Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mr. H. and Mr. B.

When the Hanna-Barbera studio first opened in 1957, Joe Barbera oversaw all the voice sessions. He was still doing it when the Jetsons were in production in 1962 but, by then, had hired Alan Dinehart to handle some of the workload.

But maybe the best-known and respected of the studio’s voice directors was Gordon Hunt, who was first given screen credit in the 1974-75 season on the Waltons animated knock-off These Are the Days. Mr. Hunt’s time at Hanna-Barbera is after the period of the studio’s life this blog deals with, but we feel it’s appropriate to mention his death this past weekend.

Hunt and Joe Barbera had a connection that pre-dated the cartoon studio. Joe fancied himself a playwright and penned a comedy called “The Maid and the Martian.” Barbera had aspirations of taking it to Broadway and, indeed, rights were optioned to do that. However, it made its bow at the Gallery Stage in Los Angeles on October 15, 1952. It was hastily mounted after the scheduled revue was cancelled four days earlier—at the suggestion of preview audiences! The director of Barbera’s play was one Gordon Hunt.

“The Maid and the Martian” somehow morphed—without Barbera’s name attached—into a screenplay by Hunt and Al Burton that was snapped up by American-International Pictures in 1961 and turned into the beach film Pajama Party (1964).

Hunt had a number of writing jobs around this time, some with actor Darryl Hickman, and Variety listed his occupation as a writer in its blurb about his marriage to Jane Morrison in Las Vegas on January 29, 1961. The marriage resulted in a daughter named Helen Hunt.

He also did some voice acting as well; I’m sure you can find a list of his credits on-line.

Maybe the funniest story about Gordon Hunt I’ve read is in Shirley Jones’ autobiography. She was married for a number of years to Marty Ingels, a comedy actor who decided to get into the star management business. One day, Marty was yammering on the phone about the wonders of a client (Robert Culp) when he was accidentally disconnected. He tried calling back but got a wrong number. He got Hunt. Out of nowhere, “We’ve got the rights to Pac-Man!” was the first thing Hunt said to him and before long, offered the job voicing the character to Ingels.

Hunt wrote a book about auditioning; one of the contributors was Joe Barbera.

4 comments:

  1. R.I.P. Gordon Hunt. He directed so many of my childhood memories - ''The Flintstone Kids'', ''The Smurfs'' and ''A Pup Named Scooby-Doo''. About 20 years ago those were shown hand in hand with the classics of Hanna-Barbera. Nowadays Boomerang has removed most of them off their schedule in favor of badly made CGI European series (who are in co-production with the American channel Boomerang). It's not pleasant.

    YOWP - “The Maid and the Martian” somehow morphed—without Barbera’s name attached—into a screenplay by Hunt and Al Burton that was snapped up by American-International Pictures in 1961 and turned into the beach film Pajama Party (1964) - HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?

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    1. Too bad he wasn't around earlier, but RIP, if in anything in sympathy to Helen (Gordon WAS around in the glory return in 1985 of the Jetsons to revive them and all of the originals--a return I was happy about, along with Andrea Romano, to whom the return of the otherwise generally non-animation related George O'Hanlon and Penny Singleton can be attributed to. Hunt and Romano worked on the Jetsons revival, which brought back all of the originals. That was one of the few 80s HB cartoons I enjoyed and still do enjoy, along with the 1962 original ones. )

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    2. Don't forget ''Yogi's TReasure Hunt''.

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  2. As a lover of both AIP and HB, I found this post fascinating!

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