Saturday, 19 September 2009

Happy Almost Birthday, Quick Draw

You may have gone on one of a number of web sites and read that 50 years ago today, The Quick Draw McGraw Show debuted in syndication, and the first cartoon was Scary Prairie.

Well, I hate to be a sceptic, but...

Eager to find out more, your trusty Yowp has dug through the archives of newspapers in various places, large and small, across the U.S. I can find no evidence the show appeared on television sets anywhere before September 28th, including such big media cities as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. On top of that, a display ad in the L.A. Times reveals the first Quick Draw was actually Lamb Chopped, which online sources claim appeared on television sets for the first time on October 24th.

So, either the internet is wrong or a whole pile of newspapers from September 1959 are wrong. I understand syndication means a show can debut on different days in different places, but I have yet to find any TV listing for September 19, 1959 which even mentions the show. So, I’m going with September 28th as Quick Draw’s birthday, though I will happily stand corrected if anyone has information to show otherwise. Incidentally, Quick Draw aired on September 28th at 6 p.m. on KONO Channel 12 in San Antonio; KAYS Channel 7 in Hayes, Kansas, and KAKE Channel 10 in Wichita and 7 p.m. on WTTG Channel 5, Washington D.C.

As for which show aired first, perhaps Scary Prairie went into production first which would account for the discrepancy. It features the voice of Elliot Field as the narrator, Grumble-Weed and some incidental characters, and he was on the earliest Snooper and Blabbers before Daws Butler took both roles. The cat and mouse detectives, of course, share Quick Draw’s birthday, as do Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy.

The Times loved the Hanna-Barbera shows. There are a bunch of articles in the late ‘50s about them, and nothing negative. The paper often included a line about the plot of each cartoon in the TV listings. Quick Draw led the paper’s TV column on its debut day, even topping a squib about Steve Allen. What follows is not the complete article; I can’t read all of it in on-line so it’s missing, well, I don’t know how much. But you get the drift. I thin’.

Quick Draw Will Give Hound Run.

[Los Angeles Times - Sept. 28, 1959]
Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera are following their last season’s cartoon hit, Huckleberry Hound, with a new cartoon series, Quick Draw McGraw, which takes the air tonight on Channel 11 at 7. But they envision larger things.
They found, curiously enough, that Huckleberry, who returns to the air at 7 tomorrow, also on Channel 11, had almost as much of an adult following as a kid coterie. Consequently, they’ve been working this summer with the 100 or so artists, technicians, writers, voice men, etc., who make up their booming organization, on a strictly adult cartoon show—a situation comedy which they expect to hit the air in a time period such as 8:30 or 9 at night.
Ma and Pa Get Consideration
Matter of fact, one reason that Huckleberry was shifted from 6:30 to 7 this season was to take more advantage of the adult population. It and Quick Draw are still early enough for the small fry but late enough for mamma and papa to watch, too.
Hanna and Barbera, who spent 20 years at MGM turning out the Tom and Jerry theater cartoons, believe that in television they must follow the accepted modes—the watching patterns, as it were.
“There’s a western craze, so we created a cartoon western in Quick Draw,” Joe explained. "Only he’s a horse and this is the first western in which the hero was a horse. He has a sidekick, Bobba Looey” [sic] (whose voice, incidentally, sounds a great deal like a certain Cuban TV tycoon) “and together they clean up the plains of badmen—only, of course, our villains are never very bad.
“Then there’s the craze for detective stories so we have added a private eye episode to the show, Snooper and Blab—a cat and a mouse. In one episode, we’re going to have a private eye convention with all the famous ones there like Peter Pistol, all the great TV dicks.”
The boys have also added a third segment to the series, Auggie Doggie [sic], a father-and-son story in which father usually knows best.
As always in cartoons, satire is the primary Hanna and Barbera weapon—but it’s very gentle satire. It’s certainly a sign of the times that its target is TV.


  1. Was't Jerry Hausner also Baba Looey, too?

    Steve C.

  2. I'm surprised Peter Leeds wasn't in more of the early H-B projects, seeing that he and Daws were a big part of Stan Freeberg's radio shows and comedy albums for Capitol Records.

  3. Part of the confusion with premiere dates is that in the pre-satellite days, they didn't make a set of films for every station that carried a particular syndicated shows. In most cases a certain amount of films were made, to be "bicycled" between stations--that is, after it was aired, sent to another station. In some cases it would be as much as six weeks between an episode airing on the first and last station in the cycle. This is most noteworthy when someone involved dies. Jay Ward's FRACTURED FLICKERS (comic commentary over old movies) from 1963 had an episode spoofing the Kennedys airing right after the assassination. Or in 1971, people were seeing episodes of WHAT'S MY LINE with Bennett Cerf on the panel after his passing.

    1. I don't know how Screen Gems dealt with their Kellogg's prints, Paul, but it appears from television newspaper listings that, at least in major markets, stations got the same Huck or Quick Draw show to broadcast that week (though Kellogg's may have bought different days depending on the availability of air time). So, I'm going with the Monday date of the week when a particular show appeared in L.A.-Chicago-New York City and so on.