Huckleberry Hound was the Ike Eisenhower of cartoons. “I Like Ike” went the saying. And it seems everyone liked Huck, too (and come to think of it, he did run for president, didn’t he?).
The Huckleberry Hound Show garnered all kinds of favourable reviews shortly after it debuted in fall 1958. We’ve posted a number of them here. There’s one we missed, though, published in the June 25, 1960 edition of TV Guide. Someone who didn’t miss it is everyone’s favourite cartoon historian, Jerry Beck, who has passed it on.
This wasn’t the first time the magazine had written about Hanna-Barbera. It had published a profile of the Quick Draw McGraw Show in its January 23, 1960 edition (with colour frame grabs or set-ups, no less).
Why was Huck so appealing? The unbylined writer pretty much nails it, as did the other reviewers we’ve read. The show was well-designed, the characters sounded funny and were in funny situations. The writing by Warren Foster and Mike Maltese didn’t talk down to kids and was amusing enough for adults (and pretty clever at times) to draw their attention.
Here’s the article. My thanks to Jerry for passing this on so you could read it.
The appeal of this weekly half-hour is impossible to pinpoint. For example, the program was nominated for an Emmy by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the category covering children’s shows. Yet the adults who watch the show are its most avid boosters. Give a Hound fan (and the writer obviously is one) an opening and he’ll overwhelm you with futile attempts to re-create in words and gestures what he’s seen on TV.
Like the time Yogi Bear and his little pal Boo Boo crashed the father-son picnic at Jellystone Park. You see, Yogi and Boo Boo are bears and they live in the park and they make life miserable for the park rangers. And are they funny. Honest.
They call the show Huckleberry Hound because that’s the name of the emcee, who happens to be a dog who talks like Andy Griffith. (Yogi, he talks like Art Carney’s Ed Norton). Huck has his own adventures on the show too. Like the time he tried to hold a barbecue in his back yard and another pooch kept stealing the steak. A howl.
Yogi and Huck share the 30 minutes with Pixie and Dixie, who are two mice. These mice—and the sensible plural, meeces, is used on the show to refer to them—make life a veritable dog-pound for a cat named Jinks (he talks like Marlon Brando).
If the plots sound juvenile, it’s because they are—in the wonderful tradition of the fantasy world of the cartoon. Anything can happen and it does. Defiance of gravity, harmless falls from great heights, complete disregard for time—all the ingredients are there, plus a fine sense of what human nature is all about. Children like the show because of the action and the animals. Violence is present, but in a context so unreal that children recognize it in these situations for the painless foolishness it is. Adults like the show for its subtleties, its commentary on human foibles, its ineffable humor.
The cartoons are drawn in a fine clean hand by a team of talented wits named Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who created Ruff and Reddy in 1957, and Huckleberry Hound in 1958. They are represented this year by the animated Quick Draw McGraw, a satirical look at some of television’s best-loved formats. The voices, incidentally, are done for the most part by Daws Butler (he’s Yogi, Huck and Jinks) and Don Messick, who does Boo Boo.
Next season Hanna and Barbera will be bringing us The Flintstones, animated humans in the half-hour format in evening time. Situation-comedy people, look to your ratings.