Wednesday, March 4, 2015

They Sang For Fred Flintstone

Here’s Fred Flintstone peeking at the voice of Fred Flintstone, and he may be a little confused. That’s because the guy at the microphone isn’t Alan Reed, who provided Fred’s voice during the run of the original series from 1960 to 1966.

Well, Reed provided Fred’s speaking voice. There were a few cartoons where someone else was brought in to sing for Fred. Reed was a versatile dialectician during his days on network radio in the ‘30s and ‘40s but he was no swingin’ lounge cat.

But Duke Mitchell was. That’s Mitchell in the studio you see in the picture. He was tapped by Hanna-Barbera to sing jazzed-up versions of “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In” (in the “Hot Lips Hannigan” episode) and “Listen to the Mockingbird” (in “The Girls’ Night Out”) in the show’s first season. You can also hear him as Boppy Barrin in the half-hour “Yogi’s Birthday Party” (aired October 1961). The cartoon studio had other plans for Mitchell, too. Reported Variety on April 13, 1961:

[Palm Springs’] Ranch Club’s Duke Mitchell, the recorded singing voice of animated Fred Flintstone, will double as a hepcat when Hanna-Barbera roll “Five Cats” pilot next month.
We presume the squib is referring to “Top Cat.” Nonetheless, Mitchell never got a voice role on the show. Perhaps his schedule didn’t allow for regular recording sessions.

Mitchell will forever go down in history as the co-star of the Martin and Lewis knock-off film “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla” (1952). A United Press column at the time of release quotes the movie’s producer as saying any resemblance between Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis was “coincidental.” The line was probably funnier than anything that was in the movie. Mitchell and Petrillo were single acts that hooked up around the end of 1951. Eventually, Martin and Lewis ended up copying them. Mitchell and Petrillo split up by 1954—Martin and Lewis called it quits two years later—and Mitchell resumed his solo singing career. He was featured in the “New Acts” column of Weekly Variety, April 21, 1954.

15 Mins.
Magic Inn, Seattle
Duke Mitchell (formerly & Petrillo) shapes up as a good single act in his bow here, first date on his own. Small, but energetic, lad socks over blend of standard songs and sharp impressions for good response, scoring particularly with vignettes of Vaughn Monroe, Frankie Laine and Billy Daniels. Brief act could easily be expanded. Mitchell’s selling of “Rags to Riches” and “Got You Under My Skin” reveal savvy as a crowd pleaser, with reliance more on entertainment than on showcasing of voice.
In here for two weeks and should be good draw for Magic Inn, currently only spot in town using acts. Reed.
Those of you who appreciate irony will like the fact that Mitchell performed in the late ‘60s at Dino’s Lodge in Hollywood (Dino as in Martin, not Flintstones pet). My favourite Duke Mitchell story, though, is post-Flintstones. Harrison Carroll had a couple of lines about it in his syndicated show biz column of July 9, 1963.
SINGER Duke Mitchell knocked two teeth out of a persistent heckler at the Marine Room of the Hotel Olympic in Seattle. Heckler was introduced as the son of one of the most important political figures in the country, but I think he was an impostor.
Variety’s Army Archerd revealed about nine months earlier that Mitchell, who was 5’ 8” at best, tossed a 6’ 2” drunk out of one of his shows in a lounge in Beverly Hills.

Petrillo was on the road with partner Suzie Petrovic when Mitchell died in Hollywood on December 2, 1981.

There’s a blog devoted to Duke you can check out.

There’s one other cartoon where someone else “sang” for Fred. Kind of. In the third season, Fred enlists Rock Roll (played by Hal Smith) to perform at Wilma’s show but has to take the stage himself and do “The Twitch.” But neither Reed nor Smith is singing. Do you know who is? Since you don’t, here’s the answer, thanks to the April 18, 1962 edition of Variety:

Jerry Wallace exits Challenge [his record label] next month; reportedly "very unhappy." He's not unhappy over new Hanna-Barbera voice he'll do in "The Flintstones" though. He'll do "Rock Roll," latest character for the tv series, a "singer" yet!
Like Mitchell, Wallace made his own cult movie in the ‘50s, starring in 1955’s obscure “Corn’s A-Poppin’” (gripping scene from the film to your right). Wallace has another connection with Hanna-Barbera. During the 1950s, he performed as half of a duo with Red Coffey, who provided the voice for a pestering little duck in the early Yogi Bear cartoons. The duck was modified a bit and became Yakky Doodle (voiced by Jimmy Weldon).

Note: I realise Henry Corden sang for Reed in the Alice special and elsewhere; this post just deals with the “Flintstones” series.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Yogi Bear Comics, March 1965

It’s always nice to see Huckleberry Hound pay a visit to Yogi Bear, though Huck probably wishes he hasn’t, judging by the punch line of the comic that ran in papers on the first weekend of March, 50 years ago (Saturdays in Canada, Sundays in the U.S.).

I’m not of the generation that watched those Hanna-Barbera competition cartoon shows where all manner of the studio’s funny characters were tossed in together like so many corn flakes in a Kellogg’s box. Since I grew up in the ‘60s, I like seeing the “Kellogg’s” characters kibbitz once in a while (Yogi, Huck, Quick Draw, etc.), but anyone else seems out of place. Top Cat doesn’t really belong with them, to me, but there he is nonetheless in the March 7th comic. I guess it just shows you T.C. was a bigger star than Super Snooper (since they’re in the mountains, Snagglepuss the mountain lion might have been a better choice). And I don’t think I’ve ever seen Top Cat wearing a tie before.

Some of Harvey Eisenberg’s silhouettes grace the March 14th comic. It’s hard to get the effect of the joke with this scan of a photocopy of the panels. I suspect Mark Kausler’s blog will have a full-colour version where you can get a better look. The top panel is the only appearance of Ranger Smith this month.

A rather large blue jay highlights the March 21st comic, with an interesting perspective layout in the final panel. We also get a cutsy-utsy squirrel who Screwy Squirrel would beat up. Instead, Yogi rhymes. “Squirms” and “worms”?

Pic-a-nic baskets? Nah. Yogi’s stealing hotel towels now. Maybe he got them on a tour pushing “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear.” All the hotels in the final frame of the March 28th comic are legit, as best as I can tell. The Mark Hopkins is on San Francisco’s Nob Hill.

Unfortunately, the last newspaper I could find running these comics in full no longer has its weekend comic section available on-line past March 1965. So this will be the final Yogi comic post.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pixie and Dixie's Unmade Uncle Egghead

Remember the cartoon where Pixie and Dixie called on their Uncle Egghead, who gives them an electromagnet that Jinks swallows (thinking it’s candy) and then all kinds of metal becomes attracted to him? You don’t? It’s probably because the cartoon never aired or copyrighted.

But a storyboard was made for it. You won’t see these small story sketches very well because that’s the size they were on a web site. I imagine the story is by Warren Foster; the sketches certainly aren’t Dan Gordon’s from the first season.

“I’m having a nightmare—only in the daytime,” says the cat, reminiscent of “Light-Headed Cat,” which has a similar plot, with an anti-gravity machine lifting Jinks airborne every time a button is pushed. Daws Butler uses the term “night-time mare” in that one, just like he did in the Pixie and Dixie cartoon “Batty Bat.” Frankly, neither of the aforementioned cartoons were that great. (“Night-time mare” was heard in two other Foster-written cartoons: the much funnier “Snow White Bear,” with Yogi, and the Pixie and Dixie short “Hi Fido”). The magnet-in-the-stomach-attracting-stuff idea was also utilised by Joe Barbera in the Tom and Jerry cartoon “Old Rockin’ Chair Tom.” And there’s a Twilight Zone reference in one of the story panels but really no great one-liners. The Pixie and Dixie cartoons don’t seem to have inspired Foster as much as Yogi or Huck.

Whether Foster drew the board, I don’t know. And when it was drawn, I couldn’t tell you. But it’s always interesting to find unmade cartoons (we posted story panels from Earl Kress’ collection of an unmade El Kabong cartoon here). You can click on them to try to see them but I don’t know how much bigger they’ll be.

We’ve got another full storyboard for an unmade cartoon we’ll endeavour to post some time in the future.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hey There, It's Mel Crawford

Mel Crawford didn’t animate any of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but he was intimately familiar with many of the studio’s early characters.

Word has come from Jerry Beck about Mel’s death. Read more at this post.

If you don’t know who Mel Crawford is, he illustrated a number of the Little Golden Books featuring Yogi Bear, Top Cat, the Flintstones and other H-B stars. His shadowing on the characters is very distinctive.

We’ve posted some of his work here before, but here’s what he drew for Whitman’s adaptation of “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear.” We’ve grabbed these from the Golden Gems website. You can see more of Mel’s work by clicking HERE. Enjoy the layouts and the rest of the artwork.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

H-B Odds and Sods

Time to post some Hanna-Barbera image files sitting in my computer. I’ve made no notations where I got some of them.

A sadistic kid rode Yogi Bear in “Daffy Daddy,” so I guess this toy that’s seen better days makes sense. Light bulbs? Beats me.

Has Yogi merchandise ever stopped being made? This looks like newer stuff, not from the late ‘50s. Okay, other than the milk mug.

Here’s one of those great Kellogg’s ads in full colour. What?! The offer’s not good in Canada? Yogi’s lasted a lot longer than Kellogg’s OKs, hasn’t he?

Here’s Yogi in a beautiful Cadillac. Yes, I know you thought he drove a Chrysler LeBear-on. Hyuk, hyuk.

Prime time cartoons make the covers of TV magazines. The artwork is right on. These are from the collection of Jerry Beck.

These eggs cups were made in England by Ridgway Potteries in 1960. Even a really off-model Li’l Tom Tom rates an appearance.

“Hilarious new character”? Don’t think so. But this is a nice little one sheet to push the H-B studio’s only series that actually made it into theatres (others were proposed). Thanks to Scott Shaw! for this poster.

Finally, an image maker for the Quick Draw McGraw show. These look like they were used for newspaper box ads; the local station call letters and channel would be substituted.

Click on any of the images to make it easier to see.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Yogi Bear — Threadbare Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Ernie Nordli, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Government Official, Radio announcer, Mayor – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Housewife – Don Messick.
Music – Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: week of February 5, 1962.
Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo escape after being shipped to the Cincinnati Zoo.

Did you know the U.S. government orders a count of bears in national parks, and then sends any excess number of bears to a zoo? It probably doesn’t, but it does in this cartoon because that sets up the plot.

There aren’t a lot of laughs in this one, but the story’s a nice, tight one. It’s a character study showing how much Ranger Smith really likes Yogi and Boo Boo, even pretending to kill them to get them back to Jellystone Park. My favourite bit is when Smith gets word on the phone that the two bears have escaped while being transported by truck to their new home at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Yogi and Boo Boo,” moans Smith. “They know nothing but the protected life of Jellystone Park. They could starve to death.” Fade in to a scene where Yogi and the fattened Boo Boo are in a woodsy setting, chowing down on food they’ve presumably stolen.

I’m more than a little confused by the title and the title card. The story goes like this: a government official selects Yogi and Boo Boo to be sent to a zoo. After a misunderstanding, the bears are forced into a truck. They escape. They eat stuff. They’re shot at. Ranger Smith hears what’s happening on the radio. He rushes to a cave where Yogi and Boo Boo are hiding. He pretends to shoot and kill them and offers to take the “bear skins” back to the ranger station. So where does the “Threadbare” part come in? Is this a case, like “Ring a Ding Picnic Basket,” which started out with a different name? And why does the title card have the bears in a circus cage? They’re going to a zoo.

Bob Bentley is the animator. There’s nothing really distinctive in his work here other than this diagonal exit. These are consecutive drawings. Ernie Nordli designed the radio with the old-fashioned grid aerial.

We all know about Hanna-Barbera’s repeating backgrounds. There’s one in this cartoon. You can see where the spongework on the hills directly behind Ranger Smith is different from one frame to the network.

Art Lozzi gets the background credit. Note the blue tree trunks and downward-pointing pine fronds. Lozzi drew those no matter who the layout artist was. The bushes in the foreground of the first drawing are on an overlay and the back door of the truck is animated on cels.

The last scene has fir trees with flipped up branches. Monty liked drawing the same kind in the first season of the Huck show.

Cartoon Miscellany: Yogi is Bear 14 and Boo Boo is Bear 37 . . . Jellystone has 52 bears . . . “Your bears have odd names,” observes the government guy . . . Ranger Smith isn’t happy to see Yogi to leave for a change . . . a jaunty version of (Meet) The Flintstones plays when Yogi and Boo Boo burst out of the truck. It’s not the theme for “The Flintstones” as yet . . . Yogi easily steals a huckleberry pie. He spent an entire cartoon three years earlier (“Pie Pirates”) failing to do the same thing . . . The studio had Don Messick do a housewife’s voice in falsetto. Why pay for Jean Vander Pyl when you don’t have to? . . . Yogi and Boo Boo escaped somewhere near Freeport.