Thursday, April 24, 2014

Check Your Local Listings

Let’s look at some TV ads for some Hanna-Barbera shows.


Ruff and Reddy debuted on December 14, 1957, but this ad is from 1959. Aren’t those great little cartoon characters? (In the ad, I mean). Saturday mornings then weren’t whole blocks of cartoons, mainly because Hanna-Barbera hadn’t begun churning out series after series to sell to the networks. So some stations bought cartoons (or other programming) from syndicators to air before the network came on. This station in Buffalo chose to run formerly silent cartoons with endless numbers of mice in the morning.

“People Are Funny” was how television demeaned people before reality shows and Maury Povich came into being.


Yogi Bear got his own show in the early part of 1961. This Buffalo station was among the among the 150 or so on the “Kellogg’s Network,” where Kellogg bought a half hour Monday through Friday and aired Huck, Quick Draw, Woody Woodpecker and whatever else it had purchased with the characters pushing cereal in between cartoons. The Yogi Sunday comic gets a plug, too.


I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this before, but I like this ad. Complete with stock shots.


This came from Fred Grandinetti. Must be after 1961, judging by Tracy and Magoo.

The Hanna-Barbera shorts went from funny to pleasant with occasional moments. But the TV Magoos were never funny. As I kid I wondered who was behind that awful UPA studio and why that Abe Levitow guy was allowed to make cartoons. Today, you can look up UPA and Levitow’s background on the internet. In the ‘60s, we were left in ignorance. It’s unfortunate a lot of very good people made very bad cartoons due to the restraints of television.


“The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour” is outside the scope of the blog, but I include it as a curiosity. I never saw this show. That’s understandable because it wasn’t on the air very long. It debuted April 14, 1978 and the last show was May 11th (with guests Tom Bosley, Connie Stevens and the Sylvers) before being replaced by reruns of “CHiPS.” It aired on NBC opposite “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “What’s Happening” on ABC. It came about when Joe Barbera became infected with Disneyitis, a disease which compels you to expand from mere cartoons into longer, live-action programming. Considering the crushing restrictions by networks on cartoon stories back then, it may not have been a bad idea on paper, but TV variety was pretty moth-eaten by 1978.

The network must have pushed the show for a bit because I’ve found several box ads in newspapers for it. One for the premiere reads:

An all-star line-up of guests has been set for the premiere of the unique comedy-variety series, “The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour,” Thursday, 8-9 p.m. Robert Conrad (star of NBC-TV’s “Black Sheep Squadron”), Melissa Sue Anderson (on NBC-TV’s “Little House on the Prairie”), Linda Lavin (star of CBS-TV’s “Alice”), Leif Garrett (recording star with the hit song “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”), Peter Lupus (of TV’s “Mission Impossible”), and Hanna Barbera’s lovable Yogi Bear are the guests. The hosts are nearly human, almost life-size adult puppets, Honey and Sis, who dance and sing and think they can perform just about anything their guests do. Honey and Sis audition for a condescending Melissa Sue Anderson, who portrays the director of a musical whose leading lady is a no show. Linda Lavin wants no part of either of the puppets when she sings “Gone at Last.” One of the regular features of the series is the “Truth Tub”—a hot tub in which the show’s stars relax. In the series opener, the truth is that the tub is not big enough for all the stars. Another regular feature of the series is the “Disco of Life,” in which Honey and Sis spotlight people interacting at a disco.

Can’t you hear the laugh track guffawing uncontrollably?

Another show featured Gary Burghoff, Twiggy and Tony Randall. Maybe. One paper complained the network couldn’t straighten out who was appearing and kept sending revised lists. Anson Williams, Charo and Gavin MacLeod appeared on another show, with Anson and the two puppets spoofing “Three’s Company” with the side-splitting names of “Kissy”, “Jaynut” and “Jacky.” I’ll take “The Muppet Show” on another channel, thanks. You can read about “Honey’s” experience on the show HERE.

Well, let’s end with something much more fun. William Wray, who you likely know from “Ren and Stimpy,” has this drawing in his collection and posted it on the internet.


Someone may know if this was drawn by Dick Bickenbach, but it sure is attractive.

5 comments:

  1. I grew up in Buffalo and remember those two little cartoon characters very well! They were featured in all of WGR's advertising and station break cards. I was in front of the TV every night at 5:30, watching the HB shows and eating my dinner on a metal TV tray. Thanks for the memories!

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  2. Peg holes indicate a Kellogg's Rice Krispies commercial. Really rare piece of HB art and spot on likenesses of QD & BL.

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  3. This artwork done by Dick "Bick" Bickenbach (who made layouts for several Quick Draw McGraw episodes) featuring Quick Draw and his faithful mate Baba Looey, brings the sponsorship of the Kellogg's cereals (by coincidence, I'm a loyal Kellogg's consumer).

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  4. I love the first panel. Off topic..So many television stations in that era had their " Dance Party ". One in our area( WTAR-Channel 3 ) ran radio/television personality Lloyd Thaxton's syndicated dance party.Another channel, WAVY had two local air personalities host " Disco-10 " . The Flintstones had thie local dance party and gave us.." the Way-Outs!!" -Ha. But, to stay on topic..Yowp, I never caught one ep of " Hanna Barbera's Happy Hour ". In1978, as you know from conversations we've had away from this blog, I worked most nights as a Top-40 Radio air personality.No VCRs back then. But, from what I just read, that was probably a blessing. I do love the Television station cards.In the Tidewater area in Virginia, WVEC-13 had similar panels with Yogi, Huck and their ilk in the local TV Guide listings. Good stuff!

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  5. Kellogg's was supposed to sponsor "MR. MAGOO" in first-run syndication (on one of their "nights") in the fall of 1960. However, UPA, under Henry Saperstein, did not like the idea of Kellogg's telling them what to do, as far as content and "integrated commercials" were concerned. Their "deal" went bust.....and Kellogg's turned to Hanna-Barbera for a "replacement" series. They "threw together" a "YOGI BEAR" show, which premiered in most areas in January 1961. In the meantime, UPA and Saperstein arranged for Arnold Bakeries, an Eastern sponsor, to sustain "MR. MAGOO" on several East Coast stations, beginning around the same time, with other regional sponsors.....and it was just as successful as Yogi's new series was.

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