice, hot barley water. Just the thing for your shocked condition.”). Like Yogi, Hokey isn’t satisfied and raids the fridge. And like the Yogi cartoon, the farmer discovers the fakery, in this case when he catches Hokey dancing.

    Hokey, however, has hedged his bets. He calls the Humane Society to give it a scoop—Farmer Smith has befriended a crippled wolf and is nursing him back to health. And it works. The Humane Society people arrive just as the now-clued-in farmer is about to clobber Hokey. They take pictures of the fake-smiling farmer as he feeds the wolf. “That Hokey,” says Ding-a-Ling to the audience, “He’s the greatest wolf ever” as the cartoon ends. Ding, evidently, has never seen a Tex Avery cartoon.

    Doug Young plays not only Ding-a-Ling, but lends his voice to the matronly Humane Society woman. I can’t think of another time he did a falsetto voice in a cartoon, but it’s as funny as Don Messick would have done.

    Hoyt Curtin’s tracking library opens with his version of “Strolling Through the Park One Day.” The other cues will be familiar to you from Snagglepuss and Lippy the Lion cartoons.

    Hokey (originally named “Wacko Wolf” until, perhaps, it was realised Larry Harmon had a cartoon character with that name) was supposed to replace Yogi Bear on the Huck show when Yogi got his own show at the end of January 1961. But the Hokey cartoons weren’t ready. Yogi reruns were featured on the Huck half-hour until the first Hokey short was ready in March; a rerun of Huck’s great Spud Dud accompanied it that week.

    No, this is not going to be the first of a bunch of Hokey reviews. As I say, I’m not a big fan of the series and I frankly don’t have the time to blog, let alone attempt to mask TV cable network bugs on frame grabs for a series I’m not interested in. I will say it’s a shame that this series and the remainder of the Huckleberry Hound and Pixie and Dixie cartoons that don’t have music issues aren’t out on DVD.

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