Saturday, 31 August 2019

Thank You For Reading

I love old cartoons and I love 1950s stock music. This blog was started ten years ago as a place to document the stock cues used on every cartoon on the first season of “The Huckleberry Hound Show,” along with a few frames from each and some random thoughts. That goal was passed long ago. We’ve now reviewed every cartoon from all four seasons of the Huck show, save Hokey Wolf, as well as every short from my favourite series, Quick Draw McGraw. That’s all I really wanted to review. Somehow, things kept going and “The Yogi Bear Show” cartoons and “The Jetsons” have been reviewed as well. There have been just over 1,320 posts.

All blogs come to an end. So my intention is to make this the last post.

I’d like to use this space to thank everyone who has dropped by here over the years. I’d especially like to thank those who have left comments, or corrected my mistakes and typos, or added information that I didn’t know. I’m not an animator, I’ve never worked in animation, I can’t even draw. I’m just a guy who likes old cartoons. Having people who know the industry take the time, put up with my lack of knowledge, and add their insights here has been of great benefit, I think, to all the readers.

Rewatching cartoons that I first saw more than 55 years ago (and, in many cases, have rarely seen since) has been an interesting exercise. I’ve watched them with fresh adult eyes, not with nostalgic ones; I don’t pine for childhood days of 1963. Not all of the cartoons were great. Some were disappointing. But others hold up very well and are still pretty entertaining. People should love cartoons for what they are, not because of who we were before adulthood. And I still find it funny that someone came up with a cartoon character that only says “Yowp!”

I’m bowled over by the fact I’ve had the chance to chat with Tony Benedict and Jerry Eisenberg. I’d never have thought, years and years ago, I’d ever talk to anyone whose name I saw on the TV whenever the credits were shown. They’re both very nice people. And funny, too. What pleasure they’ve brought to so many people. Isn’t that a great legacy? Author Jerry Beck has taken some of his limited personal time to be incredibly encouraging. I devoured his Scarecrow Press book he wrote with Will Friedwald when it came out almost 40 years ago and am a little floored he has corresponded with a complete stranger like me. Animator Mark Kausler has been kind and generously volunteered any help he could give, especially his knowledge of cartoons and animators. He is a true friend of animation history. I am fortunate to have had a chance to correspond with Elliot Field, the retired KFWB rock jock who was the original voice of Blabber Mouse in 1959.

Thank you to those who dug up and sent me the Capitol Hi-Q and Langlois Filmusic cues you’ve heard for decades in these cartoons. I looked for them for years not knowing exactly what I was looking for. It’s so fun to hear them without voices or sound effects on top of them. (As a side note, YourPalDoug really is a pal. So is that entertaining pianist, Dave Powers).

Richard Holliss contacted me out of the blue from the U.K. and asked if I’d like scans of his colour Yogi Bear and Flintstones comics. You can thank him for his generosity; the artwork is a treat and it’s a shame there’s never been a will by a publisher to put them in a book.

Thank you to the late Earl Kress. He knew more about these cartoons than probably anyone else and graciously shared his knowledge. He hunted down stock music so it could be cleared for use on CD and DVD. He rummaged through Hanna-Barbera’s archives looking for decent film of bumpers so fans could see them again. And listened to reels of Hoyt Curtin’s recording sessions. Earl’s an unsung hero and I really miss him.

It’s a little stunning to see that this blog has attracted readers from all over the world. And, judging by people who are on the Yowp Facebook account, Hanna-Barbera cartoons cut through race, age, religion, political beliefs and sexual orientation. They unite people around the world with smiles and laughter. Humanity needs something like that every day.

So, again, thanks.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

On the Road With Huckleberry

Take the idea of people dressed in huge cartoon character costumes (like at Disneyland) with personal appearances (like the Lone Ranger or a TV kid’s show host) and what do you get?

Huckleberry Hound on location.

The incredible, and almost instant, popularity of the Huckleberry Hound Show quickly got the promotional minds at Screen Gems into gear. They came up with the idea of having Huck and his cohorts show up at department stores, state fairs, wherever someone wanted them to show up. Of course, being animated, Huck et al had to appear via human stand-ins in outfits. One report described the personal appearances as involving dancing and miming to Daws Butler recordings.

Here’s a story from the Hackensack Record of August 25, 1959. Huck was still into his first season. Some of this story has been quoted verbatim on this blog. It would appear the descriptions of the characters used in it likely came from Columbia/Screen Gems news release. Indignantly, I point out somebody at the studio obviously had no clue about Yowp; this is the third different newspaper piece which quotes a line insisting that fine dog said “Yep, yep.” I hope whoever at the company was checked for hearing problems.

Characters From Television Arrive, Greet Old Friends
Huck Hound And Yogi Bear Share The Honors With Fred Sales Of Junior Town

PARAMUS — Television's canine hero Huckleberry Hound will be, honored Thursday, Friday, and Saturday when Huck Hound days are celebrated at Bergen Mall. Huck is the brainchild of cartoonists Bill Hann [sic] and Joe Barbera. He is seen weekly on WPIX and 200 other television stations in the series produced by Screen Gems.
Master of ceremonies on Friday will be television personality Fred Sales of Channel 13's Junior Town. For the celebration at Bergen Mall, Huckleberry Hound will be impersonated by Eddie Alberian, a former member of the Howdy Doody gang. Alberian will pass out canine mementoes to youngsters in the crowd.
This is the second in a series of major local events honoring the tenacious, Southern drawling hound. Two weeks ago when Foley's Department Store in Houston, Texas, held a Huckleberry Hound Day the store was mobbed by more than 10,000 youngsters.
The producers of "Huckleberry Hound", sponsored by Kellogg's, are old hands at animation. For 20 years they produced and directed the "Tom and Jerry" theatrical cartoons and won seven Academy Awards doing it. For their new series they gave birth to six new stars, plus a host of featured players which they turned out in a dizzying production schedule that any sane cartoonist of 20 years ago would have said was impossible.
Title role of "Huckleberry Hound" is that of a quietly persevering canine who will take on any job that promises adventure. Huck, who is host as well as leading player of the series, appears deceptively phlegmatic on first meeting. But underneath that layer of lethargy is an enterprising spirit. The very diversity of the jobs he takes on in the face of repeated failure is proof that Huck just won't give up. In the first few weeks he will appear as an African hunter, a Wild West lawman, a medieval knight, an aviator and a circus barker. And that's only the beginning.
Another new face in the new show is Yogi Bear. Yogi is an overgrown boy. He must be overgrown because next to the trees he's almost the biggest thing in Jellystone National Park. And he must be a boy because he's so playful. His manner may remind you of a certain sewer cleaner who once lived upstairs from a certain bus driver in a certain TV comedy series of two seasons back.
Yogi is aided in his trouble-making by his patient little friend, Boo Boo Bear, a fuzzy little fellow with bedroom eyes and a Midwestern twang.
Hanna and Barbera have a special affection for mice. In their new show they star two little charmers named Pixie and Dixie. They're from the South, and they live behind the baseboard in a comfortable middle-class home. Their only problem in life is a large, cantankerous cat named Mr. Jinks. An impetuous fellow, Jinksie is a "method actor." His readings may remind you of Marlon Brando.
These are the continuing performers in "Huckleberry Hound." In addition, Hanna and Barbera promise a long succession of brand new featured players. To name a few, there's Dinky Dalton, last of the notorious Dalton gang; Judo Jack, whom Pixie and Dixie hire to help protect them from Jinksie; the Fat Knight, who holds the Fair Damsel captive in Hassle Castle; an English hunter (who sounds amazingly like Charles Laughton) and his English bulldog (who says nothing but "yep, yep"), a little Indian boy and a baby fox.
That's just a sampling. All together, there may well be more debuts on "Huckleberry Hound" than on all other TV shows put together.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Helicopter Huck

Huckleberry Hound was probably never animated as gracefully than on the little cartoons between the cartoons on his show. It’s so nice to see Huck and the stars of his other shows move fluidly (in full animation at times). Alas, this lasted for only the first season (1958-59); later mini-cartoons move the same way they did on the show with held drawings and so on.

Here’s Huck saying so long to us, diving into a trampoline and telling us at home that we’ll flip over the next episode. Huck flips as he talks to us.

Huck’s straw hat sprouts a helicopter blade and Huck flies out of the scene. He loses his eyes for two frames.

The posing is very nice. It may be the work of Ed Love, but it’s certainly smoother than the way he animated Mr. Jinks and the other characters in the 1959-60 season.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

How Kids Teach Daws Butler

Daws Butler taught all kinds of newcomers the art of acting, but Daws got a few lessons himself—from his own children.

So he admitted in an article that appeared in the San Antonio Express and News on April 14, 1963. Unfortunately we can’t reproduce a nice photo of Daws and his youngest son, but we can reproduce the story. There’s no byline so my guess is this was from a syndicate.

Thoughtful? Attentive?
TV's Kids Aren't Realistic, Says Cartoon Voice Daws
HOLLYWOOD — It's rare to see a child acting like one on TV or in any other drama medium, says Daws Butler, the voice of young Elroy on ABC- TV's animated “The Jetsons” series.
Soft-spoken, with a puckish sense of humor, Daws is considered something of an expert on juveniles—boys in particular, because he lives with four of them. His four “technical consultants” are sons David, 10, Don, 16, Paul, 12, and Charles, 9. All volunteer ideas on voicing Elroy when Daws works at the mike in his Beverly Hills home sound studio.
“Part of the unrealism of TV children,” explained Daws, “is that they listen thoughtfully to their elders, pay attention when an adult is speaking.
Minds Flit
“Actually, children's minds are flitty. If I tell one of our younger ones that I want to speak to him, he's apt to come up with something like, ‘Wait a minute. I have to get the football.’
“Children aren't dishonest, but if there's a chance to weasel out, they will, because what is important to us is not to them,” he added.
Looking at Charles, Butler commented, “Typical of Elroy Jetson's sophistication is the fact that when his father tells him to do something, he asks ‘Why?’ or ‘Why do I have to do it your way?’
He thought of another Elroy truism:
“When words are too big for Elroy, he remembers what he can and improvises the rest—like real kids. They come close to a word and add flu element of humor, like ‘idiotcyncracy’ or ‘stupidstitious.’”
From home study, Daws has also picked up the knack of having Elroy either race through a line or underplay it “for his own satisfaction but so his father can't hear it.”
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Butler grew up in Oak Park, Ill. He studied public speaking at Oak Park High School to overcome shyness and entered the entertainment world for the same reason. He made his professional debut at the Black Hawk Restaurant, Chicago, doing imitations as one of “The Three Short Waves.” This led to a radio career followed by his present specialities of creating commercials and cartoon voices.
Other Voices
Butler, heard on other Hanna-Barbera shows as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Mr. Jinks and Snagglepuss, did his first juvenile on the old “Time for Beany” show.
His other “kid” voices for H-B include Augie Doggie, Baba Looey, Blabber and Dixie.
Working in “The Jetsons” has made Daws a super hero at home.
“The youngsters are fascinated with the series and want to know all about it. After all, the future is their world,” he says.
And they like Elroy.
“He's a wide-eyed, attractive little guy, and all-boy. I try to keep him that way vocally—strongly boyish but cute. There would be no point in making his voice odd or gimmicky.
“I also try to stay away from gushing or overplaying,” said Daws. “Kids only like other kids if they don't resent them. And kids do like Elroy. He's one of them.”

What did Daws’ youngsters and students think of him? Our friend Adel Khan has passed along a link to this tribute to Daws Butler that includes some words from his son David and some people whose voices you may recognise from cartoons. It’s pretty long so you may want to skip through it. You can watch it in high-definition if you prefer.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Talking to Animals, Not Super Heroes

The concept of Saturday Morning Cartoons didn’t last comparatively long, and a case can be made that it was pushed into being by Hanna-Barbera.

When network television started expanding its weekend hours in the early 1950s, Saturday mornings were mostly kid time. Programmes originally were live action or puppet shows. CBS bought Terrytoons cartoons in late 1953 and began purchasing the cartoon studio outright in late 1955. Old Terrytoons were plunked into the network’s Saturday morning line-up. Soon, a few made-for-TV series, old theatricals and failed prime-time cartoons were added into the mix. In 1965, Hanna-Barbera sold Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel to NBC and decided to focus the bulk of its efforts on what had become a lucrative Saturday morning time period. At one point, the studio had shows at the same time on competing networks.

But that wasn’t the only change at Hanna-Barbera. Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and their business partners at Columbia Pictures decided to cash in and sell the studio to Taft Broadcasting. As well, the type of cartoons began shifting from comedy to action/adventure, perhaps inspired by Jonny Quest. It was around this time the old guard of cartoon writers left; Warren Foster retired, Mike Maltese and Tony Benedict left rather than try to write for shows like Space Ghost (Maltese, in an interview with Joe Adamson, ridiculed the whole concept of Moby Dick, the crime-fighting whale, stating he refused to work on it).

This is the world of Hanna-Barbera in 1968, a world of which Barbera ruminated in a feature story in the San Francisco Examiner. The end of action/adventure (for the time being) was near, thanks to groups pressuring the networks. That apparently suited Joe Barbera just fine (and Mike Maltese, who returned to the studio until network interference finally got to him).

I have to chuckle a bit. The Hanna-Barbera studio was always borrowing ideas from somewhere as a starting point, including their own at MGM. In this story, Barbera suggests cartoon concepts under consideration seem very reminiscent of Bewitched and Dr. Doolittle. There’s no hint that one of the studio’s biggest successes was around the corner, a series that owed something to the radio show I Love a Mystery, a Frank Sinatra song lyric and the voice of Astro, the Jetsons’ dog.

This was published April 14, 1968.

The Purveyor of Saturday's Fare

By John Stanley
"SATURDAY morning is no longer the junkyard. When you talk about a half-hour cartoon show you're talking about as many as 100,000 clams laid end to end. Show me the kid's stuff in that."
Joe Barbera is 45, a sporty dresser and usually just about that subtle when he discusses the cartoon-producing business.
But maybe he has that right. With William Hanna, he runs a subtle animation factory in Hollywood. One of the biggest in the world. And for that reason, he talks to animals.
This year there are eleven half-hour cartoon series on the Saturday morning tube bearing the Hanna-Barbera imprint. They range from re-runs of "The Flintstones" to such new-fangled offerings as "Birdman Galaxy Trio," "Young Samson and Goliath," "Atom Ant-Secret Squirrel," "The Fantastic Four," "Space Ghost Dyno Boy," "Moby Dick Minthor," [sic] "Shazzan," "The Herculoids," "Johnny Quest" [sic] and "Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles."
Next fall many of these shows will be making the re-run circuit, not to mention four brand new cartoon series: "The New Adventures of Huck Finn" (in prime time on NBC), "The Hanna-Barbera Hour," consisting of half-animation, half-live action (these are costing $135,000 per episode), "Whacky Races" and "The New Adventures of Gulliver."
It might also be said of Joe Barbera that he looks haggard mid-way through one of his working days. It is already 6 p.m. in his Hollywood office a spacious affair that is not gaudily plush but chances are he won't get away from his desk until 10 p.m. With luck.
At this moment he is gazing at a large drawing of a riverboat. Behind him stands the artist young, nervous, lacking confidence. Barbera glances up from the watercolor drawing to explain this is for "The New Adventures of Huck Finn." Finn, he elaborates, is the most preferrred of all classics. Or so extensive ratings and testing have decided. Robinson Caruso is next, then Ivanhoe. Those might be considered for later series. He examines the scene again, giving his full attention to the apprehensive artist.
"Looks kind of grim," he muses. "Colors are grim. What I'd do is start with more white, give it more tone. More shadows here." He points. "This looks too much like steel. Riverboats are made of wood. Throw more shadow across here and it'll start to look like a riverboat. Who told you to do it this way?" The artist, fidgeting, mentions a name. Barbera laughs boisterously. "What do Puerto Ricans know about riverboats?" He gives the artist a light slap on his shoulder. The artist's mood brightens. He'll try again. This time with the shadow.
Barbera watches him leave, then swings around in his swivel chair. "I have a hundred meetings like this every day. And with four new shows ... I talk to animals."
It wasn't always this hectic for Barbera and partner. He can remember the day when they couldn't find a single market for their first free-lance collaboration. But that's getting ahead of the story.
It started at MGM one morning in 1956. Barbera and Hanna had spent 20 years with that factory, producing "Tom and Jerry." They had seven Academy Awards to show for their artistic labors, but the soaring cost of animation had placed their jobs in jeopardy. The phone rang and 30 seconds later they no longer had an employer.
The pair turned to television, but the cartoon field was just as vast a graveyard in that medium. Perhaps they could cut exorbitant costs with the use of limited animation. How about strong character, contemporary satire? Material that functioned on one level for kids, on another for adults. Hey. ... So they made "Huckleberry Hound." Would Kellogg's be interested? Maybe, maybe not. It seemed Kellogg's was also considering a package deal with MGM. For old "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.
The irony of that was almost enough to make them seek jobs as cereal box writers. But somehow "Huckleberry Hound" was purchased and Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc. was formed. And born was a whole new attitude toward cartoon animation.
Barbera recalls those days with a certain respect: They could have spelled total disaster. And from their experience they learned there was more to their trade than a paw-clutched wooden mallet descending toward a mouse's head. They saw now that TV was producing a much sharper level of youthful audience to which they could cater.
"What the adults want for the kids is education now. Good moral material. But you can't present it as education. It has to be translated into entertainment. And that's what we're here to do. What I personally prefer is what we've always tried to stress series that have characters the kids can identify with. Characters they can imitate.
"That's why I'm not a fan of the superhero they're all cut from the same cloth and you can't warm up to a superhero like you can to Yogi Bear or Fred Flintstone.
"But I don't worry about that. Super-heroes are a fad on the way out."
And the trend right now? "Toward — and I'm glad to see it — humor and personality. No, not Mickey Mouse. A return to humor that is far more sophisticated ... no, make that contemporary. It's not even a Flintstone humor, Honeymoon humor or Bilko humor. Now the humor is going to be a Mary Poppins kind of whimsy, fantasy, magic. People wiggle noses and drawers open and things fly across the room. This is the trend you'll be seeing.
"Oh, we're not abandoning adventure. Adventure is always a good staple. And we're going back to animals. Not the animals we've done in the past. Think of it in terms of Dr. Dolittle. Talking to animals. That incorporates the whimsy and still gives us what we want ... not what we want, what THEY want."
There has been much criticism of late about violence in cartoons. Does it apply to Hanna-Barbera? "Certainly. We make a majority of the cartoons so the majority of the complaints apply to us. I can't really defend it but to say it's part of a trend. This entire business consists of trends. Every couple of years we go through major changes. All I can promise is, violence is op the way out. It'll soon be a thing of the past in our cartoons."
(The official statement on violence from the Hanna-Barbera publicity office: "Today's fantastic communications system has painted a realistic picture that children and adults must live with. Hanna-Barbera merely reflects this trend toward realism.")
Another knock on Barbera's office door. The producer sighs under the pending burden of another session with an artist. This time it is an older man with a sample of a character called Dr. Jungle. He talks to animals.
"Now, if you'll excuse me ... I can't hold up production. One of these days"—and he pretends to pull his hair from his head—"I'm gonna get out of here before dark."
Joe Barbera. A man who talks to animals.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Yogi and Flintstones Comics

Some time ago, reader Richard Holliss graciously offered to send scans of the Yogi Bear and Flintstones weekend newspaper comics he had collected over the years. There are a number I don’t believe I’ve shared with you, so I’m going to do that now.

First up, we have three tabloid Yogis from January 3, 1971, March 7, 1971 and April 27, 1969. The first comic reflects the ’70s environmental movement, the second has a guest shot from Quick Draw McGraw (and a cringing pun) and the third shows Yogi is smarter than the average bear. A couple of silhouette drawings add some stylishness. Bill Hanna’s name is borrowed in two of the comics and Ranger Smith looks less and less like he did in the TV cartoons (note the huge overbite).

I’ll put the date below each of the Flintstones comics. It strikes me as rare that Fred doesn’t appear in some of them. One centres around Wilma and Betty, another around Dino. Oh, and that horrible hippie-type long hair!

January 10, 1971

January 17, 1971

January 25, 1970

February 21, 1971

February 28, 1971

April 11, 1971

May 2, 1971

Click on any for a bigger version.