Saturday, October 26, 2013

Yogi Bear — Slap Happy Birthday

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – George Nicholas, Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, Chef, Stan, Red-Headed Woman – Daws Butler; Narrator, Ranger Smith, Wife, Tourist in White Cap – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Plot: Yogi plans a birthday party for Ranger Smith behind his back.

This cartoon may have been the first put into production to use cues written by Hoyt Curtin. When it first aired may be recorded somewhere but I haven’t been able to find it.

13 Yogi cartoons using the old Capitol Hi-Q and Langlois Filmusic libraries were produced for the 1960-61 season of The Huckleberry Hound Show starting in September. But by mid-October, Kellogg’s had dropped the idea of sponsoring a Mr. Magoo half-hour, started talking with Hanna-Barbera, and then announced it would back a 30-minute Yogi Bear show to begin airing in January 1961. That left little time to get the show together. Some of those Yogis that ran on Huck’s show were re-run, but as the Yogi show eventually featured new Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle cartoons with Curtin scores, it’s quite possible that “Slap Happy Birthday” and its Curtin cues aired with them during the remainder of the 1960-61 season.

By the time this cartoon was written, a strict template was in place: the plot was a battle of wits between Yogi and Ranger Smith (generally involving picnic baskets), and it was up to Warren Foster to find new variations on the theme. In this one, the twist is Yogi doesn’t want food for himself. He wants it for the Ranger for a birthday party. And the Ranger, knowing Yogi, distrusts the bear’s motives.

George Nicholas animated this cartoon with some assistance from—George Nicholas. He reused his work from Yogi cartoons from the previous season. Yogi had a mechanical leap-walk in “Lullabye-Bye Bear.” Nicholas simply drew new arm and mouth movements.


Lullabye-Bear Bear


Slap Happy Birthday

And how about these from “Papa Yogi”?


Papa Yogi


Slap Happy Birthday


Papa Yogi


Slap Happy Birthday

These two drawings aren’t the same but you can see Nicholas used a variation on the same effect.


Papa Yogi


Slap Happy Birthday

The cartoon opens with a pan over an autumnal painting of Jellystone Park by Dick Thomas over Curtin’s sad clarinet cue he used for running-away-from-home scenes (eg. Dino in “Dino Goes Hollyrock”).



Cut to Yogi and Boo Boo in their cave. Boo Boo proclaims him “smarter than the av-er-age bear,” to which Yogi responds: “I do have more than a smattering of ignorance,” disproving Boo Boo’s claim. Yogi further shows his ignorance by not knowing what a Scorpio is. Anyway, the dialogue involves the ranger’s birthday. Boo Boo got him a present. Yogi didn’t.


Despite being rebuffed by the “I’ll ship you to the St. Louis Zoo” Ranger after trying to shake his hand and wish him a happy birthday, Yogi decides to organise a birthday party for him. He cons the chef at the inn to make a birthday cake.

Yogi: [H]e thinks you’re the greatest chef since Escoffier.
Chef: Did he say that?
Yogi: I get tired of hearing it.
Chef: I do have a certain flare with a toasted cheeseburger.

As far as I know, this is the only reference to Auguste Scoffier in a cartoon.

Yogi tosses in his “you’re one of the good ones” line before the scene switches to Yogi mooching chicken sandwiches from a tourist family, and then briefly convincing the ranger the bag they’re in contains leaves he’s picking up to tidy the park. The ranger’s puzzled after a tourist couple tells Yogi (who was inviting them to the party) that the bear wasn’t mooching food, and even more so after Yogi ignores a picnic basket left in the open as a trap. Curtin’s cue during the latter sequence is what I’ll informally call “The March of the Ten Little Flintstones,” as it was used in that cartoon when the alien space ship hovered over the Flintstones’ place and zapped out duplicates of Fred.



Yogi grabs the cake out of the kitchen of the inn, and the ranger chases him with little steps past the same cluster of trees eight times before running into another building where the birthday party revellers are waiting. After Ranger Smith reads the ‘happy birthday’ inscription on the cake, the little group breaks into “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Ranger: “Thanks, everybody. But I’m really not a jolly good fellow. I’m an old sourpuss.” Yogi: “A jolly good one, though, sir. And they’re the best kind. Nyea-hey-hey-hey-eee!” And, with that, the cartoon ends.



Here are a few more of Thomas’ backgrounds. The lighter half of the cave on the first one is on an overlay.



Regular readers are well aware that the music cues are always listed on each cartoon review. In fact, the reason the blog was created in the first place was to list the cues on each of the cartoons in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show because there was an interest in learning about the stock music used in the first cartoons. I can’t do that with Curtin’s cues. The late Earl Kress explained to me once—and Earl researched this in helping to select cues for a Rhino record release of Hanna-Barbera music some years ago—that Curtin simply listed his cues with alpha-numerics and none of them had real names. I don’t have a list of them—and Curtin wrote several hundred cues in the first couple of years—so they’ll have to remain unidentified.

16 comments:

  1. Great post! I've wondered if SHB was the very first of the Curtin era.

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  2. This episode was featured originally in the classical Yogi Bear Show, in the middle of the 1960-61 season.

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    1. In this cartoon, Ranger Smith's appearance transforms from dictatorial and mean to a more "normal" looking Ranger Smith that we all know and love.

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    2. And here's a reference of the "normal" looking Ranger Smith, seen on the animated movie Heyyy There, It's Yogi Bear (1964).
      This snapshot is located on the following link:

      http://retrotv.uol.com.br/wp-content/gallery/ze-colmeia/ze-colmeia13.jpg

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  3. Yogi even gets a new title card beginning in this cartoon where the color on the title card is beige instead of purple and he's facing the left way of the title card and in the end title card, he's facing right.

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  4. I also noted the 'Papa Yogi' Ranger Smith design at the beginning. Seriously, what is with the Ranger's attitude at the beginning? Did he get up at the wrong side of the bed that morning, or is his birthday (perhaps in his late thirties) giving him concern that his lifelong dream of owning a chicken ranch is farther and farther away...
    His comment about Yogi stealing his fingers...surely he knows Yogi well enough that violence is not his speciality (unless its a comment about Yogi's thievery).
    Nevertheless, I think it's a good setup. The 'Papa Yogi' design (which is Smith at his most furious) makes Smith's eventual shock at the end all the more powerful.
    And like "Home Sweet Jellystone" it does show that, deep down, Yogi does care about the Ranger. And Smith finds that out.
    But since Scorpio is late October, shouldn't the season be a bit colder for picnickers?

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    1. Late October can be warm and sunny, especially in the Western states, where presumably Jellystone Park is located.

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  5. The 13th Huckleberry Hound episode of the 1960-61 season, "Joke and Dagger", also had Curtin score. In response to spacecat, Hoyt Curtin's score was first used on TV for THE FLINTSTONES in fall 1960, and a year before that for the Loopy DeLoop theatricals.

    The use of Curtin score is regarded by many as a jumping-the-shark moment in the Yogi series. Granted, his antics and attitude seem much edgier under the Capital score. This episode, like others from 1960-61 ("Bear-Faced Disguise"; "Home Sweet Jellystone"), relies almost entirely on dialogue at the expense of gags or action- and hence is pretty boring. The exchange between Yogi and the chef is amusing- especially the latter's modest acknowledgement about his toasted cheeseburger- as is Yogi covering up by tidying up the fallen leaves. But this is one Yogi episode I skip if it comes on. Some of the later Curtin-scored episodes were more interesting in plot, characterization and gags.

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    1. Hi, Howard. Yes, 'Cluck and Dagger' does have the Curtin music. I'd have to check through my Pixies and Dixies to see if one of the 1960 cartoons does.

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  6. George Nicholas (animation) and Dick "Bick" Bickenbach (design), who were involved on this Yogi Bear episode, would be involved, at this same season, in the making of The Flintstones.

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    1. I forgot about Curtin's work in the Loopy underscore. You can hear the same Curtin cues in the Hokey Wolf, Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle shorts. It's also interesting to see the changes in the 'Hanna-Barbera' logo in the opening credits and title cards from 1960-61,& 61-62.

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  7. WOW! Filmation always reused character poses and action animation but, budget conscious as they were, I never thought that H-B did too!

    I always liked that this one clearly took place in autumn. And it was a great character piece, even if it wasn’t overloaded with laughs.

    I’m glad you decided to move into the “Curtin Era”, Yowp! …Or, it’s nice to see you “pull back the Curtin” on these cartoons. Imagine Ranger Smith laughing at one of his own self-seemingly clever jokes.

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  8. I can remember contemporaneously recognizing the music had changed for Yogi starting, and linking Curtin's cues -- there was a brightness to them along with being more 'cartoony' than the Capital cues. But (and knowing nothing about the dreary Loopy de Loop cartoons at the time), when they first showed up, I only associated them with the H-B output as it was in 1961, when the studio was still earning generally favorable reviews for it's work (and was more enjoyable to we pre-K types, too) .It was only later, as the decline of the studio's work became obvious, that I started linking Hoyt's music to the knowledge that what was coming up on screen was far less enjoyable than what the studio had produced a few years earlier.

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    1. I also recognize that the Hoyt Curtin's music scores in the Hanna-Barbera cartoons had a "cartoony" touch.

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    2. Greetings to the "Curtin-pulling"....Curtin, apparently due to his "Linus the Lionhearted"(Post-General foods/Ed Graham Productions) music chorses, was replaced for a while with Ted Nichols in 1964 but then returned a year or two later to HB. The "Pebbles and Bamm Bamm shark jumper" that opened the final season, "No Biz Like Show Biz"(September 17th, 1965), would usually have Curtin cues but had some "ad hoc" new Ted Nichols/Curtin cues (like that spy music when Fred
      's launching his plan to get Pebbles and Bamm Bamm back-it's that much-hated "Let the sunshine in" one that Yowp mentioned was the least liked of his-and some cues that would be heard in the next few years--..then by the final (bitter) end, Ted Nichols in turn had taken over. In the 2002 Ren and Stimpy Adult Swim.com Spumco production, "Boo Boo and the Man" there are early Yogi Curtin cues, John Seely-Capitol-Phil Green cues (the "Snooper"/"My Three Sons" opener, "Popcorn" alias "Comedy Walker" and now "Off we go"), then some Johnny Quest Curtin (and Nichols cues), then some more mixing, but the Capital cues on that "Boo-Boo" one strictly are the Phillip Green cues (Comedy March/Fred Karno's Army which was a running gag cue in WB's "Gopher Broke", and is heard on HB's "Quick Draw",and Comedy Walker 2/Dressed to kill, used in HB's "Snooper",WB's"Bird in a Bonnett",and others)and returning to very early Flintstone and Snagglepuss cues (the sad trombone music which here is NOT the Capitol one that many of us have discussed but the Curtin one, making "Boo Boo and the Man" and odd retro-use of different Hanna-Barbera scores.....all EXCEPT (for legal reasons, natch) the ACCURATE Capitol ones!:) (But they're in Spumco's earlier ones for Cartoon Network..."A Day in the Life of Ranger Smtih" & "Boo Boo Runs Wild").:)Steve (from a cruise ship in Hawaii, believe it or not!)

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  9. I never understood why HB switched from Capitol Record cues to the ones composed by Hoyt Curtin. Was using Capitol Record cues more expensive than using Curtin cues?

    I like this cartoon, the score while not as good as the Capitol Record cues is pretty pleasant to listen to. George Nicholas does a very good job as animator in this short.

    Curtin scores can be a mixed bag. Some are pleasant and enjoyable but some are pretty meh. His later musical scores for the Smurfs were beautiful.

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