Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Animation – Don Patterson; Layout - Tony Rivera; Backgrounds - Bob Gentle; Story – Warren Foster; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson (no credits).
Voice Cast: Yogi, grey shirt tourist – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Circle-shirt tourist, Ranger – Don Messick; Winnie Witch – Jean Vander Pyl.
First Aired: week of January 18, 1960.
Plot: Yogi steals a witch’s broom to steal picnic baskets from the sky.
Note: Thanks to Scott for sending a TV bug-free version of the title card.
The canny sub-text enveloped within the demimonde of animated cartoons manifests itself in an unexpected locality in the seven-minute prescient wonder known as Bewitched Bear. For obscured within its unassuming frames is an entreaty anticipating the tumult and result of the activist movement within the angst-filled decade to come—a plaintive plea for equality.
For within this modestly-drawn television morsel for children is found a witch—traditionally a victim of bigotry culminating in conflagratory violence. To further metaphorically emphasize her minority status, her hue is not a gleaming Middle America white, but a drab olive green. Nevertheless, and remarkably, her fellow characters on the glowing black-and-white screen of 1960 treat her as one of them, as if she belonged with them cavorting in a national park, instead of accepting those social mores which dictate she be confined to a separate existence far away in the brooding, unseen underworld
With benign cleverness, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera have embedded in what is ostensibly a seven-minute comedy, a lofty clarion call to cast aside prejudice and reject hate, symbolically through Jellystone Park (representing the world); Yogi Bear (representing humanity) and green (representing racial discrimination) Winnie Witch (representing intolerance).
OK, maybe it doesn’t. But you can read just about anything into just about anything. And use lots of fancy talk while doing it, too.
Other than some of the background work, the best part of the cartoon is Don Messick’s absolute deadpan delivery of Ranger Smith’s lines. My favourite is two-thirds of the way in. Yogi has switched brooms with a vacationing witch and has been using hers to swoop down on picnic baskets. The Ranger gets a call.
Smith: Hmm. I think I know who’s behind this. (shot of Ranger walking) It really burns me up. You trust ‘em, and they let you down every time.
Yogi: Oh, oh. Here comes the ranger. And I’m caught red-handed with the flyin’ broom. (Yogi starts sweeping the ground) Greetings, Mr. Ranger. Just tidying up the forest, sir. Gets mighty dusty in the dry season.
Everyone watching has been conditioned to know the Ranger thinks Yogi’s responsible. But writer Warren Foster surprises us. The ranger doggedly marches right past Yogi, not really paying attention to him.
Smith: That’s nice, Yogi.
Yogi: I didn’t think he’d fall for that one. He must be slippin’.
(Ranger knocks on cabin door).
Smith: Come on, open up.
(Witch opens door)
Winnie: What’s wrong, Ranger?
Smith: Riding around on a broom, and filching picnic baskets, that’s what’s wrong.
Winnie: But I haven’t stuck my big nose out of this cabin all day!
Smith: On your broom and on your way. This is the last time I trust a witch.
What I love about it is that the Ranger behaves as if dealing with a witch tourist is just part of an average day and treats it in an utter business-like fashion.
I really like the establishing shot. The camera pans from Winnie Witch’s mailbox to her manor on a barren peak (that’s been conveniently levelled off). The blue swirls around the moon are a little reminiscent of the opening of The Jetsons. There are no credits on the versions of the cartoons I’ve seen, but the mansion looks similar to ones that Bob Gentle painted in other H-B cartoons.
And, yes, Warren Foster resisted the temptation to call his witch ‘Hazel,’ making her perhaps the only witch in a 1950s cartoon to have another name. And, no, Winnie wasn’t exactly an original name for a witch. It can be found, among other places, in a newspaper serial supplied by AP Newsfeatures for Christmas-time 1951 by Lucrece Hudgins. Winnie Witch was also the name of a horse that raced in New York State in 1909. Regardless, Hanna-Barbera kept the name in its collective memory so when a witch character was made one of the three components of The Secret Squirrel Show in 1965, she was named Winnie (Foster also wrote on the series). Although the names were the same, the designs were different, and both were given voices by Jean Vander Pyl (the later Winnie had a little lighter voice; Vander Pyl wanted to make her a little more motherly).
This cartoon is animated by Don Patterson, who tried to pump life in the stripped-down Walter Lantz shorts of the early ‘50s. Reader Howard Fein wrote at the ‘Termite Terrace’ forum in 2004:
Patterson characters are very angular and tend to have large, slightly crossed eyes and huge jaws giving the impression of overbite. If you view an early FLINTSTONES episode, you'll notice that when Fred or Barney say a word with the letter 'F' or 'P', they appear to bite their lower lip.
After Winnie reveals to a friend on the phone she’s going to vacation in Jellystone, the scene switches to Yogi bemoaning that tourists are following the park rules and not feeding the bears. He and Boo Boo then decide to mooch something at Winnie’s cabin. Patterson has Yogi blinking. Eye-blinks are usually cheap footage, substituting for animation during stretches of dialogue. But Patterson’s blink is different here. He’s actually forming an eyeball on Yogi. You can see the same thing in Show Biz Bear. Some dialogue from Foster, the man who once made a living writing for Yosemite Sam, as you can tell:
Yogi: How-de-do, sir. Is the lady of the house in?
Winnie: I’m the lady of the house and I’m not going to be pestered by any old dusty bear. Now, you get out of here! (whistles). Sick ‘em, broom!
Yogi: Leave us leave, Boo Boo.
Winnie: Back into the woods and you stay there, you fur-bearing varmints!
Yogi gets the idea to use the broom “sweep the pic-a-nic tables clean of pic-a-nic baskets.” See Patterson’s version of Boo Boo. He has a long face in the close-up and triangular eye blinks. And Foster gives us the catchphrase “The ranger isn’t going to like this, Yogi.”
Yogi switches an ordinary broom for the witch’s, parks Boo Boo on top of it (“I don’t think I’m going to like it, either,” adds the little bear) then shouts “Hey, hey! Broom’s away!” Boo Boo takes it for a test run (“you’re smarter than the av-er-age bird”) before Yogi hops on to carry out his master plan of theft from the sky. Whoever did the camera work on this screws up part of the scene. Yogi is supposed to be flying right-to-left but the clouds in the background suddenly look like they’re on rewind. The background starts moving left-to-right for a before changing back about a second later to the proper direction.
One of the animation savers Patterson used a couple of times was a ‘dip walk.’ The upper part of the ranger’s body bobs up and down as it crosses the scene like an ocean wave. This means the feet don’t have to be animated. A cel of the body can be slid across the background with only the mouth moving, but it still looks like the character is animated. Here is part of Ranger Smith slowed down as he goes to see the witch. He’s on ones, except when he gets to the “top” and then he’s held for an extra frame. Yogi behind him is on twos.
Winnie tries to leave Jellystone but can’t get off the ground. She realises her broom has been switched. The ranger expresses surprise then clues in who’s responsible. You can tell by the expressions Patterson uses.
Yogi lifts a king-sized picnic basket. The layout artist (or would this be on Foster’s storyboard?) pulls back to medium-long shot to emphasize Yogi being far up in the sky. Back to a closer shot and the ranger pops out of the basket. Patterson gives the bear a cross-eyed expression then a surprise take featuring Yogi’s hat popping up and twirling around. Yogi skids the broom to a stop (how does something skid in the air, anyway?) and the ranger drops to the ground far below with a camera shake. “A tisket, a tasket. You can’t float down with a basket, sir!” Yogi shouts before the impact.
Ranger Smith gets his revenge. He calls the army base to report a UFO. The military sends up a missile which zones in on the bear on a broom. The plan backfires. The ranger is resting comfortably with his feet up on his office desk. There’s a knock. It’s Yogi in the air. “Pardon me, sir. I’m being followed,” he says, and he flies across the screen, presumably to an exit door on the other side of the ranger station. The front door magically closes on its own and the missile crashes and gets lodged into it. Patterson has a surprise take that gets lost because it’s only on two frames. It would have been more effective if held for a bit longer.
The missile explodes, the cabin becomes scrap lumber and you can see Patterson give the ranger an overbite in the aftermath animation.
Smith, however, sort of wins out in the end. We see Yogi with the broom amidst small pieces of wood on the ground, then a shot of the crippled ranger.
Smith: (insistently) Come on, Yogi, faster. Sweep it all out of here. And when you’re finished, you’ll start building the new ranger station.
Yogi: (unhappily) They sure lowered the broom on me this time. Hey-hey-hey!
The music’s pretty typical, with ‘TC-300’ extended by chopping a clump near the end of it. Jack Shaindlin’s cues handle the airborne scenes and we hear the always-fun ‘Toboggan Run’ a few times.
0:00 - Yogi Bear sub-main title theme-vocal (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Hoyt Curtin).
0:13 - ZR-49 LIGHT EERIE (Geordie Hormel) – Winnie on the phone.
0:52 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Winnie flying.
0:57 - C-14 DOMESTIC LIGHT (Bill Loose) – Yogi and Boo Boo, Yogi talks to Winnie, “sic ‘em broom!”
1:39 - LICKETY SPLIT (Shaindlin) – Broom chases Yogi and Boo Boo and lands.
2:00 - LAF-1-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Yogi gets idea, switches brooms, “Broom’s away”
2:50 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Boo Boo on broom, “average bird” line.
3:08 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) – Yogi/Boo Boo ‘sick’ dialogue, Yogi takes off.
3:27 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – “The ranger isn’t going to like this,” airborne Yogi steals baskets.
4:12 - TC-300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-John Seely) – Smith on phone, talks to witch.
5:16 - L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Witch can’t get off ground, Ranger catches on.
5:32 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi in air, Ranger falls to ground.
6:04 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Ranger calls missile base.
6:15 - L-1158 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Missile takes off.
6:18 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi hear missile, ranger’s office explodes.
6:40 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Ranger running in mid-air, Yogi sweeping.
6:57 - Yogi Bear sub end title theme (Curtin).