Friday, 25 November 2011

Dancing Girls and Storyboards

Pebbles was the beginning of the ruination of The Flintstones, but there are some episodes where she appears that are enjoyable. Daddies Anonymous immediately comes to mind. And I’ve always liked the running gag in Pebbles’ Birthday Party where the Boulderettes high-step their way through the cartoon. There’s a pretty funny scene—it looks like Carlo Vinci’s work—where Fred just can’t get rid of the dancers while trying to restore some kind of normality to the party at his home.

An auction house has some storyboard drawings from the cartoon for sale and you know I’ll use any excuse to post story panels. This isn’t the complete board but you can get an idea of the basics of how the scenes were set up. Fred looks a little overweight in some of these drawings, doesn’t he?

The story was by Tony Benedict. Tony was a more-than-capable and funny artist, but I was surprised when he told me he didn’t draw these. They were done by Alex Lovy, who was the story director on the cartoon. Tony was kind enough to e-mail me an explanation of what happened.

I asked Alex why he re drew my board. Staging for minimum production cost was something he excelled at I had to learn. My boards began sailing through with minimum changes after my chat with Alex.

Lovy had been around since the ‘30s and had directed at Lantz during World War Two, while Tony’s animation career was in its relatively early stages at this time.

A nice gag in the cartoon is where Fred tries to get the kids to play games and they start a round of poker. One of the kids is named Harvey and I note one of the layout artists is the kid of Harvey Eisenberg named Jerry.

The cartoon revolves around a standard plot where a caterer gets Fred’s order for the Water Buffalo Lodge party (where the dancing girls are supposed to be) with his order for his little series-wrecker’s birthday party. The caterer is a sarcastic lippy type, just like the floorwalker Jack Benny used to meet up with on his radio and TV show. I asked Tony about that. are quite correct about the Frank Nelson character. I often wondered why we didn’t use the actors we had in mind when we wrote their parts. They in effect helped to create the characters. Perhaps labor agreements permitted one actor to do additional voices with no additional compensation. But I can't quite imagine money playing such a role.

What it may have boiled down to was versatility. Frank Nelson was a good dramatic actor, but when it came to comedy, he really could only do one voice. Doug Young was doing supporting voices in this cartoon so it was easy to add another character to his list, though Nelson did appear in the show’s first season.


  1. Best episode of Season 4 (Barney "escorting" the Boulderettes out the door was one of my favorite parts of the show). Mixing in the Water Buffalo party trappings kind of brought back a reminder of the earlier pre-Pebbles seasons, where the Honeymooners similarities were more obviously exploited.

    1. This episode is actually from Season 5, not Season 4.

  2. Yowp, good choice, you and J.Lee are correct that this one is a real keeper, and the Frank Nelson issue could be considered here [Doug Young as mentioned did the voice].

    The first appearance of the REAL Frank Nelson on "The Flinstones" and thus at Hanna-Barbera was in the fourth episode of the first season ever, "No Help Wanted", where he played TWO characters. [One was Fred's golf partner, and the other was Barney's employer. This one's the one where Barney has the unenviable job of "Fred's television repossers.] But confusingly Mel Blanc plays a THIRD charcters who is VERY much BASED on Frank Nelson, the floorwalker!!

    There was on the late lamented GAC Forums in 2009 a conversation about two OTHER similiar sounding radio legends-Gale Gordon and Hal Peary, in the thread of the famous Gordon vs Blanc feud [wityh Ray Pointer explaining that Mr.Peary sounds deeper than Gordon and someone else who had the offical Lucy book, which I also have read, and plan to get for my birthday or Christmas, noting that Gale Gordon "had the leading man or second leading man role"(Golden Age Cartoon Forums post, 2009)].

    The open scene where Tony Benedict came up with all these bits of Fred snoring, must have been really liked by a local television station here, Fox Channell 11 KTTV, in Southern California, since it showed that opening scene as a promo for the Flinstones. Grand Poohbah of the Water Buffalo Lodge:"Cactus Cooler"?

    BTW While many hate the final season's Great Gazoo, it may be noted that Harvey Korman's voice characterization always sounded to me like Frank Nelson with a very cultured British accent and also some episodes with him like the farewell Flinstones, "My Fair Freddy", use the Water Buffalo setting and adult jokes..

  3. At Pokey - I thought it was Hal Smith voicing Mr. Boulder in 'No Help Wanted'. The TV store guy (Mel Blanc) is not really anything like Frank Nelson in my opinions.

    I agress though, Mr. Yowp, that Fred does look a little too fat, even for Fred, in these storyboards.

  4. Andy, that's Nelson as Boulder. And, you're right, the sales clerk isn't even a close approximation of him.

  5. "Yowp-Yowp"Dodsworth,

    Do you remember of an episode of the 4th season (1963-64) from The Flintstones (Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1960-66), titled Ann-Margrock Presents, which has the special appearance of Ann-Margret (in the animated format)?
    Very well. There's a scene where she, Fred and Barney are training dance numbers for the Ann's show at the Bedrock Bowl. This scene was animated by Carlo Vinci.

  6. I knew Frank Nelson was Mr. Stone in that ep, but didn't recognise him as Mr. Boulder. Guess he could to a few voices after all. One voice I don't recognise at all id Ooooools Smoothie from The Long Long Weekend. Unless that's Nelson again. Yet ONE of his lines is clearly Mel Blanc.

  7. Smoothy sounds like Willard Waterman to me. He took over as Gildersleeve when Hal Peary quit the show.

  8. Pretty sure it is Willard Waterman, Yowp; The late 1994 Flinstones book by "T.S.Elliott" after that movie came out mentions "Willard" as him..

  9. Yowp and Yony Benedict, if you are reading this: the "snarkyYessss?? clerk" may have been not played by Frank Nelson for a combinaton of your reasons---money and versatily, resulting in Doug Young doing the voice as he did[?] in the Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy cartoon "It's A Worm Day" [with Irving the Bookworm and the much used Tex Avery "silence is golden/saving his sounds for outside" bit], but with a slightly different angle--Frank Nelson just might hadve been a little too much to spend on--I mean, EIGHT voice actors---Mel Blanc, Al Reed, Gerry Johnson, Jean Vanderpyl, then Doug Young, and I think John Stephenosn, Don Messick, and Howard Morris are the supporting/guest voices, with the main cast doubling as well.

    To hire a NINTH actor for that episode, even though he'd showed up in 1960-1962, might pose a salar/scale issue...and then Nelson was on CBS on Jack Benny, Flinstones on ABC, or contractually available elsewhere, or sick, or out to lunch or visiiting a sick or dead friend, so it was just convient to have a replacement.

    Note Howard MacNear [who was ailing near the end of the 'Stones] was used in the earliest episodes, then mimicked for the "Dino-Peptic germ" and "Barney Klepto" episodes in 1962 by John Stephenson (who in the 1994 "Flintstone" book by a guy named T.S.Elliott was recalled saying he could do a mean Nelson.

    Also Don Mesisick gingerly tried doing the shtick in 1961's "The Masquerade" [forgot the exact titles of the above two]--and I say gingerly since like Mel he was reluctant to copy anyone [he's hilarious as the episode's own "only" [service] "in town", here a cost

  10. For me, the best scene in the episode is the first appearance of the dancing girls, making Fred's and Barney's eyes bug out Tex Avery-style. I still remember my sister and me laughing ourselves silly over that.