Sunday, 15 July 2012

Yogi Bear — Do or Diet

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Ed de Mattia, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Story – Warren Foster, Story Direction – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Narrator, Anderson, Doctor, Park Superintendent – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith – Don Messick.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore, Victor Lamont, Bill Loose/John Seely, Raoul Kraushaar?.
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-045.
First aired: week of December 12, 1960.
Plot: Yogi feigns going along with a doctor’s diagnosis that he has picnicitis to con Ranger Smith into giving him food.

The Hanna-Barbera studio slowly but steadily expanded in its first few years of operation and that meant hiring more animators to handle the workload. A number of veterans landed at the studio in 1960 and one of them was Ed de Mattia. The first Yogi Bear cartoon he worked on was “Do or Diet” and he shows a knack for some interesting, off-model takes which get somewhat lost because of the timing that, I suppose, was the responsibility of story director Alex Lovy.

If U.S. government records on-line are correct, Edward A. de Mattia was born in Illinois on March 27, 1914 and died in San Bernadino, California on January 6, 1997, age 83. A squib in an edition of Broadcasting magazine revealed he began working in animation in 1940. He enlisted in the Air Corps on September 1, 1943. He was single at the time but somewhere along the way he married Xenia Beckwith, a talented artist who contributed to the Los Angeles Times kids page in 1928 and spent the war years at the Walter Lantz studio (they divorced after he returned home from World War Two). De Mattia spent time at Disney, designed ‘Petroushka,’ the first animated TV special in 1956, and seems to have been all over the place around 1960 like a number of artists whose names pop up at Hanna-Barbera. He landed a gig at Animation, Inc. that year, but was also animating at Larry Harmon Productions.

It seems a sad fact that by the time guys like de Mattia, Hicks Lokey and Jack Ozark arrived at H-B, the limited animation had become even more limited, certainly in the short cartoons. Ken Muse may the only exception but it’s because he didn’t go in for a lot of distinctive expressive animation. Carlo Vinci’s “Gleesome Threesome” is smoother but less fun than his work in the previous two seasons and even Lew Marshall’s noses don’t bob as much in “Booby Trapped Bear.” De Mattia tries some things I like in this cartoon but it still isn’t as enjoyable as the cartoons in the 1958 and 1959 seasons.

For one thing, Warren Foster decided to restrict Yogi to a basic formula. It meant the Smarter-than-the-Average Bear now spent his time in Jellystone Park during part if not all of each cartoon, almost always matching wits with Ranger Smith, usually over food, with Boo Boo as his sidekick to express doubt and caution. In the final two seasons, the Ranger appears in all but two cartoons and Boo Boo is in all of them. Indian boys, wily fish and dogs named Yowp were given notice there was no place for them in the Yogi-Boo Boo-Smith world. Audiences loved the battle of wits but, to me, the series lost something by limiting Yogi.

So it is the cartoon begins (after a narrator sets it up) with Ranger Smith in his office with Ranger Anderson, lamenting how he can handle “the forest fires, the kids putting bubble gum in the drinking fountains” but he can’t handle Yogi Bear. The animation’s odd. There’s a part when Smith leans his head on his desk and the animation shows him jerking his body like he’s sobbing. But there’s no sobbing in Don Messick’s voice. He reads the lines the same through the whole scene. As the dialogue is done first from dialogue sheets written by Foster, either de Mattia or Lovy added the sobbing on their own.

Let’s fast forward. A doctor at the door says he’s examined all the bears except Yogi, so the Ranger and the doctor go to see him. De Mattia has a really stiff walk cycle on the ranger, swinging his arm like its joints are connected by rivets. The immobile body is a different shade of green than the moving arms and legs, the little thin kind that layout man Tony Rivera favoured. And the first trees in the background are typically Rivera; isosceles triangles, dissected in the middle, with zig-zag lines. The doctor explains he cured a bear at Yosemite National Park of stealing picnic baskets by telling him he had picnic-itis. So the doctor does the same with Yogi. Incidentally, de Mattia has a nice little touch when Yogi squashes down a bit to salute the ranger, as if he’s bending his knees.

But this is where de Mattia’s takes come in but they’re completely sabotaged. He starts with a shock take featured exaggerated teeth. There are some cartoony anticipation drawings, too.

But the problem is the first drawing is held for two frames, and the last two for three each. That’s eight frames, or a third of a second. It simply isn’t enough time for the viewer to get the full impact. At Hanna-Barbera’s outset in 1957, Bill Hanna timed all the cartoons but as the workload increased, he handed it off to the story directors. I can’t help but think Lovy timed this sequence; I’ve seen other cartoons where he’s the story director where the take goes by too quickly.

De Mattia follows with Yogi turning to the camera and whimpers, then turning back again. I like the drawings; they are two of them alternating on ones for 12 frames (a half second). But there’s no whimpering sound or anything on the soundtrack to set it apart. It just happens in the middle of some animation and doesn’t stand out as well as it could.

By the way, you can see in a couple of drawings above that de Mattia likes using hand movements, at least in this cartoon. Yogi is twirling fingers and pointing, little bits of acting that became non-existent in H-B cartoons.

Meanwhile, back at the plot, Yogi is mournfully contemplating his picnicitis diagnosis but de Mattia tips us off that the bear’s faking. Yogi’s eye (the drawing is in profile) looks toward the ranger and the doctor to make sure they’re catching his dramatics. Yogi admits it to Boo Boo in the next scene as he counters the phoney diagnosis with Plan 431.

Ranger Smith talks to the Park Superintendent on the phone. Rivera’s designs of Ranger Smith and other human generally featured perpendicular 5 O’Clock Shadow lines. Here, de Mattia follows the layout but also has the ranger talking out of the side of his face. And the mouth is a different colour than the rest of the head.

The phone rings again. Yogi’s blocking the highway. Nothing to live for since he has picnicitis, you know. I like the wavy lines as the ranger races in his jeep.

Rivera and Dick Thomas (and maybe Foster on his storyboard) fit in some silhouettes in the background drawings. The first motorists that can’t get past Yogi in their car are in silhouette. Then Yogi’s in silhouette in the next scene when he’s about to jump from Lover’s Leap. Cut to the ranger yelling up at Yogi, the crowd in silhouette behind him. At least they’re going for some variation in the drawings.

Lew Marshall had a way of drawing impacts that de Mattia uses as well and though you don’t notice on the screen, it’s puzzled me. Yogi drops on the ranger and crushes him. In the drawing to the right, you can see the ranger’s hands are still up, but Yogi’s fallen past them. Theoretically, the ranger should start to collapse when Yogi hits the hands, but the impact doesn’t happen yet. I suppose de Mattia is just saving himself making another drawing of Ranger Smith as it’s a hold from the previous frame.

Between the two scenes, Smith balances himself on his left foot with the rest of his body in a motion cycle before making a Gleason-esque exit. Ken Muse would have had a static drawing then some zip lines, which pretty much became the H-B standard. Less animation = less cost.

The Hanna-Barbera cartoons could get sloppy animating dialogue. As you know, the head would remain motionless on one cel while the mouth movements were on separate cels. Occasionally, the mouth movements didn’t quite match up with the immobile face, so you’d have part of Carlo Vinci’s wide mouth being off the head. The same thing happens here. There’s a line that Yogi’s mouth should connect with during the climax when he’s begging for food. But the mouth is off on its own. The drawing is used on a number of frames so it’s noticeable.

Back to the plot. A cute line from Warren Foster. Ranger Smith gives in to Yogi’s phoney begging act and gets him a picnic basket. Close up of Yogi, in profile, now smiling and turning his eye to the camera: “Marlow Brandy is pretty good, too.” This scene is one of several in this cartoon where the visuals don’t match. Lovy will go from a shot of the ranger looking straight ahead then cut to a wider shot of Yogi and the ranger, with the ranger looking down at the floor.

Smith hands the basket to Yogi.

Smith: It’s loaded with goodies. Liverwurst sandwiches. Chocolate cake. Ice cream tortonis.
Yogi: Thank you, sir (interrupts) ice cream what?

There actually is such a thing as an ice cream tortoni. Read how to make one here. I wonder if Foster had them over at Mike Maltese’s place.

Anyway, the unnamed Park Superintendent walks in and gives Smith hell for feeding the bears, wagging his finger in the air for emphasis. Whether Foster intended the Superintendent to be a regular character, I don’t know, but he appeared in four Yogi cartoons early that season (“Booby Trapped Bear”, “Gleesome Threesome” and “Bareface Disguise” were the others). In true H-B fashion, he doesn’t look quite the same in each cartoon, even though he’s designed in all of them by Tony Rivera and has the same Daws Butler voice. Cut to the bears walking away with the basket, as Foster resists the temptation for a rhyming line that we almost come to expect from Yogi to conclude the cartoon.

Some of the scenes are fairly short in this cartoon, so the sound cutter edited the cues down to fit them. When Yogi is at the door begging for only a couple of seconds, the cutter switches to the laughing trombones of one of Spencer Moore’s cues than cuts back to the bed he was using. Twice in the cartoon, you can hear short bursts of comedy music by Jack Shaindlin featuring a muted trumpet stab. Whether these are two separate cues or parts of the same one, I don’t know as I don’t have a copy of it. The cutter also tends to start a new cue just as a previous scene is fading out.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin)
0:25 - ZR-50 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Opening narration over shots of ranger station.
0:35 - WINTER TALES (Lamont) – Ranger Smith laments.
0:52 - TC-303 ZANY COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Anderson talks to Smith, “Oh, hello doctor.”
1:08 - L-1121 ANIMATION NAUTICAL (Moore) – Doctor at door.
1:26 - TC-202 ECCENTRIC COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Boo Boo and Yogi in cave.
1:51 - C-14 DOMESTIC LITE (Loose) – Ranger and doctor walking, Yogi talks to Ranger.
2:39 - L-1154 ANIMATION COMEDY (Moore) – Examination, Yogi in shock.
2:58 - L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi tells Boo Boo to go away, doctor outlines cure.
3:33 - Comedy Capers bed no 1 (Shaindlin) – Doctor and Ranger walk away.
3:41 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi and Boo Boo talk.
4:20 - TC-201 PIXIE COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Smith and Anderson in office, Smith on phone.
4:58 - LAF-5-20 TOBOGGAN RUN (Shaindlin) – Smith in jeep.
5:03 - TC-204A WISTFUL COMEDY (Loose-Seely) – Yogi on road.
5:21 - Comedy Capers bed no 2 (Shaindlin) – Ranger runs into office, talks to Anderson.
5:36 - LAF-2-12 ON THE RUN (Shaindlin) – Lover’s Leap scene.
5:55 - creepy muted trumpet music (Kraushaar?) – Ranger at desk, door knocks, “Oh, no!”
6:06 L-78 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – (Moore) – Yogi begs at door.
6:10 - creepy muted trumpet music (Kraushaar?) – “One little basket..,” Marlow Brandy line.
6:25 - LAF-25-3 bassoon and zig zag strings (Shaindlin) – Smith brings picnic basket.
6:38 - LAF-72-2 RODEO DAY (Shaindlin) – Superintendent scene, Yogi and Boo Boo walk away.
7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).


  1. When the doctor diagnoses Yogi and Yogi does his faux-"shock", first a Hoyt Curtin "shock sting" then Spencer Morre's "L-78 ANIMATION/COMEDY is heard". This is the only time that "Herts and Flowers" V.Lamont is used in a Yogi cartoon!! Steve C.

  2. This is one of the best Yogi Bear episodes.

    YOWP, you are getting careless; The ranger does not say: Thank you sir, ice cream what? Yogi says that. Also you forgot to note that the superintendent is played by the awesome, amazing, terrific, incredible, cool, great, wonderful Daws Butler.

  3. Thanks for the notes.
    As I've indicated, I do not have time for blogging any more. I proof-read the De Mattia bio but didn't check the rest. About 19 reviews were banged off several months ago and put in the queue for weekly posting. The last gets posted next Saturday. I've done a few more since then in the hope of keeping the blog going until the Jetsons' anniversary in September.

  4. YOWP, you're most likely writing from San Diego Comic Con at the moment, so that's understandable. Also you are most likely not Don Messick. Are You ???

  5. I only sound like Don Messick when I do cartoons. Of course, no one has hired me for any cartoons since around 1960. But they gave a series to a duck. Go figure.
    Isn't Comic Con where they advertise Twilight? Which comics were the Twilights in?

  6. Yowp writes:
    “I've done a few more since then in the hope of keeping the blog going until the Jetsons' anniversary in September.”

    I REALLY hope this doesn’t mean you are “going away” after that! This Blog is too good to “yowp-off” to the “Island of Dead Links”.

    Where’s that good old “dogged determination” with which you pursued foxes and ducks?! While not the ultra-classics that the earliest Huck and Quick Draws were, nearly all things H-B until 1965 were worth writing about to one degree or another.

    With whom will I continue to debate the talents of Charlie Shows into my old age, if you go? Don’t put us “over a barrel, Daryl!” Stick around, even if you have to be scored by Hoyt Curtin!


  7. With the turn of the decade, cars in H-B cartoons become more compact and conservative (reflecting the arrival of the Corvair, Falcon and Valiant, and the increasing prominence of imported makes). The cartoonists seemed to believe that America was turning away from full-size cars forever. The car at the head of the queue behind Yogi somewhat resembles a 1957 Nash Ambassador with its stacked headlights (Nash was conservatively styled for its time).

  8. Season 3 still have enough looseness in the drawings, and the Yogi-Ranger-Boo Boo set-up is still new enough so that Foster has some fresh takes on the idea. It's when Season 4 and Yogi's own show rolled around that we get (for a variety of reasons) into the paint-by-numbers type plots the H-B factory would become infamous for over the next quarter century (and even as a cartoon consuming 4-year-old I knew there was something missing in terms of 'unpredictability' by Season 4 that had been their previously in the Yogi shorts)

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

    Don't forget that Ed de Mattia also worked on DePatie-Freleng, animating the Pink Panther shorts from the 60s and 70s.

  10. Ed de Mattia didn't last very long at H-B, having only done this, another Yogi short "Greatest Show-Off on Earth", "Huck Hound's Tale" and "Talky Hawky" with Quick Draw McGraw. His style did look rather strange for 1960-61 H-B, but he was one of many new animators in the studio that year. C.L. Hartman, Brad Case, Robert Bentley, Ken Southworth, Don Towsley, Phil Duncan, Gil Turner and John Boersma also had short tenures at the studio, so it was hard to get a real 'handle' on their animation styles and tendencies.

    Conversely Bob Carr, Hicks Lokey, Ralph Somerville, Allen Wilzbach, Harry Holt and Ed Parks stayed at the studio many years. So we got 'used' to them.

  11. I suspect de Mattia was hired on a freelance basis, considering he and others at H-B were working on the Dick Tracy series around the same time. Even Virgil Ross did an Augie Doggie that season, and there's no way he was at H-B on a full-time basis.