Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Scary Prairie Town

How’s this for work? There were 78 cartoons in the first season of the Quick Draw McGraw Show in 1959-60. That’s in addition to the (I think) 39 cartoons that had to be made the same year for the Huckleberry Hound Show. And Hanna-Barbera was still working on Ruff and Reddy for Saturday mornings.

The studio had three main background artists the year before—Bob Gentle, Fernando Montealegre and Art Lozzi. Gentle was the veteran; he had been with Harman-Ising before there was an MGM cartoon studio in 1937, having studied at the Otis Art Institute in the early '30s. Dick Thomas and Joe Montell joined the three in 1959 but even with five artists, Hanna-Barbera had plenty of work for all of them.

The studio generally didn’t re-use backgrounds in different cartoons (there’s one streetscape that appears in several early Snooper and Blabber cartoons) but it had to make shortcuts to meet deadlines. Here’s an example from the first Quick Draw McGraw cartoon put into production, Scary Prairie (J-1).

The cartoon opens with a not-so-scary prairie as narrator Elliot Field sets up the story.

Like probably all cartoon studios, Hanna-Barbera used cels as overlays on a background painting. In the shot above, the pinkish-white part of the desert is on an overlay. This allows something to be animated between it and the background painting. It also allows the background painting to be used elsewhere in the cartoon, not only saving work, but the artwork won’t look as repetitious.

Here’s a recreation of the second scene. You can see the same long background painting with the mountains is used, but there are overlays with buildings, a thirsty horse (whose tail is animated), and animated Westerners on the right (only the heads move). My guess is the layout artist was Dick Bickenbach, who would have created the characters.

To save work (ie. time and money), the streetscape background returns at the end of the cartoon as Quick Draw McGraw, in a gag that writer Mike Maltese borrowed from Drip-Along Daffy he wrote at Warner Bros., cleans up the one-horse town. You’ll note the thirsty horse overlay has been removed.

Credit title cards were shot (by Norm Stainback, I suspect) for the individual cartoons at the time they were made, but I don’t believe they were used until the cartoons went into syndication. Even then, many of the Quick Draws exist without credits, so it’s only my wild guess that Bob Gentle was the background artist in this cartoon. I’d have to study the backgrounds a little more.

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, or perhaps someone at Kellogg’s ad agency, Leo Burnett, didn’t feel this was a strong enough cartoon to kick off the series, though Maltese makes fun of almost every Western movie cliché. Instead, Lamb Chopped (J-11), the sixth or seventh Quick Draw in the production line, was the debut cartoon. It featured the bad-guy orange version of Snagglepuss and is a pretty funny cartoon.

Once again, I make my plaintive sigh that the Quick Draw series won’t be released on home video. The late Earl Kress said production elements (bumpers and such things) were missing or in poor condition when he went looking for them years ago and, then, a deal couldn’t be reached with the rights-holders of some of the background music, which had reverted from Capitol Records to the composers or their estates. I suppose I should never say “never,” but...

P.S.: When the blog started, I used other websites to supply the dates the early H-B cartoons first aired. A few years later, after doing my own research through newspapers, I discovered the other sites (which never gave sources) were not always correct. This blog had the wrong air date for this cartoon and has been fixed. Other early blog entries will have to be fixed when I find the time.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Bankrolling an Emmy

Syndicated television in the 1950s had some fairly popular shows. Highway Patrol and Sea Hunt come to mind. But the first syndicated show to win an Emmy was the Huckleberry Hound Show in 1960. It was the first time a cartoon show had won. Mind you, it was nominated in a category that didn’t before then—“Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Children's Programming.”

What was even better for the people behind Huck is the other Hanna-Barbera syndicated half-hour show, Quick Draw McGraw, was nominated as well. (Huck was also nominated but lost in 1961).

Both shows were sponsored by Kellogg’s of Battle Creek, Michigan. If you were around back then, you can probably still sing the Kellogg’s jingle. The Battle Creek Enquirer had an interesting take on the Emmy win. Here’s the paper’s story from June 22, 1960, two days after the award was handed out.

Huck, Yogi Share Emmy
Kellogg Co. Picked a Winner

A television cartoon show, bought sight unseen by the Kellogg Co. two years ago on the basis of an idea, came through Monday night to win TVs highest award in its field the most outstanding children's show of the past season.
An Emmy was presented "To Huckleberry Hound Outstanding achievement in the field of children's programming."
HUCK IS SEEN on 207 television stations across the country, which covers more than 90 per cent of the U.S. population. It was the first show of its type to win the award, with time purchased on individual stations rather than transmitted by a network.
Huck also was the first cartoon show created especially for television, rather than being adapted from motion picture cartoons, newspaper comic strips, or other media. It has been on the air since September, 1958.
KELLOGG EXECUTIVES had never seen a Huckleberry Hound cartoon show when they signed a contract in 1958 to sponsor the series. No one had seen one—none of the animated cartoons had been drawn.
Huck's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, brought their idea for the show to Kellogg's advertising agency, Leo Burnett Co., Inc. The agency in turn interested company officials.
The Kellogg men looked over proposed scripts and drawings of the characters, then decided to buy the idea. That was early in 1958.
A considerable investment—no amount has been revealed—was needed to build up a backlog of shows in advance of the first release. A Kellogg official said the cost of a half-hour Huck show is about the same as the cost of obtaining talent for a top-flight half-hour evening TV show.
THERE ARE no live characters on the show, usually including the commercials, which are presented by the animated stars. Each half-hour-show consists of three segments, starring separate characters. The stars are Huck, the hound with the southern drawl; Yogi Bear, a park dweller with a penchant for speaking in rhyme; and Jinks the Cat, who "hates you meeses—Pixie and Dixie—to pieces."
Huck and Yogi, particularly, have become popular personalities across the country. Last fall, they were the theme of homecomings at Ohio State University and Washington State University, and made "personal" appearances men dressed in $700 costumes depicting the characters. Both also appeared last year in Battle Creek's Centennial Parade.
TWO OTHER HONORS fell to Kellogg TV personalities Monday night. Quick Draw McGraw, another Kellogg show produced by Hanna and Barbera, was a runner-up for the "best children's show Emmy." And Jim Conway, who does the cereal firm's live commercials, was voted "Best of all the salesmen" by his fellow TV workers in Chicago. Conway was in Battle Creek last fall to emcee the United Fund's campaign kickoff.
Unless you want to count Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, it wasn’t until 1966 when a cartoon won an Emmy again; it went to A Charlie Brown Christmas. Of course, by then, Hanna-Barbera had built a lucrative empire on Saturday mornings. It wasn’t until Daytime Emmys were given out in 1983 that Hanna-Barbera got its second “Outstanding Children’s Entertainment Series” Emmy for The Smurfs. And by a nice coincidence, named with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera was Gerard Baldwin, who had animated Yowp (okay, and Yogi Bear) 26 years earlier on the Huck series that gave the studio its first Emmy award.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, December 1970

No Christmas comic for Yogi Bear in December 1970. Gene Hazelton and his crew could probably have tossed in a whole pile of cutesy animals into it if they had wanted to draw one. We find them in other comics this month. Boo Boo makes a very brief appearance.

December 6:Women in comics and cartoons are fickle. Ask Olive Oyl. In this case, ask Cindy Bear. You’ll recall in “A Wooin’ Bruin” (1962) how Cindy couldn’t make up her mind between Yogi and Bruno. Well, here we have the same thing. Look at the weary look the Wise Owl gives the reader in the second panel. Note Yogi in silhouette in the third row.

December 13: Does anyone use the word “ecology” any more? This is as about as message-y a comic you’ll get out of Yogi Bear, showing people humans can be unthinking lemmings when it comes to hot-button issues and sloganism. Hey, fish in the third panel, it’s been more than 40 years. Nothing’s changed. The final panel has an observational bird.

December 20: Ecology returns, taking a back-seat to a pun as the punch-line. A few hyper open-mouths in this comic.

December 27: We get an observational squirrel in the final panel, and a number of other talking animals. Apparently a bunch of stuff happened before the comic started, as Yogi was rough-housing with the kid. Yeah, there were helicopter parents back then. This colour comic comes from the collection of Richard Holliss in the U.K.

Click on any comic to make it bigger.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

What's in a Name-Rock?

The writers of the The Flintstones could come up with clever puns on names. Eventually, they got lame, just arbitrarily adding “stone” or “rock” to a name. I mean, “Jimmy O’Neillstone?” “Shinrock”? I was nine at the time and could do better than that.

Here are a couple of stories about Flintstone names. They’re not bylined, so my guess is they came right from the office of publicity mogul Arnie Carr at Hanna-Barbera. They use some of the same wording. That line about “butcher, baker and pizza-pie maker” shows up yet again. The first story was printed in the Montgomery Alabama Journal of July 14, 1961 and the second in the Boston Globe of the following October 22nd.
Note the credit given to Mike Maltese and Warren Foster.

Funny Names Dreamed Up For Flintstone People
Whoever dreams up the names on "The Flintstones," the animated cartoon series on ABC-TV Friday nights, has a delightful sense of whimsy. Various characters bear the tags of familiar people and places with just enough of a twist to make it amusing.
For instance, what better name for a movie actor from the community of Hollyrock than Gary Granite. Or a dance instructor who answers to Arthur Quarry. Both of those citizens are as solid as a rock.
In various "Flintstone" episodes viewers also get to meet such people (?) as Pebble Bleach, an attractive blonde; Rock Pile, a way-out actor on thespian if you prefer. Then there's Boulder Dan, who owns a poolroom, and Perry Masontry, an attorney.
Still others include Professor Rockymoto, a judo instructor; Perry Gunnite, a private eye; Rocky Gibralter, a prizefighter; Morris Mortar, an insurance agent; Malcolm Quartz, a grocer and Benjamin Boulder, a business executive.
Principal writers of "The Flintstones" are Warren Foster and Mike Maltese. They work very closely with producers Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna and presumably all four fertile minds get the credit for dreaming up the funny names.
When you remember that "The Flintstones" are set in the Stone Age the names take on even more laughable impact.
These characters along with the principals, Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Barney and Betty Rubble have made the series one of the most successful on the television scene. Recently, it was selected by TV editors across the country in Fame's annual poll as "the most unique new program."

Birth of “The Flintstones”
Last year at this time about the biggest hit among the new entries on TV was “The Flintstones,” animated cartoon series seen on Ch 7 Friday nights at 8:30. Its immediate success prompted a rash of similar cartoon programs to be put on the market for this Fall season. And now we have them by the score.
“The Flintstones” give a satirical picture of family life in suburbia as it might have been in prehistoric times. Fred and Wilma Flintstone live at Bedrock in Cobblestone County. Their newspaper is the Daily Slate. They take their laundry to the Rock-O-Mat. They play Stoneway pianos. They live in split-level caves.
Bedrock has its butcher, baker and pizza-pie maker and drive-in restaurant. It has its funny names, too. Various characters bear the tags of familiar people with just enough of a twist to be amusing.
There’s Gary Granite, actor; Perry Masontry, attorney; Rocky Gilbralter, prizefighter; Perry Gunnite, private eye and Professor Rockymoto, a judo instructor, to name a few.
Creators of the series are Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that their characters “Huckleberry Hound” and “Quick Draw McGraw,” primarily children’s shows, had a large adult following.
“We decided to try a cartoon series geared to adult viewers,” said Joe, a youngish man in his 40’s who could easily be taken for a film star. “We started thinking about a family situation comedy cartoon series.
“Bill and I tried out something like six different families, in modern contemporary times and settings, but they somehow didn’t fit the bill. Then one day, sitting around the shop with a group of our animators, we hit on the idea of taking an average, everyday couple, happily married, with the normal trials and tribulations of everyday living, and setting them in a Stone Age era and background.
“We drew our couple in a modern car. No laugh. But when we set the couple in a caveman car (thatched-top convertible with stone wheels and tree branch fins) we all laughed at the drawing.
“Then we tried a regular guy at the piano. No laughs. But when we put the same guy in caveman attire, in a cave dwelling, plunking away at a stone piano, again the whole group roared.
“Before long, we were playing a game with everybody tossing in suggestions. Another example—give a man a telephone to answer. No laugh. But give a caveman in the form of a ram’s horn, and again there’s laughter.”
Joe and Bill approached Screen Gems with the idea and it clicked with them. Joe had to interest advertising agencies in the cartoon, speaking something like five to six times a day. Needless to say, he sold the series.

I always thought the name was “Perry Masonary.” “Cobblestone County” seems to have been mentioned more in publicity than on the show. And was there a “Rock-o-mat”? Or “split-level caves” (all of them seem to be on one level, with the same picture appearing on the wall five or six times, depending on how long Fred is running).

I don’t know if I can pick a favourite pun name; a lot of them make me wince. But perhaps one comes to your mind.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

High Wire Huck Part 2

The high wire breaks that Yogi Bear, Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks are on high above the circus crowd. Huckleberry Hound’s top hat twirls before he jumps to the rescue.

I like the Huck head multiples. If you look closely, you’ll see the drawing of Huck with Jinks riding over him isn’t quite identical with the one of Yogi riding over him.

Huck swoops to safety. Almost.

Once again, these are really attractive drawings. More effort and expense was put into the intro bumpers than the cartoons themselves. How nice they (or some of them) got preserved on home video.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

The Quest For Publicity

Jonny Quest was an amazing series for its time in so many ways, from Hoyt Curtin’s score (and the work of the sound cutters to pick the cues to fit the action), to the background art, to the suspenseful stories to angles picked by the layout men. It’s unfortunate the show never got the ratings necessary to be able to continue for a second season.

Hanna-Barbera was coming off a string of losses. Top Cat failed in prime time in 1961. The Jetsons did the same the following year. The failures made the networks shy from buying animated series for evening hours, but Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera convinced ABC to make one more try in 1964.

To push Jonny Quest in the press prior to its debut, Hanna-Barbera trotted out its super salesman—Joe Barbera. Among his many talents, Barbera adeptly knew how to plug his cartoons. He was also very good at selling the story of Hanna-Barbera, the little underdog operation, run by two ordinary guys (and Oscar-winners, make sure you mention that), that became a monster success.

Here’s a nice feature story that appeared in a couple of papers on October 24, 1964; it appears the writer was a scribe for several newspapers in Pennsylvania. If you’ve checked out other Quest newspaper stories on this blog, some of Barbera’s talking points will be familiar. Joe mentions “units.” I suspect he’s referring to something Jerry Eisenberg mentioned, that he and Lew Ott teamed up to work on Jonny Quest. I haven’t checked the credits to see if the same sets of animators worked together but as reader Howard Fein has pointed out, Carlo Vinci and Hugh Fraser worked together on a number of half-hour shows.

One other note: Chris Webber’s blog has some frame grabs from the Quest DVD (I’ve grabbed some of his grabs). It’s a shame he didn’t blog for long but you can check out some artwork there.

Animators Using New Technique In 'Quest'
"In 'Jonny Quest' we have design planes that are possible, but slightly ahead of what's really available because equipment evolves so fast. And you can't tell children that last year's jet is next year's. They won't believe it."
They also won't buy it . . . and it was the licensing and franchising of "Jonny Quest" products that had brought soft-spoken, Brooklyn-born Joseph Barbera back East for a quickie New York visit.
And you don't need more proof that that that "Jonny" which bowed in color in September on ABC (Fridays, 7:30 p.m.) is a sure success. But as Barbera spread a circle of prints from "Jonny Quest" around him you felt that that wasn't what mattered so much. He kept talking, thinking in terms of series' values and audience acceptance.
"We're using, a whole new technique in Quest. It's illustration, not cartooned. We brought some of the best illustrators from around the country for this one. "Of course the others are doing fine, too. Oh you like 'The Flintstones?' So do I."
"But the story in 'Quest' did seem to cry for something new. We have a leading scientist much sought after for consultation and sought out, naturally by enemies. That's why the government assigns Race (isn't he handsome) as permanent bodyguard.
"Then there's the doctor's 12-year-old Jonny and his adopted Jaji [sic], who's from India.
"We went one-third over our expected budget researching, enough to make sure our background are authentic. Now we can travel around as no live company could possibly afford to do . . . and with the good art work you should feel you're there."
20 Nice Years, 7 Mercurial Ones
Barbera is one-half of the seven-year corporate miracle that is Hanna-Barbera Productions.
In 1937 Bill Hanna chucked the engineering and journalism he'd studied for, to do something more creative, being idea man and director for animated cartoons. Joe Barbera chucked the banking and accounting for which he'd studied, to draw magazine cartoons. MGM saw him, as a animator-writer teamed with Hanna and together they created "Tom and Jerry," turned off some 125 episodes and won seven Oscars by 1957 when—after two decades in the same shop and with growing families—they got their pink slips. MGM was getting out of the animated field.
On went the Bill and Joe thinking caps. What came out as a goal was television. Back to MGM they went with "the big idea." Wouldn't MGM like to consider the medium? MGM would not.
"So we decided to go into business for ourselves." The Screen Gems TV subsidiary of Columbia Pictures sensed a hot idea and went along with financing and distribution phase.
The work space was nil, the staff numbered three, but the enthusiasm was boundless, and in a short time out came a 15-minute show "Ruff and Reddy," still seen in many parts of the world.
"Well, you see, there really was a need for something new, fresh animations especially for television. Re-runs of old—usually very old—theatre cartoons was pretty much it when we got in," Barbara explains. "And the more we got into it, the more we found innovations to simplify production and add interest.
Barbara reached for another photo.
"This is the new building. Isn't it a honey?
"We turn off as much production here in a week as we did at MGM in a year . . . and with no time clocks, no memos and a minimum of supervision. Our units work out the details themselves.
"Do I draw any more?" He smiled. "Well, only to the extent that I'll show an artist what I might have in mind, rather than try to tell him . . . but otherwise it's up to a unit to do its own work."
"Unit," that seems to be the Hanna-Barbera modern invention to outstrip anything that's being designed in "Quest."
"You see we feel it's up to creative people to determine their own best working hours. Each unit determines its own deadlines, by what time one phase of a job has to be finished so another can proceed. Everybody works hard, but at times of personal choosing, and it proves to be the times when they produce fastest and best."
And the "fastest and best" dossier now totals—with this season's "Jonny Quest"—13 series in seven years! ("The Flintstones," "Huckleberry Hound," "Yogi Bear," "Quick Draw McGraw," "Touche Turtle," among others).
And as for Barbera, "Well, I never sleep anyway, but it's worse right now on a trip." There's one irony, though. Barbera, who turned his back on banking for the creative life, has to pay more and more attention to finance.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Flintstones Weekend Comics, November 1970

Rubbles? What Rubbles?

For a second month in a row, the Flintstones newspaper comics found in weekend newspapers were centered around Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and Dino. Fred’s “bosom buddy” Barney is nowhere to be found in the five comics published in November 48 years ago. Neither is Betty. And, for that matter, the comics-only character Pops isn’t around either.

We’ll get to 1970 in a moment. We do have two comics from 50 years ago this month, courtesy of the Richard Holliss archive in England (unfortunately, he doesn’t have the remainder for that month). Barney does appear here. Barney and Fred’s fellow water buffalos make an appearance in that month. As a side note, there is a fraternal group in England known as the Royal Antediluvian Order of Water Buffalos. One wonders what they thought, if anything, of the Flintstones’ frat.

November 17, 1968: Minimal backgrounds. A comparatively small opening panel.

November 24, 1968: Good old Fred! His ego is out of check just like it was in the first cartoons of the TV series (note his expressions). And Wilma punctures it, just like in those first cartoons.

Now on to 1970.

November 1, 1970: More minimal backgrounds. The idea of Pebbles playing charades is a good one.

November 8, 1970: I always like Gene Hazelton’s animal designs and his crocosaurus (well, what else would it be called in the Flintstones?) in the final panel is really good. There’s a nice use of foreground and background in the panel, too.

November 15, 1970: Dino doesn’t think to himself very often but he does in this comic. The clichés of the wife going home to mother and the wife who’s a lousy cook get plopped into this story.

November 22, 1970: Wife inept at hammering and other “men’s” work around the house? Yup, another dated cliché.

November 29, 1970: The opening panel makes this one. Look at those dinosaur expressions in the opening panel. The half-silhouette panel is nicely composed and we have a volcano pumping out smoke like you’d see in the comics when Harvey Eisenberg was drawing them.

As usual, click on any of the comics for a better view

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Tiffany Tiff

There was a time at Hanna-Barbera, writer Tony Benedict says, when all you had to do was please Joe Barbera—and then the company was sold and became corporate. And corporations make decisions based on, well, not based on Joe Barbera. Or common sense.

What was supposed to be the last work on the voice track for The Jetsons: The Movie was apparently done in February 1989; that’s when George O’Hanlon suffered a stroke in the studio after finishing his lines and died in hospital.

But that wasn’t the end of it, as fans discovered starting around May 9th when Daily Variety revealed that singer Tiffany had re-done all of Janet Waldo’s dialogue as Judy Jetson.

Common sense tells you it was a stupid idea. Janet’s voice was recognised by everyone as Judy Jetson’s. And this wasn’t a case of an actress getting older and not being able to do the part. When Janet was hovering around 90, she could still sound pretty much like she did as suburban teenager Corliss Archer on radio in the mid 1940s (which, basically, was Judy’s voice).

The decision, though, made corporate sense. Universal put up money for the Jetsons movie. Universal had a sister record company, MCA. Tiffany was one of its big recording stars. Put some Tiffany songs in the Jetsons movie—cartoons are aimed at kids anyway—release them on MCA and you have instant free advertising via the movie. And, hey, since she’s doing the singing, she might as well do the dialogue, too. In fact, the suits wanted to ditch the Jetsons’ theme and have Tiffany sing something over the titles and credits but were talked out of it by composer/conductor John Debney.

That’s how corporations think.

How and when Miss Waldo was informed about all this, I don’t know. But the decision was crappy for fans and a real insult to her.

Here’s a version of events from the May 23, 1989 edition of the Austin American-Statesman. Joe Barbera sticks to the corporate line.

OUT OF THIS WORLD: Pop music teenybopper Tiffany will be heard as the voice of Judy Jetson in the new Jetsons: The Movie due at Christmastime, according to the Pasadena Star-News.
Meanwhile, Janet Waldo, the original voice of Judy, is on the outs but bears no hard feelings, People magazine reports. Waldo recorded the original voice tracks but says Hanna-Barbera apologetically indicated that Tiffany's label, MCA, which is also producing the movie, wanted the singer to take the role.
"Her voice is so prominent in the musical segments that we decided to feature her in the spoken part as well," said Joseph Barbera, president of Hanna-Barbera Productions. Tiffany will sing three new songs on the sound track of the full-length animated feature.
Waldo, who claims to bear no ill will over the switch, said Tiffany "sings through her nose."
Janet expressed her disappointment in other interviews. This unbylined piece showed up in the St Louis Post-Dispatch on July 26, 1989. (As a side note, Daws Butler died in 1988. Patric Zimmerman was Elroy in this movie).
MOST PEOPLE don't recognize her name or her face, but when she spouts words ala Judy Jetson—her animated counterpart—ears perk up.
"That was the first animated voice I did," says actress Janet Waldo. "My kids grew up with 'The Jetsons' at the same time I was doing the voices for the show. And now, my friends always introduce me as Judy Jetson—everywhere I go." Later this year, Hanna-Barbera animation studios will release the first theatrical motion picture about the space-age family titled "Jetsons: The Movie!"
Jumping Jupiter! This time, however, it is minus the vocal talents of Waldo, whose Judy Jetson was forever the hip teen-ager of the 21st century. Instead, funders of the film decided to use the vocals of rock singer Tiffany to supply the dialogue and vocals.
"I was terribly upset. I was crushed," says Waldo. "This was a part I had created and performed. It's kind of like I've been robbed. And yet, it was the last time the cast was together to record the voices as a family again, ya know?"
Since final recording sessions, George O'Hanlon, the voice of George Jetson, died. Months later Daws Butler, the voice of little Elroy died, and recently Mel Blanc, the man of a thousand voices (including Mr. Spacely), died. Reportedly, Hanna-Barbera has been deluged with negative mail about their "meddling" with a cult hit, which originally aired in 1962 on prime time television.
"The studio told me they want to continue with some more episodes replacing the cast where they need to," says Waldo. "It wasn't necessary to replace me completely. They just wanted to.
"I don't know Tiffany at all, but I don't think of her singing as the Judy Jetson style. She may bring in a new element to the movie, but the film may lose the old element."
Waldo is known to baby boomer cartoon watchers as the voice of Josie from "Josie and the Pussycats," as well as the sexy race car driver Penelope Pitstop. She also supplied the vocals for Wilma Flintstone's rotund mother, a heavy-voiced overbearing mother-in-law to Fred.
Today, Waldo and her husband Robert E. Lee, the playwright known for "Inherit the Wind," live in the Los Angeles area, "around the corner from Steve Allen and Richard Crenna," she adds.
She is supplying voices for TV's "Smurfs" and she recently worked for Disney Studios, for the first time giving life to the wicked Maleficent in some coming cartoon recreations of "Sleeping Beauty."
I’m not a fan of ‘80s pop music (though at least it wasn’t autotuned) so I haven’t much good to say about Tiffany’s singing, but she was unfortunately put in an awkward situation. Here’s a teenager with no acting experience who had to re-record the work of a veteran who was loved and respected by fans. Here’s what she told USA Today’s Steve Jones in a piece published July 6, 1990.
Tiffany Finds New Voice as a 'Toon Teen
When Tiffany started work on Jetsons: The Movie, she wasn't sure how her Judy Jetson voice should sound.
Veteran cartoon actor Janet Waldo had spoken the spacey teen's lines for 28 years, but producers wanted Tiffany for the movie because they planned several musical numbers around Judy.
“I didn't know if I should try to imitate how I thought Judy always sounded or if I should make it `Tiffany does Judy,'” says the 18-year-old singer. “They decided they wanted her to sound a little older, and now she has a more breathy voice.”
Tiffany, who topped Billboard's pop album chart at 16 and had two No. 1 singles, is a longtime Jetsons fan. She had planned to be on just the soundtrack, but the producers let her do the dialogue, too, so that the voices would match.
A novice actress, she was daunted by the studio work, but Gordon Hunt, the film's recording director, helped her grow into the part.
“It was nice having patient people working with me,” she says. “It was hard doing the lines with the right expressions, but slowly but surely they brought it out of me.”
She said the movie will introduce her music both to parents and to kids who were too young to know her when her previous albums came out. None of the three songs she does for the movie will appear on her yet-untitled album set for September release.
Tiffany says that the album is a departure from her previous work, and that she's been working out with weights and aerobics to give herself a new look. She expects to begin touring in January.
“I'm doing R & B now and it is something I've wanted to do for a long time,” she says. “It's going to shock a lot of people.”
Janet Waldo was interviewed after the movie came out. She didn’t bother to see it. Critics gave it mixed to lukewarm reviews. Tiffany’s star had some of the shine off it by that point, so I suspect the throngs of her fans that MCA expected at theatres never materialised. I imagine the film mostly attracted nostalgic Gen Xers who kinda, sorta, remembered the show from their childhood and took their kids in an obligatory hunt for “family” entertainment.

Producer Mark Evanier says that Joe Barbera, in a very classy move, apologised to Janet in front of the who’s-who of the voice acting world who gathered at Don Messick’s retirement party in 1997. He has postulated, and I hope I’m not misinterpreting his comments, that the movie quite possibly wouldn’t have been made had the Tiffster not been involved. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were caught in the corporate maelstrom as much as Miss Waldo.

The good thing to me, speaking as a fan, is the large outpouring of support and affection that Janet Waldo received during this whole escapade. As you know, she passed away over two years ago, but people still love her and the original Jetsons TV show. The Tiffany tiff has turned out to be a mere footnote in the show’s history.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Count the Light Sockets

Yes, it’s true. Pixie and Dixie did run in front of the same light socket over and over again to some chase music. They certainly did in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show, anyway. All that was required: a held cel of the meeces bodies, a few drawings of arms and legs, and a background that was designed to be panned for use several times. Voila! Cycle animation which, as you might have guessed, involved less work (except by the cameraman) and therefore less cost to H-B Enterprises.

The first Pixie and Dixie cartoon put into production was “Pistol Packin’ Pirate” (E-4). It was set on a pirate ship so there are no light sockets, but there is a run cycle involving Pixie and Dixie. It’s by Mike Lah, and he draws with the mice with their arms extended, the same as he did with a Yogi Bear run cycle in the first Yogi cartoon, “Pie-Pirates” (E-1). What’s interesting about this cycle is, unlike others, the cels of Pixie and Dixie are moved slowly from the centre toward the left of the frame; they don’t stay in the middle of the picture. (See the barrel? They run past it four times).

The next Pixie and Dixie on the production line was “Judo Jack” (E-5). This is the first time the meeces are chased by Mr. Jinks in front of a baseboard. This is Ken Muse’s work. All that’s animated is the swirl of legs; he uses one drawing for two frames. There are three drawings so six drawings complete the cycle of animation. It takes 24 frames (6 x 4) for Pixie and Dixie to pass the same part of the baseboard. You can see the animation slowed down and then at about the speed it is in the cartoon.

The third Pixie and Dixie cartoon in the system was “Kit Kat Kit” (E-10). It was kind of a chase cartoon (interrupted for a photo gag about a third of the way through) but no baseboards were involved; Pixie and Dixie get chased around what I guess are pillars (on overlays) in a living room. By the way, all three of these cartoons give a designer credit to Frank Tipper. Whether Tipper was hired for the Huck show, or he freelanced, or he worked for Hanna-Barbera on the earlier Ruff and Reddy series, I don’t know, but he disappeared after these three cartoons. Tipper was best known as an animator, mainly for Walter Lantz in the ‘40s, though he was employed in the previous decade at Warner Bros. (Schlesinger) and Harman-Ising.

Finally we get to a light socket in the fourth Pixie and Dixie cartoon, “Cousin Tex” (E-14), though it was the first that actually aired. The chase animation below is by Carlo Vinci. Unlike Muse, Carlo has the meeces’ whole body move in each drawing. There are four drawings in the cycle, one per frame, and it takes 24 frames to get back to the light socket (4 x 6). Again, I’ve slowed down the animation and then you can watch it at about normal speed. Note how Pixie and Dixie don’t run with identical leg positions.

By the way, Pixie and Dixie ran past the same light socket four times before director Bill Hanna cut to an exterior shot of their mouse hole.

The music that accompanies the chases in the last three cartoons mentioned above is “Toboggan Run,” credited to composer Jack Shaindlin. We have a capsule biography of him in a really old post of the blog. Suffice it to say, by 1944, he was supplying a lot of music for short films, including The March of Time, Paramount News and Soundies. The same year, Shaindlin was employed by Lang-Worth, Inc., a radio transcription service, to compose music. The company put out trade ads for a production music library of 163 compositions, including openings, neutrals, bridges and such. In 1954, Shaindlin and Lang-Worth combined on a music library known as Langlois Filmusic (Filmusic was a library developed by Shaindlin in the late ‘40s). When “Toboggan Run” was composed for one of Shaindlin’s libraries is unknown; I can’t find a copyright date.

I should point out for those who go off and put misinformation on web databases and pedias and the like that Langlois Filmusic has nothing to do with the Capitol Hi-Q library. It was made by an entirely different company (on a different coast, even). Both were among a number of music services available that TV or movie producers could contact to lease or purchase cues.

Regardless, you can hear my favourite Shaindlin cue below (if your computer’s music player is configured to do so).


Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Collegiate Hound

“I never went to no school,” admits Huckleberry Hound in “Hookey Daze” (1958) before the teacher grabs him and shoves him in a classroom seat.

Well, that was in the cartoon series. The fact is Huck was in a number of schools. When the Huckleberry Hound Show began appearing on TV sets in September 1958, it soon became a craze at colleges. Here’s a short tale from the Detroit Free Press of February 10, 1960. Though they aren’t mentioned by name, Daws Butler and Don Messick get justifiable praise for their work.

Adults Steal Kids' TV Show Fraternities Start 'Hound' Fan Clubs

Free Press Columnist
We are sort of proud we steered you adults on to the TV antics of Huckleberry Hound and friends, supposedly just fare for small fry.
We have received a lot of "whispering" letters from adults telling us we are not alone. In fact, Mrs. Elwood Kureth, of Taylor, tips us off that the creators of Huckleberry Hound, have another good one going—with the same wonderful voices—in "Quick Draw McGraw" on Channel 9 at 6:30 on Tuesday. (Also on Channel 13 Monday at 6:30 and Channel 6 on Friday at 6.)
But the most fascinating report on this comes from Bob Reeves, of the Trigon Fraternity House at Ann Arbor.
"You're right that 'Huckleberry Hound' is interesting to a more mature audience than the toddler set of grandchildren," Bob tells us.
"It seems that in most fraternities at the University of Michigan studies are laid aside at 7 p.m. each Thursday to lock the doors, shutter the windows and sneak into the TV room for a half-hour of Yogi Bear and friends.
"This has been a weekly ritual for over a year now.
"We feel the program has been purposely geared for adults—the often sly satire. Rumor has it that other Big Ten schools have Yogi Bear Fan Clubs and Yogi Bear dolls are being sold at the novelty and gift shops in college towns.
"I only wish the sponsors would gear their commercials to the intellectual heights they have in their cartoons."
So now breathe easier when you slip in to watch "them meeces" and other things. We can't wait to try out "Quick Draw McGraw" who, we understand, is the slowest gun in the West. He sounds like our kind of hero.
We’ve posted other stories on the blog about the Huck Fad That Gripped America in the late ’50s. Here’s one that we haven’t passed along before, from the Akron Beacon Journal of September 2, 1959. The Huck show was about to embark on its second season within a couple of weeks. We learn of more institutes of higher learning where TV’s newest star became the Big Man on Campus. I must admit I’ve never heard Mr. Jinks compared to Dick Shawn before but I can understand why he might be.
This Dog Man's Best
Huck Hound Friend To All Ages

Beacon Journal Radio-TV Writer
Once in a while the viewing public pets together on things. The Dick Clark fans and the Lawrence Welk fans, the Wagon Train partisans and the Omnibus partisans strike a common denominator.
It takes a pretty delightful television personality to kindle enthusiasm in both camps. I think you'll agree good ol' Huckleberry Hound fulfills this qualification.
HE SOUNDS suspiciously like Andy Griffith. He has a couple of colorful sidekicks, one of whom sounds a little like Ed Norton, the Va-Va-Voom Man. The other bears a striking resemblance to a Dick Shawn vocal impression of black leather jackets and motorcycle boots.
Students at a western university tried to promote an honorary degree for Huck... 11,000 students at the University of Washington joined his fan club and he was initiated into Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at UCLA.
It has already been noted that Huck will be honored at Ohio State's Homecoming game against Purdue. Similar recognition is forthcoming on campuses at Southern Methodist and Texas Christian.
YOU MAY NOT consider this college-boy adoration as cementing the case for Huck since this automatically puts him in the same category as panty-raids and phone-booth packing.
Consider this then: A bill was introduced in a western state legislature to re name a 50-acre expanse of woodland "Huckleberry Hound State Park." Ahhh, those first-term legislators, you say, they'll do anything to get their name on a bill.
ALL RIGHT. But how about this: A bar and grill in Seattle is named after him... and in Gardenia, Cal., a poker parlor broke up its pot-limit game for Huck's TV capers. Greater love hath no man.
Huckleberry Hound is a member of the same family as "Tom and Jerry." All of them are the creation of animators Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
What's the formula for Huck's success. One professor attempted to analyze it: "Huck represents something that appeals to the basic needs of most people. He's like a good tonic..." Are we in agreement?
We mentioned Huck’s school cartoon “Hookey Daze.” It’s got the best Huck fear take ever put on film, a great sloping walk by our truant officer hero (it owes something to the slow, slide-step Huckleberry Hound-ish sounding wolf in Tex Avery’s “Billy Boy,” released by MGM in 1954), and not a bad story by Charlie Shows, Joe Barbera and Dan Gordon. It also has another one of those cycles where juvenile delinquents Mickey and Icky Vanderblip run past the same window over and over (well, it’s a mansion, so it’s supposed to be big). Carlo Vinci’s the animator, so we get four drawings of the twins, animated one per frame, and the cycle lasts 24 frames (one second). The version below is a little slower than what’s in the actual cartoon. You won’t be surprised to learn the music behind this is Jack Shaindlin’s “Toboggan Run.”

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Yogi Bear Weekend Comics, November 1970

A native American, a Chinese guy, a kid, Ranger Smith, a wise talking owl and the return of Boo Boo are amongst the highlights of the Yogi Bear newspaper comics from 48 years ago this month.

Gene Hazelton and his people have lots of scenic stuff in the backgrounds of these five Yogi comics, far more than what they were doing on the simultaneously-seen Flintstones comics.

You’ll notice for three comics in a row, the “Yogi” sign is nailed to a post made from a tree. In another comic, it’s hanging from a branch and in the other, it’s nailed to a tree.

November 1, 1970: Here’s one where the top row omitted by many newspapers has nothing to do with the other two rows. Yogi is a little rhyme crazy here.

November 8, 1970: Sardonic Smith in the last panel. The first row is only tenuously related to the rest of the comic.

November 15, 1970: Injun no talk-um like this in 1970. But that’s what the people expect-um to hear after years of B Westerns, so that’s what we get in one sentence. The last sentence could easily be read in a Yiddish accent.

November 22, 1970: Jellystone has its own Protestant church. I like the overhead view in the last panel.

November 29, 1970: I like the rendering of the Chinese restaurant in the final panel. Is there anything Jellystone doesn’t have? This comic has the only silhouette panel of the month.

The colour comics are again courtesy of Richard Holliss. Click on any of them to enlarge them.