Sunday 26 April 2009

Cousin Tex Scare Take

I’ve realised after putting this up that the endless frame flashing will just annoy people. So I think I’m going to take it down after a little while. Or you can just scroll past it if it starts to bother you. Or hit the ‘stop’ button on your browser, if your browser has one. It’s being posted as a little demonstration.

The earliest Hucks, Yogis and Meeces saved animation by using cycles, and they especially did this when characters registered fear. Instead of full animating a fear-struck character by drawing body parts going everywhere (and with great extremes like Tex Avery would do), the H-B artists took two “scared” drawings, and then alternated them for a couple of seconds in a little cycle. It’s cheap animation and, hey, they’re moving in fear, right?

Here’s an early example from the first Pixie and Dixie cartoon to be released, Cousin Tex, animated by Carlo Vinci. The same type of take is used on Jinks later in the short, but this comes right at the beginning when the cat (to the strains of Spencer Moore’s immortal L-81 Comedy Underscore) suddenly appears behind this Ed Benedict-designed couch to surprise the TV-watching mice. It’s been slowed down a bit to let you see the drawings.

It’s proof-positive you can make your own Hanna-Barbara cartoon, with a little help from some animated .gif software.

Saturday 25 April 2009

Yogi Bear—The Buzzin' Bear

 Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Carlo Vinci; Layout – Bick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Yogi, Joe - Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Bill - Don Messick.
Production E-18, Huckleberry Hound Show K-013.
First Aired: week of Monday, December 22, 1958.
Plot: Yogi takes the rangers’ helicopter for a ride. The rangers try to get him down but an empty fuel tank performs that task.

Don’t let the title of this cartoon fool you. The star isn’t Yogi Bear. The star is Carlo Vinci.

I’ve really grown to appreciate Carlo’s work in watching these first season cartoons on The Huckleberry Hound Show. Hanna-Barbera cartoons are decried for being static, uninteresting and ugly. And they became that way. But here, in the early days, the artists are still playing around with the concept of limited animation, and Carlo consistently comes up with something worth watching.

Here’s a good example. Look what Carlo does with the hands of the rangers here. He tosses in little poses like that amongst the cut-down animation. It adds to the characterisation. By the way, this being a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the rangers are appropriately named Joe and Bill. Don Messick uses his Ranger Smith voice for Bill (Ranger Smith had not been invented yet).

Carlo gives Boo Boo his greatest acting job here. You’d never find this sort of thing in, say, a Dick Dastardly cartoon, which was carried by the sound track. The cartoon opens with Bill landing the chopper and the previously-resting Yogi and Boo Boo going to investigate. Yogi tells Boo Boo to “unlax” when the little bear warns him not to fiddle with the controls. Yogi does it anyway and accidentally heads into the sky.

Boo Boo does a leap take, dances around, then falls to his knees as he pleads with Yogi not to get out of the airborne copter. Just great stuff. You wouldn’t even find this in a Quick Draw cartoon. (Late note: see the comment section with an excellent example from a Quick Draw cartoon).

Yogi, naturally, ignores Boo Boo and walks out, saving himself by holding onto one of the wheels as the chopper rises in a nice little perspective shot. Note the turned-up fir trees that Monte liked to use in his Yogi backgrounds.

Yogi zips back into the copter in one of those stretches that Carlo liked to do. One of the rangers does the same thing later in the cartoon (see below). Usually, the character turns into a thin tube but here Yogi has flipper feet sticking out.

So the rangers spend the rest of the cartoon trying to explain to Yogi how to land the chopper amidst a series of rotor-slicing gags. Here’s a bit of easy footage. The yellow and black trails aren’t animated like you’d get in a theatrical short. This is one of a number of places where there’s cycle animation of the rotor moving while the rest of the chopper is stationary in front of a moving background.

Charlie Shows tries a running gag in this one where Boo Boo asks Yogi if he can have his pogo stick after he dies in the inevitable chopper crash. Here’s Yogi’s take the first time we hear the gag.

Yogi crashes into the trees, shaves the top of the hats off the rangers (the hats stay that way the rest of the cartoon), slices the ranger station in half and does the same to some trees. Not too many yucks here, Charlie. Is Mike Maltese available yet?

Ranger Joe tries to bring down the chopper with a lasso, but ends up getting sandwiched in one of those sliced trees. Shows gets in a cute bit here. The ranger says to the audience “Just call me Shorty.” So, in the next scene, the other ranger calls him ‘Shorty.’

We get more slicing gags—first, the rangers’ jeep (with an inexplicable water-drop sound effect when the jeep falls apart), then the feathers off a vulture (who doesn’t notice), then Yogi bores through a mountain to avoid a train in the tunnel that runs through it.

One bit of odd animation is here as the rangers comment on the action. You can see Joe (the one on the right) open and close his mouth a couple of times. But he doesn’t say anything. And following a 1950s design standard set by Gerald McBoing Boing’s father, the rangers have the same shape as a cigarette.

Our final rotor gag is when Yogi carves his visage on a nearby mountain instead of crashing into it. Now we have the climax when the chopper runs out of gas and starts to stall. Yogi bails. There’s another cute bit of Vinci animation when Yogi jumps outside and halts in mid-air when the rangers remind him to get his parachute. All of his body stops—except his butt. It carries on for a little bit then snaps back into position. It’s a quick bit of squash-and-stretch but it adds to the scene.

Carlo then adds one of those vibrating scare takes you find in a lot of these early cartoons where two poses are drawn and alternated in a cycle to simulate movement.

The final gag is one I still don’t get. The rangers shout at Yogi to pull the rip-cord. He doesn’t. He thuds to the ground. Boo Boo walks up to him and tells him to pull the cord. He does. What?! That’s supposed to be funny? How? In any event, some animation is saved as the cell with the rigid chute slides down for some frames before finally collapsing on top of our hero to end the cartoon.

As for the music, the sound-cutter went for a bunch of repeats. And, unfortunately, the DVD version of this cartoon only has a truncated opening theme (and no credits).

0:00 – Yogi opening theme (Hanna-Barbera-Shows-Hoyt Curtin).
0:16 – TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Bill Loose-John Seely) - Ranger lands helicopter; Yogi gets in.
1:11 – L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) - Copter takes off.
2:20 – LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Jack Shaindlin) - Yogi buzzes past rangers; slices trees and ranger station; ranger lassos chopper.
3:47 – no music - Ranger hits tree. "Call me Shorty."
3:54 – LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) - Copter slices jeep; buzzard approaches.
4:32 – L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - Buzz-cuts buzzard, Copter in railway tunnel.
5:16 – "We gotta get us a new bear," Ranger points.
5:25 – L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - "That wacky bear..."; Copter bores through tunnel; carves Yogi picture.
5:56 – TC 219A CHASE MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) - Yogi jumps from copter.
6:49 – YOGI THEME (Curtin) - Yogi finally pulls ripcord.
6:58 – Yogi closing theme (Curtin).

Saturday 18 April 2009

The Critics Cluck—“Huck Doesn’t Suck”

The Huckleberry Hound Show debuted during the week of September 29, 1958 (check your local listings) and those of you reading here already know it was revolutionary—a half-hour animated programme made specifically for television.

It appears a demo or complete reel (oh, if one only existed somewhere) may have been sent out for review before the show aired, as the Tribune in Chicago was one of the papers which gave it glowing reviews. In fact, in sifting through some columns over the course of a month after the start of the 1958 TV season, Huck was one of the few new shows getting any kind of favourable mention.

Here’s what the Trib had to say. I won’t post all the columns, just one from before the show aired, the second one after.

TV to Get Fine New Cartoon
[Tribune, Monday, 29 September 1958]
AN enchanting new cartoon series, called Huckleberry Hound, will arrive on channel 9 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Not since Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Pluto ventured into the movies a quarter of a century ago has such a delightful company of characters been created. Huckleberry’s play-mates include Yogi Bear and his patient little friend, Boo Boo Bear; a cantankerous cat, Mr. Jinks; and two mice, Dixie and Pixie. They were developed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who produced and directed Tom and Jerry, which won them seven Oscars.
On the basis of a preview, we predict Huck and his pals will prove a smash hit in television not only among children but adults as well. Reserve 7:30 p. m. Wednesday now for WGN-TV. You'll not regret it.
Grownups will cheer this show because, besides enjoying the characters, they will like the satire in the sketches.
The show will remind you of Burr Tillstrom and Kukla and Ollie at their best.
THE first instalment finds Huckleberry Hound in the role of a detective who sounds like Jack Webb. His boss sends him out to bring in a gorilla on the loose. Huck throws out the dragnet and grabs the fugitive, but then the gorilla steals the police car. Huck, who has a voice that resembles Andy Griffith’s, is foiled and frustrated as frequently as George Gobel.
Everyone who has ever fed or wanted to feed the bears in Yellowstone park is likely to get a bang out of Yogi Bear. Yogi, in the first instalment, tries various devices to escape from “Jellystone park” and all the hounds. He is foiled again and again.
Jinksie sounds like a guy who trained at the Actors studio. His readings are some times a little reminiscent of Marlon Brando.
Besides the half dozen continuing performers in the series, Hanna and Barbera have created many “feature players.” Among them will be Dinky Dalton, last of the Dalton gang; Judo Jack, whom Pixie and Dixie engage to protect them from Jinksie; the Fat Knight, who holds the Fair Damsel in Hassle Castle and an English hunter (who sounds like Charles Laughton) and his English bulldog.
The show is sponsored by that Battle Creek cereal company. The company also sponsors Superman at 6 p. m. Tuesdays, Wild Bill Hickok at 6 p. m. Wednesdays, and Woody Woodpecker 7:30 p. m. Thursdays, all on WGN-TV.
Huckleberry Hound is produced by Screen Gems, a subsidiary of Columbia Pictures, and will be seen over many other independent stations thruout the nation.

[Tribune, Saturday, 25 October, 1958]
New Animated Satire Also Has Yogi Bear of Jellystone Park.
Huckleberry Hound is not merely the first show of cartoons made especially for TV, altho this is remarkable enough. But it is probably the cleverest package of animated satire to be delivered since the Gerald McBoing-Boing show was flung from the network delivery wagon last year.
Huckleberry (at 7:30 p. m. Wednesdays, channel 9) is only one of the many, many stars of the new series. Besides this persevering canine (who sounds like a real southern Andy Griffith) there is Yogi Bear, next to the trees the biggest thing in Jellystone National park. His manner may remind you of a certain sewer inspector named Ed Norton on channel 9’s Honeymooners (9 p.m. Sundays).
And there are a couple of mice named Pixie and Dixie, who cope constantly with a large, cantankerous cat named Mr. Jinks.
Producers Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera also promise a long succession of new featured players—Dinky Dalton, last of the notorious gang of the same name; Judo Jack, a pal of Pixie and Dixie; the Fat Knight, who holds the Fair Damsel captive in Hassle Castle; an English hunter (who sounds amazingly like Charles Laughton) and his English bulldog (who says nothing but “yep, yep”) [sic].
O, yes, Yogi Bear has a little friend, Boo Boo Bear. He’s from the midwest.

What’s interesting in these reviews is the mention of supporting characters. Hanna-Barbera not only marketed Huck, Yogi and the other major players, it pushed products with some of the ancillary characters, too, probably to round out sets of things. Yet only one of the “featured players” Joe and Bill were lauding here was ever marketed, at least that I can tell. I’ve seen no evidence of playing cards or kiddie birthday party plates emblazoned with Judo Jack, Dinky Dalton or the Fat Knight. You’ll find some with Iggy and Ziggy, the crows that plagued Huck for a couple of cartoons; Pixie’s (or is it Dixie’s?) Cousin Tex, and Biddy Buddy, who later became Yakky Doodle. The only one mentioned here who was included in marketing was that “English bulldog”, your faithful blogger Yowp. Not only is the revelation of a species somewhat of a surprise, so is the country of origin; it’s difficult to detect any accent in a solitary word. Sigh. And like some people on the internet today, the Trib couldn’t figure out what word was being yowped. Perhaps the English accent threw the writer. Nevertheless, you’ve got to give Mr. Fink some credit for a dry sense of humour, revealing for the first—and probably only—time, Boo Boo’s place of birth.

Huckleberry Hound — Little Red Riding Huck

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall; Layout – Bick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Huck, Red, Wolf - Daws Butler; Grandma, College Geek, Cop - Don Messick.
Music: Spencer Moore, Jack Shaindlin, Bill Loose/John Seely.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-025, Production E-63.
First Aired: week of Monday, March 16, 1959.
Plot: Huck happens upon Red Riding Hood and decides to take care of the wolf at grandma’s house before she gets there. He’s taken to jail for his trouble.

Screwing around with the tale of Little Red Riding Hood is something as old as the sound cartoon itself. Van Beuren did it with a Minnie Mouse knockoff in 1931. Tex Avery and Bugs Bunny did it with far more √©lan. Red made an appearance or two in the Jay Ward’s Fractured Fairy Tales, among the funniest cartoons ever made. So it was only natural that Hanna-Barbera would try the same thing. Over and over, as it turned out.

Huck isn’t as wild as Bugs, and he’s not a fast-talker from the Jay Ward stable, but he can still provide an entertaining cartoon and this Red send-up is one of them.

One of my favourite parts is right off the bat. The cartoon opens with Huck strolling through a foresty setting which Art Lozzi decorated with large toadstools. Purple is an inspired colour choice for the biggest one. After a chat with Red about her destination (and confiding to us, as Yogi Bear might, she’s “One of the good ones”) he realises she’s in danger of becoming a wolf dinner and runs past the same purple toadstool seven times before taking the inevitable Short Cut to Grandma’s (which is what the sign says. Huck reads it as “Short cut to Grandma’s House.”).

Just as inevitably, Huck disguises himself as Red, and writer Charlie Shows borrows from Yosemite Sam as Huck tells us he’ll “surprise the varmint.” Daws Butler does a great job with the dialogue here. First, he uses his Ralph Kramden voice (heard in Sir Huckleberry Hound) as the wolf and barely changes it when the wolf pretends to be grandma. Then Huck does an even lamer attempt at trying to disguise his voice as Red’s.

The ears-nose-teeth routine follows, except Shows turns it around and the wolf is making the comments about ‘Red.’ The wolf suspects something’s up so he checks with the real grandma who confirms Huck is an imposter and then kicks Huck out. Our hero spends almost the rest of the cartoon trying to get back in.

Huck announces he’s going to bash the door down. Except the door is open. So the wolf closes it with that results in a nice little sight gag. Was this gag used by Avery at M.G.M? I’ve seen it somewhere, besides maybe in a Herman and Katnip cartoon.

After failing to bash the door down with a log while riding a bicycle (he rides into a hole beneath the welcome mat), Huck heckles the wolf through an open window. The wolf goes outside to set up yet another Charlie Shows Butt Joke (“Play that on your old bazooka,” the wolf suggests). Like in Avery’s Deputy Droopy, Huck leaves the scene of the attack to privately yowl in pain.

“Strawmberry!” Daws comically mangles another word as Huck pretends to be an ice-cream salesman. The wolf pulls a switch to lower the door like a draw bridge to take care of that. Note how the hills in the background change. And the foreground grass is gone. Que?

A great little bit follows when the plot is interrupted by a geek working his way through college. The wolf demonstrates what he thinks of door-to-door salesgeeks.

Finally, Huck does the old ‘pretending-I’m-leaving’ bit and hides in the mailbox. The wolf (asking “Whom do I know that can write?”) falls for it.

Huck carries the vanquished wolf into the house to assure grandma everything’s all right, but she starts yelling “Police! Murder!” Red comes running with a cop—surprisingly for an H-B cartoon, not an Irish one. Maybe Don Messick couldn’t pull off a good Irish accent. The fairy tale characters give their version of events, the cop starts listing the crimes (impersonation and house breaking) and hauls Huck away on a 6-0-12, telling him he could get ten years. The wolf then directs the other characters to take the story from the top, tossing in a King and I-inspired “et-cetera, et-cetera, et-cetera” as the camera irises out.

It’s mentioned on the web that you can tell Lew Marshall’s animation easily because he draws heads bobbing up and down when they’re talking. You can certainly see that in this one (it helps that he’s given Huck a collar with his bow tie). He also has the wolf talking out of the side of his mouth, which reminds me of something from an Avery M.G.M. cartoon, though I can’t place where. And some characters have huge overbites in this one.

The music is familiar, with Huck doing Clementine over top of a completely different song in the background.

0:00 – THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SONG (Hanna, Barbera, Curtin, Shows) - Opening titles.
0:27 – CLEMENTINE (Trad.)
0:27 – LAF-21-3 RECESS (Jack Shaindlin) - Huck meets Red.
1:14 – TC 432 HOLLY DAY (Bill Loose-John Seely) - Huck-as-Red and Wolf-as-Grandma go through ancient bedside dialogue.
2:21 – L-81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Spencer Moore) - Wolf consults grandma in closet; Huck's face on door; Huck goes down Welcome hole.
3:46 – ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Geordie Hormel) - Wolf smacks Huck’s butt; Huck ouch-ooches.
4:42 – L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) - Huck is ice-cream man; Wolf attacks college geek; “Special Delivery!”
5:58 – LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) - Huck arrested on a 6-0-12.
7:10 – THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SONG (Hanna, Barbera, Curtin, Shows) - End titles.

Sunday 12 April 2009

A Julie Bennett Scrapbook

Some day, I’ll do a little piece on why inventing Cindy Bear was a stupid idea. Not today, though, as I don’t want to distract from the purpose of this post—to pass on some random clippings about the woman who voiced her—Julie Bennett.

I don’t know much about Miss Bennett, but I do know whoever put the information on the internet, regurgitated by umpteen sites, that she was born January 24, 1943 is full of ( Yowp invites you to fill in the blank here ). By the late ‘40s, she was a fairly accomplished radio actress, as witnessed in this photo and caption from the St. Petersburg Times of November 20, 1949:

Julie Bennett is a remarkably dramatic young woman as well evidenced by her supporting roles on Mutual’s "Martin Kane—Private Eye,” adventure series starring William Gargen, Sunday afternoons at 4:30 p.m. on WTSP.
The picture is a .jpg of a .pdf of a scan of a photocopy, but despite the poor quality, anyone can see the subject of the picture is not the age of six.

The Los Angeles Times’ Walter Ames did a little profile on her in his column of March 2, 1953. This should tell you a bit about her in the pre-Hanna-Barbera days:

Julie Is Pretty, Busy Girl
One of Hollywood’s prettiest, as well as busiest, young ladies is Julie Bennett whose voice has been heard on practically all of the top radio shows for the past five years and whose reddish gold-blond hair is now busy decorating filmed TV series all over the screens. I ran into Julie at lunch the other day just after she had completed a role with George Raft in his I Am the Law series. She’s a real looker and before I could get out of the eatery at least a half dozen of Hollywood’s top TV men had requested her name from me.
Julie was born in Beverly Hills and started her career at the age of 6 before studying under Max Reinhardt, [Oliver] Hinsdell and Florence Enright. She really started to move on her career when she departed our climate for New York in 1948. “I like to keep busy and New York producers certainly did that for me,” Julie told me. “It became quite a problem to keep up with the schedule of radio and TV shows and keeping them from conflicting was almost impossible.”
Julie says her toughest assignments came when she was called on to play dialect roles of a 76-year-old woman, a Mongolian native, and a pair of twins in which she talked to herself for 11 pages of script. I’ll keep you posted when you can see her on TV. She’s worth tuning in.

Her earliest appearance on the air, according to the Radio Goldindex, was on The Lux Radio Theatre on September 8, 1947. She was on a bunch of Luxes (what is the plural form of ‘Lux’ anyway?), as well as The Railroad Hour and Family Theatre.

Here are some random clippings from various newspapers. This isn’t mean to be a complete filmography or biography. It’s just some stuff I found interesting.

Feb. 24, 1949, Mt. Vernon Daily Argus
Tickets are now on tale at the box office of the Booth Theatre [New York] where the new farce-comedy "At War with the Army" will open on Tuesday, March 8th. Salty Gracie has replaced Julie Bennett in the role of Helen Palmer in this comedy which now in a two weeks' return engagement at the Wilbur Theatare, Boston. Gary Merrill is playing the leading role, that of Sergeant Robert Johnson.”

Oct. 3, 1949, Don Tranter's Comment On Radio, Buffalo Courier-Express
More programs new to the Monday lanes move onto the radio scene today, most welcome of which to listeners perhaps is Carlton E. Morse's I Love a Mystery ~- teeing off on a Monday-through-Friday basis over Mutual and WEBR from 7.45 to 8 o'clock. ... three feminine roles in this first sequence are to be handled by Julie Bennett, Laurette Fillbrandt and Vilma Kurer. The adventure is titled The Fear That Creeps Like a Cat—and it will consume about three weeks of broadcasting.

Jan. 8, 1951, TV listings
9:00—WNBT (4)—Lights Out, "The Bird of Time," With Jessica Tandy, David Lewis, Julie Bennett and Irving Winter.

Mar. 1, 1952
Radio and stage star Julie Bennett frequently heads the all-Broadway casts in original dramas on CBS’ “Grand Central Station.” She’s also heard often on “Theatre of Today” and “Gangbusters.”

March 20, 1952, Inez Gerhard “Star Dust” column
Julie Bennett, heard on NBC’s “Life Can Be Beautiful”, makes money from her hobby—dialects of all kinds. Radio producers call for Julie whenever a difficult or rare accent is needed, and she never fails to deliver. Asked to explain how she does it, she says she thinks it is because she studies accents carefully, and maybe her keen musical ear helps.

Feb. 2, 1953, Los Angeles Times
BUSY LASS—Julie Bennett has a featured role with Gordon MacRae in “Carousel” on KFI tonight at 8 and also appears with Burns and Allen Thursday on their TV series. She's also set for next week's Racket Squad.

October 30, 1955
Julie Bennett, Vamp in New TV Theater.
Walter F. Kerr, Los Angeles Times
Tomorrow the curtain goes up on NBC Matinee Theater, one of the largest and most ambitious projects of its kind ever undertaken in television. NBC Matinee Theater will provide a daily, hour-long drama "live" in compatible color five days a week, Monday through Friday. Every weekday, 52 weeks a year, this series will unfold coast-to-coast with a with an different story enacted by an entirely different cast. Julie Bennett stars, Albert McCleery is the executive producer, and the series will be seen locally at noon on NBC (4).
The series will open with the appropriately titled play "Beginning Now," by J. P. Marquand, whose short story was adapted for the program by Frank Gilroy. Julie Bennett, known for her vamp roles in both TV and motion pictures, portrays a woman who almost breaks up the family of John Kelsey (Louis Hayward).

Feb. 4, 1955, Hal Eaton, Long Island Star-Journal column
...Waste of pretty puss: Julie Bennett narrating "Tom and Jerry" cartoons...

Sept. 30, 1955, Stephen H. Scheuer syndicated column
Julie Bennett's due to appear in a forthcoming episode of "Superman." But don't worry, fellas, no plastic surgery or special make-up is required. She's not playing the lead!

Nov. 21, 1955, Mel Heimer ‘My New York’ column
The NBC's Matinee Theater on TV seems strikingly adult fare for a daytime program. The lovely Julie Bennett was seen on its first program recently, and seems headed for a career of playing Other Women.

March 30, 1956, Earl Wilson’s column
Pretty Julie Bennett will add glamour to Jack Webb's net series.

May 14, 1956, Walter Ames, L.A. Times
Julie Bennett reports things are jumping on the New York scene. She left Hollywood last week for a vacation. Sid Caesar discovered she was in the big town and grabbed her for a role in his 8 o clock KRCA (4) show tonight. She’ll play, of all things, a sexy Broadway actress who sets the plot for the commuter skit.

June 18, 1957, Steven H. Scheuer TV Key-Notes column
THAT JACK Webb's no dope. Thursday’s Dragnet rerun features a scintillating performance by Julie Bennett, who's good looking enough to make most people forget how formula the show is.

Aug. 13, 1958, Walter Winchell column
Things Like This Make You Think: That voice of Brigitte Bardot in the trailers for her new film belongs to a starlet named Julie Bennett. Has a nicer figure, too. (Is that possible?)

March 13, 1959, Hal Eaton, Long Island Star-Journal column
Julie Bennett, one of TV's most versatile thesps, proves it in the dubbing of "FBI Story." Enacts off-screen voice of Jimmy Stewart's three-year-old grandchild!

April 10, 1961, wire service photo
Bob Hope special with (left to right) ol’ Ski Nose, Phil Harris and Beverly Gregg.

Sept. 12, 1963
Damage of $2000 Caused by Blaze at Brown Derby
...Diners in the undisturbed area included actors Robert Young and Tom Noonan and singer Julie Bennett...

Dec. 3, 1964
on Johnny Carson Tonight Show (with Marni Nixon, Bill Cosby and Phil Foster)

Sept. 26, 1972, AP Columnist Bob Thomas
[Plug for Mark Spitz on a Bob Hope special]
The skit included three kisses by Julie Bennett, a busty redhead who portrayed his nurse.

Jan. 23, 1970
Love American Style “Love and the V.I.P. Restaurant.”

Julie’s cartoon work wasn’t strictly for Hanna-Barbera. Jay Ward borrowed her for the Fractured Fairy Tale “The Fisherman and His Wife” and a couple of others when June Foray was engaged elsewhere. She co-starred in Mr. Magoo’s version of Snow White. And she made some appearances at Warner Bros. when the cartoon studio was winding down; “Dog Tales” (1958) and “The Mouse on 57th Street” (1961) immediately come to mind. And, as you can see above, she did some work at MGM by 1955. It might be her in 1956’s “Busy Buddies” (and MakeItUp-Pedia has it wrong; Janet Waldo is not in that cartoon).

Before she used her Southern belle drawl as Cindy Bear, she can be heard as Sagebrush Sal in Quick Draw McGraw’s Masking For Trouble, broadcast October 17, 1959, likely her first appearance in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Friday 10 April 2009

Pixie and Dixie — Kit Kat Kit

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Frank Tipper; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Pixie – Don Messick; Dixie, Jinks – Daws Butler.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-003, Production E-10.
Released: week of Monday, October 13, 1958.
Plot: Tired of chasing Pixie and Dixie, Jinks builds a robot cat to do it for him. The mice turns the mechanical cat against him with a makeshift mouse outfit.

This is an awkwardly written cartoon, and it may have been a case of Charlie Shows not having enough material for the main plot and needing to fill with other gags. Normally, a cartoon would consist of either a string of black-out type gags, or a premise at the outset and the gags are built around it. That doesn’t happen here. The idea revolves around Jinksie building the mechanical kitty—but it takes about three minutes to get into it.

And there are places where Jinks is oddly-designed, like Ken Muse hadn’t gotten the hang of the character or an assistant was given parts of the cartoon. To your left you see a pretty good-looking Jinks. It reminds me of a character design you might see in one of Joe and Bill’s M.G.M. cartoons.

Compare that to Jinks on the right. He looks like something from the cover of a public domain cartoon video. So this isn’t a terrific cartoon but there are some fun things that make it worthwhile.

We begin this cartoon already in progress, with the cat chasing the mice around some foreground slab pillars (one of them built over a rug?). Evidently, the home belongs to Jinks, judging by the pictures on the wall. His taste in decorating leaves a bit to be desired as the blue and tan is an, um, interesting colour choice.

Jinks chases Pixie and Dixie into their hole (with a broken teacup and a thimble as furniture). They’re pooped. Jinks figures “there must be a easier way to make a living.” He decides to build a better mousetrap.

The mice call Jinks and he answers with a long “Yeeeeeees?” just like Frank Nelson on the Jack Benny show. The cheap TV animation gets in the way here. Instead of following Daws Butler’s mouth movements, Muse just opens and closes Jinks’ mouth twice to supposedly represent the vocal sound. Jinks then explains the trap to the mice and with an expected result.

Next, Jinks demonstrates the firecracker-in-the-cheese method of catching mice. The mice are impressed and want to get a picture of it (note to you kids reading this: that thing Dixie is holding is called a “camera”). They ask Jinks to pose. You can guess what happens.

Finally we get the point of the cartoon. Jinks gets out the ‘Do It Yourself Kitty-Kat-Kit’ and builds a mechanical cat, complete with bow tie and a head that jumps up and down to the sound effect of a glass lid being clanked onto a casserole dish (I know this one from trying it at home when I was a kid).

The Robot-matic Mouse Trap paces back and forth. Wait a minute! Where have I seen that window, picture and rug before? Oh, right. In the opening scene. But cartoon magic has made the slab pillars vanish.

The tin-can cat captures Pixie via a trap door at its bottom then shoots a cork to knock out Dixie. Muse would have given this full animation at M.G.M. Here he just takes a cell of the mouse with grey trails and turns it around a couple of times to simulate Dixie flipping over. Pretty clever.

The mice are deposited outside by the robot. Jinks gloats out the window, and Dixie vows war in an interesting shot from Jinks’ perspective. Look at the plants. If there was any doubt Ed Benedict designed this cartoon...

Unfortunately, Dixie is caught before he’s able to sneak into the house in another one of Shows’ butt jokes. Then the mice are mashed with a mallet as they tried to bore their way into the home from a six-inch clearance under the foundation.

Finally, as Jinks sleeps, the mice realise the robot is only programmed only to catch mice, so they use some paper, tape and paint to turn the cat into a giant mouse. And they’re right. The mechanical cat can’t tell the difference and gives Jinks the patented Charlie Shows Ass Treatment as they run by the same Benedict-style barn nine times.

It’s only appropriate the cartoon score opens with Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run (those mice look awfully scruffy in that frame to the right) and we get the circus chase cue by Shaindlin called On the Run. The musical selections work well in this one.

0:00 – Pixie and Dixie theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:26 – LAF-20-5 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) - Jinks chases Pixie and Dixie into mousehole.
0:46 – TC 432 HOLLY DAY (Bill Loose-John Seely) - Mice and Jinks pant, Jinks builds trap.
1:57 – TC 303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Jinks demonstrates dynamite-in-a-cheese.
3:18 – TC 221 HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) - Jinks tries out mechanical mouse
3:43 – LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) – Mice ask Jinks how mechanical mouse works.
3:58 – TC 221 HEAVY AGITATO (Loose-Seely) - Mechnical mouse captures Pixie and Dixie.
4:38 – LAF-4-1 FISHY STORY (Shaindlin) - Mechanical Mouse zaps then bashes Dixie.
6:02 – TC 300 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) - Pix and Dix turn Jinks into giant mouse.
6:34 – LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) - Mechanical Mouse chases Jinks.
7:10 – Pixie and Dixie closing theme (Curtin).