Monday, 7 May 2012

Hanna-Barbera Notes, 1960-61

Mark Christiansen has been posted marvellous things at his blog, as I’ve bragged before, and his most recent post is some scans of random pages of ‘The Peg Board,’ the newsletter of the animated cartoonists’ union. It has a fine caricature of local 839 president Ben Washam but more relevant to this blog is the information about the Hanna-Barbera studio.

Because Mark has it in .jpg format, the stories in the newsletter are not searchable on the internet. So I’m taking the liberty of transcribing them. For reasons I don’t understand, editor Jim Fletcher didn’t correct the misspellings of the studio’s name.

What’s interesting to me is the bits of information about show what cartoons were in the planning stages. As you can see, some didn’t get on the air or were modified.

First, this article from October 1960.

Hanna-Barbera Productions, already conceded to be the world’s largest cartoonery, has launched a reorganization and expansion program for 1961, entailing a nearly 100% increase in its annual production budget. Blossoming includes two new tele-series, initial plans for a third and production of company’s first feature-length theatrical film.
For its 1961 schedule, H-B will spend more than $6,000,000, compared with the $3,500,000 laid out for its 1960 program. If current high ratings on “The Flintstones” hiold up and a second brace of 26 segments is ordered, the total budget for ’61 will run closers to $7,700,000.
Additionally, company toppers Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera are looking for two acres of ground on which they’ll build new facilities, including their own sound stage, which will involve an expenditure of $750,000.
In line with its reorganization, H-B has made considerable personnel changes, promoting several staff members and adding others. With its enlarged personnel roster, the company is already committed for production of at least 35 hours of television product for the ’60-’61 season. Company has become well-known for its “planned animation,” a system involving quality action with fewer drawings and resulting in a 50% saving of money and a 65% saving of time. Were the 35-hour slate to be produced via the animation techniques Hanna and Barbera used while at Metro, the $5,000,000 program would cost more than $15,000,000, according to Hanna.
H-B has just concluded a deal with Screen Gems for production of 104 five-minute segments for syndication. “All our shows have been planned for syndication,” Barbera explained, “but so far all have been bought by single sponsors.” Emphasizing the new five-minute shows definitely will be syndicated, Barbera revealed they will encompass two separate series, one starring “Lippy the Loin” [sic] and “Hardy Har Har” and the other starring “Hairbrain Hare” and “Dum Dum,” all of them new HB creations.
Company currently is in production on a “Yogi Bear” teleseries, bringing the character out of the “Huckleberry Hound” teleseries. “Yogi” also will be the star of H-B’s first feature-length film, currently being written by Barbera and Warren Foster and being aimed for release next summer by Columbia.
Barbera additionally revealed the success of the adult cartoon series, “The Flintstones” (now airing on ABC) has keyed interest in another family-type series. Talks already have been held with Screen Gems, and H-B currently is working on a character for the series which is expected to be ready for airing next fall.
Animation company has been in its new Hollywood quarters for less than three months and already finds only half of its staff can be accommodated, the other half now working at home. Current roster numbers 140 and, as an example of expansion, was boosted by the addition of 17 new girls in the paint-and-ink department within the past four weeks. H-B also has added another $25,000 camera to its facility, bringing the total to four. “And they’re actually the equivalent of 12 cameras,” said Barbera, “since they’re in operation 24 hours a day.”
H-B’s “Ruff ‘n’ Reddy” series has just completed three years on the air. “Huckleberry Hound” currently is in national syndication on 192 stations through Kellogg’s, with similar syndication on “Quick Draw McGraw” and the same system planned for “Yogi Bear.” With “Flintstones” on ABC, H-B finds another network exposure on CBS’ Saturday show “The Magic Land of AllaKasam” which integrates fourth-run H-B product.
Besides its commercial operation—involving budget of $300,000 to $500,000 per year—Hanna-Barbera also has a five-year exclusive deal with Columbia for production of “Loopy De Loop’ theatrical cartoons. H-B has also just completed animated sequences for “Pepe,” Columbia release of a production by George Sidney, who was instrumental in bringing Hanna and Barbera to Col and Screen Gems three years ago. Sidney has a financial interest in H-B.
In line with its expansion, H-B has promoted to new posts: Alex Lovy and Dan Gordon, associate producers; Warren Foster, chief writer and story supervisor on “Huckleberry Hound,” Mike Maltese, chief writer and story supervisor on “Quick Draw McGraw”; Maltese and Foster, story supervisors on the new “Yogi Bear Show”; Tony Benedict and Kevin Gordon, upped to the story department; Bob Carr, from assistant animator to full animator; Guyla Avery to office manager; and Frank Paiker, head of the camera department. They join Roberta Greutert, head of the paint-and-ink department; Greg Watson, head of the editorial staff; and Arnold Carr, head of promotion-advertising-publicity.

Poor old Hairbrain Hare never got on the air. Dum Dum ended up with Touché Turtle, so it could be that a rabbit was changed into a tortoise as the concept was being kicked around. It was almost two years before Dum Dum, Lippy and Hardy finally showed up on TV sets.

Only Joe Barbera would have the sales chutzpah to crow about the Flintstones ratings in October 1960. The show debuted September 30th. 28 episodes were run the first season, so ABC must have expanded their order along the way.

It appears only animated titles made it onto the screen on “Pepe.” The proposed animated sequences are nowhere to be found.

Kevin Gordon was Dan Gordon’s son, who died in an accidental fire at age 28 in 1964. Jerry Eisenberg explained he started in layout and Bill Hanna expected him to churn out work faster.

It’s notable that Bob Carr was an assistant at H-B. Until that point, with the exception of some work Mike Lah picked up in Huck’s first season, one animator handled a whole cartoon. I wondered if Bob was related to Jack Carr, who animated for Hanna and Barbera at MGM and worked at a number of studios in the ‘30s. Apparently not. The ‘Peg Board’ has this profile.

Bob hails from Indiana. He studied art at Chouinards and started in the animation business at Walt Disney’s Studio. Worked on “Lady and the Tramp” and “Sleeping Beauty.” Left Disney’s about two years ago to work briefly for TV Spots then joined Hannah and Barbera Productions [sic]. For a time Bob was the only assistant at the Huckleberry Hound Cartoonery. Recently he was promoted to a full fledged animator.
Bob served with the Armed Forces in the Pacific in World War II—would like to re-visit the South Pacific. He collects classical music and was at the time of this article anyway, a contented bachelor.
Active in Union activities, Bob just completed serving as vice president. He was re-elected to the executive board for the next two years and will be one of the Unions seven representatives to the International Convention.

Mark also posted the newsletter from the union’s New York local of January 1962. It hints that Joe Barbera already realised ‘Top Cat’ wasn’t going to make it and started finding excuses about why. He addressed this in a newspaper story the same year which I’ll get around to posting.

Five new half-hour animated projects are being prepared by Hanna-Barbera Productions, reports “Variety”. The new shows are being written by Mike Maltese, Warren Foster, Harvey Bullock, Ralph Wright, Jack Raymond and Dalton Sandifer.

Since new animated shows had “a pretty bad season,” Joe Barbera wants to “prove there is nothing wrong with a good cartoon show.” His reasons for a lack of success by current and new shows are (1) “from Mondays through Thursdays animation shows shouldn’t be on after 8 p.m.”, and (2) “I don’t think there is enough talent around to make these shows.”

Barbera said that H-B Productions is establishing a training course to develop animators, writers and other needed personnel. Barbera claimed that “for 15 years not one new person was trained for this business. Movie cartoons were going downhill during that period. Consequently, people left the business to write comic books, become artists, turn to other field. So, suddenly we are faced with a great shortage in talent, writing, all the means we need for animation.”

Now a story, again from the New York local newsletter, from some time in 1961. It’s on the same page as a story about Videocraft subcontracting its Oz cartoon series to Crawley Films of Toronto. A similar story appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press of June 24. So this could have been from a July or August 1961 edition.

Hanna-Barbera expects to average 6,250 feet of animation each week for the coming season, according to “Variety”. More than 50 hours of animated film have been projected—30 “Flintstones”, 30 “Top Cats” (new half-hour show) and 153 seven-minute shorts for “Yogi Bear”, “Huckleberry Hound”, and “Quick Draw McGraw”.
H-B has a staff of 165, including 40 part-time inkers and opaquers who work at home. However, H-B reports a scarcity of storyboard writer-artists. To help solve the shortage, the studio has contracted tv comedy writers to write stories which are converted to storyboard form by artists. Reportedly, a year’s intensive search was conducted for the voice of “Top Cat.” The job went to Arnold Stang after auditions of “hundreds” including Andy Devine, Mickey Rooney, Max Rosenbloom, Larry Storch and Jerry Lester.
“Flintstones” is budgeted at $67,000 per show. Costs are offset by character merchandise. A retail sales total of $80,000,000 is expected this year for products using H-B characters. Sizeable income is received from the H-B cartoons being shown in 37 foreign countries.

There’s no mention of Michael O’Shea being the original voice of Top Cat. Storch worked for Total TV in New York and later Filmation and, of course, was Cool Cat in the living-on-reputation Warners cartoons of the late ‘60s.

The Huck Hound and Quick Draw half-hours were in their last seasons. 9 Hucks and Pixie and Dixies were made, along with some Yogis and then some Hokey Wolf cartoons to replace the Yogis. Only six Quick Draws, Snoopers and Augies were made for the final Quick Draw season. Both shows were heavy on re-runs.

And finally, another undated H-B update. A story on the same page referring to a column by Harvey Peck quoting Bob Keeshan was published in November 19, 1961. So this would be from about that time.

Three new animated series syndication are to be produced by Hanna-Barbera. One hundred and fifty-six segments of five minutes each are being developed. They are “Wally Gator” with voices by Bill Thompson and Paul Frees, “Touche Turtle and Dum Dum” with voices by Bill Thompson and Paul Reed [sic] and “Lippy the Lion and the Sad Hyena” with track by Mel Blanc.
Other plans by H-B include live and animated commercials and an hour long cartoon variety show.
H-B’s first cartoon feature with Yogi Bear is scheduled for Thanksgiving 1962 release by Columbia.
Hanna and Barbera employ 185 people and last year used 275 actors and 100 musicians.

Either there were changes in the voice artists or some names are missing. Paul Frees as Wally Gator? Mel Blanc as Lippy? Mind you, voice historian Keith Scott reminded me that Frees did Wally’s Ed Wynn voice as Captain Peter Peachfuzz on “The Rocky Show” (starting in 1959). If the voice sounded the same as Bullwinkle’s buddy, Joe Barbera would likely pass on it.

I wish I knew more about the shows that were proposed for production. Mark revealed one called “The Henpecks” with Coo Coo Cat, who kind of appears to be warmed-over Fibber Fox with cheeks that go up like Top Cat’s and Ed Benedict eyes.

You can see part of a storyboard for the second cartoon in the proposed series at Mark’s blog. Check in over there when you see a new post come up in the blog-roll. Mark comes up Hanna-Barbera stuff in his collection you’ve never heard of before.

1 comment:

  1. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth and HB-fans from the whole world,

    Second a comment of mine which I've posted on the Mark Christiansen's blog, seeing this project involving the Henpecks, it reminds me of an episode from Magilla Gorilla (Hanna-Barbera/Columbia Pictures, 1964-67), titled Bird Brained.