Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Money, Disney and Hokey Wolf

“When did Hokey Wolf debut?”

It’s such a simple question, you’d think there would be a simple answer. Ah, but the pesky internet gets in the way.

It seems even news agencies rush to Wikipedia for a quick-and-dirty way to get information when they need it, say when a star dies. And there’s no doubt that people who have knowledge of arcane subjects have gone there to enumerate the definitive story on them where none seems to exist elsewhere. But the problem is, of course, anyone can post anything there, with not so much as a footnote to reveal if the information came from a respected journal or as a joke developed after a night of too many Mai-Tais.

And so, let’s toddle off to Wiki-land to get an answer to our question about Phil Silvers in wolf’s clothing.

Wiki has a painstakingly-prepared episode list for the Huck and Yogi shows by someone who must have some knowledge of the subject. It starts:

Hokey Wolf is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that appeared on The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1960, filling the slot left by Yogi Bear.

And it goes on to reveal the first Hokey episode, “Tricks and Treats,” debuted on September 11, 1960.

The source is apparently The Big Cartoon Database, which is also assembled by well-meaning and presumably well-informed fans.

There’s just one problem. Yogi Bear was still on the Huck show until he got his own show. In 1961. Hokey Wolf was still on someone’s storyboard in 1960.

This brings us to a little newspaper column from the Newspaper Enterprise Association, a venerable syndication service. If you’re not interested in Hokey Wolf, and as a character he doesn’t do a lot for me, you may be interested in reading how getting laid off at MGM was the best thing that ever happened to Joe and Bill’s accountants. This is a portion of an un-bylined article dated Jan. 31, 1961:

Hanna Tops Disney
NEW YORK (NEA) Joe Barbera, the second half of the Hanna-Barbera combine which produces the Flintstones, Quick-Draw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound, etc., has uncovered a gold mine. . .he says he and his partner will do a $7 million film business this year. . . “But that doesn't count merchandising—toys and things—and that should do better than $20 million. And that's wholesale.”
Barbera says there now are more than 87 items bearing the names of the various H-B characters. . .everything from bath salts to rugs. . . “We are now outselling Disney, is his prime, by four to one.”
And there probably will be a better year ahead. . .Barbera says they’ve decided to give Yogi Bear, one the characters on the Huckleberry Hound show, his own program. . .this will introduce new characters, so pretty soon you'll be meeting such actors as Hokey Wolf and Dingaling (two wolves), Snagglepuss (a mountain lion) and Yakky Doodle (a duck).
The thing keeps mushrooming . . .Barbera revealed plans for a Yogi Bear feature film. . . and an amusement park, a la Disneyland and Freedomland, named after Yogi's haunt, Jelleystone [sic] National Park. . .this will probably be built near Phoenix, Ariz.
The H-B studio can turn out so many products (five new half-hours a week) because “the old cartooning style is out.” . . . “It isn’t necessary to have thousands of drawings, with flowers and leaves rustling in the breeze. The story and character are the things we concentrate on.”

So let us leave Joe to count his money and Disney to create tween musical comedies and return to Mr. Wolf. If he hadn’t aired by the time this article made it into print, just when did he first appear on the screen?

Granted, dates in syndication back then might vary by a few days, but the L.A. Times of March 14, 1961 states:


Huckleberry Hound, KTTV. (11), 7 p.m.. Professor Huck is called upon by the nation’s leaders to save mankind from an Idaho potato which has not only eyes, but a brain as well. This show also brings the debut of a new personality, Hokey Wolf, and his little pal, Ding A Ling.

A very unscientific check of newspapers on the net can find Hokey was spotted on channels in several cities but none before the story mentioned above. In fact, the previous week’s Times lists Bare Face Bear with Yogi as being on the Huck show on March 7th. So, Yowp-pedia™ will bow to the Times and declare Hokey first appeared on the week starting Monday, March 13, 1961.

For the record, the Times occasionally lists plots of a few other episodes (generally, it only gave a plot for the Huck segment):

Lamb-basted Wolf, April 9, 1961
Castle Hassle, April 16, 1961
Pick a Chick, April 23, 1961
Bean Pod’ners, April 30, 1961
Booty in the Bounty, June 6, 1961
Hokey Dokey, July 9, 1961 (possibly a repeat).

Of course, judging by the NEA column, the real question should be “Where can I get some of those Hokey Wolf bath salts?”

11 comments:

  1. Thanks Yowp. Hokey was never really one of my favs either. Daws did the Phil Silvers character in a lot of H-B cartoons. The Wolf in the short with Yogi and the three Bears, talent scouts or agents on The Flintstones,etc.I do love the Huckleberry Hound cartoon that played the night of Hokey Wolf's debut. " It's that giant spud, I've got brains...and all he's got is muscle"

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  2. I like when you mentionned Wikipedia because it turns to false informations and it's still dangerous for the press freedom to make fake informations by Internet. But by the way, did you have the segments from the Huck show with Hookey Wolf?

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  3. Martin, I have no video of Hokey.

    There's some useful information on make-your-own-entry sites. But there's the other kind, too. And the problem is, often, there's no way to tell the difference.

    I have no idea where the information originally came from. Was it a wild guess? Was it from the Hanna-Barbera archives? Who knows.

    All I know is, in this case, a search of contemporary sources shows the information on the web is not only wrong, it's not even close. And much like the mis-information about Julie Bennett's birthday, it gets copied by site after site after site after site because mis-information is the only information.

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  4. Anon, the problem with Hokey .. and just about all the HB shorts about this time.. starts with what Joe Barbera said in the article .. they weren't relying on animation and letting stories (and by extension the characters in them) carry the cartoons.

    The stories got to be the same. Put the characters in a fairy-tale spoof. Let the characters find a magic lamp. Let the characters get tied up with a circus (and drag out Hoyt Curtin's version of 'Man on the Flying Trapeze.'). Let the characters join the military by accident. Let a character get mistaken for some bad guy. Add to that the animation looked the same, the music was the same ('Meet the Flintstones' playing in the background of Hokey Wolf?!), the pace was the same, the dialogue didn't feature Daws playing around with words, and you're not left with an awful lot. The cartoons are pleasant but not terribly funny.

    As for characters, Hokey and Ding-a-ling share some traits with Yogi and Boo Boo, but are far less interesting.

    Considering the Hanna-Barbera bank account was still growing, there was no need to fix what wasn't broke.

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  5. True Yowp. When Daws would play with words, he could make a marginal script shine. Especially if Don messick was paired with him. The two could really play off each other.He didn't seem to do that with Hokey. To me, Hokey Wolf would be the beginning of that stream of H-B cartoons circa 1962-72, ie Wally Gator, Loopy De Loop, Peter Potamus, Hillbilly Bears, The Romans Holidays, Funky Phantom( Snapplepuss voice recycled), Chattanoogs Cats,etc, that were pleasant, made for great childhood memories, made tons of cash for H-B, but like you said, far less interesting.

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  6. Then "The Banana Splits",'Scooby","Cattanooga Cats [which Anonymous mentioned already!]","Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show", brought the most dumbed down version of bubblegum music to thje series, which would be till the 80s Smurfs brought the lowest level, the cute greeting doll toys.[And the superhero/robot cartoons that polluted the 70s/80s were no better..]

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  7. Anon, one of the other problems was the limited animation got even more limited. I watched a Hokey the other day that supposedly had an eye-widening take. The whites barely expanded and Hokey didn't even stiffen. Ho hum. It wouldn't have taken additional drawings to turn it into a real take; just more imaginative artwork.

    The only consolation is the theatricals, generally, were going down hill at about the same rate, too; there's really no excuse for a lot of the Lantz and Warners cartoons of the 60s.

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  8. That's reminds how the news is published here. And the result is many peoples will believe in anything without really check if it's true or not.

    About Hokey, i notice that the Capitol Records from the 1960's Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear shows used the same Hoyt Curtin's music cues from The Flintstones, but are far less interesting to watch. It's why i feel Wally Gator, Touche Turtle and any of this cartoons era boring and pity. Sure the Hanna-Barbera can be rich with this shows but that's not saved their reputation for make the animations much limited again.

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  9. Anonymous, I, too, love that Huck short, Spud Dud. Great "eerie" Spud transformation scene with David Rose's [credited to John Seely and William Loose] TC-22 "Sublime Ghost" from L-39/40 and that Raoul Kraussharr/Omar creep tune with, as Yowp said about it, to use Leonard Maltin's description of "Wm.Snyder/Gene Deitch" Tom and Jerry's, "recorded in a lavoratory sound"].

    Steve J.Carras, who probaly knows more than he should have.."It IS raining potato chips."
    [Cue Shaindlin's Rodeo Day]
    Pokey

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  10. Wouldn't it even be logical that as Yogi Bear spun off into his own show at the height of his popularity that his cartoons would still play for a while on the Huckleberry Hound show? Are there any television guides that would support this?

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  11. As the post stated, I've been through newspaper programme listings. It appears Yogi remained on the Huck show for a couple of months after his own show began.
    For example, WGN's TV listings for the Huck show for the week of Feb. 27, 1961 reveal 'Lullabye-Bye Bear' was broadcast. So he was still on the Huck show when he had his own. Hokey, evidently, wasn't ready to go to air.

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