Today’s subject header is not a real Variety headline, though it uses some of the peculiar colloquialisms found in the pages of that publication. But it could have been applied to the debut of “The Quick Draw McGraw Show” in The Show Biz Bible’s review of the debut broadcast.
The trade paper noted in its August 13, 1959 edition that Kellogg’s had purchased national sponsorship of the half-hour cartoon and expected to place it on 180 stations. Other trades mentioned several months before this that Leo Burnett, Kellogg’s agency, had the show in its stable so it was pretty much a foregone conclusion the cereal maker would sponsor it—especially considering the ratings “The Huckleberry Hound Show” was getting.
The Huck show was a huge success, “socko” or “boffo” if you’re still in a Variety vocabulary mood. We’ve posted Variety’s review of the premiere in 1958. And the trade publication liked Quick Draw and his cohorts even more when they hit the airwaves a year later. As I don’t have access to the full publication, this is the best that I can do cobbling together the review, published September 30, 1959.
QUICK DRAW McGRAW
Filmed by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Kellogg's.
Producers, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera; story director, Alex Lovy; writer, Michael Maltese; story sketches, Dan Gordon; titles, Lawrence Goble; production supervisor, Howard Hanson; animation, Kenneth Muse, Lewis Marshall, Carlo Vinci, Dick Lundy, George Nicholas, Don Patterson; music, Hanna, Barbera.
KTTV, Mon., 7 p.m. Running time: 30 mins.
Adults and children seeking something refreshing on their tv sets will find it in this new cartoon series out of the Hanna-Barbera stable. It's easily one of the most delightful and entertaining new programs to come along this season, and a worthy successor to H&B's own "Huckleberry Hound," which it surpasses. "Quick Draw McGraw" is no ordinary western hero. He's a horse. Lest anyone assume this is strictly child's play, it should be noted that "McGraw" is more adult than most so-called "adult westerns."
Others who take turns on the three-parts-per-show format of the new offering are "Bobba Looey," a Mexican burro with a heart of gold; "Snagglepuss," a playful lion with a Bert Lahr inflection; "Snooper," a cat counterpart of Ed "Archie" Gardner; "Blabber," the first mouse to work in cahoots with a feline; "Augie Doggie," a potential juvenile delinquent dog who means well; Angle's dad, an older, bigger dog with a voice like Jimmy Durante; a goat whose voice and romantic outlook resemble that of Maurice Chevalier; and many others.
Writer Michael Maltese brewed up a wonderful script on this initial outing, a script rich in mild satire but equally noteworthy for situations loaded with humorous possibilities and clever, crackling dialog. It's a zooful of laughs, strikingly animated by Kenneth Muse, Lewis Marshall, Carlo Vinci, Dick Lundy, George Nicholas and Don Patterson. Imaginative and well-differentiated voice characterizations are provided by Daws Butler, Don Messick and Doug Young. There's some appropriate, unobtrusive, original music by Hanna and Barbera.
Sponsor Kellogg's has latched on to a good series and should be amply rewarded for a smart investment. Kiddies will love "Quick Draw McGraw," but come show time, they might have to race their mommas and poppas for front seats.
The Copyright Catalogue reveals the first Quick Draw show (M-001) featured the following cartoons: “Baby Rattled” (Snooper and Blabber, production number J-14), “Million Dollar Robbery” (Augie Doggie, J-31) and “Lamb Chopped” (Quick Draw McGraw, J-11). The latter includes the orange, villainous version of Snagglepuss as well as the Chevalier goat (his only appearance). The first and last cartoons were animated by Muse, the middle one by Lundy; evidently the animator credits are gang credits.
The production number on the Augie cartoon is comparatively high; the first Augie (“Foxhound Hounded Fox”) turned out to be the 16th cartoon of the show put into production. I can only speculate it’s because the studio couldn’t figure out what to call the characters until a few months after production on the show began in late 1958. That would have meant delaying the recording of the voice tracks and therefore the animation until after work had already begun on Quick Draw and Snooper.
As in the Huck review a year earlier, the only music credit goes to Hanna and Barbera, with no mention of Hoyt Curtin’s themes (nor, not surprisingly, of the stock music during the cartoons).
Quick Draw ran for three full seasons (1959-60, 1960-61, 1961-62) then rerun before being placed onto CBS’ Saturday morning schedule in 1966. It resumed life in syndication in fall of 1968 and appeared off and on in the U.S. until 1991, when the show found what should have been permanent life on the Cartoon Network. It didn’t. I can’t speak for Variety, but the Yowp rating for that is neither “socko” or “boffo.”