Ruff and Reddy made their TV debut 59 years ago this month but even though their show was named after them, they weren’t altogether the stars. There was a live-action host, Jimmy Blaine, introducing the various elements of the programme, which also included old theatrical cartoons made by the Screen Gems studio in the 1940s.
The show aired on Saturday mornings and was strictly kids fare. Writer Charlie Shows came up with child-appealing rhyming titles, character names and, occasionally, dialogue. Still, it launched Hanna-Barbera Enterprises on its way, and the company took a huge leap the following year with its Kellogg’s-sponsored Huckleberry Hound Show, which appealed as much to adults and college students (and critics) as well as kids.
Huck and his co-stars were quickly merchandised. To a small extent, Ruff and Reddy were, too. One of the first bits of merchandise, maybe the first, was the book Ruff and Reddy Go to a Party, published in 1958 by Whitman. It seems to have been aimed at the Grade One crowd. The TV show was an action/adventure series. There’s no action or adventure in the book. There’s a little girl and a little elephant (who appeared on the first R&R TV storyline).
Harvey Eisenberg is responsible for some of the artwork here. Harvey was Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s layout man for several years at MGM and later drew some of the Yogi Bear and Flintstones comics that appeared in weekend newspapers. Donald Parmele tells me Neil Boyle was probably the artist that did the painting on Harvey Eisenberg's drawings, and says that’s usually the way the credits worked at Whitman/Western publishing.
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