Cartoon characters have been used for entertainment, education and propaganda over the years. About 30 years ago, TV networks became increasingly reactionary to pressure groups and forced studios to come up with cartoons that were “educational” (or “propaganda,” depending on one’s point of view). They sure weren’t entertainment. Kid cartoon viewers are generally intelligent people who know when they’re being blatantly preached at.
Of course, cartoon characters were used for this sort of thing before the 1980s; the John Sutherland studio made its fortune producing “educational” cartoon shorts in the late ‘40s and through the ‘50s. And Hanna-Barbera’s characters made educational appearances long before they loaded into an ark.
One appearance was in 1962 on the children’s record “How to be a Better-Than-Average Child Without Really Trying!” Billboard magazine of October 27, 1962 reviewed it, in the column next to its spotlight on “Rusty Warren in Orbit.”
Various Artists. Golden LP 90—Here’s Yogi Bear, one of the most popular of all TV characters, along with a flock of his TV buddies, all created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. This time, the tunes are based on the general theme of how to be better than you are. The title—“How to be a Better-Than-Average Child Without Really Trying”—is a take-off on a current Broadway musical hit, and it sets the tone for such items as “Everybody Makes Mistakes,” “Get Neat,” “Doodlin’ and Dawdlin’,” “Take a Little Care” and “So Many Rules.” Cute wax with a built-in lesson for the kiddies.
As a kiddie, this record would have bored me somewhere into the first song. And 50 years later, it has the same effect. Setting aside the “lessons” (any kid would rather listen to Yogi outwit someone for a pic-a-nic basket), this is a Golden Record which means the original cast of the cartoons is nowhere to be found. Instead, we get Frank Milano as Yogi (he keeps losing the voice). Boo Boo’s voice is sped up for some reason. Mike Stewart and Dottie Evans (as Julie Bennett as Cindy Bear) round out the cast.
You can click on the arrow to listen to each band on the record but I’ll tell you what you’d rather do. Skip right down to the theme songs. 1962 marked the debut of ‘The New Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Series,’ featuring Lippy the Lion, Touché Turtle and Wally Gator. “Top Cat” began the preceding fall. So, to pad out the record, the usual Golden Records chorus and combo give a rendition of them all, and toss in a previously-unknown theme for Dum Dum the Dog, Touché’s sidekick. Unlike the originals by the Randy Horne Singers, you can actually understand all the lyrics. And I like Jim Timmens’ arrangement for the Wally Gator theme better than Hoyt Curtin’s; with a few more pieces and someone really banging at the piano and less timid on the guitar, Wally could really be a “twistin’ syncopator.” Sorry the Top Cat open is crackly.
I don’t have copies of the original lyric sheets so I’ll wildly guess that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera came up with the additional words you don’t hear on the TV versions of the themes while Jackie Relnach and Joan Lamport are only responsible for the be-a-better-kid material.
YOGI BEAR IS BETTER THAN THE AVERAGE
HAPPY AS A CLAM
EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES
DOODLIN AND DAWDLIN
DON'T DO UNTO OTHERS
TAKE A LITTLE CARE
A LITTLE THIS, A LITTLE THAT
SO MANY RULES
THERE'S A REASON FOR THE RULES
PARENTS ARE PEOPLE, TOO
REPRISE of YOU CAN BE A BETTER CHILD
LIPPY THE LION and HARDY HAR HAR