Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Love Huckleberry Hound? You'll Love This!

If you want a good time capsule of attitudes about the Hanna-Barbera studio and its cartoons just as The Flintstones was about to air, you can find it in this story by Cecil Smith in the Los Angeles Times of September 4, 1960.

The Huckleberry Hound Show seems pretty gentle to viewers today, but it became a cult favourite among non-children not long after debuting in 1958. The Quick Draw McGraw Show followed a year later, with spoofs on some of the main genres of TV programming of the day (westerns, detective shows, family sitcoms). And then came The Flintstones a year later.

Two things are interesting to me in this story. This is the earliest mentions I’ve found of Yogi getting his own show (Kellogg’s bought it a month later) and the Yogi feature film. And if the writer got his facts correct, Yakky Doodle was not intended to be the third segment of the Yogi show—Perry Gunite was. A Perry Gunite series could have been fun, especially with some of those Carlo Vinci poses, but the studio was already doing a private eye parody with Snooper and Blabber. And Gunite, to be honest, wouldn’t have been a good fit with funny animals in the other segments. Instead, he ended up in the “Love Letters on the Rocks” episode of The Flintstones.

By the way, there are two versions of the drawing you see below. Some deliberately erase the word “Stoneway,” presumably for newspaper editors who were squeamish about “advertising” slipping in.


Cartoon Capers Win Adult Friends
When TV bombed out its Sunday afternoon “intellectual ghetto” a couple of years ago, it all but lost the egghead audience. The fact that it found it again is not surprising—but in a most unlikely place.
The shows that have been the darlings of the eggheads this past season were designed ostensibly for children, the cartoon creations of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera—namely, Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw. Saloons are empty, coffee houses deserted, faculty lounges silent on Monday and Tuesday nights at 7 when (via Channel 11) Messrs. McGraw and Hound with their marvelously adept stock companies take to the air. (So adept have these stock actors become that one of them, Yogi Bear, is soon to be elevated to stardom with his own separate show.)
Neither Hanna nor Barbera nor the 140 members of their enormously productive organization are exactly sure why the wry satire of their cartoons delight adults as well as children—but they point to the mail. Six atomic scientists at the White Sands Proving Ground protest to the Kellogg cereal company the hour the shows are on the air, begging that they be later because “they’re the only relaxation we get from TV.” A group of professors from Yale University making a similar plea.
Age Is No Barrier to All the Fun
Adult mail outnumbers children 10 to 1. An indignant letter from a woman in Long Beach protests surveys indicating the shows are watched by people from 6 to 60—she watches them, she says, and she’s 83.
It was inevitable, then, that Hanna-Barbera Productions would begin work on a purely adult show. Their work is now complete, the show takes the air Sept. 30 at 8:30 each Friday night on the ABC network; it is so adult it is sponsored by a cigarette company; it is entitled The Flintstones, and I am blessing among TV watchers—I have seen it.
The Flintstones has little in common with Huckleberry and Quick-Draw—save for the visit Hanna-Barbera wit and imagination. Its stories concern a simple, ordinary, caveman couple, Fred and Wilma Flintstone, and their simple, ordinary, caveman neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble. They engage in simple, ordinary caveman pursuits—such as the dinosaur race or playing the family piano (a Stoneway).
Fred works as a dino operator for the Rock Head & Quarry Cave Co. (“Feel Secure—Own Your Own Cave”).
The families live in the simple, ordinary, caveman city of Bedrock and get into simple, ordinary caveman troubles—just like you or me or Father Knows Best, circa 3000 BC.
Made It Work
Inasmuch as Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna three years ago were pounding the Hollywood streets trying to peddle their cartoon ideas and “revolutionary methods” of animation, the success of their organization has been little short of astounding.
The pair had achieved success at MGM (particularly with the series, Tom and Jerry). But they met the constant refusal: “Cartoons won’t work in television—too expensive.” Joe and Bill made it work. Their method:
“Planned animation,” says Joe. “Take the Disney method—the old movie method. It tried to mirror life. We don’t. We spoof reality but we don’t mirror it. Our characters don’t walk from a scene, they whiz. Movements that took 24 drawings under the old movie system take us four. We just keep the story moving.”
Despite his avowal that his characters do not mirror life, Joe is inclined to talk of them as real. For instance, he said he and Bill “interviewed” hundreds of characters before deciding on the Flintstones. “Interviewed” in this case meant drawing them, looking at them, fitting situations to them, discarding them. And there’s a lot of reality in Fred Flintstone (he reminds some of Jackie Gleason; he reminds me of Edgar Kennedy in the old two-reelers). And, of course, Yogi Bear is as real as your next door editor.
Full-Length Feature
Yogi not is only taking off from Huckleberry Hound for his own show but it also soon to star in a full-length movie feature set, naturally, in Jellystone Park. In his new show, he will grab some of the minor characters from Quick-Draw (notably, Snagglepuss, the theatrical tiger) and will introduce one new actor, a crime-solving lawyer, Perry Gunite.
However, he will not leave Huckleberry for awhile—thank heaven. And Huckleberry, Quick-Draw, Jinx [sic] and the Meece, Augie and Daddy Dog, Snoop and Blab and all the rest will continue to be around despite the added presence of the Flintstones. And what will the Flintstones do to television?
Well, as an erudite friend of mine remarked: “There go my Fridays.”

5 comments:

  1. The accompanying illustration--which I quickly mounted in my scrapbook of color cartoon drawings clipped from our newspaper, both H-B and other studios--ran as the cover of the Sunday TV SCREEN AND RADIO section of the Milwaukee Journal. They did not edit the "Stoneway" logo from the piano. (I'd tell you the date, but Google Newspapers removed the Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel files when the merged papers were bought out by Gannett last year, ending my ability to relive a lot of my youth without resorting to my increasingly spotty memory.) Now I wonder if I may not have also read this same article to accompany it. If so, my seven-year-old brain didn't absorb it enough to remember if I waited in vain to see Perry Gunite--which really doesn't make a great deal of sense to have been planned to be a discrete segment of YOGI. For one, by the time this article was prepared, they'd have had many of the YOGI segments completed already. And second, Perry Gunite is clearly another rock-pun-named character, and without the Flintstones show surrounding it, it wouldn't make a great deal of sense to kids, or anyone else. So, while it may be your own secret wish, Don, to believe that Yakky was an afterthought addition to the YOGI roster, I think Cecil Smith just got his notes mixed up.

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  2. Not a bit surprised that adults planned their lives around these cartoons. Especially in the " Salad Days " of H-B. During the first season of " The Flintstones ", Mom and Dad were right there in the den with me.

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  3. Here in Brazil, The Flintstones premiered in January 1962 by the late Tupi TV, also in the prime time.

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  4. I can attest to the adult appeal of the cartoons in those days. My parents introduced me to "The Flintstones" as well as to "Yogi Bear" and "Huckleberry Hound." On Friday evenings it was our family ritual to gather around the TV to watch the antics of Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty. We were a "Flintstones" family well ahead of the birth of Pebbles.

    The notion of "Perry Gunnite" as a segment of "The Yogi Bear Show" is intriguing. A human-type detective sharing billing with a pink feline-type...it has possibilities...I can just picture the interstitials with the characters interacting together...apparently someone at DePatie Freling had a similar idea.

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    1. Ha ha, good one. If H-B had had a Perry Gunnite segment instead of a Yakky Doodle segment, that would have led to a scenario where someone else borrowed from H-B for a change, rather than the other way around!!

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