Here’s a fine, full-page cover for the Sunday supplement of the Miami News of October 1, 1961 where there’s a little bit more information about the airing of the Yogi Bear Birthday Party cartoon on stations during the week ahead (Boo Boo looks like he’s day-dreaming).
The show wasn’t a special in that it pre-empted regular programming. It ran in the usual half-hour slot that Kellogg’s bartered/bought for Yogi on whatever station normally ran it. Stations were encouraged to have their kids show host front some kind of on-air birthday party with youngsters in the studio audience. In Miami, the News said:
A SPECIAL Yogi Bear show—in color—on Channel 7 at 7 p.m. Wednesday will mark the popular cartoon character’s birthday. Channel 7 officials here are conducting a contest in which young viewers send in birthday cards—of their own design—wishing Yogi a Happy Birthday.
Designers of the 100 cards judged best will be invited to attend the special program Wednesday at the WCKT studios. Ice cream, cake, favors and a special three-minute break during the show in which prizes will be awarded to contestants will comprise the event.
So the Miami station had an in-studio cut-in during the Yogi half-hour. Kellogg’s didn’t buy additional time. That seems to have been the case almost everywhere I’ve looked as stations had other programmes on either side of Yogi they were committed to air (in Miami, Yogi was between “Huntley-Brinkley” and “Wagon Train.”) But they went all out in Fairbanks, Alaska, with a special broadcast. 228 kids showed up. The Daily Miner of October 5, 1961 reported:
Yogi Bear Celebration
Yogi Bear is going to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, with a special birthday party program, attended by Huckleberry Hound, Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith and other notables. The party will be seen on television from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday evening on Channel Two.
The local birthday party program for Yogi will be held in the USO. It will be emceed by Wee Willy Wally of KFAR-TV. Winners of the Yogi Bear contest will participate and 12 of the winners will receive prizes which will be announced on the air as the climax of the Yogi Bear Birthday Party program. The children invited to the USO are listed in tonight's paper on page six. Children are requested to be at the USO by 6:45 Friday evening and the party will last until 8 p.m.
It was originally planned to have the party at the KFAR-TV studios but the location had to be changed due to lack of space.
The Los Angeles Times of October 5, 1961 seemed to indicate Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera actually put in an appearance on the birthday broadcast but the Google News archive is now impossible to search so I can’t find all of the article.
It’s unfortunate the version of the cartoon that’s on DVD has no credits on it. I suspect if they existed, the late Earl Kress would have found them to ensure they were on the DVD. Here are a few shots:
Yes, it would have been cool to have multiple Yowps in the dog pack instead of an anonymous one-shot character.
This cartoon was unique. Hanna-Barbera never highlighted one character in an entire syndicated half-hour again. One wonders why the studio did it. Just to sell cereal? Perhaps. But this show aired when cartoon competition started getting heavy. The Miami News edition also contains an article about the explosion of new animation on TV. The Yogi birthday would certainly have given the series some needed attention amidst the distracting siren call of “The Alvin Show,” “Calvin and the Colonel” and other new cartoons looking for an audience. More than the usual effort was put in, with Hoyt Curtin contributing an original song (are those the Randy Horne singers in the background?), a voice cast of five and what appear to be an awful lot of scene cuts in some places.
It was also a swan song of sorts. Hanna-Barbera was evolving and moving away from the sponsored, self-contained, three-characters-in-a-half-hour style of show (“Magilla Gorilla” and “Peter Potamus” excepted). The studio already had two shows on prime time and more planned. Its new syndicated cartoons were shorter and weren’t part of a packaged show. Soon the studio would be enticing networks to dump live-action shows out of Saturday morning time slots.
And Yogi was moving on, too. To a theatre near you.