Saturday, 4 April 2020

Yogi Bear Becomes a Star

Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle can thank Hank Saperstein for the boost in their careers.

In June 1960, a deal was being firmed up between Kellogg’s and Saperstein’s UPA. Variety reported on August 10th the two had a seven-year pact that would see $3,000,000 spent in the first year to put a half-hour Mr. Magoo show on 150 stations, the same as the cereal maker did with the Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw shows for Hanna-Barbera.

But then Saperstein pulled out. He thought he could get a better financial deal going it alone. And Hanna-Barbera was ready. Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter told readers in their October 12th editions that Kellogg’s had agreed to sponsor a half-hour Yogi Bear show on 130 stations starting in January 1961, and Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle would augment the new series.

Yogi’s jump to stardom should not have been a surprise. Yogi was slowly but surely taking the spotlight away from Huck as H-B’s main starring character in syndication. The studio had already decided to make Yogi, not Huck, the star of its first feature film. Yogi was appearing in person (actually, someone in an outfit) at department stores, fairs, and so on. There was plenty of Yogi merchandise in stores and he was on a cereal box. On top of that, Huck didn’t get a syndicated newspaper strip in 1961; Yogi did. And another indicator—in October, Yogi was named chairman of the 1960-61 fund raising drive of the Radio-Television-Recording and Advertising Charities of Hollywood. (What he actually did, I don’t know).

As for Yakky, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had plunked the duck in Tom and Jerry cartoons at MGM, then brought him over to their own studio as an occasional character in more than a half dozen cartoons. He was ready for his own series (the only problem was his voice actor, Red Coffey, was on tour, so Barbera hired Los Angeles kids host Jimmy Weldon). And Snagglepuss had appeared on the Quick Draw McGraw show a number of times as an orange antagonist. He was clever with funny dialogue (George Nicholas did a fine job animating him) so he had real possibilities for his own segment.

The Yogi Bear Show began showing up in syndication on the week of January 30, 1961. Not all the cartoons were ready, so some were borrowed from the Quick Draw show for several weeks. Yogi continued to appear on the Huck show until the replacement Hokey Wolf cartoons were set to air.

Hanna-Barbera’s PR guru Arnie Carr started plugging away, working the media to get some ink. Hal Humphrey wrote a pre-debut column, while UPI’s Fred Danzig and Jack Gaver both banged out reviews. I’ve found another story from the Copley News Service, published January 28, 1961.

Smarter Than Average
Extrovert Yogi Bear Syndicated Across US

BY DONALD FREEMAN

Copley News Service
HOLLYWOOD, Jan. 27— As his loyal followers always knew it would, being smarter than the average bear has at last paid off in tangible rewards for that blustering furry extrovert known to television as Yogi Bear. Forthwith, amid a fanfare from the trumpets, The Yogi Bear Show is syndicated across the land. This freshly spawned cartoon series evolved logically and inevitably out of Huckleberry Hound the show in which Yogi Bear has played second fiddle for the last 2½ years. Now he has emerged from the wings, a full-fledged bear-type star.
At Hanna-Barbera Productions— headed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbara, two enterprisingly creative talents responsible not only for Yogi Bear and Hucklebery Hound, but Ruff n’ Reddy, Quick Draw McGraw and the Flintstones as well— the feeling had persisted for some time that Yogi Rear was ripe for bigger things. "Consider this," said Bill Hanna, a stocky onetime engineer now the partner in a booming $10,000,000 cartoon corporation, "Huckleberry Hound" had an island in the Antarctic named for him and he was tapped as mascot of the Marching and Jazz Society in Hull England.
"BUT BRITAIN’S ENTRY in a recent International model plane race was named Yogi Bear. And a wing of our Strategic Air Command picked Yogi for its mascot. "Also consider this," put in Joe Barbera, the darkly handsome partner who once worked in a bank and despised every minute of it, "when Huckleberry Hound ran for president last year— he didn't do badly in certain animal precincts, by the way— who was his campaign manager? Yogi Bear."
In common with most creative brains in the animated cartoon dodge, Hanna and Barbera are— well, free souls, blithe nose-thumbers at conventional procedure. For example, interoffice memos are expressly forbidden in their studios.
"If a man dreams up an idea he can barge right into our office," explained Barbera, adding pointedly that no such easygoing policy prevailed in their days at M-G-M. "By the time a producer there had got your memo and sent back his memo and you finally were permitted into the hallowed sanctum of his office, you'd forgotten what you wanted to say in the first place. So, no memos."
FOR SOME 20 YEARS, Hanna and Barbera were teamed at M-G M where their fertile imaginations gave birth to the cat and mouse cartoon series, Tom and Jerry, which brought the studio seven Academy Awards. In 1957 they turned to television writing continually expanding success story, with the new Yogi Bear show being the latest chapter.
There are times when Yogi's fans imperturbably criss-cross the thin stand dividing fancy and reality. Not long ago in a gesture of appreciation, Yogi Bear was awarded a certificate by the superintendent of Yellowstone Park— not Ranger Smith, but the actual superintendent in the real Yellowstone Park— for being “an upstanding example for bears all over the world.”
However, in his notation, the superintendent saw fit to add slyly: "But I'm sure glad that Yogi Bear doesn't live fulltime in my park."

There were things to like on The Yogi Bear Show. Hanna-Barbera always seemed to come up with enjoyable openings and closings for its series. Yogi was no exception. I’ve always liked how Yogi drove the ranger’s jeep into the Kellogg’s billboard. Mike Maltese gave Snagglepuss some lovely twists of phrases; of course, Daws Butler’s voice work was outstanding as usual. Yakky had reasonably solid comic villains in Fibber Fox, who spent most of his time talking to the home viewer, and Alfie Gator, who parodied the format of the Alfred Hitchcock TV show introductions and conclusions in a pretty amusing way, courtesy of writer Tony Benedict. (It must have been daunting to be a young guy trying to keep up swimming in the same writing waters as Maltese and Warren Foster, two of the all-time greats).

Still, the starring Yogi jettisoned the spot gags and sight gags of the earlier Huck show Yogi. Hanna-Barbera’s cartoons were starting to become dialogue heavy, with characters standing around, with mouths moving on rigid bodies while a character being spoken to blinked his/her eyes to break the monotony. How much more interesting visually they would have been if Mike Lah (concentrating on commercials at Quartet) and Carlo Vinci (moved over to The Flintstones) were still animating the cartoons like they did when Yogi was still with Huck.

We all know that H-B characters ran past the same tree or lamp over and over and over again. Here’s an endless loop from the Yogi show. It’s from Whistle-Stop and Go, a Yakky cartoon animated by Columbia and Warner Bros. veteran Art Davis. It takes 16 frames for Dick Thomas’s background to repeat, with Fibber on an eight-frame run cycle. What I didn’t notice until I put this together is Davis slightly animates Fibber’s whiskers and top hair strands. That kind of thing would have been skipped in the later “faster, cheaper” years.


Thursday, 2 April 2020

Julie Bennett

She was a favourite of Jack Webb in Dragnet. She turned up on I Love a Mystery and co-starred in Grand Central Station and Whispering Streets on radio. And in November 1955, The Hollywood Reporter revealed she had made the acquaintance of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who signed her as “Mrs. Q” for the Tom and Jerry cartoon Tom’s Photo Finish.

Evidently, the cartoon producers liked her. When they got their own studio, they signed her to be the voice of Cindy Bear.

Now, actress Julie Bennett has been claimed by complications of Covid-19. She died on March 31st. Reports say she was 88.

Bennett acted in cartoons through the 1980s and then pretty much disappeared. Various sources have revealed what happened. She changed her name (I do not know what her birth name was) to Marianne Daniels and became a personal manager.

Her first voice for the Hanna-Barbera studio was not Cindy, though that was her biggest role for the studio, considering she appeared in the feature film Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear. To the best of my knowledge, the first time she worked for the studio was in the Quick Draw McGraw cartoon Masking For Trouble (1959) as Sagebrush Sal. Prior to that, Daws Butler or Don Messick did almost all the female voices in falsetto. Barbera was looking for new actors when the studio expanded to put Quick Draw on the air, and among the hires were Bennett and Jean Vander Pyl.

Cindy’s voice owed something to Shirley Mitchell’s Leila Ransome on The Great Gildersleeve; I think both characters used the phrase “I do declare!” (Mitchell admitted she borrowed her Southern belle accent from Una Merkel).

Bennett worked for other cartoon studios as well. She provided a few voices for Warner Bros. and filled in for June Foray at the Jay Ward studio on the “Fractured Fairy Tale” cartoons. She turned up at UPA as well.

I hate to do a tally, but it appears Elliot Field is the only voice actor left from the pre-Flintstones days (1960); Jimmy Weldon came on board as Yakky Doodle in cartoons that aired starting in 1961.

She began acting in 1947 at the Oliver Hinsdell Studio of Dramatic Art in Hollywood and quickly went into radio. You can read a few old posts about Miss Bennett by clicking here.

My thanks to reader Luu Hoang for alerting me to the media reports about this, and my sincere sympathies go to her friends.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The Psychology of Huck and Quick Draw

Did Quick Draw McGraw give me a psychological release at age 5?

At that age, I don’t know what I’d want to have been released from, but Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera thought so. At least, that’s what they told the Valley Times from North Hollywood in its issue of May 26, 1960.

Their article (if, indeed, they wrote it themselves) talks about the appeal of the Quick Draw McGraw Show, which is my favourite of all the Hanna-Barbera series. Better still, it gives credit not only to the great writing staff at the time but even some of the animators who worked on the series. George Nicholas and Carlo Vinci are among my favourite early H-B animators along with Mike Lah; Don Patterson is up there, too, for some fine expressions in the earliest Flintstones seasons.

Hanna and Barbera liked to talk about “no time clock” in their earliest interviews. At this point, they weren’t in the building everyone associates with them. They were in much smaller confines which forced some people to work at home. Naturally, there’d be no time clock. I’ll bet you Hanna was watching the footage count, though.

At the risk of being repetitive over the years here, it’d sure be nice if the Quick Draw show—even just the individual cartoons—would be released on a home video format.

Enjoy this bonus post.


SECRET OF CAPTURING AN AUDIENCE
By BILL HANNA and JOE BARBERA

Television viewers are darn smart. And, what's more, they're selective as well.
No longer can a television producer foist a tired and trite story with a one-dimensional hero, whose vocabulary consists solely of "Yep" and "Nope" on viewers and hope to capture a large audience for any length of time.
We think the popularity of our shows "Huckleberry Hound," and "Quick Draw McGraw" lies in providing a psychological release for all human beings of all ages. No one ever gets hurt despite clobberings and binding situations our characters encounter. We try to give the audience characters that they can identify with, then follow up with wild antics impossible to duplicate in real life. The adults have all taken to the satire, while the children watch the programs for the face value of the action-packed story.
Quick Draw McGraw, our newest series, appearing on KTTV-TV Channel 11, Tuesdays, at 7:00 p.m., is the combined efforts of our whole staff.
We drew up rough sketches of characters based on three of the most standard TV shows—the western, the private eye, and the family situation comedy.
These sketches were turned over to our writer, Mike Maltese. Mike developed and named the characters and started writing.
Maltese made Quick Draw, the hero of the Western segment, the fastest drawing critter west of Peoria. He is aided by his faithful sidekick. Baba Looey, a fearless little burro with a Cuban accent.
Current Trends Vital
Being in the cartoon field for many years, we know that current trends are vital. The TV private eye show inspired the "Snooper and Blabber" segment of the show. Since most detective shows are a cat and mouse affair, we made Snooper a cat with a voice reminiscent of Archie in Duffy's Tavern, and Blabber, a mouse with undying admiration for his leader, Snooper.
We watched many situation comedy shows and came up with "Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy," a father and son canine pair, who encounter all the problems of fathers and sons everywhere.
But the big reason for our success, we feel, is our talented staff who brings our shows to life. We have the two most gifted writers in the business, Warren Foster and Mike Maltese, along with the two best story directors in the industry, Alex Lovy and Dan Gordon.
Ken Muse, Lew Marshall, Carlo Vinci, Dick Lundy, Don Patterson and George Nicholas are a few of our great animators who gave life to our characters. Coordination, which can be difficult with so large a staff, is actually a simple matter; there are no vague memos, no closed doors, no time clock. Everyone knows his job and does it.
TV animation is much more than pen and ink. It's a lot of talent—organized and hard working.

Wednesday, 25 December 2019

A Holiday Yowp to You and Yours

Santa Season greetings from your retired blogger, Yowp. Enjoy this fine character compilation (artist unidentified) who came up with this wonderful drawing for the studio’s 25th anniversary in 1982.


Yes, Yogi Bear didn’t get his own show until 1961, but let’s be charitable during the Christmas holidays.

Again, thanks for reading over the last decade.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Art Lozzi

The sad news has been passed on to me by Jerry Beck, through an obit in the Los Angeles Times, that the last original artist at the Hanna-Barbera studio, Art Lozzi, has passed away in Greece.

He was 90 years of age.

Arminio Lozzi was born on October 22, 1929 in Everett, Massachusetts to Guido Antonio and Elena Lozzi. His father was a shoemaker from Vittorito, in the province of Abruzzi, Italy, who came to the U.S. from Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1926 (coincidentally, his father was a week shy of 90 when he died). Lozzi went to art school in Boston and, at 21, was president of the Students Art Gallery, which displayed the works of local artists age 18 to 22. His older sister Adele was a painter as well.

Lozzi had worked at MGM along with Fernando Montealegre and Bob Gentle. After Hanna-Barbera opened at the old Chaplin studio at 1416 North La Brea Avenue in Hollywood in 1957, the three of them formed the original background department. Lozzi left in the 1960s to design interiors for Hilton Hotels and a cruise ship line, settling in Athens.

One of my favourite Lozzi backgrounds is in the Huckleberry Hound cartoon “Little Red Riding Huck.”


Here are two from “Yogi in the City,” from the Yogi Bear Show; I’ve never posted the second one before. Many of Lozzi’s backgrounds featured blue tones, even though the cartoons first aired in black and white.


Art told animator John Kricfalusi that he and Monte never airbrushed; they worked in acrylics and pastels, and pointed out there really was no time to airbrush as the backgrounds had to be churned out. Here’s a “limited” background from the Snagglepuss cartoon “Paws For Applause.” The colours are well-chosen and would show up as a range of greys on a black and white set. It’s simple enough that there is nothing that would distract the viewers’ eyes from the characters playing in the foreground.


Another Snagglepuss, “Arrow Error.” I believe the varied grass colours come courtesy of a sponge (background artists used rollers at times as well). The lettering is likely by Art Goble.


These two are from “Foxy Proxy,” with Fibber Fox. Excellent colours and the designs of the trees are inspired. One tree is transparent!



“A Wooin’ Bruin” features Lozzi’s lumpy clouds (which somehow fit the mountains in the background) and round and fan shaped blooms on trees.


Lozzi also worked with Quick Draw McGraw. This background is from “Mine Your Manners.”


More blue tints and lumpy mountains in “Missile Bound Yogi.”


One last example—this is from the Yogi Bear cartoon “Loco Locomotive.” You can find more examples of Lozzi’s work on this cartoon in this post.


No, the Yowp blog is not coming back. This is a special post to honour the work of Art Lozzi. I’m sure the many early Hanna-Barbera fans who read this blog wish to extend their sympathies to his sister and her family (Lozzi, it appears, never married). He is one of many artists who made the original Hanna-Barbera series enjoyable to watch.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Thank You For Reading

I love old cartoons and I love 1950s stock music. This blog was started ten years ago as a place to document the stock cues used on every cartoon on the first season of “The Huckleberry Hound Show,” along with a few frames from each and some random thoughts. That goal was passed long ago. We’ve now reviewed every cartoon from all four seasons of the Huck show, save Hokey Wolf, as well as every short from my favourite series, Quick Draw McGraw. That’s all I really wanted to review. Somehow, things kept going and “The Yogi Bear Show” cartoons and “The Jetsons” have been reviewed as well. There have been just over 1,320 posts.

All blogs come to an end. So my intention is to make this the last post.

I’d like to use this space to thank everyone who has dropped by here over the years. I’d especially like to thank those who have left comments, or corrected my mistakes and typos, or added information that I didn’t know. I’m not an animator, I’ve never worked in animation, I can’t even draw. I’m just a guy who likes old cartoons. Having people who know the industry take the time, put up with my lack of knowledge, and add their insights here has been of great benefit, I think, to all the readers.

Rewatching cartoons that I first saw more than 55 years ago (and, in many cases, have rarely seen since) has been an interesting exercise. I’ve watched them with fresh adult eyes, not with nostalgic ones; I don’t pine for childhood days of 1963. Not all of the cartoons were great. Some were disappointing. But others hold up very well and are still pretty entertaining. People should love cartoons for what they are, not because of who we were before adulthood. And I still find it funny that someone came up with a cartoon character that only says “Yowp!”

I’m bowled over by the fact I’ve had the chance to chat with Tony Benedict and Jerry Eisenberg. I’d never have thought, years and years ago, I’d ever talk to anyone whose name I saw on the TV whenever the credits were shown. They’re both very nice people. And funny, too. What pleasure they’ve brought to so many people. Isn’t that a great legacy? Author Jerry Beck has taken some of his limited personal time to be incredibly encouraging. I devoured his Scarecrow Press book he wrote with Will Friedwald when it came out almost 40 years ago and am a little floored he has corresponded with a complete stranger like me. Animator Mark Kausler has been kind and generously volunteered any help he could give, especially his knowledge of cartoons and animators. He is a true friend of animation history. I am fortunate to have had a chance to correspond with Elliot Field, the retired KFWB rock jock who was the original voice of Blabber Mouse in 1959.

Thank you to those who dug up and sent me the Capitol Hi-Q and Langlois Filmusic cues you’ve heard for decades in these cartoons. I looked for them for years not knowing exactly what I was looking for. It’s so fun to hear them without voices or sound effects on top of them. (As a side note, YourPalDoug really is a pal. So is that entertaining pianist, Dave Powers).

Richard Holliss contacted me out of the blue from the U.K. and asked if I’d like scans of his colour Yogi Bear and Flintstones comics. You can thank him for his generosity; the artwork is a treat and it’s a shame there’s never been a will by a publisher to put them in a book.

Thank you to the late Earl Kress. He knew more about these cartoons than probably anyone else and graciously shared his knowledge. He hunted down stock music so it could be cleared for use on CD and DVD. He rummaged through Hanna-Barbera’s archives looking for decent film of bumpers so fans could see them again. And listened to reels of Hoyt Curtin’s recording sessions. Earl’s an unsung hero and I really miss him.

It’s a little stunning to see that this blog has attracted readers from all over the world. And, judging by people who are on the Yowp Facebook account, Hanna-Barbera cartoons cut through race, age, religion, political beliefs and sexual orientation. They unite people around the world with smiles and laughter. Humanity needs something like that every day.

So, again, thanks.