Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hanna-Barbera Babylon

Go to any entertainment web site and you won’t find any entertainment news. You’ll find out who is driving drunk, who is sleeping with whom, who isn’t sleeping with whom, who’s in rehab, who’s out of rehab. We’re bombarded with frailties, trivialities, speculation and breathless blabber about the same six people, overhyped to the point of overkill. Then, after everyone is well past the point of minute interest, six fresh personages are found and the cycle starts again.

Oh, if we could only go back to the day when Hollywood was full of grace, dignity and taste, not bursting with people who should be living in trailers instead of mansions. Nor bulging with bottom-feeders who make a living pandering to an insatiable curiosity in tawdriness.

Well, of course, it never was really like that. There’s always been the trashy side to Tinseltown. The difference today is so many sources of instant communication are available to us—the internet, countless TV channels, etc.—we just can’t seem to get away from it. Unless you limit your reading to this Blog of Distinction.

Okay, maybe not. Have we got dirt and scandal for you! No, not another of those ‘Snagglepuss is that way’ stories. Actually, what we’ve got is a Charleston Gazette-Mail column by Jim Dent’s pseudonym from August 7, 1960. He was fed up—40 years ago—with the tackiness of show biz gossip found in the media and decided to do a parody with the most implausible subjects he could think of. I can’t help but think he had the recent public soap opera of Martin and Lewis in the back of his mind.

Huckleberry, Yogi Bear Deny Rumors of Split-Up
By Jay Fredericks

(The following is the result of an overdose of stories appearing in popular magazines on such subjects as “What Is Jack Paar Really Like?” or “I Knew Elizabeth Taylor When” and such.)
Deep down inside, Huckleberry Hound is not the clown he appears to be on his weekly television program.
Basically, he is a tragedian and yearns to play Hamlet or Othello or Paladin. In a recent interview at his palatial doghouse in Beverly Hills, Huckleberry bared his soul to this interviewer.
He was lounging beside his steak-bone-shaped swimming pool reading a volume of Proust.
“Mr. Hound,” I said, “what are you really like?”
* * *
HE TOOK off his glasses. “Call me Huckleberry,” he said generously. I whimpered gratefully.
“To answer your question,” he said, without a trace of the yokel accent he assumes for his television role, “I am a kind, generous, noble human being. I am, in a word, sincere. When I am touched, I weep. When I am happy, I laugh. I yearn to put my talents to the test in a serious role. I see myself as a mixture of Sir Laurence Olivier and Rin-Tin-Tin.”
“Why then,” I asked, “do you restrict yourself to the clownish role you play each week?”
“It breaks my heart,” he replied. “But the public demands it. If I vary even slightly, I receive hundreds of badly misspelled letters saying: ‘We like you as you are. Don’t change.’ What am I to do? My public has made me. Can I desert them now?”
* * *
HE WIPED away a tear.
I cleared my throat. “Huckleberry,” I said, “there are stories about a rift between you and your co-star Yogi Bear. Is there any truth to these vicious rumors?”
“Yogi Bear is a warm, sincere mammal,” Huckleberry replied. “He is smarter than the average bear. But Yogi, like most bears, is quick to take offense at what he considers a slur on his ability.
“I made only a few suggestions to him about his interpretations of certain scenes. I felt that he did not fully comprehend the underlying, basic meaning of his role. Yogi disagreed. If he feels any ill will toward me for my well-meant words, I am truly sorry.”
* * *
INTERVIEWED in his split-level cave, Yogi Bear disagreed violently.
“Hound has a superiority complex,” he said. “He thinks because the show is named after him, everyone should do as he wishes. He’s a mean, ill-tempered, jealous dog. I, on the other hand, am a sincere-type bear. I do my role as I think best. Hound is a method actor. I am not.
“I think Hound is jealous of my popularity with our audience. Often, when I am doing a scene, he hangs around the set making disparaging remarks.
“Just the other day I received an anonymous letter in the mail which said: If you’re a real bear why don’t you hibernate? But slurs like this don’t bother me. Sticks and stones, you know.”
* * *
“I DON’T like to say anything,” said Jinx Cat. “These intra-show arguments upset me very much. I think we should all try to get along together.
“Look what happened to ‘Father Knows Best’ when members of the cast started making snide remarks about each other. I don’t care who the star of the show is, I’ve never made any pretense about my part and neither have Dixie and Pixie Mouse, my co-stars.”
“Jinx is an okay guy,” said Dixie Mouse. “But Huckleberry and Yogi are constantly arguing. Huckleberry wanted to bring guest stars like Quick Draw McGraw and Mickey Mouse on the show but Yogi was dead set against it.
There was a big argument and Yogi threatened to quit. I hope it doesn’t bust up the show but if it does, I guess I’ve put enough aside to keep me in cheese for a while. I can always do guest shots and Pixie and Jinx and I have plans for a night-club act.”
* * *
FRIENDS OF all parties concerned are attempting to reconcile the differences between Huckleberry and Yogi.
“It would be a damned shame if some petty differences broke up a great show,” one said.
I agree and I’d like to use this column to put in my plea to Huckleberry and Yogi. Make up fellows. The world needs you. You’re both great human beings.

Jay may have thought he was only joshing but he was right. For within a few months, buried amongst columns revealing Farley Granger hadn’t married yet, was word Yogi was moving to own show starting in January. Indeed, there was a rift in the friendly environs of 1416 La Brea!

Oh, wait. Yogi got his own show because he was a marketing gold mine for Hanna-Barbera and they milked him for all they could. After all, he was a supporting player being treated like a star, as the tone of the article should indicate.

Tomorrow on the blog, we’ll reveal—thanks to Hollywood insiders—who can’t put down the cactus cola, despite the urging of his best friends to do it before it’s too late.

7 comments:

  1. You're right. The current bunch of freeloaders from Hollywood stink. I prefer the gossips from Huckleberry!

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  2. Alas, Hollywood's bulging with adults being dysfunctional children and people who want to make money catching them in the act of being dysfunctional children.

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  3. I agree Yowp and Luis..More than ever the old adage of " The Lunatics Running the Asylum "has never been truer. I can just hear Mr. Jinx sitting back in that chair drawing out those wordddds, and doing that little smack with his lips as he tales a breath... " Sheeeesh!! " Great post. Started off my morning with a much needed laugh.

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  4. This parody of the whole pretentious Hollywood gossip is brilliant! I'm glad I'm not the only one who can see how unsophisticated and classless the celebrities have become these days (like those idiots on Jersey Shore or those dumb Kardachians that I always want to murder whenever I see them anywhere). Huckleberrry, Yogi, and Mr. Jinks sure know how to gossip with class. Enough said.

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  5. It's like reading a afternoon soap but it's more funny with this characters. I agree that today's showbiz is pointless. Quebec's star system is not a exception.

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  6. Nice bonus of screencaps from the bumpers that local stations showing the Yogi, Huck and Quick Draw packages abandoned sometime back in the 1960s. While some are restored for the WHV HUCK SEASON 1 and COMPLETE YOGI DVDs, there's still a wealth of material unseen for decades.

    The way the various characters interact in the interstitials is much fresher and funnier than the 'classic H-B character revival/reunion' shows of the 70s, 80s and 90s- especially YOGI'S GANG, where everybody's all buddy-buddy in compliance with early 70s Saturday AM Standards & Practives.

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  7. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    The references depicted on this topic, which involve Yogi and Huck together, are from the bumpers originally shown on The Huckleberry Hound Show (Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1958-62). On these bumpers, we saw Huck interacting with Yogi, Boo, the Meeces (a.k.a. Pixie & Dixie) and Mr. Jinks.
    After 1960, when Yogi gained his own show (the classical Yogi Bear Show [Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1960-62]) and with Hokey Wolf replacing the space which belonged to Yogi, the bumpers presented on The Huckleberry Hound Show after this date quoted above, showed Huck interacting with Hokey, Ding-A-Ling, the Meeces and Mr. Jinks.

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