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The Tony Benedict Documentary

What was it like at Hanna-Barbera when brand new Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear cartoons were being made (and endorsing Kellogg’s cereals along the way), and The Flintstones was just getting off the lightboard? There aren’t a lot of people around any more who can give you a first-hand answer to that question. But one of them is the man who drew that fine picture to the right, the Father of Astro, writer Tony Benedict.

Tony got out of the service and began his animation career at the Walt Disney studio (yes, Uncle Walt was alive and well then) before moving to UPA, the people who brought you Mr. Magoo. Tony and his writing partner came up with an idea for The Flintstones and submitted it to Hanna-Barbera. That got him a job at the studio in 1960 and soon he was providing storyboard drawings for the non-artist sitcom writers and writing stories for Huckleberry Hound and Yakky Doodle cartoons. He was the inventor of Hitchcock-ish Alfie Gator. Tony worked on many other series before leaving Hanna-Barbera after Taft Communications bought it to set up his own studio.

For a number of years, Tony has been planning and working on a documentary about his career at Hanna-Barbera and the great people and wonderful characters he worked with. The studio revolutionised TV animation and it’s a story that needs to be told. Besides, there are always funny stories aplenty about things that go on in a studio while cartoons are being made, so documenting them would provide good humour for an audience. Putting together the film has been a challenge; money for the rights to use the Hanna-Barbera characters on screen being one of them. It’s gone through a number of concepts, but it’s finally ready.

Tony has put together a 20-minute animated film entitled “Pencil Me In.” It features Tony, in cartoon form, telling how Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera developed television animation. Other than animator/layout artist Mike Lah (who left in 1958 or ’59), Tony worked with every major player in the early days of the Hanna-Barbera studio. He was there when the company moved from a small, windowless, cinder block cube to the bright, cheery plant at 3400 Cahuenga Drive that everyone associates with the studio. He was there when H-B jumped into the made-for-Saturday-morning business and began its domination.

“Pencil Me In” will premiere at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival on Friday, September 4th at 1 p.m., screening at the Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14. I’m sure Tony will let us know more after that. Check out his website HERE.

Nottingham and Yeggs Storyboard

Fables and legends provided a rich source of parody for animated cartoons going back to the silent era. The story of Robin Hood was among them. It had enough basic concepts (rob from rich, Sherwood Forest, evil sheriff, etc.) that they could be easily adapted in wildly varying deviations. “Rabbit Hood” and “Robin Hood Daffy,” both written by Mike Maltese at Warner Bros., have nothing in common other than Robin Hood was used as a starting point.

Hanna-Barbera borrowed from Robin as well, twice in two years on the Huckleberry Hound Show. “Robin Hood Yogi” (story by Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows) featured the bear dressed in Robin garb, robbing from the rich (food rich tourists) and giving to the poor (himself). The following season, Huck dressed in Robin garb and robbed from the rich and gave to the poor (himself) in “Nottingham and Yeggs” (story by Warren Foster). Again the cartoon were completely different, but both pretty funny.

That benevolent friend of old cartoons, animator and cat fancier Mark Kausler, has passed on a copy of the storyboard for “Nottingham and Yeggs” for your perusal. The board is by Dan Gordon. There are only minor changes in the dialogue. Animator Ed Love departed from some of the staging suggested by Gordon and Joe Montell’s backgrounds are more stylised than what you see in the panels. Compare Montell’s opening pan to Gordon’s.

In panel 10, the sheriff dismissively tosses the bone, but in the actual cartoon, he’s more contemptuous and angry. And panel 12 has mouths open, tongues out, while the cartoon has the dogs with clenched teeth. Panel 16 has the word “Jester” scrawled and an arrow pointing at Huck. This could have been Joe Barbera’s suggestion (judging by the shape of the “E”) to make Huck’s costume consistent as that’s what’s in the finished cartoon.

I love the cat’s crazy exit Gordon has come up with in panel 28. Love went for something more reminiscent of Jackie Gleason, since the dialogue line is a direct steal from him. I also like the idea of light streaming into the forest like in panel 34 but it never made it into the cartoon.

Panels 56 and 57 have characters in silhouette with a tree and a rock on an overlay cel in the foreground. That didn’t make it into the cartoon. Instead, there’s simply a pan from Huck over to the Merry Men as in panel 59. Panel 75 has one man; it may just simply be a drawing indicating the whole group as the dialogue line says “men.” In the actual cartoon, all the Merry Men move their mouths but there is only one Merry Man (Hal Smith’s) heard.

The remaining panels pretty much follow what ended up on the screen.

We’ll have a Pixie and Dixie storyboard for you next month.

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, September 1965

Ranger Smith laments that he can’t get away from Yogi for a single day. Well, actually, Mr. Ranger, you got away from him for three whole weeks 50 years ago this month. Smith appears only in the first of four weekend Yogi newspaper comics.

The September 5th comic is a lovely scan of the complete comic from somewhere on the internet. The others are from lousy newspaper scans from several different papers. I suspect they’re all missing one small frame in the top row. I would encourage you again to go to Mark Kausler’s site to see these comics in full colour he snipped from newspapers way-back-when.

Yogi is smarter-than-average in the September 5th edition. Very nice expressions.

Yogi decides to joy-ride two weeks in a row. He’s far more destructive in this September 12th comic than he was in, say, the cartoon Scooter Looter. The composition is great; I wish this comic wasn’t so fuzzy so you could see the use of space in the layouts better. The writer spares us a rhyme in this.

“Tyke” and “dike”? Yike! The rhymes are back on September 19th. Did the writer resist the temptation to put Peter Potamus in the balloon?

Food over Cindy? That’s tellin’ her, Yogi. Again, nice composition in the opening panel of the September 26th with lots going on but no clutter. Note the cute squirrel in the first panel. Yogi has some more neat poses here, including a skip-walk in the top row and a stroll in the bottom one. I like the variety in the of his hands (paws) as well. Boo Boo gets this comic off, but we get other woodland creatures and the native stereotypes. My favourite character is the dog with the feathers in the first panel, second row. He doesn’t look like he’s excited to go to a party.

The stereotypes stick around next month. Please stick around for more comics in four weeks.

Yakky Doodle in Duck Seasoning

The origins of Yakky Doodle can be found in a 1950 Tom and Jerry cartoon called “Little Quacker.” He’s actually a good character in that short. He’s sympathetic. He hatches and Tom tries to turn him into roast duck without deserving any ill fate. But in later shorts he got self-pitying about his orphaned state and bawled constantly to get someone to give him a home.

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera liked the character, so when they started their own studio, they put the duck in several cartoons. It was the same old thing. He was a user in “Slumber Party Smarty” (1958), playing the sympathy card to have Yogi Bear take him in, then selfishly ignoring a kind request to remain quiet (Yogi ends up leaving while the clueless duck wonders why).

In September 1961, Kellogg’s had announced it would sponsor a half-hour, early-evening, syndicated cartoon series featuring Mr. Magoo, similar to the half-hours it was sponsoring that were fronted by Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw. But UPA, the studio behind Magoo, pulled out of the deal. Kellogg’s needed something fast. Hanna-Barbera was ready. Yogi Bear had pretty much eclipsed Huckleberry Hound as the studio’s No. 1 star—so he got his own show. To fill the rest of the half hour, Hanna and Barbera pulled out two characters that had been used as supporting players—Snagglepuss, and the duck, at the time named Iddy Biddy Buddy.

His name got changed but he still exhibited some of the same traits. He still pulled guilt trips, faking how he’d freeze to death if he wasn’t able to mooch a home. He whined about being an orphan. Fortunately, writer Mike Maltese realised there were very few laughs to be mined with a star that was a pest, so he eliminated a lot of the negativity and put the comedy in the mouths of villains. Maltese came up with Fibber Fox, then Tony Benedict, who spelled off Maltese on the series, spoofed Alfred Hitchcock Presents by creating Alfie Gator, right down to the silhouettes and character outline. Daws Butler doesn’t do a Hitchcock impression, but he evokes Hitch with an English-esque accent punctuated by heavy breaths.

(As an aside, something else that helped Yakky was his voice. The earlier duck had been voiced by nightclub performer Red Coffey/Coffee whose imitation Donald Duck delivery was sometimes stiff and undecipherable. Children’s entertainer Jimmy Weldon won the Yakky role; he had a duck puppet character on his popular local Los Angeles TV show. Weldon was a great choice. Compared to Coffey, his diction was much clearer and his line reading more enthusiastic).

This lengthy introduction brings us to the cartoon “Duck Seasoning.” Benedict wrote this one and it’s one of the best in the series. It’s a two-character cartoon, Yakky and Alfie. Yakky isn’t constantly crying for his dog friend, Chopper, to bail him out of trouble. Yakky takes care of Alfie himself. His independence is refreshing.

Alfie keeps up a steady stream of patter to the viewers, just like Hitchcock addressing the audience in his show. He is revealed after entering in silhouette and, again like Hitchcock, wishes us a “good evening.” And he tells us there will be brief pause before fading out, then welcomes us back when the next scene fades in; Hitchcock used the same device for commercial breaks on his show. I didn’t watch Hitchcock when I was 6 but I still got the reference when I saw these cartoons for the first time (thanks to station promos that ran during daytime hours). Best of all, Hoyt Curtin composed a tune reminiscent of the well-known Hitchcock theme Funeral March of a Marionette. It fit perfectly.

Here’s the opening dialogue. Tony had a good ear for the Hitchcock format; Hitch would explain what was about to unfold for viewers.

Alfie: Good evening. (Breathes). Welcome to Roast Duck Season. You are about to witness the decline and fall of a duck (breathes) at the hands of Yours Truly.
Roast duck under glass is a must for any cultured gourmet. (Breathes) I shall attract the main course with this ingenious dinner bell (breathes) known as a “duck call.”
(Alfie blows duck call four times)
Yakky: Quack quack?!?
Alfie: For my next number (breathes), I shall play the ballad “The Duck I Left Behind Me.”
(Alfie blows duck call twice)
Yakky: Sounds like some poor duck left behind me.
“What am I going to do with this rifle?” Alfie says, repeating Yakky’s question when the two finally meet. “Such bland naiveté would melt a heart of lesser stuff,” he tells us. Tony doesn’t give us a gag to end the scene; Yakky simply runs away after being fired on before a fade out.

Now a series of blackout gags follows, with Alfie commenting on each failure. In a way, it’s reminiscent of what Maltese did with Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, in cartoons with Bugs Bunny. Alfie captures Yakky in a pot. “Modesty (breathes) forbids my pointing out the particular brilliance of the foregoing manoeuvre.” Yakky responds by bashing Alfie on the head with the pot. “Action (breaths) seems to speak louder than words. And, I might add, much harder.”

Alfie decides to shoot himself into the sky from a cannon to capture the duck. While he’s explaining his theory of flight to us from inside, Yakky plugs the mouth of the cannon with a rock. Kaboom.

Next, Alfie tries to send himself aloft through the force of a tree he is riding, and is about to cut loose after tying it to the ground. Crash! “I shall return in a moment (breathes) with renewed vigour and courage.” Return he does to use a rocket strapped on his back to “thrust me into the duck’s orbital trajectory.”

Unfortunately, the missile stops in mid-air and crashes back to Earth. “That is what is known in the missile industry as a (breathes) ‘successful failure,’” Alfie opines.

Yakky stops to rest on a tree branch. Alfie climbs it “with the finesse of a telephone lineman” (he even attached hobnails to his feet). Yakky simple chops down the tree. “For the laymen in the audience,” he remarks before the tree smashes to the ground, “timber means ‘look out’.”

“That forces me to accept the subtlest form of victory (breathes)—defeat,” he concludes and there’s a wipe to the next scene showing Alfie ordering a hot dog. “Naturally,” he confides, “the hot dog is somewhat below the dignity of a true gourmet, however (breathes) it’s never been known to retaliate by fighting back. So, if you’d excuse me, I shall say (breathes) goodbye.” And Alfie wanders off, leaving an outline of his head while Curtin’s faux marionette march plays.

Don Williams is the animator; there’s nothing distinctive about his work in this cartoon. Dan Noonan handled layouts while Bob Gentle was the background artist. This setting opens the cartoon over Daws Butler’s narration.

Tony Benedict hit on a good formula for this cartoon, or at least one I like. Yakky standing up for himself, no Chopper, lots of bad guy with self-commentary. With that, we wish you “Good evening.”

J.B. and the Bear

Time for a little quiz. See if you recognise a certain voice in this broadcast of the Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show from October 5, 1952. Advance the show to about the 21:15 mark. She’s on for about 45 seconds with Phil and the great Elliott Lewis.

Off the air, she looked like this:

But you probably know her better as this:

Yes, it’s Julie Bennett, voice of Cindy Bear, originally hired to work at Hanna-Barbera in 1959 in the role of Sagebrush Sally in a Quick Draw McGraw cartoon. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera knew her before this; Variety reported on January 31, 1955 that she would be “narrating” Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM, then revealed on August 27, 1956 that she would be voicing for them (there’s been speculation Bennett is the babysitter in Tot Watchers, one of the last T&Js).

I started writing this post 3½ years ago then set it aside, hoping some information would come to light about her, such as when she was born, if Julie Bennett is actually her name and what she is doing today. Nothing has surfaced, so I’ll have to give up the plan.

Bennett doesn’t seem to have done (or have been asked to do) many newspaper interviews. There’s one I found from 1970 consisting of three lines that may have been part of a longer interview. For cartoon fans, there’s no real news in it—all it says is that she was better known for commercials and cartoons than live action stuff. In another interview, the Los Angeles Times talks to her about how models can improve their voices. And during her radio soap opera career, she gave advice about what kind of shoes women should wear. Not weighty stuff.

Perhaps the oddest interview was by Wendy Warren. Warren was a fictional character, the star of the soap opera Wendy Warren and the News, which blurred lines by opening with a real newscast and then storyline banter with veteran CBS newscaster Doug Edwards. Here’s what “Wendy” wrote in her column; I found this in a paper of August 23, 1951:

Instead of following the famous “go West” maxim for success — Julie Bennett reversed it. . . . Born in California, right near Hollywood, Julie studied dramatics with Max Reinhardt, and dialects with Alice Harries — then she came to New York to try for radio. Her versatile voice was an immediate asset, and Julie began getting parts immediately.
Then she heard that auditions were being held over at NBC for a new “Chichi” on “Life Can Be Beautiful.” . . . This has always been Julie’s favorite dramatic serial, and she went over to try out—winding up as one of four selected from several hundred. . . . The role went to Teri Keane—but Julie so impressed the producers that she now has the key role of “Eunice” on the show. In real life, the slender, auburn-haired Californian is still single, so serious about her career that she names as her hobby “studying acting,” and so pretty that a Marine Corps Battalion in Korea has named her as its pin-up girl.
“Stage, screen and radio” certainly describes Julie’s early career. Her name pops up in Variety. I found these squibs between 1948 and 1950. Her first regular series roles were on the affiliate-rich, cash-poor Mutual network.
September 15, 1948
SHERLOCK HOLMES With John Stanley, Ian Martin, Barry Thompson, Charles D. Penman, Julie Bennett, Anthony Kemble Cooper; Cy Harrice, announcer; Albert Buhrman, organist. Writer: Howard Merrill; Director: Basil Loughrane.
30 Mins.; Sun., 7 p.m. (EDT)
Mutual, from New York

January 26, 1949
Julie Bennett appearing as Helen Palmer in the comedy-farce “At War With the Army,” at the Bushnell Theatre in Hartford, Conn., staged by Ezra Stone.

October 5, 1949
I LOVE A MYSTERY With Russell Thorson, Jim Bowles, Tony Randall, Les Tremayne, Julie Bennett, Laurette Fillbrandt, Vilma Kurer; Frank McCarthy, announcer. Producer-Director-Writer: Carlton E. Morse
15 Mins.; Mon.-Fri., 7:45 p.m.
MBS, from New York

October 19, 1949
Julie Bennett, in from Coast for Manhattan radio-TV originations, into "Theatre Guild of the Air" next Sunday and on "M-G-M Theatre of the Air" Friday.

January 25, 1950
Julie Bennett into lead of "Grand Central Station" this Sat. (28).

February 8, 1950
Julie Bennett into "Portia Face's Life" and "Man Against Crime" TVer this Friday.

April 12, 1950
Julie Bennett into "Aldrich Family" tomorrow (13) and NBC's "To Ricky With Pride" on Tuesday (18).

June 28, 1950
Julie Bennett to Coast for month's legit engagement.

August 3, 1950
Julie Bennett, one of Gotham's top radio actresses, is returning home after what started out to be a three-week vacation. When the word got around she was in town there was a deluge of calls and just to accommodate some old friends she worked five shows.

October 4, 1950
Julie Bennett into MBS'"Nick Carter" Sunday (8) and a featured role on ABC-TV's Chico Marx show Monday (9).

November 29, 1950
Julie Bennett into “Big Town” TV lead tomorrow (Thursday).

December 6, 1950
Julie Bennett into "Life Can Be Beautiful".
She got even busier in the 1950s with television work on the West Coast. Interestingly, she turned down the role of a stripper in “Playrights ‘56” (even though it’s not as if she would be taking off anything on ‘50s TV) and voiced Jimmy Stewart’s three-year-old granddaughter in The FBI Story. And she picked up cartoon work at Warner Bros., UPA and (briefly) for Jay Ward.

Bennett can probably be happy that Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear came out in 1964 instead of two and half decades later when she might have been replaced by someone like Tiffany to maximise box office appeal. Years ago, cartoon stars with their original voices were deemed enough to attract an audience. The movie had a media preview at Yellowstone Park on May 30th and premiered in the entertainment mecca of Salt Lake City on June 3rd.

Allow me to sidetrack (remember, the main reason for this post didn’t pan out) and pass on some stories about the film from Variety.
June 4, New York
Mrs. Margaret G. Twyman, community relations director of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, will send a letter this week to 160 women's clubs and film councils lauding Columbia's “Hey There, It's Yogi Bear.” Mrs. Twyman's letter urges support for "such a happy film" as the Hanna-Barbera animated color feature, which she describes as "a delightful movie for the whole family."

June 10, Los Angeles
The phone company by early evening last night had pulled the plug on a publicity stunt engineered by Columbia to puff a pic.
Col set up 10 telephone lines for kids to call a certain number—WE 72000—in a bally for opening June 17 of the Hanna-Barbera animated feature, "Hey, There, It's Yogi Bear." It was figured by the phone company that more than 100,000 overflow calls came in. That jammed the Webster exchange for two hours. Hence phone company disconnected the setup, which was interfering with regular important calls.
Columbia today plans adding another 10 lines for stunt, but with the understanding that should the exchange area be seriously disrupted company will be forced to close out the phone gimmick for good.

June 19
Six words in almost microscopic six-point type which threaten to add $3,800 to cost of Columbia's "Hey, There, It's Yogi Bear" ads in the L.A. Times have been yanked by Col ad manager Jack Burwick.
Line, which reads "Original Soundtrack Album on Colpix Records," escalates the entire 42-inch ad into the “national rate” category, a difference, according to Burwick, of $19 an inch. Film ads normally qualify for "local" rate sans disk plug because pic screens in local theatres, but when a record is advertised, ad becomes "national" because it is something offered in stores nationally.
Times apparently overlooked line for first two days of advertising, then advised Burwick of discovery yesterday. Rather than pay upped rate, Burwick elected to drop the line. Burwick reports that MGM has had similar experiences with "Unsinkable Molly Brown" shellac plugs.
Times' ad censor Marvin Reimers, meanwhile, insists rate variance between the two ad classifications is not as great as Burwick claims, though Burwick asserts he got rate scoop from Herb Marx, the Times entertainment ad topper. Reimers says difference would be closer to $12.60 an inch.
Burwick plans to take beefs to Times ad execs after consulting with Col homeoffice. He is peeved with paper on other counts, among them censorship which he deems arbitrarily applied despite fact that MP'AA passes all ads prior to Times perusal.

August 5
While evening shows continue to present something of a problem, there apparently is still a nice amount of loot to be made from cartoon features aimed at the kiddie trade. This is the report from Columbia whose Hanna-Barbera cartoon feature, "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear," opened rather slowly in early June but is now picking up a neat boxoffice momentum.
That Col is not exactly disenchanted with the kiddie fare is underscored by the fact that company is presently negotiating for the release of Richard Davis' Italo import, "A Trip to the Moon," featuring a puppet mouse, Topo Gigio, seen this side on various Ed Sullivan tv shows. If the current negotiations are satisfactorily concluded, Col will release the color puppet feature this coming Christmas.
In an effort to combat the dropoff in trade which usually occurs for a kiddie pic at evening showings, Col has been booking "Yogi Bear" with a reissue of its British click, "The Mouse That Roared," or Audie Murphy's "The Quick Gun." In some instances the companion pic is only shown at the evening sessions.

September 2, Denver
Pairing of 20th-Fox's “Cleopatra” with Columbia's “Hey There, It's Yogi Bear” at three Denver drive-ins (Aug. 19-25) may have been an exhibitor's dream of a “well-balanced program,” but it did not excite the friendly wishes of 20th toppers.
Queried as to the unusual booking, a 20th spokesman reported this week that “Yogi” had been added to the three Denver dates without 20th's knowledge and were in actual violation of the “Cleo” contracts.
Latter specify that “Cleo” must play as a single bill. 20th, the spokesman adds, registered strong objections when they learned of it. Col's cartoon epic, it's understood, was played only once a night at the drive-ins as a sort of “curtainraiser.” Exhib paid flat terms for the pic which, 20th is told, did not come out of “Cleo's” percentages.

“Hey, There” did a mixed box-office, but it was enough of one for Columbia to sign a picture deal with Hanna-Barbera. From Weekly Variety of October 7, 1964:
Hanna-Barbara’s Diversification Kick as They Make Like Disney
Say this, too, for Walt Disney—he’s proving an inspiration for Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera in the hot pursuit of diversified fortune-making.
Peering past their drawing boards (or over their mahogany desks), the hotshot cartoon impresarios are, a la Disney, drawing a bead on the live-action field (for both theatrical and tv exposure), and, again like the master, are projecting a move into outdoor entertainments via a 90-acre “Jellystone Park” south of San Diego.
The boys, who know a merchandising parlay when they see one (Hanna-Barbera-licensed creations racked up a retail gross last year of more than $120,000,000), are eyeing yet another lucrative tangent (the Disney exemplar ends here)—a coast-to-coast chain of franchised snack shops starring “Yogi-burgers.”
Meanwhile, it’s contract renewal time between H-B and Screen Gems. Negotiations are in progress and expected to produce another hitch (the last extended three years), since it's obviously been a sweet tieup both ways. (But you can bet the animators will drive a good bargain.)
In New York last week, a reflective Joe Barbera contrasted their animation output (of “Tom & Jerry” shorts) over a 20-year span for MGM (48 minutes worth a year with a staff of 190), against their total for last year alone of over 90 hours with a staff of 320. And even at that old leisurely filmville pace, Barbera recalled he still worked many a night.
For the live-action segue, the pair’s blueprints include two for television, an hour adventure series (Bill Anderson and Bill Hamilton are scripting the pilot), and a half-hour gimmick comedy with Malibu beach for a backdrop. Both are ‘65-‘66 candidates. Three more projects are aimed for theatrical release—“Mr. Mysterious,” a costume opus about a travelling magician and his family (based on the novel by Sid Fleischman); “Park Ave. Indians,” initially scripted as a tv pilot but which is undergoing expansion to cinema proportions; and “Father Was a Robot,” which Barbera says is about a “funny, swinging robot” (it better be—he says the metallic marvel was built for $75,000).
None of the three features has a distribution deal as yet. H-B’s first movie entry, the current “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear,” will be followed by a feature treatment of the “Flintstones,” which Barbera says Columbia will release at Christmas, ‘65.
Not to forsake its homescreen cartoon output (the fellows are hardly neglecting the tube, with two shows on the networks, including the new “Jonny Quest” adventure skein, and a pretty goodsized zoo menagerie making it in syndication), H-B has yet four more animal formats on the boards, plus two more action-adventure half-hours in the “Jonny Quest” idiom, plus still another six-minute strip for local kidshow splicing.
Julie continued to both cartoon and live-action work, as well as commercials (DuPont, Stardust Hotel, Atlantic Richfield, Kraft, Montgomery Ward, So. Cal. Edison, the list is pretty long). She also found time to marry ABC programme executive Jerry Bredouw in 1965 (she listed her age as 32; they were divorced in 1971). Her last live action TV work seems to have been in 1990 in a special called “Thansgiving Day” on NBC, with Mary Tyler Moore, Morton Downey, Jr. and Sonny Bono in the cast and produced by Marvin Miller. I understand that Mark Evanier cast her in some Garfield TV cartoons after that but she seems to have faded away from the business.

So, sorry, fans. I would like to have passed on word that Julie is enjoying retirement from show biz somewhere, but I really don’t know. I hope she is. While cartoon fans may know her as a stereotypical Southern voice, she did much more than that in the fields of comedy and drama, on camera and behind a microphone. She was a trailblazer, being one of the first women to voice TV cartoons in the ‘50s. And she even put up with TV’s self-proclaimed Loudmouth (Morton Downey, Jr., not Fred Flintstone). That’s quite a lot in one career.

Tralfaz? A Look at Millionaire Astro

The best character on the Jetsons? Is there any doubt that it’s Astro?

The humans on the show had to behave like recognisable sitcom humans, though they could be a little bit more exaggerated because they were cartoons. But a cartoon dog doesn’t have that restriction, so Astro could be more over-the-top. He’s ridiculously hyper-emotional. And he was voiced to perfection by Don Messick. Bill Hanna and/or Joe Barbera must have thought so much of the performance that they gave an almost identical voice to a lesser dog a few years later. A great dane. Forgotten his name now.


Tony Benedict came up with Astro, writing “The Coming of Astro” and “Millionaire Astro.” The latter is the cartoon that brought the word “Tralfaz” into the popular language. Tony says it came from fellow writer Warren Foster, who got it from Tedd Pierce when the two worked at Warner Bros.; Pierce had put it in a few cartoons. The line “Tralfaz? Yechhh!” from Astro is probably about the only thing most people remember from this cartoon.

What futuristic inventions did Tony come up with?

Robot secretary, Miss Rivets. There are stories datelined Japan about robot clerks; perhaps a secretary isn’t far behind. By the way, not only does Mr. Spacely not appear in this cartoon, neither does Mel Blanc. Hal Smith and Don Messick are the only actors outside of the regular cast in this cartoon.

George tells Miss Rivets that he’s going “to relax in a nice, hot tub of sound waves.” We await that invention.

Here’s a variation on the treadmill dog walker seen in the closing animation. The fire hydrant finds its way into the plot.

The tanning bed.

Sorry, Google, but you didn’t think of the driverless car. Or one that operates by voice recognition. Tony Benedict has it in this cartoon. Unfortunately, it’s not a smart car as it ultimately crashes into a building. Google, take note.

And the Jury-Van. I like how it has an eyeball that can watch people in the courtroom. It also has Don Messick’s Uniblab voice. If one of these existed today, all you’d need is one controversial decision and people would be screaming for human jurors again. I wonder if the Jury-Vac can have a split decision?

Due to credit shearing in the 1980s, the correct artists aren’t enumerated at the close of the cartoon any more. I can guess at a couple. Here’s a lovely background of the Gottrockets estate. In the story, he’s “J.P.” but in this drawing, he’s “G.P.” Maybe he inherited the property.

I can’t snip this one together without a massive colour change, so here’s an interior in two parts. My guess is Art Lozzi was responsible. I love the eyeball shapes, although this reminds me more of the early ‘60s than the future.

The transport tube in the partial BG above is on an overlay. Here are some establishing shots. The background artists on Jetsons went in for blues and purples, didn’t they? I haven’t checked to see if the first two were stock shots.

George Nicholas handled the animation in part of the cartoon. Here’s his Astro, with jagged mouth and beady eyes.

One animator has Withers the lawyer dash out of the scene in an outline.

One of the animators apparently was a little too used to drawing Huckleberry Hound. Look at Astro in this frame when the animator turns him.

Silhouette in foreground.

Miscellaneous dogs of varying shapes. Sorry, I don’t know who did layout on this cartoon.

How often did Astro turn to the audience and talk to it? He does in this cartoon. After a pile of steaks cascades onto his plate, Astro looks at us and says “Row arout rat?”

Tony gives us the “stars-in-the-eyes” sight gag. I’m trying to remember what other Hanna-Barbera cartoon used it but am coming up blank.

Finally, a couple of endless run cycles. First, George running past the living room couch. There are six drawings in the cycle, one per frame. It takes 24 drawings for the cycle to reach the starting point again. The version in the cartoon is a little faster.

And here’s Astro in the Spacely Sprockets garage (don’t ask me how he got there), running to greet George. This cycle features four drawings, two frames each. This cycle also take 24 frames to reach the same space apartment in the background. Once again, it’s slower than in the actual cartoon. It looks like Astro’s running in mid-air to me.

It’s nice to see Astro getting the spotlight in one of the Jetsons half-hours. The Tralfaz cartoon definitely isn’t “yechhh!”

Flintstones Comics, September 1965

Did the Modern Stone Age Family wear out their welcome in the Windy City? The Chicago Tribune bare farewell to Flintstones comics. The last daily was on September 11, 1965. The paper stopped running the Sunday comics (as well as the Yogi Bear colour weekenders) earlier. More and more papers, at least the ones I have had access to on the internet, started dropping the strip.

It’s no wonder. Unlike The Simpsons, which doesn’t know when to quit, the Flintstones ran out of gas before the fifth season ended. ABC sacrificed Jonny Quest to keep it on the schedule for a sixth year in 1965-66. That season opened on September 17th with the nadir in the original series’ run—the episode where Pebbles and Bamm Bamm sing an insipid song over and over and over again, and climaxes with a lame and cop-out ending that it was all a dream. Admittedly, they tried new ideas, but as much as I love Harvey Korman, Gazoo was too far-fetched even for me, age 9.

In a way, it’s too bad, as the daily comics were just fine. Plenty of variety in plot. Attractively laid out. The characters looked fine. One familiar gag even gets borrowed from the cartoon series when a poor toiling as a golf ball retriever tells us “It’s a living” (Sept. 11).

This means I’ve had to hunt around for a source of semi-readable dailies of the Flintstones. What you see below isn’t great, but it’s the best I could find. As well, the weekend sources I’ve been using don’t have the Sunday comics in their on-line archives.

One the writers of the comics decided to do a series (Sept. 27-29) about Wilma’s motion visiting. She looks decidedly slimmer than on the TV show. Aw. There’s a little heart between Wilma and Little Pebbly-Poo in the Sept. 30th comic. In the month of September, Pebbles drove the plot in 10 of 26 comics, while Fred was featured or at least part of the gag 12 times. Betty appears three times (Sept. 6, 7, 28), Dino once (Sept. 1), Bamm Bamm once (Sept. 6), and Baby Puss none-ce.

We get two used car salesmen (Aug. 30, Sept. 15), TV gags (Sept. 8, 16) a huge creature (Sept. 14), trumpet-beaked bugs (Sept. 12) the old husband-vs-wife (Sept. 2, 7, 21, 24) and the postman returns for another go-around with Pebbles over free cookies (Sept. 3). Fred’s drawn with an awful lot of teeth on Sept. 24th. And in the second panel of Sept. 25th, the half-drawing of Barney looks more like George Jetson.

So tune in next month for more comics. And remember: smilers never lose and frowners never win.

Snagglepuss in Legal Eagle Lion

Only the hammy Snagglepuss could build himself into such a ridiculous situation that he not only becomes the presiding judge in the trial of a Western bank robber, he assumes the identities of almost everyone else needed for a court hearing. In the end he becomes his own worst enemy. And the terminology of the legal system was something perfect for writer Mike Maltese to play around with.

In order to don all those roles, Snagglepuss does a lot of zipping around. That means a lot of brush lines. The painting department at the Hanna-Barbera studio kept busy on this cartoon. Some examples...

The animator in this cartoon is veteran Jack Carr. He was born in Manhattan on June 23, 1901 to James J. and Alice (Boland) Carr. He began his career drawing comic strips for the New York Globe before going into the animation business in 1924. According to his obit in the Los Angeles Times, he worked on the silent Felix the Cat shorts. Carr got a job with the Mintz studio and moved West with it in 1930. He jumped from Mintz to Lantz to Warners in a few short years and purportedly was the voice of Buddy in the Warners cartoons (Variety noted in 1936 he was doing cartoon “vocal effects”). By the end of the decade, Carr began a long career at MGM, much of it apparently as an assistant animator as he was only credited on screen in the mid ‘40s in the George Gordon unit and toward the end of the studio’s life in the later ‘50s. Somewhere along the way, he had a spell at Disney. In November 1967, Weekly Variety reported Carr became first employee in 10-year history of Hanna-Barbera Prods. to retire under Motion Picture Pension Fund. Carr died in Los Angeles on August 3, 1974.

Carr uses the same kind of mouth movements as Ken Muse. You can see the characters have a little half row of upper teeth and a small tongue that flips around. But there’s something about it I just can’t explain that’s different than Muse’s work.

Snagglepuss emotes forth with one of his soliloquys. The situation is this. Bank robber Fowler Means and his crooked lawyer Ornery Cuss have used their guns to intimidate everyone to get out of town, thus stopping Means’ trial (“sudden lead poisonin’,” Means calls it). Included is the circuit judge, who takes refuge from the flying bullets in Snagglepuss’ cave. Sayeth the mountain lion:

Who slammeth my door and disturbeth my slumber? Mayhap an errant breeze, mayhap. (Looks down). But ho! Beneath my sleepin’ pad, a pair of boots belongin’ to a sneakin’ cad. Come out! Emerge, even!
More dialogue from this sequence.
Judge: Don’t shoot! I’m the circuit judge.
Snag: A short circuit judge.
Judge: It can get mighty dangerous out there dispensin’ justice.
Snag: Ah! If I were judge, no criminal the law would smudge.
Judge: Why not? You could take my place and split the fee.
Snag: It would be an honour to be a “your honour.”
Maltese pulls a beautiful pun. Snagglepuss is sworn in, goes into town and introduces himself to Means and his lawyer. “I’m the new circuit judge,” he declares. “Have robe, will gavel.”

Judge Snagglepuss now conjures a stream-of-consciousness routine where he invents people needed for the trial to proceed, baffling Means and Cuss in the process. He quickly becomes the prosecuting attorney who, needing a witness, instantly becomes Zelda Scrubbinbrush, the cleaning lady at the bank (Daws Butler uses his Tilly Schimmelstone voice from the Flintstones episode “The Little White Lie” as a great comic tuba cue plays in the background). No sooner does “she” smash an umbrella on the head of Cuss when he objects to the testimony, than Snagglepuss turns into Zelda’s nephew, Wild Bill Hickory Stick, “the fastest draw in the West...or East, even!”

A great sequence follows where Means tries to insult Hickory Stick into a gunfight, but Snagglepuss keeps finding excuses not to do draw a gun. “And I’ll bet she makes terrible apple pan,” growls Means. “Cain’t draw on that,” replies Snagglepuss. “Most obnoxious apple pan dowdy in the West.”

The two bad guys approach Snagglepuss from either side. Maltese now tosses in one of those fast-talking situation changes he’d pull off in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. He starts giving instructions like the two are dueling and they follow along, They catch on. Suddenly, Snagglepuss resumes being the judge and orders Means from his court, not realising what he just did until he returns to the stand in the next scene. Snagglepuss decides to become the accused, who is convicted by the jury, all duplicates of Means, then returns to the bench and sentences himself to 99 years. The cartoon ends with Snagglepuss bolting from the courthouse and running along Dick Thomas’ Western plain, with rose-coloured buttes and yellow and orange dirt. Carr’s run cycle is pretty basic. Six drawings, one for each frame. Means’ feet are in the exact same position during a run cycle earlier in the cartoon. Unfortunately, I can’t create an endless cycle for you. The background begins repeating after the 16th drawing. Six doesn’t go into 16 evenly.

That background is in the opening scene (the sign is on an overlay). Thomas has another desert scenario in the background when the judge runs into Snagglepuss’ cave (on two overlays). The horse disappears from the cartoon after the first shot.

As you might expect, there’s a “Heavens to Murgatroid!” as well as a “Heaves to Habeas Corpus!” and three “Exit, stage left”s.

Art Davis is the story editor, Lance Nolley is the layout artist. There are only four characters in the cartoon (other than the identical jurors); Don Messick is Ornery Cuss while Butler plays Snagglepuss, the judge and Means.

Balmy Swami With Ruff and Reddy

There are some kind, generous people on the internet who have gone to great trouble to provide the world with free stuff. For example, Tom Tryniski runs a wonderful but misnamed site called Old Fulton New York Post Cards which has scans of many newspapers and has been one of the places where I’ve found old columns and feature stories transcribed here. It’s been so helpful.

Another great site is Comic Book Plus, where someone has posted an overwhelming number of old comics. Among them are a number of Dell and Gold Key editions featuring the Hanna-Barbera characters. All for free! I can’t imagine the time it took to scan and upload them.

I’m going to borrow from the site to reprint a portion of Ruff and Reddy No. 4, dated January to March 1960. A Ruff and Reddy fan, I’m not. For someone who grew up on Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the Fleischer Popeyes (not to mention Huck and Quick Draw), Ruff and Reddy was just too tame by comparison. It felt like a show for kids younger than I was. Today, I can appreciate the voice work, Fernando Montealegre’s neat backgrounds in the first two Chapters and the Capitol Hi-Q “D” series stock cues, but the series still doesn’t do anything for me. But some of you reading here like Ruff and Reddy and since the show will, unfortunately, never be given a home video release, this comic book story will have to suffice.

The format fits Ruff and Reddy pretty well. Each of their continuing adventures is very much like a comic book story in length and tone. And this one reminds me of the second Ruff and Reddy cartoon series story which starts off in a ship and then suddenly makes a turn and the characters are in Africa dealing with a different bad guy in the second half.

The characters are very well rendered in the black-and-white one-pager. I should have guessed they were by Harvey Eisenberg.

If you want to read the full comic, feel free to click on the Comic Book Plus site.

King-Size Surprise Storyboard

Stories, gags and even voices from old MGM cartoons popped up at Hanna-Barbera in the early days. A good example is the Pixie and Dixie cartoon King-Size Surprise (1958-59 season) which owed a lot to the Tom and Jerry short The Bodyguard (1944). We reviewed the cartoon way back in this post. Now, through the courtesy of Mark Kausler, friend to all friends of cartoons, we present the storyboard for this cartoon.

Dan Gordon drew this board and his version of Jinks is a lot of fun. The expressions are really good, and they gave layout artist Walt Clinton and animator Lew Marshall a lot to work with. To be honest, I like some of his sketches more than what Marshall put on the screen.

A reader asked me about the red vs. black drawings on these storyboards. Mark kindly answered:

These are all drawn in pencil, not ink. The red is Colerase colored pencil, used to rough in drawings by animators, then the graphite lines are put down over the colored ones when the drawings are tightened up. Sometimes Dan Gordon would leave just the red roughs on the page, (like the Masking For Trouble board) maybe he felt that the red lines were strong enough in those cases. He even HAND-DREW the panel borders! No pre-printed storyboard sheets at H-B! These are all done on 12 field animation paper, if you notice the punch at the top.
Let’s check out the board. Below are Marshall’s finished drawings of panels 6 and 7. Gordon’s Jinks has rounder eyes and I like the slight open-mouth giggle better.

Charlie Shows is responsible for the dialogue. Whether he provided the dialogue here or for the finished cartoon or both, I couldn’t tell you. But it’s not the same here as in the cartoon. This is what’s in the cartoon from panels 6 to 10:

Dixie: Yeah. He’s always pickin’ on us.
Jinks chuckles
Pixie: But the worm has turned. No more runnin’ from old Jinks. We gotta fight back.
Dixie: Yeah, Pixie. Two against one. We oughta clobber that cat.
Jinks: Eh, like, uh, boo to you two!
Pixie and Dixie: It’s Jinks! Scram!
Was the extra dialogue put in to pad for time? Could be.

By the way, in panel 17, Jinks uses the word “mices.” In the cartoon, he calls them “mousies.” He didn’t use the word “meeces” consistently in the first season.

Shows was seemingly unable to resist any opportunity for rhymes, no matter who the character is. Panel 33 in the actual cartoon goes “Operation Dog Tag in the bag.” After Shows left and Warren Foster arrived in 1959, the rhymes were restricted to Yogi Bear.

When panel 49 hit the screen, Clinton (or whoever) changed the shot to leave out the mice and the little swirling bubbles around Jinks’ head. The dialogue: “Wow, now! Shee! Tuh, I’ve never been in a earthquake before.” Dixie’s line Panel 50 is lifted from Cass Daley’s radio catchphrase “I did it and I’m glad.” But the cartoon ends us with the line “We did it and I’m glad we did it.”

See the teeth in panel 56? Marshall keeps them when he animates the scene around panel 60. The dog’s first appears in three frames before impact. Panel 65 has a better line in the cartoon. Observed Jinks: “So that’s the scoop-arooni, eh?” I believe Scoop-arooni is the San Francisco Ice Cream Treat.

Marshall’s rendering of 77 and 78. See how close he is to Gordon’s work.

Bob Gentle is the background artist. Compare Gordon’s panels 86 and 90 to Gentle’s work in the cartoon.

The cartoon ends with Jinks saying, “Uh, like King-Size says, ‘You hollerin’ and I’ll keep a-comin’!” then chortling instead of what’s in the panels (the scene fades instead of irising out).

The meece run cycle that ends things is six drawings on twos. We’ve slowed down the cycle a little bit from what’s in the cartoon.

Happy 55th Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty

Fred Flintstone is a good guy underneath, despite his bluster, pig-headedness and other faults. Barney Rubble is a good-natured, loyal friend. Both of those things remained constant through various incarnations of the Flintstones. That’s why the Bedrockers have survived for so long and are still popular today.

The internet is one big calendar. It loves birthdays, anniversaries, death-iversaries. Today marks 55 years since the Flintstones made history in becoming the first prime-time, made-for-TV cartoon series. (No, that’s not Ubba Ubba from Ruff and Reddy making a guest appearance in the ad you see. It’s Fred, Jr. who was dropped from the show in development around the time the name “Flagstones” was changed to “Flintstones.” Someone evidently didn’t tell whoever supplied newspaper ads for ABC affiliates because this appeared in a number of papers).

The Flintstones initially suffered from its advance hype. It was pushed and pushed in interviews as an “adult” show. Critics expected something more sophisticated than what it saw, they anticipated a cartoon full of pointed satire on modern day life. That wasn’t what they got. The reviewers weren’t generally happy. Besides the storyline of the debut cartoon, “The Flintstone Flyer,” the laugh track and the animation also came in for criticism (reviewers may have thought prime-time would bring about higher budgets to pay for rendering closer to what Uncle Walt was showing off on his Sunday evening show. You can read the “inked disaster” review from the New York Times and other printed lashings HERE). In fact, this blog has been around so long, we’ve “anniversaried” the show plenty. Read some thoughts about the Flintstones HERE. The critic for the Yonkers Herald Statesman wasn’t altogether negative, but didn’t appear to have a high opinion of TV sitcoms themselves:

It’s a bit too much like an animated “Honeymooners,” but your previewer will guarantee you at least five solid laughs and that’s way above average. You’ll love the bowling scene, the way the paper is delivered, and the neighbor’s flying machine.
Daily Variety generally reviewed all the major new TV shows every fall. In fact, it had reviewed the Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw shows favourably days after their debuts in the late ’50s. So here’s what the Show Biz Bible had to say about the Flintstones debut. The original closing animation with credits was removed when the show went into syndication in 1966, but Variety of October 3, 1960 has preserved some of the names that were originally on the screen.
(Fri., 8:30-9 p.m., ABC-TV)
Filmed by Hanna & Barbera for Miles Labs. Producers-directors, Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna; written by Joe Barbera, Mike Maltese, Dan Gordon; animator, Carlo Vinci; camera, Frank Paiker, Roy Wade; layout, Walt Clinton; editor, Joseph Ruby; Music, Hoyt Curtin; production Supervisor, Howard Hanson.
Voices: Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benadaret, Mel Blanc.
Animated animals are more fun than animated people. At least that’s the way it is with the assorted animals and people that pop out of television’s most creative and productive cartoonery, Hanna & Barbera. “The Flintstones,” a “people” program and first of the company’s series aimed specifically at the adult audience, proved a disappointment in its ABC bow.
Paradoxically, “The Flintstones” seems less adult than “Huckleberry Hound” and “Quick Draw McGraw,” H&B’s two remarkably clever and consistently enjoyable programs supposedly ticketed for children but equally, if not more, appealing to young adults. “Flintstones,” in keeping with the overworked current vogue, is a family comedy about two couples living in the Stone Age. There is irascible Fred Flintstone and his wife, Wilma, and easygoing Barney Rubble and spouse, Betty. The relationship of the couples, notably the men, is reminiscent of “The Honeymooners,” notably Gleason and Carney. In essence, it is a satire on modern suburban life, but in the opener it didn’t come across.
There is a laugh track, a negative factor not present in “Huck Hound” and “Quick Draw.” Apparently adults need to be advised when to chuckle, whereas children are bright enough to draw their own conclusions. Character voices are neatly conveyed by Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benadaret and Mel Blanc. Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna share the producer-director shots. Tube.
Weekly Variety went into further detail in its review of the show in its edition of October 10, 1960:
With Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Bendaret [sic], Mel Blanc, others
Producers - Directors: Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna
Writers: Barbera, Mike Maltese, Dan Gordon
30 Mins., Fri., 8:30 p.m.
ABC-TV (film)
(Wade, Wm. Esty)
Out of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon shop, which has turned out such tv winners as "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw," comes the first animated series for "adult" tv with a regular cast of characters and running story line.
On paper and perhaps on the drawing board as well, "The Flintstones" looked like a shoo-in for ABC, particularly in view of the H-B track record for satire and sophistication in their cartoon fare. But a shoo-in it’s not—it will draw sizeable audiences for a start because of its novelty value and because there’s a reasonable quota of laughs in the-show, but on the basis of the first episode it doesn’t seem to have the qualities that make for staying power.
"Flintstones" is billed as a satire on suburban living, and it has the trimmings. Set in the cave-man era, its characters nonetheless live like modern suburbanites with all the latest conveniences, except that the settings and props are made out of prehistoric materials. The idea is good—it sharpens the eye for the more absurd aspects of "modern conveniences," and it enables the viewer to look at modern life from a fresh viewpoint. Unfortunately, though. Hanna & Barbera failed to take advantage of this. There were some fine sight gags, to be sure, but no satire at all, nothing to point up anything silly in modern life.
But that’s a minor matter. The main trouble with "The Flintstones" is the Flintstones, the title characters. The key to success in any situation comedy — and any cartoon series, for that matter—is that the leading characters must be likable. The Flintstones aren’t. Fred Flintstone (voice by Alan Reed) is a noisy, boastful bore, with nary a good quality to be seen. His wife (Jean Vander Pyl) is altogether a colorless character. The other regulars are their next-door-neighbors, voices by Mel Blanc and Bea Benadaret. But he’s portrayed as a stupid dolt of whom Flintstone is always taking advantage, and she’s rather dull.
As a consequence, there isn’t much for the viewer here in terms of regular tune-in except the occasional novelty of cartoon comedy, but one-dimensional comedy in the script sense at that. Fred Flintstone isn’t going to garner the kind of popularity that H-B’s Huck Hound or Yogi Bear have occasioned, since he’s not a particularly likable kind of guy. Nor is Barney Rubble, the neighbor, though he’s got a better chance.
Opening storyline was a routine sort of affair, with the men feigning injuries to get out of going to the opera so they could sneak off to bowl instead, then getting back home ahead of the wives, The stanza had its funny moments, and some of the animated props were amusing, but the entire script was pretty rudimentary, and as for the satire, it just wasn’t in evidence.
"Flintstones" is not only disappointing in itself, but because it’s a pioneer effort that could have opened the door to more animated comedy and perhaps more satire with it (a cartoon is so impersonal that it can use satire where ordinary comedy would hesitate). Someday, perhaps an adult cartoon series will make its way onto the networks, out "Flintstones," based on the preem offering, doesn’t qualify. Chan.
The critics did have some points, but audiences didn’t care. They quickly embraced the characters and the situations and the show was in the Nielsen Top 20 by November. It even spawned a 45 on the singles chart, but the studio itself had nothing to with it. More on that in a moment.

As for Hanna-Barbera itself, the studio seemingly could do no wrong. Weekly Variety, December 7, 1960:

Hanna-Barbera’s Billings Mounting
That Hanna-Barbera, Screen Gems marriage continues on its prosperous course. Kellogg’s, via Leo Burnett, has inked for another season of “Huckleberry Hound” and “Quick Draw McGraw.” Season of ‘61-‘62 Will find three Hanna-Barbera shows in national spot, with Kellogg’s picking up the tab. The third is “Yogi Bear,” which makes its debut next month as separate series.
SG also is looking for a renewal of Hanna-Barbera’s “Flintstones” next season on ABC-TV. Show, doing fine in the rating meter for the current season, has picked up another six episodes via exercising of options, with the web and sponsors now committed to 32 episodes for the season, instead of 26.
“Yogi Bear” national spot series prior to its January debut also had the number of episodes committed increased from 26 to 32.
The trades had predicted before The Flintstones debuted that if it became a hit, copycats would follow. It did and they did. Of course, you know ABC picked up Top Cat for the following fall. Weekly Variety, in one of a number of articles focusing on TV cartoons, revealed in its March 15, 1961 issue that CBS had picked up Alvin and the Chipmunks and Sy Gomberg’s The Shrimp, Don Quinn had come out of retirement to work with Bob Clampett on an animated The Edgar Bergen Show, Calvin and the Colonel had been added to the ABC schedule, while Bill Cooper Associates with shopping around Simpson and Delaney, a Jay Ward show, while California National Productions was looking for buyers for Sir Wellington Bones and a Bob and Ray show lending their voices for spoof narrations of old movies. Interestingly, there was no mention of the Bullwinkle Show, which also appeared in fall 1962. Two weeks earlier, the paper reported Disney turned down the idea of an animated sitcom for NBC.

The craze over cartoons ended quickly. Weekly Variety reported on October 18, 1962 the new shows (Calvin, Alvin, Top Cat) were taking a beating in the ratings but the networks had committed 26 episodes of each because of high production costs and then one set of reruns to try to recoup their investment. However, the Flintstones sailed onward, with critics now in the Bedrock family’s corner.

Perhaps the most interesting story of the Flintstones first season involved a union dispute. From Variety, April 5, 1961:

IATSE, NABET In Jurisdictional Tussle Over Screen Gems Robot
Chicago, April 4. — What’s the union for robots? That's what WBKB here has to find out before it can use one for "personal appearances" this week.
Station is confronted with a new jurisdictional dispute between NABET and IATSE over who's to operate the remote controls, an engineer or a stagehand. The robot in question is one developed by Screen Gems to promote ABC-TV’s “Flintstones.” It's a 300-pound mechanical replica of the character, Fred Flintstone.
“Real Life” cartoon will tour the ABC-TV affils after making its debut on the Chi station.
Fred Flintstone was entertaining off-camera as well, but Hanna-Barbera saved the idea of a robot for another series.

Ah, we mentioned a 45 on the charts. In January 1961, Capitol Records released “Goodnight Mrs. Flintstone” by the Piltdown Men. Behind the song were Ed Cobb and Lincoln Mayorga of the Four Preps. The band was a seven-piece studio group featuring a couple of saxes (alto and baritone?), piano, electric guitar, electric bass and drums. It was an under two-minute instrumental that owes a lot to “Red River Valley” and “Good Night Ladies.” No, the song never appeared on the TV show. It’s actually pretty tame but Billboard reported on March 27 it was No 13 on the British charts. Listen to it below.

Yakky Doodle in Nobody Home Duck

At Hanna-Barbera, circa 1960, the relationship between talking animals and humans varies depending on the types of characters we’re dealing with. Huckleberry Hound assumes the personality of a human adult, so he interacts with humans. Yogi Bear is kind of a hybrid. He acts like an adult, but he’s still a woodland creature. Because of his location and various plot devices, he has to interact with humans on their level.

Mr. Jinks is different. He’s a cat who lives in a house. It appears to be a world where cats own houses and get mail and phone calls. Therefore, he interacts with other talking animals. The only humans (with the exception of one cartoon, where he has an owner) he deals with are authority figures—Irish-accented police officers, mailmen, and so on.

The Yakky Doodle world is the same thing. Chopper has a dog house, which would make it evident he’s someone’s pet, but he and Yakky deal only with other talking animals, except for policemen, dog catchers and the occasional witch.

Oh, and an odd exception can be found in the cartoon “Nobody Home Duck.” Chopper’s owner shows up in this one and while he’s there to advance the story, he really does seem out of place. He even has little solid eyes (no whites) which looks odd. (To be honest, he looks to be modeled a bit on sketch artist Dan Gordon).

This cartoon shows why I dislike Yakky Doodle. First, there are no comic villains. No Fibber Fox, no Alfie Gator, no menacing stray cat. That means all the bad stuff ends up falling on Chopper, who doesn’t deserve any of it. Well, maybe he does for being dumb, considering he’s rooked in by yet another edition of Yakky’s pathetic “I’m going to die if you don’t let me live with you” routine. Hey, dog, it’s an act! It’s fake! The duck’s using you! Even the other characters in the cartoon see through it. Chopper’s owner doesn’t want Yakky, a chicken evicts him from a coop, a rabbit kicks him out of a hole and, finally, a gorilla won’t adopt him, choosing a dog instead.

Bob Bentley’s the animator in this one. We’re into 1961 Hanna-Barbera animation now where there’s not a lot of oomph to it; there’s just enough to get the point across. The great exaggeration drawings of Mike Lah in 1958 and George Nicholas in 1959 were but memories. Here are a couple of drawings of “what happens to a homeless duck in the wintertime,” as Yakky puts it, while Hoyt Curtin’s violins play in the background.

By the way, if winter-time is approaching, why does everything look so green in this cartoon? Shouldn’t it be fall? Look at Monty’s background drawing.

Even writer Mike Maltese seems like he’s padding in this one. For example, Chopper tries to pawn off Yakky on a rabbit, who boots the duck out of her hole. “I can see you’re not the mama type,” Chopper growls. Cut to a scene of a bunch of hopping rabbits exclaiming “Coming, mother.” The old breeding-rabbit joke is the punch line, but Maltese keeps on going having Chopper apologising. There’s nothing funny in it. All it does it eat up 12 seconds of screen time.

And Maltese drags out another old cartoon routine, the skunks-are-stinky bit, even when there’s no odour coming from their tail. It would have been nice to have the skunk come back with a witty remark after Chopper grabs Yakky away from her but, instead, the scene fades out with Chopper running away. I get the impression Maltese wasn’t inspired by Yakky a lot of the time; this was just another cartoon on the production schedule he had to turn out, so he churned it out.

To recap the plot: winter’s on its way (Vance Colvig as Chopper sings a little winter song overtop of a piano cue with a different melody but it works). Yakky enacts his death scene twice, Chopper demonstrates it once, Chopper’s owner suggests Yakky fly South for the winter. Yakky’s so pathetic he can only fly as far South as a sandbox two blocks away. Chopper decides to find him a home. That takes up a little more than the first half.

In the second half, Chopper puts Yakky in an egg and shoves it under a chicken. The chicken kicks him out (and a rooster with Daws’ Tilly Schimmelstone voice punches Chopper). There’s a neat piano cue at the start of the scene with a boogie woogie right hand. Then a skunk offers to take in the duck; Chopper scoops him away. A mama rabbit kicks him out.

Finally, Chopper tries to drop him off at the zoo with Mombo Mama, a gorilla who’s snivelling because her youngster was shipped to the St. Louis Zoo. But the animal wants Chopper as her new child instead of the duck, and the cartoon ends with Yakky living in Chopper’s dog house while Chopper’s dressed up as a baby being cradled by the gorilla (note the non-matched consecutive shots from scene to scene). Curtin plays “Rock-a-by Baby” to end the cartoon.

Tony Rivera is the layout artist, Lew Marshall is the story editor, Jimmy Weldon and Colvig play their regular roles while Daws Butler does the remaining miscellaneous voices (though I suspect he’s assisted by the others during the parade of the kid rabbits).

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, October 1965

Did you know there was an Indian reservation on or near Jellystone Park? There wasn’t in the TV cartoons but, time and time again, native stereotypes from a reserve make appearances in the Yogi Bear Sunday comics. It happened twice out of the five comics from 50 years ago this month. Two other comics feature bees and the fifth has a worm that’s smarter than the smarter than the average bear.

Yogi was still syndicated on TV but I’ve found more and more newspapers dropped his comic strip (for example, when these strips were published, people in parts of Southern California could watch Yogi on Tuesdays on KTLA 3, KCOP 13 on Thursdays and Fridays on KOGO 10). However, by sheer accident, I’ve discovered the Ogdensburg Journal in New York had a two-page Sunday comic section starting at the end of January 1965. One page was the full Yogi Bear and Flintstones colour comics. Better still, it appears the copies of the newspapers on-line are not some photocopies of old scratchy microfilms; they look like the papers were put through a scanner. So hurray for the New York State Historic Newspapers Site.

Boo Boo is sure getting a kick out of the plumber gag that ends the October 3rd comic. Note the embarrassment lines around Yogi’s head in the final panel. Ranger Smith makes a cameo appearance. It seems odd that the hammy Yogi would suddenly bolt from having his picture taken, but the writer had to get to the plot. You think a comic would be able to get away with “redskin” today?

A worm jumping in a hole to escape isn’t terribly creative, but that’s what we get in the October 10th comic. I like how the worm thinks an exclamation mark to himself. Yogi has conjoint eyes when he wakes up. Boo Boo makes a cameo appearance. Yogi reads in italics in the opening panel; was this common in comics? I’ve always liked how the words emitted by characters and things form designs; Yogi’s “Zzzzz” and the clock’s “Rrrrring” are good examples.

The less said about the rebus groaner than ends the October 17th comic, the better. Dig the goofy horse in the top row with the masked eyes and a transistor radio accompanied by a fox tail. The double Yogi in the third row is effective. Final panel note: yes, kids did steal road signs years ago (today, they steal 420 mileposts). The final panel also shows the princess has an almost Boo Boo doll and is a fan of some singer with a Beatles haircut.

Bees play only an incidental role in the October 23rd comic and really have nothing to do with the plot. Many papers chopped off the top row of the three-row versions of comics so it has to be written to be dispensable. Ranger Smith should have known the punch line in the final panel might happen; he already points out that Yogi is clumsy. Considering the way the apple tree bends at a 90 degree angle, it’s more like a rubber tree.

The artist in the October 31st comic draws Yogi in a variety of positions. I like how bees are swirling around the hive-head in the final panel. Do beehives really get that big? Boo Boo has an uncharacteristic sneaky smirk. This comic has another thin silhouette panel in the top row; four of the five comics this month feature one.

As usual, you would be smart to go to Mark Kausler’s site to see the comics above in full colour along with his expert insights.

We’re on a month-to-month basis with these comic reprints (and with the blog, for that matter) but we can guarantee another edition of Yogi Bear comics in four weeks. The highlight is a special appearance by Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Baba Looey.

Making Kids Safe From Frying Pans

Did kids really hit each other with frying pans after watching cartoons? Some do-gooder group probably thought so. And it’s tough to argue against them when Joe Barbera made the same claim.

In early 1961, Veteran UPI entertainment writer Vernon Scott interviewed Barbera and Bill Hanna in the wake of the success of the Flintstones about the series. The two of them made some statements that, frankly, are either misguided salesmanship or pure bunk on their part. Popeye “didn’t last long in theatres”?? Sorry, Mr. H., but he had a lengthier cinematic life than your own Tom and Jerry at that point. And the public likes limited animation more than full animation? I don’t think so, Mr. B. I suppose it depends how either is used. And by 1961, the action in Hanna-Barbera cartoons had become more lacklustre. You wouldn’t find Yogi Bear as expressive as in the George Nicholas drawing to the right from 1959.

This article was published in papers starting on February 17, 1961.

Animals Make Good Cartoons
United Press International
Hollywood — People aren't funny—at least not in animated cartoons.
Through the years Walt Disney and other cartoon producers have employed rabbits, mice, dogs, cats and ducks to evoke laughs.
Then along came Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, originators of "Tom and Jerry,""Huckleberry Hound,""Yogi Bear" and "Quick Draw McGraw." They believed televiewers would get a kick out of modern Mr. and Mrs. Suburb dealing with today's problems.
They were dead wrong.
For months they experimented with characters in modern clothes in a typical community — but nothing. Friends yawned, fellow workers fell asleep, nobody laughed.
Then the quiet spoken pair took the same characters, placed them in the stone age, named them "The Flintstones" and found a runaway hit on their hands.
Cavemen are funny. Modern types are a drag, they learned.
"The only other cartoon character in human form that proved successful was Popeye, but he didn't last very long in theaters," said Hanna, a graying, soft-spoken man.
"I'm not even sure Popeye was human," Barbera grinned.
"Disney did well with human characters, but only in dramas, not comedy," Hanna said. "We're delighted that Freddie Flintstone and his friends have made such a hit. The comedy is not the old cartoon slapstick. Most of it is situation stuff and dialogue."
"In the 'Tom and Jerry' days we concentrated on action and violence," Barbera filled in. "Now we have to worry about casting the right voices and coming up with bright dialogue. Kids like it.
"It's good for the kids, too. Instead of imitating the old cartoons and hitting one another with frying pans, they are picking up the humor involved in our stories."
While Hanna and Barbera were working in the MGM cartoon department turning out "Tom and Jerry" they produced 48 minutes of completed cartoons a year. Now, with four half-hour shows a week on TV, the boys are turning out 48 minutes of filmed laughs every seven days.
From an investment of $20,000 the cartoonists have built a million-dollar business and employ 140 technicians.
"Simplification and planning are responsible for our increased output," Barbera said. "We've eliminated several departments found in other animated cartoon studios.""We work in vertical and horizontal planes," Hanna put in. "We avoid depth characteristics as much as possible. This reduces the number of pictures in a five minute segment from 12,000 to 1,200. And the public likes the technique better.
"Cartoons ran into trouble when they became too much like real life images. We had arrived at the point where we actually showed the subject breathing. Cartoons had become poor imitations of the real thing."
"Right," said Barbera. "Now we're back to caricature with emphasis on the story and the character of the people—not action.
"Cartoons became popular originally because there was plenty of movement. But the public is accustomed to movement now and couldn't care less."
What matters more is that the American Broadcasting Co. cares very much indeed about The Flintstones ratings. Fortunately, they are high, and the team of Hanna and Barbera have made history with the first adult cartoon in video annals.

It’s interesting to read the concept of “characters in modern clothes” didn’t work in development, considering one of the influences on the Flintstones was a show starring characters in modern clothes—The Honeymooners. Many of the basic plots in the Flintstones’ first season, like “The Swimming Pool” or “The Golf Champion” could fit just as well in a modern setting. But setting them in a different time period allowed the writers to do transposition gags that enlivened the series (a long-beaked bird as a record player needle, for example) and made it funny.

Oh, and Mr. Barbera, about not using a frying pan weapon in the Flintstones . . .

On the News Wire With Huckleberry Hound

It shouldn’t be too surprising that references are made to Hanna-Barbera’s early characters in newspaper stories, given that boomers and post-boomers who watched the cartoons are grown up and writing.

In some cases, the references are clichés. Stories about futuristic inventions may sport a mention of the Jetsons, who first appeared 52 years in the past. Slow, drawling athletes and politician Mike Huckabee get the same of a certain blue hound attached to them. Almost any time a bear is spotted in a neighbourhood foraging for food, you-know-who gets tied into the story’s opening sentence. Stone Age archaeological discoveries, well, I needn’t go further.

(Twitter is a whole different thing. I’ve discovered people name their dogs and nick-name their boy-friends “Yogi Bear.” And some rapper or hip-hopper made a Quick Draw McGraw reference in regards to sex and that got reposted over and over for weeks and weeks).

Anyway, I did some checking on some news sites for Huckleberry Hound and found a few interesting references.

First up is a piece in the Sahuarita Sun in Arizona. The paper interviewed a couple of women who collect records on vinyl. One is 57-year-old Arline Fass. She revealed:

Her early 45s include cartoon character recordings like Quick Draw McGraw and Huckleberry Hound. A record she cut from the back of a cereal box features The Jackson Five.
“I remember being so excited and I wanted to eat the cereal quickly so I could cut the box to get the record,” Fass recalls. “It really plays.”
Apparently her father never cringed at the prospect of a flimsy, cardboard-backed record ruining his turntable’s expensive needle.

Whether vinyl or digital is superior to the other depends on the listener, I suppose. The big problem with LPs (or 45s) for me has been scratches. I don’t like my Capitol Hi-Q albums (and I have some) with loud noises every revolution or crackling noises at the beginning from being cued up.

Well, let us leave records and move on to poetry. The Arizona Daily Sun recently interviewed the state’s Poet Laureate, Alberto Ríos. Surprisingly, there was a reference to Huck in his interview with Seth Miller:

Sun: I saw you at the Tucson Festival of Books in 2014 and you told a story about Huckleberry Hound that I loved, because you talked about how you came to own a certain color. Can you share that story here?
Ríos: So, in 1960, I had saved enough box tops and sent away enough to become a member of the Huckleberry Hound Club. I was 8 years old at the time. One day, I got a big envelope in the mail with my name on it. I got it. It was for me. This was mine. A signet ring came out of the envelope, and it was from the Huckleberry Hound Club. And then I found these 8x10 glossies of the gang and there, among them, was Huckleberry Hound. And he was blue! I grew up with a black-and-white television. So, I did not know that he was blue. Maybe if I grew up in the South and I knew what a huckleberry was, I might have figured it out. But I didn’t know. Suddenly, I saw the world differently, and in an extreme way. It shocked me. And I owned it. I owned the color blue.
We had a black-and-white set through the 1960s. Somehow his colour didn’t surprise me when I saw it on TV for the first time. Either I didn’t care about it, or I had seen it somewhere at age five or so in Hanna-Barbera merchandise my dad bought.

To your right, this aging, but presumably still functioning, red Huckleberry Hound teeter-totter (a number of Huck dolls in the ‘50s and early ‘60s were red coloured) is found in the state of Victoria in Australia. In fact, it was the centre-piece and namesake of an art exhibit there in August. Bronwyn Batson of The Australian profiled a photo exhibit by Glenn Sloggett who, as the story puts it, “has been stalking suburbia in search of the neglected, the unloved and the decaying places on the fringes of Australian society.”

What about Huck? Batson’s piece continues:
His work is also in the collection of the Wangaratta Art Gallery in Victoria, and when I visit the gallery I’m shown Huckleberry Hound (2001) by director Dianne Mangan.
Huckleberry Hound is a photograph of ageing playground equipment, sporting a bow tie and wide grin, in Apex Park, Wangaratta. Mangan says that while the photograph has specific meaning for the artist, it also holds meaning for the residents of Wangaratta.
“The play equipment is located in a section of parkland that regularly floods and the locals measure how severe the flood is by the height of the watermark on Huck’s torso,” she says.
Australia is far from the only country outside the United States and Canada where Huck is known. The early Hanna-Barbera series were dubbed into a number of languages, including Spanish. And it would appear The Huckleberry Hound Show aired in Cuba. Irina Pino in the Havana Times wrote a column several months ago about cartoons. Some people get the impression that an American government embargo left Cuba frozen in 1959. Such is not the case and Ms. Pino has obviously seen a wide-range of cartoons, writing critically about Cuban ones. Her summary of the Huck show:
Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks was a very popular segment of the Huckleberry Hound Show which was divided into three parts. It followed the humorous adventures of these characters who were always getting into trouble. The dog kept changing jobs: his perseverance and optimism made him continue in his efforts, despite the fact he was something of an anti-hero.
Poor Yogi Bear doesn’t warrant a mention. One wonders if Cubans would look upon Yogi as a symbol of Castro subverting the authority of Batista (Ranger Smith).

Finally, we have a music video for a group called Hooton Tennis Club. The DIY Mag website says:

According to the video director Alden Volney, they wanted to “try and recreate the look of a cartoon of the late 60s, more particularly, something that Hanna Barbera could have produced at the time opening with your most basic and naive cartoon premise and taking it to weird places”. For research, he watched “dozens of episodes of Huckleberry Hound and Lippy the Lion”.
Well, Hanna-Barbera was known for its limited animation, but it was never as stiff and school project-ish as Mr. Volney’s effort. The ringmaster character (or whatever he is) resembles an Iwao Takamoto figure from Scooby Doo more than it does anything from Huck or Lippy. The repeating background is a nice homage to the studio but is far too simple compared to the work of Fernando Montealegre or Art Lozzi. Still, I appreciate the fact the director watched some Huck cartoons, and the title is taken from the name of one of Huck’s nemeses. I couldn’t get through the video but perhaps you want to.

The Suit of the Future

Inventions of the future abound in The Jetsons, but only one cartoon used one as the basis for a full, half-hour plot—“The Flying Suit.”

Tony Benedict’s story is interesting in that the audience is the only one that knows what’s happening. The Jetsons and Spacely never realise Cogswell’s scientists have invented a flying suit. The Jetsons and Spacely never realise it was the suit and not Elroy’s pill that caused George to fly. Cogswell never realises the flying suit has been switched for an ordinary one by accident.

George does a fair chunk of flying in this cartoon, on camera and off. Off-camera saves animation because the camera simply takes shots of a background drawing. Here are some exteriors. Note that the establishing painting of Spacely Sprockets is different than the one in “Millionaire Astro.” This version of the building has a little building out front with an “S” on top. The Skypad Apartments also have a large sign on top.

Skypad exteriors.

Whoever decorated the Jetsons’ apartment in “Millionaire Astro” (Art Lozzi?) did the same thing here. The apartment has panels of those green eyeball-like things connected together on a blue background. 21st Century paisleys, I guess (the ‘V’ in the foreground in on an overlay).

More interiors. The last one is from George Jetson's office.

The suit mix-up happens at a dry-cleaners shop. It’s 500 miles from the Jetsons’ apartment. The gag is it’s reachable in 30 seconds. Nice polished floor by whoever painted the background.

Besides the flying suit, other inventions in this one—the VisiPhone in the car (and people think cell phones and handhelds are driving distractions), the daily eyedropper machine (though there never seems to be any pollution in Orbit City), the 15-second dry-cleaning machine and a claw to get hitchhikers off the exterior of a car.

Well, there’s the transport pneumatic tube as well. Here’s the take as it bashes George Jetson in the head. You’d think they’d have invented something to prevent that.

Of course, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon wouldn’t be complete without a cop who doesn’t believe what he sees and remarks something to the camera. In this case, it’s “Get ahold of yourself, Ozone. It’s probably a space mirage.”

My favourite part of the cartoon comes during a sequence involving a bird, which squawks like a parrot even though it isn’t one. The world of the Jetsons is in the sky; if you’re going to design buildings that look like the Space Needle in Seattle, there’s no reason to have action on terra firma. “With all the traffic in the sky these days,” the bird remarks before turning to the audience, “the only safe place for us birds is on the ground.” After being buzzed by airborne Jetson, the bird wonders whether being underground is better.

Today’s endless cycle: George Jetson flying in his living room. It takes 24 frames to repeat the background. Unfortunately, the DVD of the cartoon wasn’t mastered in high-definition. There’s a lot of pixilation and when you use software to turn the frames into a GIF, you get sparkles and colour changes.

George Nicholas animated part of the cartoon. I think it’s him in the scene with Cogswell and the beady-eyed scientist. Others reading this will no doubt name the remaining animators. Jean Vander Pyl plays the receptionist, Miss Galaxy. Howard Morris intones as the narrator, appears as Harlan, Spacely’s flunky, is the executive who “missed a high level cocktail party” for Cogswell’s failed suit demonstration, and holds a briefcase in Spacely’s office. Don Messick adds a voice as an irate driver. Mel Blanc is all over the place, and yells the immortal words “Jetson, you’re fired!”

Flintstones Comics, October 1965

The Flintstones comics that ran in Sunday papers (Saturday in Canada) 50 years ago are enjoyably drawn and thanks to the archives of the Ogdensburg Journal on NYHistoricNewspapers.org, you can view nice scans in black-and-white. See the great front-page announcement to your right. We’ll get to them in a moment. First, let’s look at the best copies I can find of the Flintstones dailies for October 1965, also from a couple of papers in New York state. They’re not great, but you should be able to click on each week to expand them and get a decent view.

We’re spared the “Pebbles and the Postman” sub-series, but Pebbly-Poo continues to appear at least twice a week in the dailies. No Betty. No Baby Puss. We get great-looking scary creatures (Oct.4 and 30), funny creatures (Oct. 16), a pregnancy gag (Oct. 7), a swearing gag (Oct. 26) another what-will-they-think-of-next punch line (Oct. 28), a wife-can’t-cook gag (Oct. 22), a gossipy woman stereotype (Oct. 30), Dino in love (Oct. 27) and a funny mole gag (Oct. 20). Fred seems to wear hats more in the comics (Oct. 6, 11, 13, 16, 18, 25, 28).

The “anniversary” comic from October 10th you see below is just terrific, from the letters that spell Anniversary in the opening panel, to Fred yelling (great lettering, too), to the swirling Fred/dinosaur panel (look at Fred’s varied expressions) to the corkscrew gag at the end. Other highlights are the hearts-in-the-eyes look Dino has in the October 24th comic (Fred is quite inventive) and the neat looking dinosaur in the October 31 comic. Again, click to enlarge.

October 3, 1965

October 10, 1965

October 17, 1965

October 24, 1965

October 31, 1965

We’ll at least have the Flintstones weekenders again for you in four weeks.

Snagglepuss in The Gangsters All Here

The best part of any Snagglepuss cartoon is when the histrionic mountain lion fills the air with one of his speeches, with puns and clichés strung together with non sequiturs. He does it in The Gangsters All Here. The plot’s simple. Two gangsters invade Snagglepuss’ home. He pretends to be a lion-skin rug but after getting shot in the head (with no ill effect), becomes so annoyed that he disguises himself in a ‘30s mobster outfit.

Snagglepuss: You’ve heard of the Unmentionables? Well, I’m one of the Unbearables. Ulysses J. Unbearable. Public Enemy One to Ten. Care to start a gang war? Go for a ride? A walk, even. Hijack somethin’? Lowjack something’. Get muscled in. Get muscled out. Peanuts, popcorn, candy bars. Tennis anyone? It’s my racket. Oh? You won’t talk, eh? (bullet goes through hat) Oh, so you think you’re tough, eh? (bullet whizzes over head) Well, I think so, too. Exit, stage left!

Joe Barbera once said he liked to match writers to characters and Maltese was a perfect match for Snagglepuss. He had a great sense of wordplay and, since Hanna-Barbera’s short cartoons were pretty much dialogue by 1961, as long as Snagglepuss was handed amusing lines that fit his character, he could carry a cartoon pretty well.

This cartoon sure doesn’t rely on animation. There are whole scenes of around three seconds when all a character does is blink or turn his head to and from the camera. And here’s an example of a take when Snagglepuss gets shot in the head. There is no take.

Lew Marshall is the animator. Lew, to me, was the weakest of the four guys animating (I’m including Mike Lah) when Hanna-Barbera went into the syndicated half-hour cartoon business in 1958. But even then, Marshall drew some really nice takes, especially of Mr. Jinks. Here, in 1961, laughs are dependent on the situation and the quip. After the gunfire, the crook Muggsy Magilla says “Dat’s a bad taxidermy job. Da head is empty.” To the right is one of Lew’s crash drawings (“Exit, straight up!”). This is as funny as he gets.

Maltese relies on some tried-and-true routines as the story unfolds.

● The TV switch-up bit. The dialogue makes it appear Snagglepuss has been shot to death before the scene cuts to an announcer on TV urging viewers to tune in next week to “The Unbearables.” It turns out Snagglepuss is merely acting along to the dialogue by the Cagney-esque crook Rocky on the off-stage TV set.
● The disguised-as-rug bit. That’s what Snagglepuss does in the next segment when Muggsy Magilla and his henchman McGoofy bust into his cave. Snagglepuss did it before in the Augie Doggie cartoon “The Party Lion” (1959). Yogi Bear did it before that in “Be My Guest Pest” (1958). In fact, it’s the same kind of gag in Daffy Duck’s “Cracked Quack” (1952), written by Warren Foster at Warner Bros.
This part of the cartoon has a nice piece where McGoofy is too stupid to notice the mustard bottle right in front of him (McGoofy has Daws Butler’s Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom voice). “Oh, for Heaven’s sake! It’s over there. Under your nose, even!” says Snagglepuss, and gets up to point out the various things on the kitchen table. “Oh, gee, thanks, lion rug,” replies McGoofy.
● The “Save-us-police!” bit. At the end of the cartoon, Snagglepuss reveals he’s “[J]ust a lion. Law abiding,’ even. A member of the Kiwanis.” The crooks become so afraid, they run to a cop to give up, as a tuba version of the not-yet-Flintstones theme plays in the background. I can’t begin to guess how many times this was used at Hanna-Barbera; it was the memorable ending to the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Bugs and Thugs” (1954), again written by Warren Foster.

Maltese uses the hugely popular The Untouchables TV series about ‘30s Chicago gangsters as a starting point in this cartoon and a running gag. Snagglepuss is watching The Unbearables. Later, he dresses up as one of The Unmentionables (an obsolete term for women’s underwear). When Muggsy surrenders, he tells the cop “Lions is da Unbeatables.”

Snagglepuss ends the cartoon with the “Ain’t the truth, ain’t it the truth” line copped from Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. And we gets Lahr’s “Heavens to Murgatroyd” as well (which gets repeated by McGoofy).

Bob Gentle handles the backgrounds. He doesn’t get a chance to shine. Here’s his establishing shot (Art Goble did the lettering) and part of an exterior followed by some interiors. The last one looks to have been painted with a roller. Comparisons to The Flintstones are invited.

Dick Bickenbach is the layout artist. His incidental characters are pretty standard-issue for the studio.

Don Messick and Daws Butler supply all the voices. Daws seems to have gone to the dentist before the recording session; some of his “s” sounds are slurpy, like Blabber’s. Messick plays the TV announcer, Muggsy, the cop with machine gun and—I’m going out on a limb here—the fly. The pitch is within either Messick’s or Butler’s range. Messick did a similar sounding, though higher-pitched, buzz in “Baba Bait” as the Masked Mosquito. It’s not the same as Daws’ mosquito in the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “Skeeter Trouble.” The fact I compared several cartoons to make a conclusion about a fly’s voice artist shows you I should probably end this post.

Hallowe'en Bear

Did you ever dress up as your favourite cartoon character and go out on that Great October 31st Candy Grab known as Hallowe’en? It seems a lot of kids did. Some of them as Hanna-Barbera characters; the studio licensed Huck, Yogi, and others in costume form by 1960. That year, the AP’s Sid Moody reported maufacturer Ben Cooper Co. had Huck, while another company offered Alvin Chipmunk, who wasn’t even on TV yet (Charley Weaver was big in 1960, too). You can get a gander of an ad for a store in Buffalo, N.Y. that year to the right.

One could get more than a candy-triggered toothache out of the deal. For example, seventh grader JoAnn Segbers won a grand prize for dressing as Yogi Bear in the 1961 Shortsville, New York Halloween Parade. Since you want to know this, JoAnn was later president and salutatorian of Red Jacket Central School and went on to Albany State University College and pledged Chi Sigma Theta. She later became a teacher and married Sgt. David M. Lane who was stationed in Weisbaden, West Germany. See how dressing like Yogi Bear can help you along life’s road?

Artist Dave DeCaro has a blog. He’s a Disneyphile, but I won’t hold that against him because he posted an amazingly bright colour photo from 1962 of his brother wearing a brand-new Huckleberry Hound Hallowe’en costume, the one you see in the ad above. Poor Dave got his brother’s hand-me-downs. I suspect his parents, like mine, grew up in the Depression. Dig the ‘60s table lamp.

Some parents liked the home-made look. Ghost heads out of dying pillow cases were popular. But one mom or dad made Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw heads for their kids in 1963. The children are unidentified.

To switch gears, Hanna-Barbera had costumed characters all year around. Screen Gems’ promotional arm through Honest Ed Justin sent people dressed in H-B costumes to fairs, supermarket openings and so on. There was even a special stage show featuring emcee Eddie Alberian, a former Clarabelle the Clown on TV. But there were unauthorised and decidedly cheap-looking versions of the characters, too. I think I’ve posted this before but, in case I haven’t, try to appreciate that whoever came up with these eyesores had the best of intentions. The year is 1961.

There were theme park costumes, too. Kerry Cisneroz passed on these from his large collection. The first picture below is from 1965. Freddie’s looking like he tried climbing through the window of his home and was mauled by Baby Puss (which would explain why he never tried doing it in his series’ closing animation).

Next is an Associated Press photo dated May 30, 1990. It reminds me of a combination of the Yogi cartoon Space Bear, where an alien dresses as him, thinking he’s human, and Ten Little Flintstones, where aliens manufacture ten Fred robots and send them to Earth. Nobody cheaped out on these costumes. Yogi looks great.

Incidentally, if you’ve wondered what it’s like to spend your working day in a Yogi Bear costume at a theme park, reader Larry Ellis Reed would like to direct you to this post. For someone who supposedly “studied” the character, he sure needs a few lessons. Yogi Bear is not a kleptomaniac. He likes food and, though certainly not in every cartoon, filches picnic baskets. The only other time he deliberately stole anything else was in that cartoon where he and Bruno fought for the affections of Cindy Bear by giving her what she wanted—material goods. And I don’t know how he can describe the Yogi series as having “often racially insensitive episodes.” Other than Yogi’s Pest Guest with the Japanese stereotype Yo-Yo Bear, that leaves 60-plus other Yogi cartoons that don’t touch on anything to do with ethnicity.

Yogi is still More Popular Than the Average Bear, popular enough to warrant a Hallowe’en outfit for the youngsters. Here’s one I found on a costume site that takes orders on-line. Interestingly, it’s the only H-B costume it sells for kids. No Scooby, no Flintstones. And it sure is a few steps up from what costumers under Hanna-Barbera license came up with in 1960, isn’t it?

Yes, I’m sure there will be adults going to Hallowe’en parties as “sexy Wilma” or “gangsta Top Cat” or some such thing, but it’s nice to see the old characters, in their original state, still have an appeal for kids some 65-plus years after they were created by a few old hands in the animation business. Now if we could just get all the Huck and Yogi and Quick Draw and Jinks cartoons restored and on home video. Insert your own trick-or-treat line here.

Ruff and Reddy Storyboard

Ruff and Reddy was Hanna-Barbera’s first foray into television animation but it was unlike any of the other series the studio was involved in. While the show was named for the Hanna-Barbera cat and dog characters, they were only a part of it. Screen Gems, H-B’s bankroller, sold NBC a half-hour show hosted by Jimmy Blaine which featured old cartoons from the original Screen Gems studio (Columbia’s cartoon operation in the 1940s) with Ruff and Reddy’s serialised adventures in between. The series debuted on Saturday, December 14, 1957 back when Saturday mornings were dominated by puppet shows, filmed live action series, and a few old theatrical cartoons strung together.

Mark Kausler, the friend of all fans of old animation, acquired some story sketches for one of the Ruff and Reddy cartoons in Series ‘B’, Pinky the Pint-Sized Pachyderm and has been kind enough to send them so you can see them. He points out they’re from the pencil of none other than Joe Barbera himself. Barbera was an able and quick artist; Bill Hanna once marvelled about how fast Barbara was in creating sketches for the Tom and Jerry cartoons.

These are, perhaps, for a first draft of the story as they don’t quite reflect what ended up on the screen. Far from it, in a way. The board is labelled “B-9 Bungle in the Jungle.” While the title was kept, the drawings describe the storyline in the following episode, “Miles of Crocodiles.” And “Miles” was the 22nd, not the 9th, episode in the series. There may be a good explanation. If you’ve ever seen the Pinky serial, you may get the impression it’s two adventures mashed together. The first number of episodes involved Ruff, Reddy and Pinky on a pirate ship. Suddenly that plot ends and we find the three in a jungle being tracked by hunter Harry Safari. My wild guess is Barbera, Charlie Shows and maybe Dan Gordon came up with an adventure, found it was too short, so they tacked on the pirate cartoons at the start after establishing the story to stretch it out.

You’ll notice the board starts with drawing number 12. My next wild guess is the recap of the previous episode was in the preceding 11 panels (with, I presume, a different production number).

Charlie Shows’ finished dialogue and the scenario don’t match the first page of panels. Don Messick’s narrator begins with: “Ruff, Reddy and Pinky escape. But Harry Safari is hot on their trail again. Sheee.” And the scene cuts to Harry sniffing the ground. Forgive the murky version of this taken off a low resolution YouTube video taken off a cable TV feed. It’s a shame we will never see these on home video. While I’m not a fan of the series, I sure like the jungle background drawings in this adventure.

In some ways, the story stuck pretty close to Barbera’s drawings. Here are 16 and 17 from the cartoon. And Shows’ rhyming dialogue in panel 19 was kept intact.

Panels 20 and 21.

Notice in Panel 34 how Barbera indicates the silhouette of Reddy is to be animated to join up with the static drawing of Ruff and Pinky.

Panels 43 and 45. The “pan” instruction in Panel 44 is ignored. There’s a cut from one scene to the next. However, the camera pans over and then jerks upward a bit to get from 45 to 46. And Shows fits in another one of his rhyming couplets in lieu of the dialogue in Panel 47. “Relax, Max,” says Reddy.

Panel 53 has Pinky pointing with his finger. The cartoon did it better with Pinky pointing with his trunk (in a cycle of four drawings on twos).

In the actual cartoon, the dialogue in Panel 56 is “Fellas! It’s a Crod-ock-odile!” Daws Butler was noted for playing with words; I suspect that’s one of his contributions. Shows gives us more rhymes, as well as the name of the cartoon. The narration from Panel 57 to 59 goes “Not a cro-dock-odile, Reddy. But miles and miles of crocodiles. And each one with a large mouth full of teeth. Aren’t those choppers whoppers?” 56 in the actual cartoon has Reddy with close together cross-eyes. The panel has wide-apart eyes; Dan Gordon liked drawing characters that way, too.

The animation’s interesting. There are drawings of two crocodiles as per panels 57 and 58 on one cel while cycle animation of waves they make are overlaid. The waves fade out. The croc in the foreground suddenly opens his mouth wide (no in-between) and the drawing is held for 58 frames while the narration continues. There’s an eye close held for four frames, an eye open held for 16 frames and, well, it saves a pile of drawing.

There are no credits on any of the Ruff and Reddys except for the names of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. There’s so little animation besides walk cycles, mouth movements and eye blinks, I can’t tell you who was responsible (one scene ends without a mouth on Reddy). One scene has a shake take that Carlo Vinci liked using. The backgrounds may be the work of Fernando Montealegre; there are some flowers in some of the scenes and he drew them the same way in later H-B series.

It’s been speculated Harry Safari was lifted from Dishonest John from the Time For Beany puppet show. D.J. wasn’t an original character. Like Oil Can Harry in the Terrytoons cartoons, he was a caricature of an 19th century villain in stage melodramas. But the lineage of Harry’s “Nyah-ah-ah!” laugh points right to Dishonest John, and the fact that both Charlie Shows and Daws Butler worked on the Beany show make the connection far more than a mere coincidence.

Those of you who are new to the blog and are interested in this series can check out this post from 2009 and this post from 2013.