Articles on this Page
- 06/09/19--15:15: _Was Boo Boo a Boo Boo?
- 06/12/19--07:05: _Hey, Boss, Lemme Wa...
- 06/15/19--07:00: _The Best To You...
- 06/19/19--07:02: _Flintstones Weekend...
- 06/22/19--07:07: _Jinks in Space
- 06/26/19--07:11: _Hanna-Barbera is Re...
- 06/29/19--08:46: _Mugging and Smoking...
- 07/03/19--07:17: _Yogi Bear Weekend C...
- 07/06/19--06:56: _More Costly Than Do...
- 07/10/19--07:19: _Flintstones Weekend...
- 07/13/19--07:03: _The Voice Man We Al...
- 07/17/19--07:08: _Buy Huck, Buy Often!
- 07/20/19--07:17: _Fewer Drawings, Mor...
- 07/24/19--07:00: _Scooter Looter Cycle
- 07/27/19--07:03: _Explaining Cats
- 07/31/19--07:43: _Two Chats With Don ...
- 08/03/19--07:01: _The House of the Se...
- 08/07/19--07:05: _Jazzstones
- 08/10/19--07:17: _Hanna-Barbera Fans ...
- 08/14/19--07:00: _Yogi and Flintstone...
- 08/17/19--07:09: _Talking to Animals,...
- 08/21/19--07:07: _How Kids Teach Daws...
- 08/24/19--07:10: _Helicopter Huck
- 08/28/19--20:32: _On the Road With Hu...
- 08/31/19--07:10: _Thank You For Reading
- 06/09/19--15:15: Was Boo Boo a Boo Boo?
- 06/12/19--07:05: Hey, Boss, Lemme Watch Huck!
- 06/15/19--07:00: The Best To You...
- 06/19/19--07:02: Flintstones Weekend Comics, June 1970
- 06/22/19--07:07: Jinks in Space
- 06/26/19--07:11: Hanna-Barbera is Ready (and Reddy)
- 06/29/19--08:46: Mugging and Smoking With Fred
- 07/03/19--07:17: Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, July 1970
- 07/06/19--06:56: More Costly Than Dobie Gillis
- 07/10/19--07:19: Flintstones Weekend Comics, July 1970
- 07/13/19--07:03: The Voice Man We All Loved
- 07/17/19--07:08: Buy Huck, Buy Often!
- 07/20/19--07:17: Fewer Drawings, More Gimmicks
- 07/24/19--07:00: Scooter Looter Cycle
- 07/27/19--07:03: Explaining Cats
- 07/31/19--07:43: Two Chats With Don Messick
- 08/03/19--07:01: The House of the Seven Gargoyles
- 08/07/19--07:05: Jazzstones
- 08/10/19--07:17: Hanna-Barbera Fans Write Back
- 08/14/19--07:00: Yogi and Flintstones Comics
- 08/17/19--07:09: Talking to Animals, Not Super Heroes
- 08/21/19--07:07: How Kids Teach Daws Butler
- 08/24/19--07:10: Helicopter Huck
- 08/28/19--20:32: On the Road With Huckleberry
- 08/31/19--07:10: Thank You For Reading
Did Yogi Bear really need Boo Boo on his show? Before we look at that, let’s look at Boo Boo in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons on the Yogi Bear Show. He looks like he’s in pain sliding down the pole. The oval eyes and heavy eyelids make me think Don Williams animated this.
By this time, Boo Boo was firmly entrenched in Yogi’s world, along with Ranger Smith and Jellystone Park. But that wasn’t always the case.
During the rest of the season, Yogi appeared in a number of different situations without a “bear-type buddy.” Several of the cartoons were in a spot gag format which suited Yogi pretty well. Charlie Shows provided dialogue in the 1958-59 season with former New York animator Dan Gordon coming up with storyboards for his old buddy Joe Barbera who was involved in the story process, too.
Boo Boo or not, Yogi proved to be an incredibly popular character. The opening animation to the Huck show was changed in 1959 where Yogi now joined Huck in carrying the sponsor’s banner into the first scene. There was a change in the writing department as well. Shows went to work for Larry Harmon and Warren Foster was brought in from John Sutherland Productions. Foster got a full “writer” credit and was given the responsibility for all the cartoons on the Huck show. A decision was made to make Boo Boo a permanent sidekick, that a ranger be created as an antagonist and to centre the plots in Jellystone Park. The format limited Yogi an awful lot—no more spot gags or adventures with woodland creatures—but it arguably gave Foster a base to work with and Yogi became so popular, he was spun off into his own show.
Personally, I like some of the Boo Boo-less cartoons of the first season (note that Boo Boo and Yowp never appeared together) and the Yogi/spot gag format. But the little bear is etched in the minds of pretty well all Yogi Bear fans, so perhaps it’s best that he became a permanent member of the TV cast.
Huckleberry Hound didn’t need a lot of hype to become a hit. People found the show upon its debut in 1958 (in some cases because of newspaper ads placed by local TV stations) and critics discovered it, too. They liked it. They were tired of old theatrical cartoons and perhaps the gentle humour of Huck and his friends elsewhere on the show fit the sedate suburban ‘50s.
We’ve reprinted a bunch of stories from critics-turned-Huck-fans from the show’s first season. Here’s one more from the Boston Globe of March 14, 1959. You likely won’t understand the local reference jokes. In case the reference to Fred Allen puzzles you, Daws Butler used his Allen voice as a narrator in the cartoon where Huck is quelled by mosquitoes. The Phil Silvers voice was heard in Little Red Riding Huck.
The critic goes on to say he likes Huck better than Tom and Jerry. The same opinion was made by no less a person than Bill Hanna, though we suspect Bill had a vested interest in promoting his new cartoon series. You can read about it in this post.
Adult Cartoons Now
Huckleberry Hound New TV Funny "Man"
By ROBERT P. ALLEN
DEAR BOSS—This may be a strange request, but what are the chances of sneaking out of the office a little earlier than usual on Thursday nights?
I gotta get home to a house that was never going to be ruled by television, scrub up and eat supper without bolting my food—all before 6:30.
That's "Huckleberry Hound" time, and I've gotta be ready. It's important.
If you haven't had a chance to catch hilarious Huck and his flip-talking pals on Tee-Vee, you're missing what's probably the funniest show ever—particularly if you're a push-over for "adult" cartoons.
This Huckleberry Hound bit—supposed to be the first all-animated, half-hour program ever produced specifically for television— should have you in stitches.
It does all of us at our house.
Should you find I'm wrong and you don't howl most of the 30 minutes except for the commercials, I'll promise to put in a full day on Thursday in the future and live, as I do now, real dangerously on that day.
In order to watch Huck and his pals—providing I can't sneak out earlier—I've got to:
1. Race that convertible 'round the corner right in front of the Quincy Police Station on two wheels without cutting my speed.
2. Leap the sometimes-open draw bridge at Fore River.
3. Ignore the oft-red traffic light in front of the Hingham Police Station.
4. Tear through Cohasset like I did something wrong.
5. Flop down at the supper table without scrubbing my hands—let alone taking off my overcoat and snowshoes.
6. Bolt that food, tote that barge, lift that bale.
And even with all this hustle, there's a chance I might miss the first few minutes of Huckleberry. You know as well as the next boss that things like that don't make for a happy, well-adjusted employee.
Of course, if you let me sneak out, you'll probably have to let some of the others sneak out, too.
I'm not the only Huckleberry Hound fan around.
If you've got a minute, let me tell you what little I know about the show.
It was first introduced last September, and now some 180 TV stations through the country carry it each week.
The characters'"voices," like the ones resembling Art Carney's, the late Fred Allen's and Phil Silvers', are tremendous.
But it's the dialogue that causes the fractures. The episodes are spiced with such ticklers as: "We gotta outwit that nitwit" and "How's that for size blue eyes?"
When they began working together in motion pictures, Hanna was an idea-and-production man supervising photography and physical preparation, and Barbera was a sketch artist.
Cartooning was a sideline with them both. We should have such a sideline.
It developed into the Tom and Jerry cartoons. They turned more than 200 films detailing the adventures of the mischievous rodent, the bungling feline and, of course, the ferocious bulldog, Spike.
The creative routine which began with Tom and Jerry is now applied to Huckleberry Hound and his friends.
But there's one difference—Huck is twice as funny.
In the Hollywood offices of Hanna and Barbera's recently formed H-B Enterprises, there's only one set rule: "Always start the day with a laugh."
That's a pretty good rule.
Results of this rule are on Channel 7 Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
So can I sneak out early, huh?
We now have a late bonus, thanks to Jerry Beck. It’s, well, I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it must have been on toy store shelves close to when Huck was created, as you will note the presence of everyone’s favourite cartoon dog that speaks only one word.
A late note: reader Keith Semmell says it’s part of a toy put out by Knickerbocker in 1959.
Let’s finish our post with an endless loop from the first Huck cartoon that aired, Huckleberry Hound Meets Wee Willie (it was the fifth Huck put into production). There are loads of money-saving cheats in this cartoon, including a cel of a police car with the background by Sam Clayberger moved behind it. The car and Huck don’t move; you can see the wheels don’t even turn.
Kellogg’s bankrolled the first three half-hour Hanna-Barbera series in syndication. Not only did the shows plug Kellogg cereals in the commercial breaks, the sponsor was worked into the opening and closing animated credits.
Actually, for the first series, The Huckleberry Hound Show, there was a little more of a connection than that. The new Kellogg’s Corn Flakes mascot, Cornelius the rooster, appeared after the opening animation to knock on a door through which Huck would enter and begin the show.
Cornelius showed up in the opening as well, crowing, leading an elephant clarinet and then finally rising above the ground in a hot air balloon.
The sponsor’s name (with Art Gilmore doing the first-season voice over) opened the closing animation in a paper hoop that Huck, and then a jalopy driven by Cornelius, burst through, as the two picked up all the other Kellogg’s spokes-cartoon animals. When the cartoons were syndicated later by Screen Gems, the animation was re-done to substitute characters on the show.
The third series, The Yogi Bear Show, had a creative opening where Yogi drove the ranger’s jeep into a billboard and snatched the Kellogg’s lettering as he motored into the distance and then emerged from a second billboard, holding out the letters.
The closing saw Yogi in the ranger’s helicopter flying under the Kellogg’s letters, pulling a banner with the company’s slogan “The best to you each morning.” The banner disappeared in the next scene.
Naturally, my favourite is from the second series, The Quick Draw McGraw Show. Quick Draw is driving a stage. He cracks the whip to make his horses go faster (let’s not get into the horse vs horse debate) and it forms the Kellogg’s letters. His expression changes when the letters fall around his snout. He cracks the whip again and it gets wrapped around his head before re-forming the Kellogg’s letters. The eyes are great. My guess is Dick Lundy animated this.
The Kellogg’s name shows up again superimposed over the cloud of dust caused when Quick Draw skids the stage to a stop.
The sponsor returns in the closing as the bumpy road reveals the Kellogg’s slogan on boards at the back of the stage. The bouncing caused by the bumps then jars Baba Looey and a chest off the stage. Running behind, he and Quick Draw engage in a Senor Wences routine where Baba opens the chest, pops up and says “S’all-right!” before closing on himself. When I was a kid, I had never seen Senor Wences and when I finally saw him do his routine on Ed Sullivan’s show, I thought he had stolen it from Quick Draw.
The animation had to be deleted when Kellogg’s no longer sponsored the half-hour. I noticed the change as a young viewer and was very disappointed. Screen Gems began shopping around the cartoons in 1966, coincidentally about the time Hanna-Barbera was negotiating with Taft to buy it.
The way the sponsor was worked in was fairly creative and added to each of the series.
Hurray! Baby Puss is back!
Yes, Baby Puss, the cat that put out Fred at the end of every Flintstones episode. The sabre tooth tiger didn’t appear often in the actual Flintstones cartoons and seldom in the comics but he makes an appearance this month 49 years ago.
Before we get to him, let’s look back at the era of love, peace and protests. Hmm. That does seem like the Stone Age now, doesn’t it?
Flower Power? Demonstration? Wilma gets caught in a 1970 pun in this comic from June 7th. Nice to see Betty make an appearance. Note the ashtray next to Fred’s chair. This comic features Dino’s only appearance this month.
Baby Puss appears on June 14th. The ashtray disappears. This cartoon and the one next week have the comic’s name on a hanging stone sign.
We get a Yabba Dabba-Doo and some fat shaming on June 21st. Betty’s back in this week’s cartoon.
In the early days of the Sunday comics, Harvey Eisenberg drew some pretty funny monsters. We can’t really see the one in this comic, dated June 28th. Pops and Barney make their only appearance of the month.
Click on the comic to enlarge it.
Hanna-Barbera’s love of outer space wasn’t confined to The Jetsons’ debut in 1962. It started right at the beginning of the studio with the Muni-Mula serial which opened Ruff and Reddy on December 15, 1957.
Here’s an obscure example from The Huckleberry Hound Show. It’s from one of the cartoons after the main cartoons that urged us to tune in next week. Huck and his gang are in a rocket ship. Dixie pulls a lever which opens a hatch sending a sleeping Jinks into space. Fortunately, he’s got a parachute.
The animator gives Jinks a cross-eyed look in dialogue. You’ll notice the teeth fill the mouth in certain letter positions.
The meeces and then Yogi float past him upside down. You’ll notice how the noses and inner mouth are not back. They’re blue-ish to emphasize the fact the head is inside glass.
A sheepish Jinksie.
Silhouette Huck zooms past in the rocket.
Cut to Huck. His mouth doesn’t stay inside the space helmet in all the dialogue.
A Jetsons-like shot ends the mini-cartoon. The cameraman trucks into the background art and turns it so the shot isn’t static.
Another in-between cartoon involved a space ship. We talked about it a bit in this post.
Hanna-Barbera’s writers liked aliens, too. Pixie and Dixie met one in “The Ace of Space,” Huck tries to arrest one in “Cop and Saucer,” Augie Doggie had a little friend on the red planet in “Mars Little Precious,” and he and Doggie Daddy met up with an outer space rabbit-like thing in “Vacation Tripped.” Snooper and Blabber took on an “Outer Space Case,” while a fiendish alien plot involving a fake Yogi Bear was foiled in “Space Bear.”
There were space mission short cartoons as well, such as “Astro-Nut Huck” and “Price For Mice,” while “Space Cat” included a king mouse on some obscure planet that was tied into a spoof of space TV shows like Captain Video.
Considering all this, along with cartoons like “Ten Little Flintstones” and the unlamented series Space Kidettes, Hanna-Barbera got plenty of mileage (or perhaps “lightyear-age”) from using the cosmos as a setting in the studio’s first few years.
Hanna-Barbera might not have become a huge cartoon empire if Sam Singer had been competent.
Back in the ‘50s, unlike some of the other movie studios, Columbia Pictures wasn’t afraid of television grabbing its audience from theatres. It saw large dollar signs instead. Columbia revived its Screen Gems name and pasted it onto a TV distribution subsidiary.
In 1956, the studio had shows like Jungle Jim, The Patti Page Show and Celebrity Playhouse on the air, but no doubt the studio saw the huge windfall the AAP cartoon packages were netting in syndication, and wanted a piece of the animation action.
That’s where Singer comes in.
His Tempi-Toons Company came up with a cartoon series made especially for television called “Pow Wow the Indian Boy.” In January 1957, a deal was struck for Screen Gems to distribute them to stations in 11 western American states. The problem was, as Joe Barbera recalled, the Pow Wow cartoons “looked like hell.” Screen Gems wasn’t happy with it.
Columbia had a theatrical distribution deal with UPA. Why not distribute UPA TV cartoons, too? Screen Gems officials had a look in March at a pilot film for Danny Day of the Knights, which UPA proposed as a one-a-day cliff-hanger serial for television aired over 26 weeks. The company wasn’t happy with that, either.
In the meantime, MGM was about to close its cartoon department and some of Barbera’s staff were working on a concept called Ruff and Reddy with the idea of selling it to TV. Barbera and Bill Hanna set up H-B Enterprises in July and began shopping around the dog and cat adventure serial. Their partner, George Sidney, head of the Motion Pictures Directors Association, got them an appointment at Screen Gems. Despite some opposition from Columbia boss Harry Cohn (Barbera recalled he thought a pencil test was a finished cartoon), the two companies inked a deal and Ruff and Reddy debuted on NBC on Saturday morning, December 14, 1957.
From that humble beginning emerged the TV cartoon powerhouse of Hanna-Barbera.
Saturday morning TV, in 1957, was a dumping ground. It was filled with old theatrical cartoons and filmed live action reruns aimed at kids. It’s a wonder Ruff and Reddy got noticed. However, syndicated columnist Stephen Scheuer found the show and wrote about it not too many weeks after it debuted. We’ve found another column about the show from the Tampa Bay Times of January 5, 1958. There’s no mention of Hanna or Barbera, or Screen Gems, and no byline, so I presume the copy was messaged from an NBC news release.
Big Cheeses In CartoonlandA year later, Hanna-Barbera was at it with a far more ambitious series, the half-hour Huckleberry Hound Show, which was boosted by loving critics and put the studio on a path to expansion.
"Ruff and Reddy," a new cartoon program produced specifically for TV, has started on WFLA-TV (NBC) 10:30 a.m., Saturdays. The highlight of the half-hour snow is the "Ruff and Reddy" four-minute serial made in the cliff-hanger style. In the first 13 episodes (NBC will play two per program) the two heroes, cunning cat end a drowsy dog, are kidnapped by a flying saucer and taken to the planet of Muni-Mula (spell it backwards).
ONLY A HANDFUL of cartoon characters have ever created specially for TV. Ruff and Reddy follow the short trail of Crusader Rabbit, Tom Terrific, Pow Wow and Bert and Harry. The last pair, of course, was created for commercials rather than programs. And, as a matter of fact, the high cost of animation has mainly confined new TV cartoon production to commercials.
There are now almost 3,000 cartoons playing on TV stations, virtually all of them produced originally for theatres. About 900 of them were produced in the silent era and had music and sound effects added for TV airings.
There's a popular impression that the animated cartoon originated from the pen of Walt Disney back around 1930. The fact is that cartoons were already being shown in theatres when Walt was a kid. Animators such as Bray, Van Buren, Max Fleischer and Paul Terry were turning our [out] cartoons before 1920.
True, when Disney created Mickey, the mouse became the big cheese of cartoonland. During World War II, the cartoon's instructional genius was developed to the full for the armed forces training films.
After the War, new and streamlined animation systems were perfected by UPA and other cartoonists. It's these new techniques that make possible new cartoon production for TV.
LAST SPRING production plans were announced for about half a dozen new cartoon programs, but the only one to reach the light of the TV screen this season is "Ruff and Reddy," which is thus, if not rough, unquestionably ready, as well as being right up to the minute with its household pets taking off for outer space.
Someone will mention it if I don’t, but Sam Singer went on to produce Sinbad, Jr. cartoons for American International Television. Something apparently went haywire, as Hanna-Barbera was hired to finish up the series (even the most untrained eye and ear should notice the different between each studio’s work).
Ruff and Reddy had two shots on the NBC schedule, ending in fall 1964, before the individual cartoons went into syndication (the network show included a human host and an old Columbia theatrical cartoon). We’ve found listings for R&R into 1973.
Daring Dino? Ferocious Fred? Neither of the adjectives in front of those cartoon characters’ names seems all that appropriate. But who can argue with paying 75 cents for a mug with their mug on it?
In a way, a mug is appropriate. The original Flintstones cartoons were sponsored, for a time, by Welch’s Grape Juice, through the Manoff Advertising Agency. That happened starting in the 1962-63 season.
The series had a bunch of new sponsors for its fourth season (1963-64). Green Giant (Leo Burnett) and Best Foods (Lennen and Newell) also picked up sponsorship that year. Broadcasting magazine estimated the cost of production at $55,000 an episode, the same as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Donna Reed Show and Hazel. In 1964-65, the Jolly Green Giant took his ho-ho-ho elsewhere and was replaced by Motorola (also a Leo Burnett client).
The show began its life with the bills being paid by Miles Laboratories and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco. Miles was the maker of Flintstones vitamins, but that product wasn’t hawked in breaks on the cartoon show; it wasn’t invented until 1969 (the series ended in 1966).
These ceramic Flintstones ashtrays from the early ‘60s must have seemed appropriate for a show sponsored by a cigarette maker.
The fact that Winston cigarettes were pushed in between acts of The Flintstones is met with a combination of shock and disbelief today by people who weren’t around in the days when smoking was cool, not deadly. They can’t understand why cartoon characters were allowed to sell cigarettes. The reasons are simple.
a) The Flintstones was not a children’s show.
b) Cigarette advertising had a long history in magazines and on network radio.
Jack Benny sold cigarettes; his TV show had (for a while) a cute cartoon character named Happy Joe Lucky. Lucy and Desi sold them on TV, too. Arthur Godfrey sold them on radio. So did Abbott and Costello. Cigarette ads were ubiquitous. They were on all kinds of shows aimed at families. No one thought anything about it. I suspect something we do today will be looked upon as ghastly and unthinkable a few generations from now.
R.J. Reynolds bowed out after two seasons. ABC decided to sell participations in the show for year three, according to Sponsor of June 4, 1962. By September the network had signed contracts with five different advertisers, including Welch’s.
Interestingly, Miles Labs exercised its sponsor authority on the content of The Flintstones. Sponsor magazine of June 17, 1963 reported that “ABC network agrees it’s usual practice for Miles Lab to insist that The Flintstones contain no reference to ‘headache, upset stomach or the taking of remedies to relieve same.’” By this time, Winston’s had moved on to being advertised on TV for the first time in colour—by some animated matchbooks.
We don’t generally see too many other bears in Jellystone Park. Boo Boo, yes. Maybe the occasional rival for Yogi. (My favourite is the hammy bears at the start of the animated “Be My Guest Pest” in the first season of the Huck show). But we get a couple of comics with bear extras in the month of July 1970.
I’m really believin’ Yogi gets even. Okay, Yogi doesn’t have one of those hokey rhymes in the July 5th comic, but Yogi gets his revenge on a practical joker. Cigars? Firecrackers? Great things to have in a national park, Chuck.
Yogi’s French is très magnifique in the July 12th comic, which has a nice punch-line. His French is better than when he caused an international incident of “fillet mignonnies” in “A Bear Pair,” Warren Foster’s light satire on diplomacy. Incidental character bears are chowing down on unidentified berries in this comic.
“Refrig”?! Who says “refrig”? Yogi does in the July 19th comic. Anyway, the Baydos only have themselves to blame for Yogi snipping out parts of the carpet. If they had told him where the diapers were, it wouldn’t have happened. I like the silhouette panel with the fox trotting along on all fours.
More bears chowing down on berries in the July 26th comic. Except Yogi, naturally, which is the punchline here. Excellent perspective on the final panel.
Click on any of the comics to make them bigger.
“Adult cartoon” was a sales pitch bandied about in 1960 as The Flintstones was about to debut. And it only made sense.
Animated cartoons were something found in kiddie matinees at theatres and on children’s shows on daytime TV. If you want to broaden your demographic, then you’d better say your cartoon series isn’t just for the youngsters.
Granted, The Flintstones featured a plot about having a baby and made gentle fun of suburban living. But it wasn’t over the heads of kid viewers, any more than old Warner cartoons about Bugs dressing as a woman to fool Elmer Fudd. They flocked to the show. And it’s the kids of the 1960s that still fondly remember the series today.
Reviews after the first show were mixed. You’ll recall the “inked disaster” quote from the New York Times and (legitimate) complaints about the superfluous sitcom laugh track. However, the Pittsburgh Press liked the show and looked past the debut to the second show, noting kids had already decided it was something they wanted to watch. This appeared in the edition of October 7, 1960.
'Flintstones': TV's Costliest Half Hour
$65,000 Per Week
By FRED REMINGTON
If any of the season's new TV shows can be called a sure-fire success on the basis of only one exposure, it would be "The Flintstones."
It made its first appearance last Friday night. It appears to have been widely viewed and favorably talked about by the people who make or break most TV offerings, the young. When a show wins acceptance among the youngsters, it's in.
We'll be getting our second look at this "adult cartoon series" tonight (Channels 4 and 10, 8:30) so here's a little background on it:
There is a general belief that a cartoon show is cheaper to produce than one with live actors. This is not so. "The Flintstones" is the most expensive regularly scheduled half hour show ever offered on television. The ABC network pays the Hanna Barbera Enterprises $65,000 for each "Flintstones" episode.
"The Flintstones" is the latest cartoon series of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, whose "Huckleberry Hound" won an Emmy this year. They also created "Tom and Jerry,""Ruff and Ready" [sic] and "Quick Draw McGraw." They are veterans of 20 years at MGM, which tried unsuccessfully to match Walt Disney's success with animated motion pictures. MGM ultimately threw in the sponge, and Hanna and Barbera struck out on their own.
They presently employ 150 people, many of them former associates from the MGM animation studios.
"It is said we are doing for television what Disney did for pictures," Joe Barbera said one day recently. "Disney started a family of cartoon characters, like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, who became almost national institutions."
Hanna and Barbera plan to pull Yogi Bear out of the "Huckleberry Hound" cartoon and develop a series with him as its central character. They also have in the works a 75-minute animated feature for theaters starring Yogi.
They see "The Flintstones" as a more adult show than their previous creations.
"We feel the sight is for kids and the sound is for adults," Joe explained. "We were a year casting this show, only instead of interviewing live people, we interviewed drawings."
Joe is a lean man with curly dark hair and flashing white teeth. He is handsomer than most leading men and looks about 27. Then he knocks you off your chair by referring casually to his grandchildren.
"I married young," he explains.
Among the people providing voices for the Hanna-Barbera animations are Mel Blanc, who has been the voice of Woody Woodpecker, Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny, and Daws Butler. Daws' salary and bonuses from Hanna-Barbera last year totaled $80,000.
Hanna and Barbera have greatly streamlined the animation process brought to such brilliant perfection by Walt Disney. So painstaking is Disney that for his big hits like "Snow White" and "Cinderella" he has had live actors and actresses play the parts, then translated the films to animation.
A "Flintstones" episode represents around 8000 individual drawings for the half hour of film. A Disney half hour would use at least 17,000 drawings, to achieve the marvelously graceful movements of characters, or of leaves turning gently in the breeze that are the Disney trademarks.
This is why Disney cartoons have to go into theaters before they come to TV. No sponsor could handle their original cost.
Dino gets a showcase in the comics this month 49 years ago. Three of the four comics are house-bound, the last moves to the golf course.
We’ve mentioned before that Mr. Slate was not Fred’s boss in the comics for reasons, I suppose, have been lost to time.
Barney and Betty get the month off.
Three of the comics have the same Flintstones logo, while the fourth has the name hanging down on a sign.
July 5, 1970.
July 12, 1970.
July 19, 1970.
July 26, 1970.
For a while, it seems like it was impossible to turn on a television set on any given day and not hear Daws Butler. Even in the pre-home video, pre-specialised cable channel days, Hanna-Barbera or Warner Bros. or Jay Ward cartoons were on the air somewhere. Of course, you’d only hear Daws. You wouldn’t see him.
Daws seems to have shied away from being on-camera. In the ‘50s, he appeared on rare occasion on Pantomime Quiz. That was during a time when anybody on radio was expected to make the transition to television. But 40 years ago, he consented to go in front of the camera.
Here’s an unbylined blurb from the Fond Du Lac Commonwealth Reporter of October 12, 1979. This had to be written from some kind of news release because I’ve found Daws’ quote at the end in no fewer than three newspaper stories in three different years. I didn’t see this special so I can’t tell you if it was any good, but I’ve always cringed when TV stars never associated with animated cartoons suddenly pop up as a “host.” “What are they doing there?” I’d always ask myself. After all, would Walt Disney emcee a retrospective on My Favorite Martian?
He's the voice behind Yogi BearDaws was quoted further in a 1982 piece promoting Yogi Bear’s All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper:
Huckleberry Hound can't say a word, Yogi Bear is speechless, Quick Draw McGraw has absolutely nothing to say, and Augie Doggie is mute unless Daws Butler is around.
The shy, diminutive 5'2" Butler is a little man with a very big voice, indeed. It is Daws Butler's voice, personality, comedic sense and innate acting ability that has enlivened the popular animated characters of Yogi and his cartoon cohorts, as well as such pen-and-ink performers as Blabber Mouse, Peter Potamus, Super Snoop and Cap 'n Crunch, plus scores of others.
For more than 20 years since William Hanna and Joseph Barbera founded Hanna-Barbera, their highly successful animated production company, Daws Butler has been widely heard but seldom seen in his special world of artistic fantasy. He makes a rare on-camera appearance when he joins host Bill Bixby in a behind-the-scenes visit to the Hanna-Barbera cartoon kingdom on "Yabba Dabba Doo 2," live-action and animated special to be broadcasted Friday on the CBS Television Network.
Being known only as a voice, throughout a professional career that has spanned nearly four decades in radio and in motion pictures and television animation, could cause an ego problem for most performers, but Butler is philosophic about his lack of visibility.
"I've always considered myself a complete actor, he says. "I become the character in expression, gesture and physical action when I am supplying the voices."
In the early stages of development of cartoon personalities, Butler works closely with the animators, who incorporate his facial features into their drawings. Butler creates characterizations; the artists translate them into pictures.The Daws Butler PR Machine was pretty busy 40 years ago. Here’s another story about him, again unbylined, published in several newspapers starting around October 21, 1979. I like how Daws did the voice of a Ford on a show sponsored by Chrysler.
"There was a time in my early career," Butler admits, "when I resented the prospect of going through life known only as Yogi Bear. I got over the resentment long ago. After all, Yogi is still a star, long after hundreds of others have faded away.
"And he needs me," adds the actor. “To Yogi Bear, at least, I am indispensable. That's a nice feeling.”
Daws Butler Is A Man Of A Hundred VoicesThere was more of Daws on television that year. Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear was broadcast on a number of stations. And there was Daws on the radio, too. He and other fine actors were hired for Sears Radio Theatre, a series evoking memories of drama on the old networks. Unfortunately, the old networks had affiliates which broadcast these kinds of shows. Sears couldn’t clear enough air time to make the show profitable.
HOLLYWOOD—Chicago couldn't always tell the difference between Daws Butler and the engine of a cold Model T.
That unique confusion pushed Butler into a 40-year career that has seen the diminutive character actor give voice to some of the most famous cartoon creatures in the world of animation, including Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, and Huckleberry Hound. His vocal artistry will again be on display when he "speaks for" Raggedy Andy in the upcoming animated Halloween special, "Raggedy Ann & Andy in the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile," Wednesday, Oct. 31 on the CBS Television Network.
Butler served in the U.S. Naval Reserve intelligence branch for four years during World War II and then brought his family to Hollywood, where he broke into radio, working as a dramatic actor and capitalizing on his versatility at "doubling" a variety of voices.
In 1948, Butler starred with Stan Freberg in the West Coast's first television puppet show, the multi-Emmy winning "Time for Beany." Also with Freberg, he co-wrote and co-voiced comedy records, including "St. George and the Dragonet," the first comedy recording to sell more than one million copies. Butler's voice has been "behind" hundreds of radio and animated television commercials, and he created the vocal characters for many world-famous stars out of the animation production houses of Hanna-Barbera, Jay Ward and other companies.
Butler conducts an actor's workshop in his home and at several adult schools in the Los Angeles area, sharing his expertise on acting, in general, and the special art of dialect and voice characterization, in particular.
It’s impossible for me to put in words how much I’ve admired and enjoyed Daws’ work over the years. He finally got the tribute he deserved in the documentary Daws Butler: Voice Magician which you should be able to watch below.
H-B Enterprises (Hanna-Barbera Productions by August 1959) didn’t waste any time pushing its brand-new characters in front of the public by means other than animated cartoons. We’ve documented toys, games, dolls, Hallowe’en costumes; all kinds of things (and that doesn’t include comic books and records) after The Huckleberry Hound Show debuted in September 1958. In fact, Huck and Mr. Jinks were featured on the cover of the March 1960 edition of Toys and Novelties magazine. The industry knew they were marketing major domos.
We have another little collection here, mostly from 60 years ago.
Some time ago, we posted this birthday paper plate set from Futura, sold in 1959. This wasn’t the only one the company manufactured.
The biggest disappointment, naturally, is Kapow is now in the lower right-hand corner replacing everyone’s favourite loveable, one-word dog. Pfft. I was in three cartoons. He was in one. Li’l Tom Tom is also added, as Cousin Tex has been tossed out, too. Still included are Iggy and Ziggy the crows, the mosquito that annoyed Huck in Skeeter Trouble and Iddy Biddy Buddy, who later became Yakky Doodle.
Let’s see what else we can find....
Multiple Products of New York 11, New York didn’t know how to spell Mr. Jinks’ name (neither did Bill Hanna in his autobiography, but I digress), but it featured the stars of the Huck show on a drawing set. Just turn the wheel on the side to bring up the character you want in the window, then draw funny stuff on him with the powder pencil. I presume the powder wiped off. This is also from 1959.
These place mats are from the early ‘60s, manufacturer unknown. Yes, Quick Draw is pulling a wagon like a, um, a horse. I don’t know what company made them. Who doesn’t love blue cacti?
Transogram got licenses from Hanna-Barbera for a bunch of things. Below is a Juggle Roll game from 1959 or 1960. It’s fairly straight-forward. I can imagine kids getting bored with it after a while, but don’t they with all games? In addition to the star characters on the Huck show, there are also Boo Boo and Li’l Tom Tom. Notice the beams are made of sturdy masonite!
The Estelle Toy Co. of Victor, N.Y. came up with Silly Sun Pix in 1964. It came out with a Magilla Gorilla set, a Flintstones set and a Huck set. It looks like you combined different strips of film to create your own version of the Hanna-Barbera characters and used sunlight or a lamp to view them.
From 1959 comes Karbon Kopee from Wonder-Art of Boston. You could trace on top of panel cartoons of Huck, Jinks, the meeces, Yogi and Boo Boo to create your own carbon copy. Or is that Karbon Kopee? No paints! I wonder if you got a carbon-y mess from this toy. A real movie, free inside? Kind of. You could create a flip book by cutting on the dotted lines around drawings of a hula-hooping Huck.
The Su-Prize Cup was manufactured in 1960 by Ideas, Inc. of Des Moines. This one features Huck; there was a Mr. Jinks one, too. This was for recalcitrant children. Say they don’t want to drink their milk. You place a coin inside the cup, fill it with milk, and when they drink it all, the coin pops out of the bottom.
If you want a closer look at these pictures, you can click on them.
Adult humour today isn’t what it was 60 years ago.
Today, “adult” humour brings to mind a lot of sexual references and crudity. In other words, the stuff 12 year old boys sniggered at 60 years ago because it was “forbidden.” 12 year olds, the last I checked, are not adults.
60 years ago, adult humour covered a different swath but, simply, it was funny or amusing material aimed at the grown-up crowd, not kids.
The Flintstones was constantly advertised in the lead-up to its debut in 1960 as an “adult” cartoon series. Some critics complained after the first episode that the show was no more adult than Huckleberry Hound, which they all loved. No less than Joe Barbera switched gears and then explained in print that it wasn’t an adult show; that was just a publicity thing.
Huck’s name came up in a number of articles dealing with the impending arrival of the Modern Stone Age Family. Here’s one from the Arizona Daily Star of August 26, 1960. There always seems to be something that makes me sit up and think “WHAT?!” when I read some claim by Bill Hanna or Joe Barbera. In this article, it’s a note that Hanna-Barbera spent two years to cast the show. That means the two were working on The Flintstones before the Huck show debuted. I don’t buy it.
This is the second article where I’ve seen Barbera gripe about the original designs of the characters looking like something from animated commercials, which tended to be a lot more stylised. Ed Benedict once claimed Barbera hated stylised cartoons, meaning he had to tone down his designs for The Flintstones.
'Huckleberry Hound' Fans Will Flip Over 'Flintstones'
Situation Comedy Goes To Stone Age
By HAL MARSHALL
Star Staff Correspondent
HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 25—They're going back to the Stone Age to provide what many person In Hollywood think is a big step forward in television.
If that isn't confusing enough, try this: A nighttime situation comedy series of CARTOON characters.
Sophisticates that go mad over "Huckleberry Hound" will probably go berserk when they see "The Flintstones," the adult cartoon series that dawns Sept. 30 on ABC-TV (Channel 9).
The cautious middle-of-the-roaders in the vineyards here say this new concept in evening entertainment will be a smash or the biggest flop in the industry.
Hanna and Barbera Productions, which enlightened TV with "Huckleberry Hound,""Ruff 'N' Ready" [sic] and "Quick Draw McGraw," is taking the big step.
Three years ago Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna, cartoon creators of "Tom and Jerry," saw movie cartooning hit a low as all the major studios were cutting back or discontinuing cartoon departments. After 20 years at MGM, the two went out on their own and became giants in what was then a dying industry.
The Emmy Award winning "Huckleberry Hound," ostensibly for kids, is a sample of their craftsmanship. The program prompted the Navy to name an island after it near the South Pole. Schools such as Ohio State used it as a homecoming theme and the fan mail included a plea from six scientists at White Sands to schedule the program later In the day so they could see it regularly.
"The Flintstones" may be the answer to the scientists' dilemma. If you don't think so, a brief conversation with Joe Barbera erases all doubts.
A suave super salesman, who looks more like the leading man type than a cartoonist, Barbera explains "The Flintstones" as a fun-provoking satire on modern life. Fred and Wilma Flintstone have the same problems that the avenge couple experiences. Their Stone Age location gives wider range to the comedy.
Fred works at a dino (dinosaur-powered crane) operator. He and his neighbor, Barney Rubble, belong to the YCMA (Young Cave Men's Assn.).
"Take a cartoon car," Barbera said. "It's nothing, but when it's prehistoric, it has something." The Flintstone's piano will, naturally, be called a "Stoneway."
"Fred will even have an electric razor," he said. "It's a clam shell that closes over a bee. Then it starts to go buzzzzzz." Barbera held an imaginary razor to his cheek.
An example of the sight gags is a shot of Fred and Wilma on the freeway near their city of Bedrock. A car goes by with a lizard pushing it. Fred says: "Look there's one of those new cars with the engine in the back."
When Hanna and Barbera first tried to sell TV on the idea of cartoons, those in the know scoffed at the idea because cartooning had proved to be too expensive.
Barbera will agree that cartoons had gotten to the place where they were like motion pictures or live persons. Every movement was shown and it took "zillions" of drawings.
The team of H & B eliminated a lot of these superfluous drawings, substituted partial drawings and quickened the pace in scenes.
An example Barbera cited in explaining the reduction in drawings, is that of a person in a room. Instead of making a number of drawings to show the man walking into the door, there's a cut shot to the face as he walks, then a cut back to the full view showing the man at the door. The drawings showing his every movement as he crossed the room to the door are eliminated, but the fact that he gets to the door is easily and quickly conveyed.
To be honest, I prefer the Huck show over The Flintstones. Granted, the voice casting was excellent (until Bea Benedaret was let go) and some of the talking animals were really good. Dino could be funny. But the series went downhill in the third season in my estimation; I’ve gone through the reasons before on this blog so there’s no need to repeat them all. Huck and his gang were pleasantly amusing or funny most of the time. They were likeable characters; even Mr. Jinks you couldn’t hate despite picking on Pixie and Dixie. Kids knew it. Adults knew it, too. The Huck show is still adult humour as far as I’m concerned.
Scooter Looter is one of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons that’s chock-full of short cuts and the kind of cartoon that never would have been made the following season.
It was produced in the first year (1958-59) when Charlie Shows was entrusted to write dialogue for the cartoons. There are some shorts where whole stretches go without it. When Warren Foster was hired to replace him, Foster not only got a writer credit, he filled cartoons with words.
In Scooter Looter, large portions of the cartoon feature nothing but Yogi riding a scooter, at times pushing a button on a horn, as he moves in cycle animation through Jellystone Park. He’s not saying a thing.
One of Carlo Vinci’s cycles is in three drawings, animated on two frames each, as Yogi and the scooter zip past Art Lozzi’s trees in the background. It takes 12 frames to get back to the start of the trees creating an endless cycle. Yogi’s head is on a separate cel.
There are several head-shake cycles in the cartoon; one is used at least twice. Another one involving Ranger Mack uses four drawings, one per frame. Carlo only animates the head. (Ranger Smith had not been invented yet).
And there are other scenes where the camera focuses on a background drawing for about two seconds of film with no animation; just the music of Jack Shaindlin or Geordie Hormel playing. H-B saved cash on that kind of easy footage. Lozzi’s background art is quite enjoyable; you can see it in our review of the cartoon in this post.
Hanna-Barbera made good copy in 1961. The proof is in a search through newspapers as Arnie Carr’s PR department successfully pushed the studio’s newest series, Top Cat. Editor after editor opened up a full page of valuable space to promote the show. Quotes from Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna and/or the show’s stars, accompanied by what must have been a large stack of stills, filled space. In addition, some papers featured a picture of T.C. on the front page of their entertainment pullout section.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. The studio was on a roll. Critics loved The Huckleberry Hound Show when it debuted in 1958. The Quick Draw McGraw Show got positive ink in 1959 for its gentle satire of TV programming trends. The Flintstones was greeted with mixed reviews in 1960, but quickly became a hit with audiences. Audiences couldn’t get enough Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
Well, actually, they could. Top Cat turned out to be a prime-time failure. Its elements simply didn’t add up to attract a big enough audience. I’ve mentioned before I’ve never warmed to the series, though I love Hoyt Curtin’s tracking library and think T.C. was Arnold Stang’s best cartoon role. Marvin Kaplan is always great, too. But let’s set that aside and bring you a couple of newspaper stories.
Story one was published November 11, 1961. The writer was syndicated; by whom, I don’t know. Interestingly, of the half dozen or so versions of this story I’ve read, each of them has a different publicity photo with it. The second story is from the Pittsburgh Press of December 3, 1961. I’m a little miffed with it because it omits John Stephenson in its profiles of the voice actors. It’s not as if he was obscure; in the 1950s he had been a regular on the sitcom The People’s Choice and hosted Bold Journey for a time. Stephenson began his Hanna-Barbera career with The Flintstones and was the studio’s go-to guy for starring, supporting and utility roles for more than 30 years. The funny thing in the second story is the writer evidently couldn’t make out all the theme song lyrics so he omits one line (all Curtin had to do was change the notes to fit the syllabic emphasis and there never would have been confusion).
'Top Cat' Keeps Things Swinging On Officer Dibble's Alley Beat
BY EDGAR PENTON
HOLLYWOOD—There's an alley somewhere in the heart of New York that's been swinging since September 27. That was the debut date of Hanna-Barbera's Top Cat," Wednesday night cartoon series on ABC-TV. And the alley is the home of T.C. and his rowdy band of fellow felines.
T.C., as he is affectionately called by his friends and cartoon cohorts, heads a quintet of TV's wackiest characters.
There are rotund Benny the Ball, T.C.'s sidekick who's a little slow but far from stupid; Choo Choo, an eager ball of fire with spinning wheels that take him nowhere; Spook, a pseudo-intellectual who's more often in orbit than not; The Brain, so named because of his almost complete lack of thinking power; and Fancy-Fancy, a feline fop who's great with the girls.
THE CLAN'S favorite target is Officer Dibble, the cop on the alley beat who is kept thoroughly confused but undaunted by their adventures.
Top Cat, himself, is a dyed-in-the-wool con man with a heart of gold. His spinning mind, glib tongue and out-of-this-world imagination are dedicated to one proposition to raise the living standard of his fellow cats. He's an opportunist and nimbly aggressive but he'd never hurt anyone.
"Top Cat and his pals live in a New York alley, but it's not a depressing alley," said Joe Barbera. T.C. has seen to it that it has all the comforts that a well-adjusted cat needs. There's a telephone on a nearby pole that's officially for police use only, but T.C. doesn't let this discourage him from making free and frequent use of it.
The lively group gets nourishment, with little effort, from bottle of milk left on neighborhood doorsteps.
"T.C. lives in a magnificent ash can, but when bad weather makes the ash can uncomfortable, he and the group congregate in the basement of a nearby delicatessen.
"Always anxious to improve their minds, the cat sextet studies the newspapers tossed on doorsteps."
WHEN ASKED why they chose alley cats as the heroes of their new half-hour series, Bill Hanna replied, "It's simple. Cats have a lot of personality on which we can capitalize. Stray alley cats, in particular have real living problems with which we feel viewers can easily identify. They're going to understand the gang's struggle for survival and they're going to enjoy the fun they have with their freedom."
Top Cat is a 'doer' and somewhat of a conniver, but he's wonderfully good-hearted.
"All his pals admire T.C.," continued Bill. "His word is law. He's not really a dictatorial leader—his clan is strictly democratic—but a breakdown of the voting would show that Top Cat has 50 per cent of the voting power."
"Even Officer Dibble loves T.C., down deep in his lawman's heart," added Joe Barbera. "Officer Dibble and T.C. are constantly engaged in a battle of wits, and the battles get pretty spicey sometimes.
"Dibble is no fool, nor is T.C. It's easy to see that both of them really love this brain trust battle.
"Arnold Stang, who supplies the voice of Top Cat, refuses to look on cocky T.C. as a cat. "He's a person, one with whom everyone can identify," said Stang.
"Take Top Cat's running battle With Officer Dibble. People are bound to love this because T.C., in a completely inoffensive way, flouts the authority that Dibble represents. "T.C. knows that he has to conform, but he, like many of us, would like to break away from the confines of conformity once in a while. He walks a fine line; T.C. never breaks the law, but he manages to make life pretty hectic for the law enforcer.
"You cant help but admire that canny intuition of his. Dibble has many Achilles heels, and T.C. has found most of them."
With Stang's enthusiasm for his role in "Top Cat," and his previous role in the animated series, "Herman the Mouse," the question may arise, "Are you man, cat or mouse?" At the moment, Stang might have a little trouble answering.
Maurice Gosfield, well-known for his role of Doberman in the Sergeant Bilko Show, provides the voice of T.C.'s chief confrere, Benny the ball.
"Frankly, I prefer Benny to Doberman," said Gosfield. "Benny is smarter. That chubby little character has become a real person to me. From now on, every time I go to New York I'm going to expect to see those cats in some alley."
"Benny is a combination aide-de-camp and conscience to Top Cat. Sure, he's somewhat of a dolt, but he always manages to be down-to-earth enough to ask logical questions."
Choo Choo (voice by Marvin Kaplan) is the eager beaver of the group. He's the errand-runner who is so eager that he usually dashes off on a mission without waiting to hear what it is. Spook (Leo De Lyon) is a four-legged beatnik who is trying very hard to be an intellectual. But he can't quite hide his foolishness.
THE BRAIN, also voiced by De Lyon, is described by Leo as "a sort of Nebish of the streets the outdoor-type Nebish. "He's not too bright, but his is an unusual type of stupidity. He knows he's stupid, but he's always in there pitchin'."
Fancy-Fancy (John Stephenson) is the ladies' man of the alley set. He's proud of his irresistible charms, but this is his only asset. Everyone knows that an alley wouldn't be as exciting without at least one lover-type cat.
Allen Jenkins is the voice of Officer Dibble, the upholder of law and order in the alley. This takes him into fascinating side trips in the realm of imaginative cat schemes. "Working with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera in this series is great," said Jenkins. "I'm proud to be a part of it. Just imagine the built-in audience the series has.
"Out of approximately 170 million people, there must be at least 150 million cat lovers. Now, that's what I call a receptive group. I find that I'm taking the role of Dibble pretty seriously because it's Dibble's responsibility to uphold the two-legged end of the battle of wits.
"I look forward to seeing what new schemes T.C. is going to think up next."
The Men Behind The Voices
By Fred Remington
Press TV-Radio Editor
Top Cat—the most effectual
Top Cat—whose intellectual
Close friends get to call him T. C.
Top Cat—the indisputable
Leader of the gang.
He's the boss, he's the king
But above everything
He's the most tip top
Yes, he's the boss, he's the king.
But above everything
He's the most tip top
WITH THIS swinging theme music, each Wednesday evening at 8:30 (Channel 4) 'Top Cat," one of this TV season's crop of animated cartoon series, makes its appearance.
Like several other cartoon series, "Top Cat" is more of a radio show with pictures than it is a TV program. The voices make it. The pictures, while often inventive, are supplemental.
As with other cartoon series, both in and out of the prolific Hanna-Barbera stable, the voices of "Top Cat" are arrestingly familiar. There is a more than casual touch of Phil Silver's Sgt. Ernie Bilko to the jaunty, angle-man tones of "Top Cat."
(More tantalizing still, however, are the voices in the "Bullwinkle" series on Sunday nights, a production of the colorful Jay Ward studios. The voices are fleetingly, hauntingly familiar, but whom do they remind you of? Red Skelton, among others?)
With the upsurge in popularity of animation series, voice actors have come back into their own to an extent they have not enjoyed since the days of radio drama. Needless to say it also has been a godsend to artists specializing in animation techniques.
Here are the men who provide the voices for the "Top Cat" characters.
Allen Jenkins—The voice of Officer Dibble traveled widely as a youth from Staten Island, where he was born, to Brooklyn, to Nyack and finally into Manhattan. This accounts for the ripe New Yorkese which he has brought to his movie and TV roles. His involvement in a series about cats is fortuitous, for he is a devoted cat-lover. Divorced, he lives alone at Malibu Beach, Calif., his only companion being a 23-pound cat named Smiley.
Maurice Gosfield—The alley in which "Top Cat" makes his residence is, Gosfield asserts, "maybe 44th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues because it's not too far from Broadway but still the right area for a neighborhood cop like Officer Dibble." Gosfield, remembered as Private Doberman in Bilko's platoon, is the voice of Benny the Ball. He started in radio thirty years ago.
Marvin Kaplan—The voice of Choo Choo is a protege of Katherine Hepburn, who was struck by him when she saw him perform in a community theater in Los Angelas [sic]. She got him a part in the movie, "Adam's Rib." He did several other movies before switching to TV in the "Meet Millie" series.
Leo De Lyon—Leo is two characters, Brain and Spook. His music teacher in New Jersey discovered in his early childhood that he had perfect pitch. He studied music and his career was suspended by a long tour of submarine service in World War II. After service he worked up a vocal act—he can sing as either a high soprano or a baritone. He believes he may be the only man alive who can hum one tune while simultaneously whistling a completely different one. (If you think that's easy to do, try it.)
What’s the connection between the Jetsons and Soupy Sales? Let Don Messick tell you.
Messick was, of course, the voice of Astro on the series. The voice was borrowed a few years later for another dog character. So how can two characters have the same voice? Let Don Messick tell you.
The Asbury Park Press conducted a full page interview with Messick for its May 15, 1994 entertainment/lifestyle section; it was part of a push for the Flintstones movie coming out. Don M. was, more or less, handed sidekick roles when he was hired by the brand-new H-B Enterprises in 1957 but he had a long career at the studio, and elsewhere in animation. This story gives a lovely summary of his work at the studio to date, as well as a mention of his puppet work.
Not long after this interview, Messick suddenly retired. His health deteriorated and he passed away in 1997.
MAN OF A THOUSAND VOICES
By MARK VOGER PRESS STAFF WRITER
How many of the following unmistakably-Don Messick voices would you recognize? Bamm-Bamm. Scooby Doo. Astro. Boo Boo. Ranger Smith. Muttley. Precious Pupp. Ricochet Rabbit. Dr. Quest. Bandit. Pixie. Ruff. Hoppy. Mr. Twiddle from "Wally Gator." Multi-Man from "The Impossibles." And, from "The Herculoids," Gleep, Gloop and Zok.
Voice wizard Messick, 67, has done characterizations for more than 100 series, in episodes numbering more than 4,000
. Messick — who won an Annie from the International Animated Film Society in 1990 — does not "catalog his many voice characterizations in any way. "Most of it is in my head," the actor tells SECTION X over the phone from Santa Barbera. "I don't catalog them in writing or by com puter or anything else. I just pull it out when the character is called for."
Born in Buffalo, raised in rural Maryland, Messick worked up a ventriloquist act at 13 after receiving a dummy for Christmas. "That interested me, when my voice changed," Messick says in announcer-perfect tones. "I discovered its flexibility."
Messick soon won a radio contest, which led to a weekly radio sitcom, "Dynamic DeForrest the Diligent," for which he did all voice characterizations. After a stint in the Army, he landed the radio role of Raggedy Andy on "The Raggedy Ann Show," in 1946. Radio led to television, which led to his association with kiddie show producer Bob Clampett.
Recalls Messick, "I'd been working under contract to Bob, who had several live television puppet shows, which were as near to a cartoon as you could get. We'd move from set to set — three sets with different backgrounds — and create all of the action. This wasn't just a thing like 'Punch and Judy.' It was expensive to produce.
"But that era was coming to an end, because it was cheaper for independent stations to buy or rent old theatrical cartoons — such as the 'Popeyes' and so on — and hire just one person to be the emcee of the afternoon kiddie shows, instead of doing what we were doing."
(Years later, in 1962, Clampett created "Beany and Cecil," providing the voice of Cecil).
No longer under contract, Messick began to call on various film studios in an attempt to scrounge up free-lance work. One studio Messick happened to visit was MGM, "little knowing that at about that time, MGM was closing down its cartoon department, because they figured cartoons were too expensive to create for television."
Heading up MGM's cartoon department at the time were William Hanna and Joseph Barbara, who were themselves about to make the leap to television and — fortuitously for Messick — were soliciting voice actors.
"They were talking to people such as Daws Butler," Messick says of the late actor who created the distinctive voices of Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound and many more. "And then I came along. I had known Daws since about 1944. So, it turned out that Daws and I became the first two voice men for Hanna-Barbera Productions."
The year was 1957. The show was "Ruff and Reddy."
"Actually, I like them. When I see those old ones, there is a charm, I think, in the simplicity, the backgrounds. And the characters come through, in spite of the lack of rapid animation."
Messick has done voices for just about every Hanna-Barbera series produced, including the 1960-66 series "The Flintstones." At first, Messick had one recurring "Flintstones" role, that of Arnold, the paperboy who always got the best of Fred.
Messick also supplied voices for most of the unnamed, one-shot characters that typified a "Flintstones" episode: the cops, the bystanders, the little animals that doubled as appliances, etc.
" I was on just about every episode," Messick recalls, "being kind of a roving fielder, you might say." That situation would change by 1963.
"They were planning for Pebbles to make her appearance on the show," Messick recalls. "On one of the 'Flintstones' sessions, Joe Barbera said to me, 'Don, you can do baby voices, can't you?' I said, 'Oh, sure.' Of course, I'd already been doing the high voices, like Ruff on 'Ruff and Reddy' and Pixie mouse on the 'Huckleberry Hound' series.
"So, Joe said, 'Well, we want Pebbles to have a playmate. So, we thought the next-door neighbors — Barney and Betty Rubble — would adopt a little boy, and he would become Pebbles' playmate.'
"So, it turned out to be this super-strong little guy. Joe described the character, that he's carrying this club, and playfully — because he doesn't know his own strength — he would, maybe, pick his dad up and swing him around, going, 'Bam! Bam!'"
(Messick adds Bamm-Bamm-style baby gibberish).
"That's how it was born. Joe just gave me the idea the character, and and I just ad-libbed an audition right then and there."
Messick says of the late Alan Reed, who created the role of Fred Flintstone: "He was not one of those actors who always had to be the center of attention, always 'on.' Alan was a very down-to-earth person. He came up through the radio ranks. He was very warm and very lovable, kind of like a big teddy bear. But, still, he didn't lord his talent or importance over anybody."
It seems that every character Messick has created over the years has an anecdote to go with it. Take, for instance, Boo Boo, sidekick to "Yogi Bear" (1961-63).
"They wanted a kind of naive, friendly little guy who was a contrast to the big, sort of clown, Yogi, bluffing his way through Jellystone Park," Messick explains. "So, as Daws would often say, 'Boo Boo was Yogi's conscience.' Boo Boo would chide Yogi. (In character) 'You'd better not do that — Mr. Ranger wouldn't like it.'
"In the beginning, Joe Barbera wanted kind of a nasally voice for Boo Boo, so some of the earlier episodes have that. I didn't like the voice that way. So, gradually, as the series went on, I eased out of the stuffed-up-nose, into more of a back-of-the-throat."
What of Astro, the playful family pooch on "The Jetsons" (1962-67)?
"So, Joe decided that Astro should have that kind of attitude. (In character) 'Rello, Rorge! I ruv roo, Rorge!'"But then along came Scooby Doo, my favorite voice. So then, when we were doing later 'Jetsons' episodes, I had to pitch Astro a little bit higher. Because, Scooby had the 'growl talk,' though his was more of a barrel-chested thing."
(Here, Messick launches into an impromptu scene as both Astro and Scooby Doo — what a treat!)
And speaking of dogs, what about Bandit of "Jonny Quest" fame (1964-65)? Bandit never spoke (not even "growl talk"), yet Messick supplied his "voice."
"In the earliest 'Jonny Quests,' they used a recorded, real-dog bark," Messick recalls, "which, to me, sounded tinny, and less like a real dog than I could have done. But I did the whimpering and the panting. "Then, later, we reprised the series. We did 13 more episodes to add to the original 26, to make a better syndication package. This time, I did all of the barking for Bandit, which was more of a high-pitched bark."
(Messick barks, whimpers and pants).
"But Bandit didn't talk. He was not a talking dog because the 'Jonny Quest' series was one in which only the humans talked.
"Sort of like real life most of the time."
Now, a real treat. Here’s an interview with Don M. from a local TV show. My thanks to Mark Christiansen for spotting this. Messick shows off his ventriloquism talents while one of the hosts doesn’t know his Smurfs (I imagine a production aide heard about it afterward). Even one of the guests starts asking questions in this far-too-brief interview. I wish he had done more of these.
Dick Thomas pulled a huge workload at the Hanna-Barbera studio. He arrived in 1959 from Walt Disney (after almost two decades at Warner Bros.) to work on the Kellogg’s series, and was providing backgrounds not only for short after short, but for complete episodes of the half-hour prime-time series.
The painting below is part of the opening scene for “The House of Seven Gargoyles” episode of Jonny Quest. Thomas was tasked with making all the background art for this cartoon from layouts of no fewer than four artists—Iwao Takamoto, Jerry Eisenberg, Lew Ott and Sparky Moore. There are plenty of shadows, overhead shots and overlays in the artwork.
We can’t snip together complete backgrounds because of the overlays (foreground cels that move at a different speed than the background pan) but these will give you an idea what Thomas came up with.
The owl’s head is animated, the rest of the body is stiff.
A few of the background pans are reused and there are the usual Hanna-Barbera shortcuts, such as characters on a cel that is slid on a background, heads talking while bodies are stiff and that sort of thing. One thing that irked me as a kid is there are at least two Jonny Quest cartoons with realistically rendered cars but only the wheels move. The car doesn’t bounce a bit on the road. It’s rigid. It looks unnatural. When you see that kind of thing in a Huckleberry Hound cartoon, it’s one thing, but it looks out of place in the Jonny Quest world.
I may have pointed this out before, but in case I haven’t, you may not have noticed that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s credits alternate. Hanna’s name is first in one cartoon, then Barbera’s in the next. I’m certain this goes back to their MGM days.
Jonny Quest is out on Blu-Ray, and it’s a treat to see that Warners has made the effort to put the proper end credits on the cartoons (as well as restore some cut footage in the DVD release of several years ago). It means Dick Thomas and others can get the credit they deserve.
Hoyt Curtin seemed quite comfortable with jazzy, brassy arrangements, so perhaps it’s appropriate one of his famous theme songs got a guitar jazz workout.
Below is Meet the Flintstones performed by the George Barnes Quintet. The notes accompanying it say
“unreleased material from a 1977 Concord, Calif., concert that was recorded a little more than a month before Barnes’ sudden death at the age of 56. Here Barnes leads a quartet-manned by Bay Area rhythm-section veterans drummer Benny Barth and bassist Dean Reilly, and guitarist Duncan James, one of his students at the time-through tunes that, for the most part, were featured on the last two albums he made for the Concord label.”
Is it possible to fairly compare cartoons made by Hanna-Barbera and the Jay Ward studios?
I don’t think so. The two studios had a different attitude and pace. The Hanna-Barbera cartoons were fairly gentle in their satire. They were twice as long as the Rocky or Peabody episodes so the pace was more leisurely. When Mike Maltese arrived at H-B, he seems to have liked quirky dialogue as opposed to the set-up/punch-line style found in some Rocky cartoons.
One critic not only dared to compare them, he decreed that The Flintstones was simply not funny. Not only that, he was so intellectually lazy, he never checked his facts of the shows he was commenting on. Hanna-Barbera fans pounced on him.
Let’s give you the original story and the follow up. The following appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal of March 23, 1961. His praise for a Bert Lahr-esque lion in a Fractured Fairy Tale is particularly ironic, considering he couldn’t name the Hanna-Barbera character with the same voice from the same voice actor.
What's Adult Cartoon? 'Rocky' May Be, 'Flintstones' Isn'tThe fans had their say. Here’s what they told the paper in its edition of March 23rd.
By DICK SHIPPY
Journal Radio-TV Writer
Once upon a time there was a cruel lion (he talked like Bert Lahr) who ruled his kingdom and subjects with an iron paw. One day when the king — a devoted butterfly collector — chased a prize specimen into a cave, his subjects rolled a huge stone over the mouth of the cave, sealing in the cruel king.
The butterfly escaped through a small crack, but the lion remained imprisoned and everyone lived happily ever after. The moral: "A rolling stone gathers no moths."
THAT'S a sample of the sort of tom-foolery which can be seen these Sunday afternoons on "Rocky and His Friends," an ABC-TV cartoon series.
"Rocky" is, to my notion, the best "adult-minded" cartoon seen on television. The key phrase is "adult-minded." It implies a cartoon series can contain little subtleties which will escape children but provoke a response from adults.
For the intellectuals in the crowd, I'm willing to concede any and all cartoons basically are children's fare and it's some sort of infantile regression which causes adults to watch them.
BUT WATCH 'em they do, and that's why I'm staking a claim for "Rocky" as generating the most appeal for child-like adults like myself.
I don't expect to win any converts from the "Flintstones" or "Yogi Bear" crowd. I have friends who collapse on the floor in gales of laughter when Wilma Flintstone hauls out her Stone Age vacuum cleaner (a baby elephant tied to a forked tree branch) or when Yogi sprints about Jellystone Park yelling "Exit, stage left."
I CAN only smile indulgently at such times and recall the really sly, sophisticated fun to be had with "Rocky and His Friends." Rocket J. Squirrel bolts about the skies in a Tailspin Tommy helmet and goggles (he's a flying squirrel). His sidekick is Bullwinkle, an Elks lodge caricature of a moose who talks like Red Skelton.
Then, there's Boris Benenoff [sic], the world's most inept spy, and his girl friend, Natasha — a Charles Addams beauty.
Rocky and Bullwinkle spent many episodes battling Boris and Natasha for possession of the Flying Mountain, a piece of landscape containing a secret, anti-gravity mineral called Upsy-Daisyium.
Then, there's Peabody and his time machine. Peabody is a canine Rhodes scholar who uses his time machine to recreate significant historical events. For instance, William F. Cody was hired by the railroad on a monthly retainer to supply buffalo meat for work crews. On the first and 15th of each month, Cody showed up to collect his buffalo bill.
YOU CAN'T quarrel with success, but it seems to me "The Flintstones" is the most overrated show on the television schedule this season. That's a minority opinion, though, since the Hanna Barbera series is the No. 4 or No. 5 entry among the top-ranked, depending on what survey is listed.
Before Fred and Barney made their entrance last Fall, Hanna Barbera advance publicity defined the show as "an adult-aimed situation comedy in animated cartoon form."
I've watched "The Flintstones" only two or three times, but from that sample, there's little to separate it from other sappy, contrived situation comedies which can be seen on television...except for the animation. And that leaves it strictly in the children's realm.
PUBLICITY advances also termed "Flintstones" a satire on modern suburban life. If there's satire there, I missed it. Nobody ever accused Jackie Gleason of being satirical.
More recently, Joe Barbera has been quoted as saying, "We never said 'Flintstones' would be adult. That was all part of a publicity buildup. Nowhere in the format did we promise people an animated New Yorker magazine."
I'm glad he straightened that out. Some of us were beginning to think we weren't adult enough to understand "The Flintstones." I was on the verge of asking my son to explain it.
Radio-TV MailbagThere was one other annoyed letter in the April 6th edition which is kind of a post-script. It would appear the columnist ended up a little battle-fatigued at the end.
Giving Credit to Snagglepuss
By DICK SHIPPY
Journal Radio-TV Writer
DEAR MAILBAG: After reading your column of March 12, I decided to write you a short letter to let you know that you made a slight (?) error.
You said that Yogi Bear sprints about Jellystone Park yelling "exit, stage left." That isn't Yogi. but a mountain lion named Snagglepuss.
Maybe Yogi Bear and the Flintstones are not adult cartoon entertainment, but they are a change from the westerns which seem to be on constantly. YOGI BEAR FANS.
Dear Fans and Billy: I plead guilty as charged to exceedingly bad reporting. I accepted somebody's word that Yogi is responsible for "exit, stage left" without bothering to check the source of the quotation.
At the time of evening when Yogi is filching his goodies, I am usually distracted by the Texas catch-as-catch-can wrestling match which breaks out in front of the TV set each night in my home. It's a lame excuse, but the best I can manage.
DEAR MAILBAG: I never fail to read your column, and I almost always agree with your opinions. In one of your recent columns, however, you .. said you don't feel cartoon shows such as "Huckleberry Hound,""Yogi Bear" and "Quick Draw McGraw" are adult in humor.
I think that a child should scarcely be expected to understand the joke when the note in Aladdin's Lamp is signed "Genie With the Light Brown Hair," or when the bull is named "El Gorito," or when one of the announcer's lines goes something like this: "Then fickle fate inflicted a fiendish fiasco in the form of El Tobasco"...
Or when Quick Draw disguises himself as an insipid-looking cowboy and the telegram which comes the very next minute reads "Dear Insipid," or when El Kabong says he was late because he had to tune his kabonger.
True, some of the humor is not very adult, but let's give credit where it is due! I wouldn't miss Quick Draw or any of the others. MARY WILSON, Akron.
Dear Mary: To be specific, I stated "The Flintstones" was not an adult cartoon. It depends solely on the "cute" visual effect. There are no "adult" cartoons as such. All appeal first to children. Then they may throw in something, an occasional line of dialog, which would amuse adults.
In any case, I'll make this prediction: By this time next year you'll be sick of network cartoon shows in prime evening time. Knowing television's passion for me-too programming and its low estimate of the mentality of American viewers, we'll be up to here in cartoon shows.
DEAR DICK: I don't specialize in throwing $75 words around as your average reader wouldn't comprehend it. So I'm going to put it so simple even you can understand it.Well, 9 p.m. isn’t 8:30, and 77 Sunset Strip wasn’t children’s viewing, which is what his argument was about cartoons. The columnist, by the way, liked the Huck series and we’ve posted his column about it in this post.
Firstly, I wholeheartedly don't agree with your statement that the "Flintstones" is not an adult cartoon. One merely has to listen to the dialogue, similar to the obsolete "Honeymooners," to realize it doesn't sound like the hanky-panky of Yogi and Doggie Daddy. Furthermore, it's shown at 8:30 p. m. for adult viewing.
The man who thought up this refreshingly different type of entertainment has plenty on the ball. It sure breaks the monotony . . .
Thank heavens they're going to bury "White Fang" and "Soupy Sales" or I'd wind up with a pack of stuttering, bumbling idiots. If "stuttering" and sounds of inebriation and nuthouse characters is all other cartoons have to brainwash our children, I'll have to put the idiot box in mothballs . . . MRS. J. McN., Akron.
Dear Mrs. McN: 1. You're right: it was simple; 2. I have never seen so many wholehearted people; 3. "77 Sunset Strip" is shown at 9 p. m. Does that make it adult viewing?
However, I don’t buy his claim that liking cartoons is some kind of regression into childhood. Funny is funny, whether it’s live action or drawn. Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Jay Ward and Bill Scott all knew it.
Some time ago, reader Richard Holliss graciously offered to send scans of the Yogi Bear and Flintstones weekend newspaper comics he had collected over the years. There are a number I don’t believe I’ve shared with you, so I’m going to do that now.
First up, we have three tabloid Yogis from January 3, 1971, March 7, 1971 and April 27, 1969. The first comic reflects the ’70s environmental movement, the second has a guest shot from Quick Draw McGraw (and a cringing pun) and the third shows Yogi is smarter than the average bear. A couple of silhouette drawings add some stylishness. Bill Hanna’s name is borrowed in two of the comics and Ranger Smith looks less and less like he did in the TV cartoons (note the huge overbite).
I’ll put the date below each of the Flintstones comics. It strikes me as rare that Fred doesn’t appear in some of them. One centres around Wilma and Betty, another around Dino. Oh, and that horrible hippie-type long hair!
January 10, 1971
January 17, 1971
January 25, 1970
February 21, 1971
February 28, 1971
April 11, 1971
May 2, 1971
Click on any for a bigger version.
The concept of Saturday Morning Cartoons didn’t last comparatively long, and a case can be made that it was pushed into being by Hanna-Barbera.
When network television started expanding its weekend hours in the early 1950s, Saturday mornings were mostly kid time. Programmes originally were live action or puppet shows. CBS bought Terrytoons cartoons in late 1953 and began purchasing the cartoon studio outright in late 1955. Old Terrytoons were plunked into the network’s Saturday morning line-up. Soon, a few made-for-TV series, old theatricals and failed prime-time cartoons were added into the mix. In 1965, Hanna-Barbera sold Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel to NBC and decided to focus the bulk of its efforts on what had become a lucrative Saturday morning time period. At one point, the studio had shows at the same time on competing networks.
But that wasn’t the only change at Hanna-Barbera. Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and their business partners at Columbia Pictures decided to cash in and sell the studio to Taft Broadcasting. As well, the type of cartoons began shifting from comedy to action/adventure, perhaps inspired by Jonny Quest. It was around this time the old guard of cartoon writers left; Warren Foster retired, Mike Maltese and Tony Benedict left rather than try to write for shows like Space Ghost (Maltese, in an interview with Joe Adamson, ridiculed the whole concept of Moby Dick, the crime-fighting whale, stating he refused to work on it).
This is the world of Hanna-Barbera in 1968, a world of which Barbera ruminated in a feature story in the San Francisco Examiner. The end of action/adventure (for the time being) was near, thanks to groups pressuring the networks. That apparently suited Joe Barbera just fine (and Mike Maltese, who returned to the studio until network interference finally got to him).
I have to chuckle a bit. The Hanna-Barbera studio was always borrowing ideas from somewhere as a starting point, including their own at MGM. In this story, Barbera suggests cartoon concepts under consideration seem very reminiscent of Bewitched and Dr. Doolittle. There’s no hint that one of the studio’s biggest successes was around the corner, a series that owed something to the radio show I Love a Mystery, a Frank Sinatra song lyric and the voice of Astro, the Jetsons’ dog.
This was published April 14, 1968.
The Purveyor of Saturday's Fare
By John Stanley
"SATURDAY morning is no longer the junkyard. When you talk about a half-hour cartoon show you're talking about as many as 100,000 clams laid end to end. Show me the kid's stuff in that."
Joe Barbera is 45, a sporty dresser and usually just about that subtle when he discusses the cartoon-producing business.
But maybe he has that right. With William Hanna, he runs a subtle animation factory in Hollywood. One of the biggest in the world. And for that reason, he talks to animals.
This year there are eleven half-hour cartoon series on the Saturday morning tube bearing the Hanna-Barbera imprint. They range from re-runs of "The Flintstones" to such new-fangled offerings as "Birdman Galaxy Trio,""Young Samson and Goliath,""Atom Ant-Secret Squirrel,""The Fantastic Four,""Space Ghost Dyno Boy,""Moby Dick Minthor," [sic] "Shazzan,""The Herculoids,""Johnny Quest" [sic] and "Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles."
Next fall many of these shows will be making the re-run circuit, not to mention four brand new cartoon series: "The New Adventures of Huck Finn" (in prime time on NBC), "The Hanna-Barbera Hour," consisting of half-animation, half-live action (these are costing $135,000 per episode), "Whacky Races" and "The New Adventures of Gulliver."
At this moment he is gazing at a large drawing of a riverboat. Behind him stands the artist young, nervous, lacking confidence. Barbera glances up from the watercolor drawing to explain this is for "The New Adventures of Huck Finn." Finn, he elaborates, is the most preferrred of all classics. Or so extensive ratings and testing have decided. Robinson Caruso is next, then Ivanhoe. Those might be considered for later series. He examines the scene again, giving his full attention to the apprehensive artist.
"Looks kind of grim," he muses. "Colors are grim. What I'd do is start with more white, give it more tone. More shadows here." He points. "This looks too much like steel. Riverboats are made of wood. Throw more shadow across here and it'll start to look like a riverboat. Who told you to do it this way?" The artist, fidgeting, mentions a name. Barbera laughs boisterously. "What do Puerto Ricans know about riverboats?" He gives the artist a light slap on his shoulder. The artist's mood brightens. He'll try again. This time with the shadow.
Barbera watches him leave, then swings around in his swivel chair. "I have a hundred meetings like this every day. And with four new shows ... I talk to animals."
It wasn't always this hectic for Barbera and partner. He can remember the day when they couldn't find a single market for their first free-lance collaboration. But that's getting ahead of the story.
It started at MGM one morning in 1956. Barbera and Hanna had spent 20 years with that factory, producing "Tom and Jerry." They had seven Academy Awards to show for their artistic labors, but the soaring cost of animation had placed their jobs in jeopardy. The phone rang and 30 seconds later they no longer had an employer.
The pair turned to television, but the cartoon field was just as vast a graveyard in that medium. Perhaps they could cut exorbitant costs with the use of limited animation. How about strong character, contemporary satire? Material that functioned on one level for kids, on another for adults. Hey. ... So they made "Huckleberry Hound." Would Kellogg's be interested? Maybe, maybe not. It seemed Kellogg's was also considering a package deal with MGM. For old "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.
The irony of that was almost enough to make them seek jobs as cereal box writers. But somehow "Huckleberry Hound" was purchased and Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc. was formed. And born was a whole new attitude toward cartoon animation.
Barbera recalls those days with a certain respect: They could have spelled total disaster. And from their experience they learned there was more to their trade than a paw-clutched wooden mallet descending toward a mouse's head. They saw now that TV was producing a much sharper level of youthful audience to which they could cater.
"What the adults want for the kids is education now. Good moral material. But you can't present it as education. It has to be translated into entertainment. And that's what we're here to do. What I personally prefer is what we've always tried to stress series that have characters the kids can identify with. Characters they can imitate.
"That's why I'm not a fan of the superhero they're all cut from the same cloth and you can't warm up to a superhero like you can to Yogi Bear or Fred Flintstone.
"But I don't worry about that. Super-heroes are a fad on the way out."
"Oh, we're not abandoning adventure. Adventure is always a good staple. And we're going back to animals. Not the animals we've done in the past. Think of it in terms of Dr. Dolittle. Talking to animals. That incorporates the whimsy and still gives us what we want ... not what we want, what THEY want."
There has been much criticism of late about violence in cartoons. Does it apply to Hanna-Barbera? "Certainly. We make a majority of the cartoons so the majority of the complaints apply to us. I can't really defend it but to say it's part of a trend. This entire business consists of trends. Every couple of years we go through major changes. All I can promise is, violence is op the way out. It'll soon be a thing of the past in our cartoons."
(The official statement on violence from the Hanna-Barbera publicity office: "Today's fantastic communications system has painted a realistic picture that children and adults must live with. Hanna-Barbera merely reflects this trend toward realism.")
Another knock on Barbera's office door. The producer sighs under the pending burden of another session with an artist. This time it is an older man with a sample of a character called Dr. Jungle. He talks to animals.
"Now, if you'll excuse me ... I can't hold up production. One of these days"—and he pretends to pull his hair from his head—"I'm gonna get out of here before dark."
Joe Barbera. A man who talks to animals.
Daws Butler taught all kinds of newcomers the art of acting, but Daws got a few lessons himself—from his own children.
So he admitted in an article that appeared in the San Antonio Express and News on April 14, 1963. Unfortunately we can’t reproduce a nice photo of Daws and his youngest son, but we can reproduce the story. There’s no byline so my guess is this was from a syndicate.
TV's Kids Aren't Realistic, Says Cartoon Voice Daws
HOLLYWOOD — It's rare to see a child acting like one on TV or in any other drama medium, says Daws Butler, the voice of young Elroy on ABC- TV's animated “The Jetsons” series.
Soft-spoken, with a puckish sense of humor, Daws is considered something of an expert on juveniles—boys in particular, because he lives with four of them. His four “technical consultants” are sons David, 10, Don, 16, Paul, 12, and Charles, 9. All volunteer ideas on voicing Elroy when Daws works at the mike in his Beverly Hills home sound studio.
“Part of the unrealism of TV children,” explained Daws, “is that they listen thoughtfully to their elders, pay attention when an adult is speaking.
“Actually, children's minds are flitty. If I tell one of our younger ones that 1 want to speak to him, he's apt to come up with something like, ‘Wait a minute. I have to get the football.’
“Children aren't dishonest, but if there's a chance to weasel out, they will, because what is important to us is not to them,” he added.
Looking at Charles, Butler commented, “Typical of Elroy Jetson's sophistication is the fact that when his father tells him to do something, he asks ‘Why?’ or ‘Why do I have to do it your way?’
He thought of another Elroy truism:
From home study, Daws has also picked up the knack of having Elroy either race through a line or underplay it “for his own satisfaction but so his father can't hear it.”
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Butler grew up in Oak Park, Ill. He studied public speaking at Oak Park High School to overcome shyness and entered the entertainment world for the same reason. He made his professional debut at the Black Hawk Restaurant, Chicago, doing imitations as one of “The Three Short Waves.” This led to a radio career followed by his present specialities of creating commercials and cartoon voices.
Butler, heard on other Hanna-Barbera shows as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Mr. Jinks and Snagglepuss, did his first juvenile on the old “Time for Beany” show.
His other “kid” voices for H-B include Augie Doggie, Baba Looey, Blabber and Dixie.
Working in “The Jetsons” has made Daws a super hero at home.
“The youngsters are fascinated with the series and want to know all about it. After all, the future is their world,” he says.
And they like Elroy.
“He's a wide-eyed, attractive little guy, and all-boy. I try to keep him that way vocally-strongly boyish but cute. There would be no point in making his voice odd or gimmicky.
“I also try to stay away from gushing or overplaying,” said Daws. “Kids only like other kids if they don't resent them. And kids do like Elroy. He's one of them.”
What did Daws’ youngsters and students think of him? Our friend Adel Khan has passed along a link to this tribute to Daws Butler that includes some words from his son David and some people whose voices you may recognise from cartoons. It’s pretty long so you may want to skip through it. You can watch it in high-definition if you prefer.
Huckleberry Hound was probably never animated as gracefully than on the little cartoons between the cartoons on his show. It’s so nice to see Huck and the stars of his other shows move fluidly (in full animation at times). Alas, this lasted for only the first season (1958-59); later mini-cartoons move the same way they did on the show with held drawings and so on.
Here’s Huck saying so long to us, diving into a trampoline and telling us at home that we’ll flip over the next episode. Huck flips as he talks to us.
Huck’s straw hat sprouts a helicopter blade and Huck flies out of the scene. He loses his eyes for two frames.
The posing is very nice. It may be the work of Ed Love, but it’s certainly smoother than the way he animated Mr. Jinks and the other characters in the 1959-60 season.
Take the idea of people dressed in huge cartoon character costumes (like at Disneyland) with personal appearances (like the Lone Ranger or a TV kid’s show host) and what do you get?
Huckleberry Hound on location.
The incredible, and almost instant, popularity of the Huckleberry Hound Show quickly got the promotional minds at Screen Gems into gear. They came up with the idea of having Huck and his cohorts show up at department stores, state fairs, wherever someone wanted them to show up. Of course, being animated, Huck et al had to appear via human stand-ins in outfits. One report described the personal appearances as involving dancing and miming to Daws Butler recordings.
Here’s a story from the Hackensack Record of August 25, 1959. Huck was still into his first season. Some of this story has been quoted verbatim on this blog. It would appear the descriptions of the characters used in it likely came from Columbia/Screen Gems news release. Indignantly, I point out somebody at the studio obviously had no clue about Yowp; this is the third different newspaper piece which quotes a line insisting that fine dog said “Yep, yep.” I hope whoever at the company was checked for hearing problems.
Characters From Television Arrive, Greet Old Friends
Huck Hound And Yogi Bear Share The Honors With Fred Sales Of Junior Town
PARAMUS — Television's canine hero Huckleberry Hound will be, honored Thursday, Friday, and Saturday when Huck Hound days are celebrated at Bergen Mall. Huck is the brainchild of cartoonists Bill Hann [sic] and Joe Barbera. He is seen weekly on WPIX and 200 other television stations in the series produced by Screen Gems.
Master of ceremonies on Friday will be television personality Fred Sales of Channel 13's Junior Town. For the celebration at Bergen Mall, Huckleberry Hound will be impersonated by Eddie Alberian, a former member of the Howdy Doody gang. Alberian will pass out canine mementoes to youngsters in the crowd.
This is the second in a series of major local events honoring the tenacious, Southern drawling hound. Two weeks ago when Foley's Department Store in Houston, Texas, held a Huckleberry Hound Day the store was mobbed by more than 10,000 youngsters.
The producers of "Huckleberry Hound", sponsored by Kellogg's, are old hands at animation. For 20 years they produced and directed the "Tom and Jerry" theatrical cartoons and won seven Academy Awards doing it. For their new series they gave birth to six new stars, plus a host of featured players which they turned out in a dizzying production schedule that any sane cartoonist of 20 years ago would have said was impossible.
Title role of "Huckleberry Hound" is that of a quietly persevering canine who will take on any job that promises adventure. Huck, who is host as well as leading player of the series, appears deceptively phlegmatic on first meeting. But underneath that layer of lethargy is an enterprising spirit. The very diversity of the jobs he takes on in the face of repeated failure is proof that Huck just won't give up. In the first few weeks he will appear as an African hunter, a Wild West lawman, a medieval knight, an aviator and a circus barker. And that's only the beginning.
Another new face in the new show is Yogi Bear. Yogi is an overgrown boy. He must be overgrown because next to the trees he's almost the biggest thing in Jellystone National Park. And he must be a boy because he's so playful. His manner may remind you of a certain sewer cleaner who once lived upstairs from a certain bus driver in a certain TV comedy series of two seasons back.
Yogi is aided in his trouble-making by his patient little friend, Boo Boo Bear, a fuzzy little fellow with bedroom eyes and a Midwestern twang.
Hanna and Barbera have a special affection for mice. In their new show they star two little charmers named Pixie and Dixie. They're from the South, and they live behind the baseboard in a comfortable middle-class home. Their only problem in life is a large, cantankerous cat named Mr. Jinks. An impetuous fellow, Jinksie is a "method actor." His readings may remind you of Marlon Brando.
These are the continuing performers in "Huckleberry Hound." In addition, Hanna and Barbera promise a long succession of brand new featured players. To name a few, there's Dinky Dalton, last of the notorious Dalton gang; Judo Jack, whom Pixie and Dixie hire to help protect them from Jinksie; the Fat Knight, who holds the Fair Damsel captive in Hassle Castle; an English hunter (who sounds amazingly like Charles Laughton) and his English bulldog (who says nothing but "yep, yep"), a little Indian boy and a baby fox.
That's just a sampling. All together, there may well be more debuts on "Huckleberry Hound" than on all other TV shows put together.
I love old cartoons and I love 1950s stock music. This blog was started ten years ago as a place to document the stock cues used on every cartoon on the first season of “The Huckleberry Hound Show,” along with a few frames from each and some random thoughts. That goal was passed long ago. We’ve now reviewed every cartoon from all four seasons of the Huck show, save Hokey Wolf, as well as every short from my favourite series, Quick Draw McGraw. That’s all I really wanted to review. Somehow, things kept going and “The Yogi Bear Show” cartoons and “The Jetsons” have been reviewed as well. There have been just over 1,320 posts.
All blogs come to an end. So my intention is to make this the last post.
I’d like to use this space to thank everyone who has dropped by here over the years. I’d especially like to thank those who have left comments, or corrected my mistakes and typos, or added information that I didn’t know. I’m not an animator, I’ve never worked in animation, I can’t even draw. I’m just a guy who likes old cartoons. Having people who know the industry take the time, put up with my lack of knowledge, and add their insights here has been of great benefit, I think, to all the readers.
Rewatching cartoons that I first saw more than 55 years ago (and, in many cases, have rarely seen since) has been an interesting exercise. I’ve watched them with fresh adult eyes, not with nostalgic ones; I don’t pine for childhood days of 1963. Not all of the cartoons were great. Some were disappointing. But others hold up very well and are still pretty entertaining. People should love cartoons for what they are, not because of who we were before adulthood. And I still find it funny that someone came up with a cartoon character that only says “Yowp!”
I’m bowled over by the fact I’ve had the chance to chat with Tony Benedict and Jerry Eisenberg. I’d never have thought, years and years ago, I’d ever talk to anyone whose name I saw on the TV whenever the credits were shown. They’re both very nice people. And funny, too. What pleasure they’ve brought to so many people. Isn’t that a great legacy? Author Jerry Beck has taken some of his limited personal time to be incredibly encouraging. I devoured his Scarecrow Press book he wrote with Will Friedwald when it came out almost 40 years ago and am a little floored he has corresponded with a complete stranger like me. Animator Mark Kausler has been kind and generously volunteered any help he could give, especially his knowledge of cartoons and animators. He is a true friend of animation history. I am fortunate to have had a chance to correspond with Elliot Field, the retired KFWB rock jock who was the original voice of Blabber Mouse in 1959.
Thank you to those who dug up and sent me the Capitol Hi-Q and Langlois Filmusic cues you’ve heard for decades in these cartoons. I looked for them for years not knowing exactly what I was looking for. It’s so fun to hear them without voices or sound effects on top of them. (As a side note, YourPalDoug really is a pal. So is that entertaining pianist, Dave Powers).
Richard Holliss contacted me out of the blue from the U.K. and asked if I’d like scans of his colour Yogi Bear and Flintstones comics. You can thank him for his generosity; the artwork is a treat and it’s a shame there’s never been a will by a publisher to put them in a book.
Thank you to the late Earl Kress. He knew more about these cartoons than probably anyone else and graciously shared his knowledge. He hunted down stock music so it could be cleared for use on CD and DVD. He rummaged through Hanna-Barbera’s archives looking for decent film of bumpers so fans could see them again. And listened to reels of Hoyt Curtin’s recording sessions. Earl’s an unsung hero and I really miss him.
It’s a little stunning to see that this blog has attracted readers from all over the world. And, judging by people who are on the Yowp Facebook account, Hanna-Barbera cartoons cut through race, age, religion, political beliefs and sexual orientation. They unite people around the world with smiles and laughter. Humanity needs something like that every day.
So, again, thanks.