Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jerry Mann

Dino talked.

We’re referring to the first season episode where a snorkasaurus with a Phil Silvers voice surreptitiously hitches a ride and becomes the Flintstones’ pet/housekeeper. Who played him? If you watched the episode in syndication in the ‘60s and ‘70s, you never would have known as the closing animation was changed, meaning the voice credits were lopped off.

Unfortunately, when the Flintstones’ DVD came out, the closing credits for each episode of the first and second season were not restored. But the late Earl Kress and others put together some gang credits over the original closing animation and included was the name of Jerry Mann.

Mann appeared in a bunch of the early Flintstones’ episodes. And he was great at playing fast-talkers. That’s Mann as the producer who hires Fred as the Frog Mouth in “Hollyrock, Here I Come” and as the Ed Wynn-ish title character in “Hot Lips Hannigan.” So where did he come from and why did he disappear from the Hanna-Barbera roster of voice talents?

The first question’s pretty easy to answer. Mann was well acquainted with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera from the 1940s when he provided a few voices on Tom and Jerry cartoons. He was uncredited on screen, but did get mentioned in the occasional story in Variety:

Columbia is scheduling a series of 'Cholly Polly' cartoons, to be produced under supervision of Dave Fleischer, department head. Voice for the bird is furnished by Jerry Mann, radio comic. (Nov. 17, 1942).

Jerry Mason [sic] has concluded voice-dubbing for "Slicked Up Pup," MGM cartoon, and last night left town to join troupe of "Oklahoma," now touring Wyoming. (Aug. 16, 1949).

Jerry Mann, from cast of "Oklahoma" current at Biltmore, will do voice of "Casanova Cat" in Metro Tom and Jerry cartoon, "Love in Gloom." (Jan. 27, 1950).
Mann appeared in at least one other Tom and Jerry cartoon. He’s the voice of the radio announcer in “The Zoot Cat” (1944) and, I suspect, Tom’s voice in the “something’s burning” line. In “Casanova Cat,” he merely sings a couple of lines from “Over the Rainbow” (perhaps dialogue was cut). The squibs above may indicate why his voice acting career at Hanna-Barbera years later was short—he toured a lot and likely wasn’t around often enough to cut tracks for Joe Barbera.

Mann was a veteran entertainer by the time he got to the MGM cartoon studio. He was born Jerome Wolfman on August 1, 1910 in New York City to Dr. Philip and Martha Wolfman. His Los Angeles Times obit states he began doing impressions when he was nine. The first report I can find of his act is in Variety, October 28, 1921:

On Friday evening, Oct. 22, the Victoria Theatre of Ossining gave a big treat to the inmates of Sing Sing prison. We had their entire bill of vaudeville acts. They exceptionally good and were well received by our audience of 1,100.
The first act was Jerome Mann, "The Wonder Child," better known as "Little Al Jolson." Eleven-year-old Jerome Mann is an exceptionally clever lad. He sang and danced and gave excellent imitations of Eddie Cantor, Eddie Leonard, singing “Roley Boley Eyes,” and Al Jolson.
He reached the pinnacle of vaudeville, The Palace, while in his teens. But after a false start. Variety of October 7, 1925:
Jerome Mann, the juvenile artist, was forced to cancel the Palace, New York, this week, due to the Gerry Society. Mann had previously appeared around New York at various picture houses as a member of Ben Bernie’s turn.
The Palace management were forced to a last minute substitution, booking Eddie Miller and Ben Bernard to replace the youngster. Mann does a single act. He is said to be under 16 and under contract to the Shuberts.
He ended up playing the Palace to, initially, not very good reviews in the Show Biz Bible: “[D]id only so-so” (Variety, Sept. 15, 1926), “Nothing new and not particularly well done” (April 27, 1927). But notices started improving. Vaudeville stars moved into radio, and Mann did, too. About 1935, he dropped “Jerome” in favour of “Jerry.” Variety still wasn’t always impressed with his impersonations: “[H]e does not rate with the toppers in this line. Needs more experience.” (Aug. 28, 1935).

About this time, he was getting into a little trouble. Variety of May 1, 1935 announced a lawsuit, the results of which were published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 9, 1936:

Jury Votes $1000 Balm Verdict to Night Club Singer
A $1000 VERDICT was awarded to Harriet Asinoff, night club singer, yesterday, in one of the last breach of promise suits that Pennsylvania may ever know.
The action, against Jerome Mann, stage impersonator of leading stars, was filed in July, 1934, a year prior to the State act outlawing breach of promise suits.
The 22-year-old singer, known professionally as Harriet Wesley and Harriet Carr, had asked $25,000 in her suit. She testified that she met Mann, whose real name is Jerome Wolfman, in Boston in 1931.
She said he was an ardent lover up to the point where she notified him that she was to become a mother. Then he lost interest. The suit was filed in consequence, at a time when she was under 21.
Mann denied Miss Asinoff's testimony that he insisted she accompany him to his Boston hotel room at 1 A. M. He said "she lied" when she testified he visited her five... or six times a week.
Like a lot of vaudevillians, Mann turned to radio in the ‘30s. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported in 1934: “Jerry Mann, nephew of Joe Weber of the team of Weber and Fields, makes his radio debut as an impersonator and comedian Wednesday evening, [July 25] 8:30, over WABC” [CBS] (his bio in the 1939-40 Variety Radio Directory claimed his first radio job was on “Lum and Abner” in 1934). The show was “Everett Marshall’s Broadway Varieties.” He appears to have lasted there for about a year. The Eagle later reported he would be appearing on a Sunday night oil show as of August 12th; presumably it was the Gulf Refining Show with Will Rogers on WJZ (NBC Blue). By October 7, he had moved over to “Manhattan Merry-Go-Round” on Sundays at 9 p.m. on WEAF (NBC Red), then debuted about 12 months later on “Hammerstein’s Music Hall,” Mondays at 8 p.m. on WEAF. The New York Sun reported he was to leave the show on January 14, 1937 after 82 consecutive broadcasts. In mid-1939, he was hosting a local, unsponsored half-hour variety show on WHN New York and had been working on a soap opera, and in 1940 was in Chicago on “Avalon Time” with Don McNeill. It’s unclear when Mann arrived on the West Coast, but he was there by September 1, 1941, when Broadcasting magazine reported he was writing for Rudy Vallee’s show. The aforementioned Variety directory stated he had also made some short films.

It’s unclear exactly how many cartoons he voiced before heading overseas with the USO (he was in France six days after D Day). There were only two Cholly Polly cartoons made by Columbia, one released at the end of 1942 and the other at the start of 1944. Did he work on more? It’s information to be discovered. Same with his work at MGM (voice historian Keith Scott says it’s not him as the eagle in “Flirty Birdy,” nor is it Daws Butler, who wasn’t anywhere near California at the time it was made). In January 1945, he resumed his radio work on “The Chesterfield Supper Club” (Tuesdays, 8 p.m., NBC) with his wife Betty Linde appearing as well, but concentrated mainly on the stage for the rest of his career. Heart bypass surgery in 1973 slowed him down and a series of strokes left him in a convalescent hospital in California, where he died on December 6, 1987.

His work on “The Flintstones,” according to Mann’s listing on a website (which has inaccuracies in his bio), consisted of:
● Hot Lips Hannigan
● The Monster From the Tar Pits
● Hollyrock, Here I Come
● The Girls’ Night Out
● The Snorkasaurus Hunter
● The Hypnotist
● Love Letters on the Rocks
● The Astra’Nuts
● Fred Flintstone, Before And After (all season one)
● Latin Lover (season two)

Earl Kress once asked Joe Barbera about Mann but Mr. B., by that time, simply couldn’t recall him, and neither could anyone else who worked at Hanna-Barbera who Earl questioned. So we hope this post has filled in some blanks.


Finally, here’s one of Jerry’s characters, the producer on “Hollywood, Here I Come.” George Nicholas came up with this walk cycle that’s used several times in the cartoon. Nicholas was one of several animators (Carlo Vinci and Don Patterson, included) who came up with unique walks for their characters. Note that the producer doesn’t have the same rigid upper body part on one cel used frame after frame. This is full animation, one complete drawing for each position.



Late note: Voice historian Keith Scott sent this note about what he’s been able to discern about Jerry Mann’s career. Oh, for confirmation from studio records!
He did more 1940s stuff. Avery used him. I hear him in BATTY BASEBALL ("That's the old pepper, kid"), George Gordon's THE STORK'S HOLIDAY, and I think he did more at Columbia...he may even have been Meathead to Screwy Squirrel, but that's only supposition. He's in THE DOG HOUSE in 1952. I have one article from the early 40s where a promised movie didn't happen and so he took a job at MGM cartoons for a while, as both a gag man and for standby voice effects...then he quit for OKLAHOMA.

10 comments:

  1. Great blog, Yowp. An interesting and colorful career to say the least. Too bad when Turner acquired the masters of The Flintstones they would only take one ending from each season and play that particular ending for the whole season. Sadly, I think the Warner Brothers DVDs are simply cleaned up versions of those masters. I could be wrong. However, I do remember that when our Hampton, Virginia television station ran re-runs of The Flintstones in the late 60's and early 70's, the voice credits did change from episode to episode, and had the Screen Gems " Dancing Sticks " and " Film Strip S " Now, I can place the voice with a face if I ever see these particular episodes.

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  2. Thanks so much Yowp....as I see the Phil Silvers like producer animated above, I can hear Jerry Mann:"Oh..it's the Frog Mouth...yes..yes..Glad to see ya!".:) Now if we can do an article on another long overlooked Flintstones radio-to-tv character guy ALSO with Mann in that "Mesmo" episode, "The Hypnotist"(season 1,) the one and only Howard MacNear, also known as ":The Andy Griffith Show's" "Floyd the Barber", who was heard in Season 1's "The Split Personality" and "The Hypnotist", then imitated by John Stephenson in Season 2's "The X-Ray Story" and "Kleptomaniac Barney", then heard again himself in his final one, Season 3's "Invisible Barney" which also gave the us the famed visual and theme for both open and close of the show and all as doctors..(short sized for hsi actual appearances and normal 5 foot 5 size when John S.imitated him in those Season 2 episodes I mention above).Steve

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  3. If I remember correctly, the producer in "Hollyrock, Here I Come" is referred to as "J.B.," no? I've loved classic cartoons for as long as I can remember, but, since I got into animation history blogs like this one, I've been able to notice a lot of inside jokes that I never would've noticed otherwise. Thanks, Yowp, and keep up the great work.

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  4. YOWP, You're one of the good ones.

    Pokey, in "Kleptomaniac Barney" and "The X-Ray Story", John Stephenson plays the psychiatrist with a voice inspired by Edward Everett Horton.

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  5. Anonymous, thanks so much for the correction......Jerry Mann appeared in two Woody Woodpeckers, as credited...forgot the titles..

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  6. 11/13/14
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    Errol, you took the words right out of my thoughts with my own feelings about the new Warner Brothers versions of "The Flintstones" repeats on Boomerang. The Screen Gems' "Dancing Sticks" and "S From Hell"/Film Strip logos are sorely missed today by aging Flintstones fans like myself. I remember as a tot seeing them as Saturday morning repeats on NBC in 1969, then as syndicated repeats on Channel 50 Detroit (a Kaiser Broadcasting channel, later sold to Fields Communications, Inc. in 1977) and on Channel 25, Flint, Saginaw, & Bay City areas (A CBS outlet in Flint and the Bay area stations), Channel 5 of Flint & Saginaw (a NBC outlet) had them briefly for a time in the 1980's, though by that point, The Dancing Sticks And S From Hell logos were snipped off by the stations, due to H-B no longer being distributed by Columbia/Screen Gems by that point (Taft Broadcasting, then Worldvision TV services had syndicated them at that point.) As for Dino speaking, too bad H-B never attempted this trick again, settling for Dino to behave like another "dinosaur as dog" pet, saying just "Yap Yap Yap Yap!" for the rest of the Flintstones' episodes and spin-off series and specials. Too bad, for Jerry Mann had an interesting one-shot voice for Dino in that episode. H-B should have tried the speaking Dino again just once, to maybe try to surprise Fred & Barney, and maybe Wilma & Betty for a believable angle. Jerry's Phil Silvers voice would have been an opportunity revived, if only H-B didn't let the talents of Jerry Mann go. I also recall in the color episodes of "The Flintstones" that Dino was surprisingly colored green in the 1960-63 opening credits before H-B decided on coloring him purple for good. That discovery can still be seen on the Boomerang repeats.

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    1. When I first watched the Jay North Dennis the Menace TV series in the 1970's, they still had the old Screen Gems logo (seen on TV prints of the Three Stooges) at the end, with an announcer saying "This has been a Screen Gems film presentation from the Hollywood studios of Columbia Pictures.". The current airings on Antenna TV have a modern Sony logo at the end instead. Sigh.

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    2. Bobby, the Route 66 episodes on MeTV have the Columbia logo and announcement intact,and even the "CBS eye" at the end! In the eps that are airing now (fourth season 1963-64), we get to see the "dancing sticks".

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    3. 11/18/14
      RobGems.ca Wrote:
      Top Cat James & Bobby: That's because SG fans that recalled seeing them over and over for the past 50+years have finally demanded to Sony, or in this case Shout DVD company to restore the "Dancing Sticks" logo on episodes of "Route 66" and "Hazel". The "S From Hell"/film strip logo is more common and can be seen on a number of DVD's, though not all of them ("The Monkees, for example is currently now owned by Rhino, which is now a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, so no "S From Hell" on any of those episodes.)The very first SG shows to contain The Dancing Sticks starting on September 15, 1963 were "Redigo" (a continuation of another SG show named "Empire") and "Grindl", which contained Imogene Coco as the star, doing Lucille Ball-like antics as a hired domestic servant. Both shows were huge flops in prime time, so don't expect to see those soon on DVD. The only way you'll see the "Dancing Sticks" or "S from Hell"/film strip logos today would happen today if Sony & WB would come to a compromise, and merge the logos together, which I doubt they will do, unless SG fans (and enemies, The "S From Hell" haters who were scared of the logo as kids, for example) demand they restore them like on DVD's & Cable airings of "Route 66" and "hazel" (keep your fingers crossed, SG fans, sometimes miracles do happen......) Rodney Arscher, who did the crazy but hilarious short film "The S From Hell" would do the restorations, if he were in charge of Sony. The "Dancing Sticks" and the "S From Hell" logos, meanwhile, can be overly-analyzed on numerous You-Tube videos,usually by computer geeks who were scared of the logo as kids, but now considers them historical institutions never to be forgotten. I certainly am one of them (The Sticks gave me chills as a child, but now I find them one of the most beautiful logos in the history of television. It's still Colin Male's announcing that still makes me tremble, due to his "voice of God" like vocal tones.)

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  7. Funny thing, having just seen some Sgt. Bilko episodes, Jerry Mann sounded much more like the real Phil Silvers than did Daws Butler’s famed “Phil Silvers Voice”.

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