Wednesday, March 4, 2015

They Sang For Fred Flintstone

Here’s Fred Flintstone peeking at the voice of Fred Flintstone, and he may be a little confused. That’s because the guy at the microphone isn’t Alan Reed, who provided Fred’s voice during the run of the original series from 1960 to 1966.

Well, Reed provided Fred’s speaking voice. There were a few cartoons where someone else was brought in to sing for Fred. Reed was a versatile dialectician during his days on network radio in the ‘30s and ‘40s but he was no swingin’ lounge cat.

But Duke Mitchell was. That’s Mitchell in the studio you see in the picture. He was tapped by Hanna-Barbera to sing jazzed-up versions of “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In” (in the “Hot Lips Hannigan” episode) and “Listen to the Mockingbird” (in “The Girls’ Night Out”) in the show’s first season. You can also hear him as Boppy Barrin in the half-hour “Yogi’s Birthday Party” (aired October 1961). The cartoon studio had other plans for Mitchell, too. Reported Variety on April 13, 1961:

[Palm Springs’] Ranch Club’s Duke Mitchell, the recorded singing voice of animated Fred Flintstone, will double as a hepcat when Hanna-Barbera roll “Five Cats” pilot next month.
We presume the squib is referring to “Top Cat.” Nonetheless, Mitchell never got a voice role on the show. Perhaps his schedule didn’t allow for regular recording sessions.

Mitchell will forever go down in history as the co-star of the Martin and Lewis knock-off film “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla” (1952). A United Press column at the time of release quotes the movie’s producer as saying any resemblance between Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis was “coincidental.” The line was probably funnier than anything that was in the movie. Mitchell and Petrillo were single acts that hooked up around the end of 1951. Eventually, Martin and Lewis ended up copying them. Mitchell and Petrillo split up by 1954—Martin and Lewis called it quits two years later—and Mitchell resumed his solo singing career. He was featured in the “New Acts” column of Weekly Variety, April 21, 1954.

DUKE MITCHELL
Songs
15 Mins.
Magic Inn, Seattle
Duke Mitchell (formerly & Petrillo) shapes up as a good single act in his bow here, first date on his own. Small, but energetic, lad socks over blend of standard songs and sharp impressions for good response, scoring particularly with vignettes of Vaughn Monroe, Frankie Laine and Billy Daniels. Brief act could easily be expanded. Mitchell’s selling of “Rags to Riches” and “Got You Under My Skin” reveal savvy as a crowd pleaser, with reliance more on entertainment than on showcasing of voice.
In here for two weeks and should be good draw for Magic Inn, currently only spot in town using acts. Reed.
Those of you who appreciate irony will like the fact that Mitchell performed in the late ‘60s at Dino’s Lodge in Hollywood (Dino as in Martin, not Flintstones pet). My favourite Duke Mitchell story, though, is post-Flintstones. Harrison Carroll had a couple of lines about it in his syndicated show biz column of July 9, 1963.
SINGER Duke Mitchell knocked two teeth out of a persistent heckler at the Marine Room of the Hotel Olympic in Seattle. Heckler was introduced as the son of one of the most important political figures in the country, but I think he was an impostor.
Variety’s Army Archerd revealed about nine months earlier that Mitchell, who was 5’ 8” at best, tossed a 6’ 2” drunk out of one of his shows in a lounge in Beverly Hills.

Petrillo was on the road with partner Suzie Petrovic when Mitchell died in Hollywood on December 2, 1981.

There’s a blog devoted to Duke you can check out.

There’s one other cartoon where someone else “sang” for Fred. Kind of. In the third season, Fred enlists Rock Roll (played by Hal Smith) to perform at Wilma’s show but has to take the stage himself and do “The Twitch.” But neither Reed nor Smith is singing. Do you know who is? Since you don’t, here’s the answer, thanks to the April 18, 1962 edition of Variety:

Jerry Wallace exits Challenge [his record label] next month; reportedly "very unhappy." He's not unhappy over new Hanna-Barbera voice he'll do in "The Flintstones" though. He'll do "Rock Roll," latest character for the tv series, a "singer" yet!
Like Mitchell, Wallace made his own cult movie in the ‘50s, starring in 1955’s obscure “Corn’s A-Poppin’” (gripping scene from the film to your right). Wallace has another connection with Hanna-Barbera. During the 1950s, he performed as half of a duo with Red Coffey, who provided the voice for a pestering little duck in the early Yogi Bear cartoons. The duck was modified a bit and became Yakky Doodle (voiced by Jimmy Weldon).

Note: I realise Henry Corden sang for Reed in the Alice special and elsewhere; this post just deals with the “Flintstones” series.

13 comments:

  1. Did Alan Reed sing for Fred in "Christmas Flintstone "?

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    1. Yes, Joe. He's not always on-key, but it works anyway.

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  2. Apparently Jerry wanted to sue Sammy and Duke, but Dean said something like, "No, let the kids make a buck."
    Dino's my hero.

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  3. That's Alan Reed's own voice singing in "Christmas Flintstone."

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  4. Corden did sing for Fred on "The Flintstones". How about on "No Biz like Showbiz"?


    SC

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  5. They also of course let Reed sing the Winston jingle in the Season 1 commercial tags. You could kind of hear him fighting hard to stay on key on that one, so I suppose it's not a big shock that Bill and Joe brought substitute voices in for the full-length songs that were more rock-oriented.

    But Alan does a good job in the Christmas episode, so it was kind of a surprise to watch the Alice special in 1966 and hear someone who definitely was not Fred (or in hindsight, future Fred) singing with Mel on what was a fairly conventional song that didn't require all that much vocal stretching.

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    1. I don't know whether it was due to smoking or age but Reed sang better in the 40s; I've heard bits from the Fred Allen show. The Alice substitution baffles me unless HB decided because the show was a special that was getting a decent budget, someone better was affordable. Or perhaps Reed cut a track and Joe Barbera wasn't happy with it.

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  6. I chect out the DM-dedicated blog. JANET WALDO enacted BETTY RUBBLE?
    She DIED, too? I don't think the Woman who perpetrated this blog ever really/truly knew DM.
    I don't at all blame DM's son Jeffrey A Mitchell for being exasperated and angry.

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  7. Doz:
    Yah, I just read that, too..:rolleyes:SC (Note the blog was last done in 2008..)

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  8. WOW. Mind Blowing. I had no idea Duke Mitchell was the singing voice for Fred. Knew it wasn't exactly Alan Reed, but didn't know who it was. Don't want to be pushy, but...could you find out who sang for Wilma/Jane in "Happy Household" and "Miss Solar System".

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  9. Here is an interesting assumption (of sorts). Could Jerry Wallace have been introduced to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera by the actor who layed YOWP's favorite character - Red Coffey.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think so. Coffey, as far as I can tell, was a solo act by 1960.

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  10. 3/6/15
    RobGems.ca Wrote:
    Hmmm....the man who sang "Primrose Lane" and "In The Misty Moonlight" provided the singing voice of Rock Roll; interesting. Incidentally, Wallace may have left Challenge Records (which was briefly distributed by Warner Brothers Records during this period) in 1962,but "Moonlight" was a song originally left in the can that was a hit in 1964, while Wallace was recording for Mercury Records. He would return to the C&W charts in 1967 on Liberty Records ("This One's On The House"), and later on Decca Records in 1972 ("If You Leave Me Tonight, I'll Cry", taken from an episode of Rod Sterling's "Night Gallery.") I don't recall any official vinyl release by Wallace as "Rock Roll", but Epic Records did issue a now collectible 45 single as Fred Flintstone in 1961 (why Colpix Records didn't issue it, I'm not sure. Ditto that for a Huckleberry Hound single named "Bingo Ringo" on the tiny Meri Label. HBR Records wasn't formed yet at the time of these releases.)

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