Saturday 30 May 2009

Pixie and Dixie — Jinks’ Mice Device

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse (Mike Lah uncredited); Layout – Mike Lah; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Pixie – Don Messick; Dixie, Mr. Jinks – Daws Butler.
First Aired: week of Monday, October 20, 1958.
Production: E-16, Show K-004.
Plot: Jinks thinks he’s disintegrated Pixie and Dixie with his self-invented ray gun but only makes them invisible. The unseen mice pick on the cat, until he learns the mice are still alive and pulls a turnabout.

Hanna-Barbera became famous—and later, infamous—for its short-cut methods of TV animation. Sure, the cartoons didn’t look as stiff as Crusader Rabbit or the egregiously cut-rate and best-left-forgotten Bucky and Pepito. But no one would ever mistake them for the beautifully-flowing drawings of Hanna and Barbera’s Tom and Jerry at M-G-M either.

Joe and Bill employed all kinds of ‘cheating’ devices in the early days—some were kind of ingenious—that gave the appearance of action. And one that surfaced a couple of times was a plot concept to have characters on the screen without drawing them. The story would call for them to be invisible.

The earliest example is in “Jinks Mice Device,” one of several cartoons that involved everyone’s favourite orange housecat in a makeshift basement lab, cooking up a plot against the meeces. This cartoon opens with another one of those flat-designed homes that yells “I was built by Ed Benedict!” in a static shot as the camera moves in for an animation-saving close-up. (The home was actually constructed by layout man Mike Lah and painted by Monty, who utilised flat designs in his first couple of seasons on the H-B shows for Kellogg’s).

Jinks is busy working on what he thinks is a ‘Mouse Discombooberator’ gun, which he helpfully explains to the audience. Here, Ken Muse uses more triangular shapes for the cat’s head as we view the speckled-paint backgrounds fairly common in the early H-B cartoons.

From the basement Jinks emerges and convinces Pixie and Dixie the ‘Zero Ray Mice Device’ is a camera and gets them to pose for a picture. Jinks pulls the trigger, a moving double-squiggly ray envelopes the mice, who vanish. Now they spend much of the rest of the cartoon as little talking lines which must have saved on the cartoon budget considerably.

Having realised they are now invisible, the meece decide to have some fun with Jinks. As the cat phones to order a $1,000,000 blue yacht (to match his eyes), the invisible mice carry a pair of pliers and a hammer into the living room. The tools are on one cell that’s simply moved up and down slightly over a moving background and voilà—inexpensive TV animation. The tools attack Jinks’ feet one after the other with results that are about as extreme as anything Muse drew at Hanna-Barbera (and we get Daws Butler exclaiming “Ouch!” but Jinks’ mouth doesn’t move.

The scene fades into Jinks walking. We now have a new animator. Mike Lah, who laid out the cartoon, takes over. Jinks is attacked by a lawnmower (somehow, he re-grows his fur back just as the hand-mower runs over him a second time in the opposite direction, passing the same picture on the wall six times). Then he decides to escape further injury by climbing a makeshift tower. If this were a Sylvester cartoon, you’d see him going back and forth carting the stuff into position, but there isn’t that kind of luxury here. It just seems to assemble itself. No matter. A saw (which slides back and forth over the same stationary cell) cuts down Jinks.

After a minute and a half of Lah animation, Muse returns as Jinks sticks out his tongue while looking in the bathroom mirror. The meece pull Jinks on a bath mat into the basement stairwell and then decide to raid the fridge, giggling about how Jinks merely turned them invisible. Ah, that’s a fatal misstep, for the cat overhears the “scoop-a-rooney.” He rushes to the basement, gets a spray paint gun and un-invisibles his prey. Then, thanks to a string attached to the trigger of his ray gun, Jinks makes himself unseen, and uses a broom on the fleeing mice, as the eternal chase between cat and mouse continues past the iris out.

You’ll notice to the right how Muse uses those little wheels to show where the feet are revving into high gear to zip off camera. He did that fairly often in the early cartoons, but less so in the later ones. As well, you can see an animation error below where Pixie’s tie keeps vanishing in the walk cycle.

Jack Shaindlin’s Toboggan Run didn’t make it into the soundtrack of this cartoon; instead we get a Geordie Hormel melody used in chase scenes in the first season. The rest of the music is also from the Capitol Hi-Q library and credited to Bill Loose, John Seely and Spencer Moore.

0:00 - Pixie and Dixie vocal sub main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:26 - TC 202 ECCENTIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks zaps meece with ray gun.
1:57 - L 78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Pixie and Dixie attack Jinks with pliers and hammer.
2:58 - TC 303 - ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks ignores lawmower.
3:27 - TC 300 - ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Jinks attacked by lawmower; sawed down from stack of tables.
4:45 - L 81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks given ‘ride’ on bath mat; mice decide to eat.
5:58 - L 81 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Jinks sprays mice with paint; makes himself invisible.
7:03 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Jinks chases mice with broom.
7:10 - Pixie and Dixie end title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Mike, All We Need is 78 of Them

Somewhere, there must be an interview which definitively answers the question about why Mike Maltese decided to chuck Chuck Jones and leave Warner Bros. for Hanna-Barbera. Certainly he had nothing against Jones; the two worked together in the ‘60s at M.G.M. So, one is left presuming the reason is Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna offered greener pastures—green as in cash, that is.

Maltese has always been my favourite cartoon writer. He had an ear for odd words and always came up with pleasingly silly, occasionally non sequiturial, dialogue and cockeyed situations. One of my favourites from his days at Warners was in Rabbit Hood when the bashed Sheriff woozily exclaims “Odds, fish! The very air abounds in kings.” At Lantz, he came up with my favourite sight gag ever in a Paul J. Smith cartoon in Real Gone Woody when an ersatz Guy Lombardo record is playing in a jukebox at a teen-filled malt shop. The disc is as square as the music.

One can appreciate Maltese’s talents even more considering the workload outlined in this story from the Chicago Tribune of December 12, 1959. The other revelation is how Joe and Bill came up with a follow-up to the massive success of The Huckleberry Hound Show. It’s simple and obvious. They took Huck’s advice to “tune up your TV set” and decided to make gentle fun at the expense of what they saw.

It’s An Art!
Creators of Animated Cartoons Tell the Secret of Capturing an Audience

(Creators of the “Quick Draw McGraw” and “Huckleberry Hound” TV Series)
A GOOD rule to follow in creating a successful, animated cartoon series, we have found, is to give the audience characters they can identify, then follow up with wild antics impossible to duplicate in real life.
We think the popularity of our shows lies in providing a psychological release for humans of all ages. In our cartoons no one ever gets hurt despite the clobberings and the most binding situations.
Quick Draw McGraw, our newest series, appearing on channel 9, Thursdays, at 6 p.m., is the combined effort 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. The feeling was that an audience of a more adult nature would enjoy the satire, while our prime group, the kids, would watch it for its face value as an action filled story.
These sketches were turned over to our writer, Mike Maltese. Mike developed and named the characters and started in turning out 78 stories for the series. He also had to write the “bridges,” or little introductions that precede each of the three segments of Quick Draw.
Maltese made Quick Draw, the hero of the western segment, the fastest drawing critter west of Peoria. Since these are horse operas, it is only fitting that Quick Draw is a horse. Since all western stars have sidekicks, we gave him Baba Looey, a pint size Mexican burro with an accent to match.
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 portion of Quick Draw. There has to be a certain amount of conflict in any cartoon, so Snooper and Blabber step all over each other in their constant fight against crime. Snooper is a cat and Blabber a mouse, because most private eye shows are a cat and mouse affair.
We watched many situation comedy shows and came up with Augie Doggie, a pooch that always harasses Daddy Doggie.
The voices are what make cartoons unique. We have Don Messick, Daws Butler, and Doug Young. It is their talent which keeps the stars in constant character.
TV animation is much more than pen and ink. It’s a lot of talent—organized and hard working.

See newspaper clipping here (Yowp note: Sorry, the clipping is gone now. Such is the fickle nature of the internet)

Saturday 23 May 2009

Quick Draw McGraw — Lamb Chopped

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse; Layout – Ed Benedict; Backgrounds – Robert Gentle; Story – Mike Maltese; Story Sketches – Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Sheep Herders’ President, Snagglepuss, three Sheep, French Mountain Goat – Daws Butler.
First aired: week of September 28, 1959.
Plot: Quick Draw accepts job to catch sheep-rustling mountain lion Snagglepuss. He ends up running from an amorous mountain goat.

Turning a character into a hero changes him. Look at Mickey Mouse. Who can deny he was insolent and, therefore, funny in his earliest days when he made Walt Disney famous, only to become bland and restricted by the mid 1930s?

The same thing happened with Snagglepuss. Before he was given his own series, he was a somewhat aggressive villain in several cartoons, mainly against Quick Draw McGraw. He’s in complete control of every situation. Then he got his own show, and Mike Maltese played up the theatrical aspect and made him either a victim of circumstance, or paired him with Major Minor, occasionally giving them dialogue inspired by vaudeville acts which Maltese loved. As well, Daws Butler toned down his Cowardly Lion-esque voice a bit. The pre-series Snagglepuss still had Bert Lahr’s vibrato, where vowels would sound like a recalcitrant car engine trying to start. There was a lot less of that when the cat got his own show. He was still funny, but the personality wasn’t quite the same as before.

This is Snagglepuss’s debut. He’s nude and orange but there’s enough of him that’s recognisable, especially in the voice and with Maltese’s dialogue. We get “To wit. Three wit, even!” “Forsooth! Five-sooth, even!” and, of course, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” Surprisingly, the one famous line we don’t hear from him is “Exit, stage ____.”

Prior to the start of the cartoon, Quick Draw has heard the Sheep Herders Association, Inc., is offering a reward for the capture of Snagglepuss, for it opens with Quick Draw and Baba Looey on their way in a jeep to apply for the job. The head of the Association offers our hero $5,000 and a sheepskin coat. Baba’s sceptical but Quick Draw reminds him “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here.”

They drive to Sheep Country (a sign helpfully reveals they’ve reached their destination) and Baba spots a clump of sheep walking along. Naturally, Quick Draw says hello to the “sheepses” and notices nothing odd. It’s up to Baba to spot the lion tracks so Quick Draw can put two-and-two together and use his rifle on Snagglepuss.

Maltese would dredge up—I’m being polite—ideas that he used when he worked in Chuck Jones’ unit at Warners, and he does it three times in this cartoon. First, he borrows from Rabbit Fire when Snagglepuss tells Quick Draw he can’t shoot a lion with an elepha-nn-t gun. Unlike Rabbit Fire, a Joe Besser elephant doesn’t show up (though Besser-like characters appeared in other H-B cartoons that year), but Snagglepuss reveals he has no qualms about the type of weapon he uses, grabs the gun, and Blam!

Next, Quick Draw lays a lion trap in a hole but Snagglepuss is watching from behind a rock. He uses the old burst-an-airfilled-paper-bag trick to scare Quick Draw into the trap, as he borrows from Robin Hood Daffy and yells “Yoiks and away!” Baba has to remind Quick Draw to shout his usual “Ooch! Ouch! Ouch!”

Our heroes follow Snagglepuss’s tracks and come across the mountain lion in front of a cave. Ah, but Quick Draw is informed (as he does nothing but blink for seven seconds in some easy footage) he is really looking for “my scape-grace twin brother, Snaggletooth” in a silly piece of erstwhile Elizabethan stage-inspired dramatic dialogue that Maltese liked trotting out occasionally (Rabbit Hood is a good example). Snagglepuss tricks Quick Draw into giving him his gun to track down the bounder who, of course, really doesn’t exist, and we can guess what happens next.

Baba is now forced into dressing up a lamb to act as a prey. It works temporarily. Quick Draw shoots Snagglepuss in the butt (the animation shows him screaming in pain but the soundtrack is silent) but the cat runs away. That leaves Quick Draw only one choice—he disguises himself as a king-size sheep and engages in some “dee-licious ba-bas”, telling Baba to shoot when Snagglepuss snatches.

But the plan backfires. Maltese’s climax gag is merely warmed-over Pepé Le Pew. A French-accented mountain goat rushes into the scene and begins to woo him with dialogue that’s a lot less creative than what Maltese used to put in the mouth of Le Warnaire’s Skunk Français. When the goat actually kisses Quick Draw, Baba shoots him, and Quick Draw is able to run away. And, in typical cartoon convention, the goat mistakes the shooting for some kind of super-kiss, and starts chasing the horse (instead of Pepé’s “Wait for baby!”, we get “Wait, baby girl!”).

Quick Draw yells for help. In the final gag, Snagglepuss smugly cruises past him in Quick Draw’s own jeep and informs the horse: “I would sure like to give you a lift, buster, but I’ve got a pressing dinner engagement. At the Lamb’s Club.” The joke works on two levels, though Maltese may not have intended it that way. Of course, there’s the fact Snagglepuss has been after a sheep dinner through the whole cartoon. But it would be entirely appropriate a theatrical type like Snagglepuss would belong to the real-life Lamb’s Club, an organisation open to stage and vaudeville folk. It’s still around and you can read about it here.

My apologies for the contrast-y screen grabs and the annoying station bug. These who-knows-how-many-generation recordings off cable TV are all I’ve got. I can only hope the full Quick Draw series will be remastered and released because it’s still my favourite of the H-B TV shorts.

An ad in the Los Angeles Times and a review in Variety reveal this was the first Quick Draw cartoon to air.

Unlike the majority of Quick Draws before Hoyt Curtin’s stock library was used, there is no music from Jack Shaindlin here. All the material apparently came from Phil Green’s EMI Photoplay library which was picked up by Capitol. There’s one melody I can’t identify, but the arrangement could very well be Green’s. Most of these beds got a good workout for a couple of years by Hanna-Barbera; Custard Pie Capers is used at the end of quite a few Quick Draw and Snooper and Blabber cartoons.

0:00 - Quick Draw sub main title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:24 - GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY (Green) – Quick Draw accepts job.
1:34 - GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL (Green) – Baba spots Snagglepuss carrying sheep; Quick Draw shoots him; Snagglepuss takes Quick Draw’s gun and shoots him.
2:46 – GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER (Green) – Quick Draw plants lion trap.
3:29 - GR 76 POPCORN Bridge 2 (Green) – Snagglepuss blows into paper bag.
3:38 - GR-456 DOCTOR QUACK (Green) – Quick Draw caught in lion trap; “Twin brother” bit; Snagglepuss shoots Quick Draw again.
4:53 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Baba dresses as sheep; Quick Draw dresses as sheep.
6:15 - violin, harp and horn romantic music (?) – Mountain Goat romances Quick Draw.
6:45 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Quick Draw runs from Mountain Goat; Snagglepuss refuses to give him a ride.
7:08 - Quick Draw sub end title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).

Sunday 17 May 2009

The Sponsor Loved Snuffles

Here’s a syndicated news article dated February 20, 1960 which may give you a bit of an idea about creating new characters and how the sponsor played a bit of a role. Obviously, the author mis-heard my name when it was given by Mr. Barbera.

Snuffles was probably the best one-note character in the early H-B cartoons. Everyone loves him. Joe and Bill used him wisely. I think audiences would have tired of him if he were in every Quick Draw McGraw cartoon. The same thing goes for Quick Draw becoming El Kabong; it didn’t happen all the time. That kept the series fresh.

Among the interesting little things here is the fact that this story was written months before Yogi Bear was given his own show, but he was already being treated like a star character. It shows you just how popular he was and why Joe and Bill were probably pretty anxious to spin him off. And the George Halas story may be a new one.

I suspect the story artist being referred to is Dan Gordon. Mike Maltese wasn’t really a strong artist, and I can’t picture him designing a bunch of characters.

TV Keynotes
Animated Character No Longer A Problem

Casting an animated cartoon character used to be a long, drawn-out affair when Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera did the M-G-M Tom and Jerry movie cartoons. Nowadays, Hanna and Barbera, creators of TV cartoon characters Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear, cast a new character in jig time. An artist is called in and Hanna says, “we want a lively French flea.”
Barbera adds, “we found him at the Madison Square Garden dog show on the back of a poodle called Frou Frou.”
The sketcher nods.
“He mustn’t be too effeminate and he has to have that French quality,” says Hanna.
With that the artist departs and is back at the end of a day with a number of drawings of fleas with French accents. There’s a top hat flea, out on the town; a lady flea who is a ballet dancer, a beatnik flea from the Left Bank, an Apache dancer flea, and a typical French male flea with beret, jaunty mustache and scarf.
Hanna and Barbera spread the characters out on the desk and immediately picked up the fellow with the beret. He looked lively and very French. He would certainly live on a fancy French poodle. Barbera thought a moment and then said “we call him Toot Sweet.”
Toot Sweet is one of the new characters on TV this season. He’s joined Snooper and Blabber, Quick Draw MeGraw and other characters from older Huckleberry Hound shows.
Characters Don’t Die Off
“We introduce characters like Yelp [sic] the dog, Wee Willie the gorilla, ducks and hunters on Huckleberry,” says Joe Barbera, “and then the sponsors suggest we do whole shows around them. Our characters don’t die off.
“For instance, we have a new dog called Snuffles who eats a powerful kind of dog biscuit. A bad guy will eat one and he’ll immediately become a good guy.
“Well, the sponsors like Snuffles. He’ll decorate their packages and help sell their product. So we have to write three new Snuffles stories. Our character actors have become leading men.”
Hanna and Barbera’s animals are no longer restricted to the little screen. Being the only new animated TV cartoon characters, Yogi, Ruff and Ready [sic], Huckleberry and the others have become tremendously popular with the kids. The proof is the H & B characters are number one around the country in novelty sales.
There are Yogi Bear comic books, long-playing records and toy figures of every description on the market. Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear, in man-sized costumes, travel year around, from city to city, visiting stores. Each outfit costs $1,500 and new men are hired in each city to climb inside and play the TV animal heroes to the kids.
Belong To Everyone
“The novelty business is astounding,” said Hanna. “We can’t keep up with it. It’s all we can to get our stories out in time.
“We thought we could make a go of it on TV,” said Barbera, “but we didn’t dream it would become this popular.”
“You know that Yogi and Huckleberry don’t just belong to the kids,” Hanna continued. “Grownups know all about our animal friends.
“An example. In late November we had a special story on Yogi Bear and the Chicago Bear pro football team [Rah Rah Bear]. When the Bears heard about it, they were delighted. George Halas, coach and owner, said we could do anything we wanted.”
“We first got the idea,” Barbera said, “when I saw a headline in late September on the sports pages. It went something like ‘Giants to Clobber Bears.’ I saw a football story with Yogi reading the headline and saying: ‘Us bears have got to stick together.’ So Yogi goes back and helps the burly bears win. It’s kinda cute.”

Saturday 16 May 2009

Yogi Bear’s Big Break

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ken Muse (Mike Lah uncredited); Layout – Dick Bickenbach; Backgrounds – Fernando Montealegre; Dialogue and Story Sketches – Charlie Shows and Dan Gordon; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Cast: Yogi, Kid in car, Ranger – Daws Butler; Narrator, Boo Boo, Kid in car, Guy in car, Gopher – Don Messick.
Production E-7, Show K-001.
First aired: week of Monday September 29, 1958.
Plot: Sick of being a kiddie tourist attraction, Yogi tries to break out of Jellystone Park. He finally succeeds, only to want back in to avoid bear hunters.

You know, if this were one of those places where they overwroughtly wring hidden meaning from cartoons, we would expound on the concealed symbolism of this, the first Yogi Bear cartoon to be beamed into the average living room. For just as Yogi uses the simple story line of this short—to escape from a walled Jellystone—so, too, do Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera use the same story line to escape from the walls of bland entertainment for little kiddies only (Ruff and Reddy) to a joyous, animated land fit for adults and children alike.

And we would provide an arcane Freudian analysis of the Ranger as a latent gay S-and-M surrogate—the uniformed park enforcement officer, using a sharp object to pierce a prone bear’s rear end, substituting for Charlie Shows, who had served a uniformed police officer in San Antonio before becoming a cartoon writer (and put similar butt jokes in many of his H-B cartoons).

But such pretentions are beneath us. Or maybe beyond us. As Sylvester once remarked about his son’s instant psycho-analysis of his parenting skills: “Beats me where they get this guff.” And Charlie Shows was straight anyway. So, let us move on to a look at the cartoon itself.

Since we’ve referred to Sylvester, you can’t help but think of Warner Brothers at times while watching the escape spot-gags in the second half of this cartoon, although they’re more reminiscent of the unsuccessful attempts of another of Chuck Jones’ characters. For as the Coyote may temporarily claim victory in his efforts to capture the Roadrunner, he ultimately ends in failure, just as Yogi accomplishes his goal of escaping from Jellystone, only to fail in the end.

Our cartoon opens with some happy music as campers drive into Jellystone and past an unhappy Yogi. He’s tired of children screeching “Look at the bears!” at him. So, he explains to Boo Boo, he’s decided to bust out. His first attempt is to crawl under the ranger station’s window but his presence is given away by children in a station wagon screeching once again.

The animation is a little jerky here and in other parts of the cartoon. It almost looks like Muse drew from pose to pose without any in-betweens. And another money-saving device in these first-season H-B cartoons was to draw two cells with different sets of motion lines around characters like in a comic strip. The cells were alternated to simulate movement (generally to show fright or surprise). In this sloppy scene, the lines are still in place, but Yogi has stopped moving. The same with the unidentified ranger’s hat when Yogi tries to hide on the back of another station wagon, and then while disguised as a housewife in a trailer leaving Jellystone. The last gag is a little odd because they’re nothing setting it up. The ranger suddenly recognises the “woman” is Yogi but there’s no indication how.

Next, Yogi pretends to be road-kill on the back of yet another camper’s vehicle. The ranger catches on to the ruse and we get Charlie Shows’ obligatory violation-of-the-butt scene. And instead of it being animated, we get a shot of the guy in the car hunching his shoulders and closing his eyes on impact as the camera shakes—certainly faster and cheaper than drawing an action scene.

See how when Yogi zooms away in pain, there are wheel motions around his feet. Each animator seems to have developed his own little runs and walks for Yogi which almost act as signatures, though both Muse and Mike Lah (in Pie-Pirates ) used the ‘wheels’ on characters. Incidentally, Yogi can be seen going “ooh” on the screen but there’s nothing coming out of his mouth.

We see the same thing in the next scene when Yogi tries to pole-vault over the park wall. The bear has suddenly lost his upper teeth and tongue when he talks; Muse generally showed both in his drawings. Unfortunately, Yogi’s pole lands in a hole quickly vacated by a funny gopher, who talks without the animator moving his mouth.

Yogi tries to dig his way out (Shows provides some Ruff and Reddy-style rhyming dialogue when he tells Boo Boo to “Study the diagram, Sam”) but winds up shovelling right under the ranger in the station.

Now, we get Yogi anticipating the Coyote/catapult/variation gags in To Beep or Not to Beep (1963) by using a tree several different ways to try to breach the wall. Or maybe he’s stealing from Jones’ Robin Hood Daffy (earlier in 1958) when Daffy swung from a tree several different ways in an ultimately futile attempt to rob from the rich. The gag variations, for the record:

• Crashing head-first into the ground.
• Crashing into a tree.
• Floating into a maintenance truck on its way back into the park (with a stunned-looking Boo Boo as Yogi sarcastically explains that he got back into the park by hitchhiking.
In the midst of this, Shows tosses in a Duke Ellington reference—“It don’t mean a thing if you don’t pull that string!”

Regardless, Yogi anticipates The Flintstones by stealing from Jackie Gleason with a pose stolen reminiscent of The Great One and the words “And away I go!” as he uses gunpowder and a log as a makeshift cannon. He succeeds, just as the ranger explains to Boo Boo that hunting season has just started outside the park. Sure enough, Yogi becomes a target and tries to get back into the park, only to find Jellystone closed and the gates locked in a cute twist as the iris closes.

Other than the theme music, all the music came from the Langlois Filmusic Library by Jack Shaindlin.

0:00 – Yogi (vocal) opening theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).
0:26 – LAF-21-3 RECESS (Shaindlin) – Yogi tries to crawl out park; Yogi attaches himself to back of station wagon.
2:01 – LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig-zag strings (Shaindlin) – Yogi disguised as housewife; pretends to be dead animal.
3:24 – LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Yogi tries pole-vaulting over wall; digs into ranger station; tries to escape using tree.
6:03 – LAF-4-6 PIXIE PRANKS (Shaindlin) – Yogi escapes using log cannon.
6:50 – LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Yogi locked out of park gate.
7:10 – Yogi closing theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows).

Monday 11 May 2009

An Interview With Yogi Bear

It was only natural that Yogi Bear should get his own show. By 1960, he and Huckleberry Hound were both treated as equals if you read the popular press of the day—but it was Huck’s name that was on the show. Both characters were marketed heavily by Hanna-Barbera. A little later, I’ll post a newspaper story about the publicity and sales end at H-B of that era.

Yogi’s new show debuted on different days, depending on the city, beginning the week of January 30, 1961. In Los Angeles, it was on KTTV on Thursday evenings.

The fact that Yogi was already a star is illustrated by this “interview” with the bear himself in the February 2, 1961 edition of the L.A. Times.

Yogi’s Bear Facts Come to Light.

When the announcement came that Yogi Bear, long a leading member of the Huckleberry Hound stock company, has been elevated to stardom with a show of own beginning tonight (Channel 11 at 7) we sent our man Brian to Jellystone Park to interview Yogi and find out if stardom had changed him.
The following is Brian’s report:

Jetted to Jellystone via Hipple Airlines. Calm trip. Was met by taciturn ranger. Brightened when he heard I came from you. Said his name Jughead Smith, wondered if he was relative???? (Ed. Note: No.) Took me to Yogi’s cave. Huge. Ankledeep grass rug. Gleaming stalactites. Sniffed ranger Smith: “They're not real. Yogi had them installed. They’re platinum.” Some cave. Makes Carlsbad look like a mole hole. Yogi greeted us. Seated on velvet-covered log. Beret. Dark jeweled glasses.
“I have a hunch—here comes my lunch,” he said. Took off dark glasses and saw his error. Shook paws warmly. “Must confess—I love the press,” he said.
“Particularly,” he added, “from The Times. I’m starting in the Sunday Times comics on Feb. 12, you know.”
Complimented him on size and decorations of cave. “Just a hole in the wall—but I call it home,” said Yogi. Took me on tour of cave. As we walked, I congratulated him on being on his own show. Yogi launched into long explanation of negotiations, beginning, “Well, I told MCA . . .” and ending, “. . . and Hanna-Barbera could either put up—or get themselves another bear!”
Mentioned I’d heard he was still going to be on Huck Hound’s Tuesday show. “Couldn’t leave him in the lurch,” said Yogi. “Will stick for awhile. But I’m afraid that when I go—there goes the show.” Murmured I hoped not.
Changed subject to talk about his new show. Mentioned I’d heard Snagglepuss, the lion, will be on it, and Yakky Doodle Duck. And Chopper, the bulldog. And, of course, Boo Boo. “Let's not forget, chum, who’s No. 1—Yogi,” said Yogi. Promised I wouldn’t.
Was invited to lunch, Beetle wings under glass. Sauteed grasshoppers in lichee sauce. Broiled honey-comb a la Jellystone. Asked kiddingly about stealing picnic baskets. “Heh heh,” Yogi heh hehed. “Don't be a drip—taken in by the script.” He scowled. “That writer Warren Foster. Never gives me a part with any dignity. Picnic baskets, ptui! Why, I have the finest chef in Jellystone!” He added, petulantly: “I give that Foster his best ideas.”
After lunch, Yogi took me on ride through park. Chauffeur-driven Rolls.YB engraved in gold on doors. Studied him as we drove. Decided success had not changed him. Seemed the same sweet unspoiled bare-foot movie star. Just like the ones in Bel-Air.
At airport, told Yogi I’d watch his show.
“You should,” said Yogi. “Better than the average program!”

Warren Foster came on board for the second season of the Huck shows and apparently wrote all the Yogis, continuing on when Yogi got his own show, beginning with “Oinks and Boinks”, animated by Don Patterson (see first three stills). Sadly, it really was the beginning of the end for Yogi. His cartoons quickly turned into a Yogi-Boo Boo-Ranger-Jellystone formula, without a lot of the quirky poses (see still to right) and different story-lines in some of the earlier cartoons.