Produced by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – George Nicholas; Story – Warren Foster; Layout – Dick Bickenbach?; Backgrounds – Joe Montell; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Yogi, Theodore Bear, Boy Tourist – Daws Butler; Sammy Bear, Ranger Smith, Boo Boo, Woman Tourist – Don Messick.
First Aired: week of September 21, 1959 (rerun, week of May 16, 1960).
Plot: Yogi tries to stay awake all winter.
Two people make their Hanna-Barbera debut in this cartoon and it’s a shame the two of them didn’t work as well together in later cartoons.
This is the first Yogi Bear cartoon to be drawn by George Nicholas after his arrival from Disney. And it is also the first cartoon with Ranger Smith. Before this, there were a variety of rangers with different appearances, voices and even names, but this is the first one where the look, sound and name of the character were put together. And Nicholas does something with him I wish he’d done more often.
Here’s a surprise take by Smith toward the end of the cartoon. Whenever I see this, I wonder what would have happened if Tex Avery had been producing these cartoons instead of the relatively tame Hanna and Barbera. Joe and Bill weren’t exactly known for their exaggerated takes—they still had a lot of Rudy Ising in them—while Avery could get over-the-top expressions out of a less-than-MGM-budget crew over at Walter Lantz. La Verne Harding once said he’d tell her to take a reaction drawing and double it.
There’s really no reason that same philosophy couldn’t have been used at Hanna-Barbera. You judiciously make one drawing in a take really wilder than normal, like Nicholas did above. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much of it again, though he came up with some good expressions in various H-B shows into the 1960s and is certainly the star of this cartoon.
Nicholas also developed a little loping walk cycle that he later used in Hoodwinked Bear. It’s right at the start of the cartoon and is used five times in the first three minutes (not including a sixth time when Yogi’s upper body is seen through the ranger station window). It’s on eight drawings on twos. You’ll notice Nicholas doesn’t move the left leg the same as the right.
I really like how the trees are together in the background. Monty did the same thing in ‘Foxy Hound Dog’ (starring Yowp) and it’s kind of what Chuck Jones tried, though more geometrically, in ‘Tom Turk and Daffy’ (1944).
Yogi goes calling on the homes of his bear friends. They tell him it’s winter and to get lost. The first bear’s head appears and there are several drawings of transparent heads swooshing into place. The second bear lives in a tree for reasons known only to Warren Foster.
The third bear is Boo Boo, who has moved up in the world since the first season’s cartoons and now has his own home. Evidently he was too poor to keep up the rent and moved back in with Yogi as he can’t even afford a blanket in this cartoon. But he can afford a two-toned back wall to frame Yogi in the shot. Yogi wakes him by popping a paper bag. He evidently saw Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame (1958) because he quotes her line that “We’re going to live, live, live!” (skipping the next sentence about life being a banquet). Boo Boo politely but firmly tells Yogi he’s going to hibernate. Instead of having him walk out of Boo Boo’s cave, he ducks under the small opening and leaves. Yogi also has crooked fingers here and throughout the cartoon to add a bit more to the animation.
So Yogi decides to live it up himself. And that brings us to the debut of Ranger Smith, sounding blasé as he gives a weather report to someone on the phone. Perhaps Warren Foster is commenting on the uneventful and dull world of the federal bureaucrat. Yogi lope-walks past the ranger’s rear window. Smith already knows this means trouble. He stops Yogi but, evidently new on the job and not familiar with all the bears, simply says “Hey, there, you!” When Smith suggests he hibernate, Yogi gets a stunned, small-pupilled, blinking expression and explains he’s studied the park rules “and there is nothing covering a non-conformist bear.” He carries on with his lope-walk and tells the ranger he intends having a ball. Then Nicholas gives him a crazy head-tilt expression.
First, Yogi decides to go skating. But he falls asleep. And falls through a hole in the ice. Here are four of Yogi’s expressions as the bear yells for help. Nicholas uses a sixth drawing cycle, and then slides the sixth down to simulate Yogi going under. The sound-cutter appropriately has ‘The Sailor’s Hornpipe’ playing in the background.
“It’s a shame to chop him out of there,” says Ranger Smith with the odd nose. Yogi warms up by a fire in the ranger’s cabin but refuses to admit his plunge through the ice was accidental. “I always take a brisk dip this time of year,” remarks the shivering bear, as he lets out with another crazy laugh.
So now, Yogi decides to go skiing. And it appears he’s not acquainted with Ranger Smith, either, because he calls him “that ranger” as opposed to “the ranger” in later cartoons. Of course, Yogi falls asleep and slides down the hill, with the sound-cutter using an airplane motor sound effect to emphasize the speed picking up. Then the shot cuts to Ranger Smith in a banal conversation on the phone. He looks out the window a couple of times and then we get the take that we showed you above. The Ranger realises he’s coming toward the cabin, so he does the old open-the-front-and-back-doors trick and Yogi sails through both doors. That works until the bear goes up another hill and the force of gravity sends him back to whence he came. Ranger Smith frantically decides to hammer shut the back door. All that does is stop the bear outside the back door with a bang but the force collapses the four walls of the cabin. The elk head on the wall is a nice touch.
Ranger Smith, looking a little pudgy, takes Yogi back to his cabin. Yogi gives his opinion of the development.
With Yogi confined to his cave, we get a few sight gags as he endeavours to stay up all winter. He tries clothespins on his eyes. They don’t stay on. He decides, like every other sleepy cartoon character from Sniffles onward, to drink coffee to stay awake. However, it’s winter and Yogi doesn’t have heat in his cave. “What a time for ice coffee,” he laments.
Alarm clock earmuffs and a contraption where an alarm clock springs a mousetrap which lights a match that gives him a hot foot are the other gags. And they work. Spring has arrived and Yogi is awake. Boo Boo comes calling for him, Yogi announces his success and immediately passes out. At that convenient moment, tourists ogle the pair of bruins and Boo Boo puts his buddy, emitting a weary sound, to smile for the cameras as the iris closes. There’s a great splooshing sound as Boo Boo hoists Yogi’s eyelids. Notice the flowers that look like plus signs? Joe Montell liked drawing those. There are plants in other scenes with a dot on the top, another Montell trait. So my guess is Montell drew handled the backgrounds.
The familiar Bill Loose-John Seely music is here. Jack Shaindlin’s ‘On the Run’ gets uses during the ski-cabin scene.
0:00 - Yogi Bear sub main title theme (Hoyt Curtin).
0:14 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi walks to Sammy Bear’s cave and knocks.
0:20 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY(Loose-Seely) – Yogi talks to Sammy and walks away.
0:30 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi walks to Theodore’s tree, Boo Boo sleeping.
1:08 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi pulls out paper bag, Yogi leaves Boo Boo’s cave.
1:42 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Ranger Smith in office; talks to Yogi, “There goes my winter.”
2:49 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Yogi goes skating, falls through ice hole.
3:16 - SAILOR’S HORNPIPE (Trad.) – Yogi yells for help, Ranger on phone.
3:28 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Ranger chisels Yogi out of ice block, Yogi by fire in Lodge.
3:54 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Geordie Hormel) – Yogi on skis, Ranger on phone realises it’s Yogi.
4:33 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi going down hill, Ranger opens cabin doors, cabin collapses.
5:04 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Ranger takes Yogi by ear to cave, Yogi sticks out tongue.
5:24 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi looks out window, clothespins, coffee, alarm clock earmuffs, hotfoot.
6:19 - LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Ranger on phone, Boo Boo poses Yogi for cameras.
6:58 - Yogi Bear sub end title theme (Curtin).