Wednesday 29 August 2012

Memorabilia and Other Picture Postcards

Let’s wade through the e-mail bag and see what items of interest you fine readers have been sending.

Billie Towzer is always on the look out for Hanna-Barbera games and toys. First we have, from Empire of Tarboro, North Carolina, this Flintstones Dial Telephone. A dial phone really is Stone Age, isn’t it? This is from the ‘60s but I have no idea if it has recorded calls in it or you just pretend you’re talking with Mr. Slate or something.

Linemar made this friction-powered car with Huckleberry Hound. Other Hanna-Barbera characters had their own. This is also from the early ‘60s.

These wiggle blocks are from the folks at Kohner. If you move the TV set, you’ll get a second image, kind of a hand-held version of cycle animation. Kohner came up with even more popular things for kids. They made the game Trouble with the Pop-O-Matic Dice (they were under a plastic dome so you couldn’t lose them). And they licensed the Flintstones characters for push-button puppets, where you pushed a button under a base and the character on top of the base, say Fred Flintstone, would move around.

Rick Greene has sent two covers of Huckleberry Hound colouring books from Whitman. What’s the difference, besides Huck’s colour? Rick says: “The darker cover is actually flocked – an application of short fuzzy blue hair is on it!! It’s one of the coolest coloring book covers I’ve ever seen... or felt!”

Next comes a sad story. A fellow named Vince e-mailed thinking this was Julie Bennett’s blog and writing “I bought a storage locker in Burbank and I believe it has some items like Cindy Bear cells. On the front of the Folder it says to Art Scott From Billy ( Yogi and Cindy Bear ).” It had some other personal items belonging to Miss Bennett. Unfortunately, no one seems to know where she is these days. Vince was nice enough to scan the cels. Of course, Julie played Cindy Bear and began her career at Hanna-Barbera in 1959 on a Quick Draw McGraw episode.

Brian Miller sent along these photos of stuff that’s in his collection. Evidently the H-B marketers felt Little Biddy Buddy the duck was closer to Little Biddy Buddy Rich as he was not a starring character when the other characters on the TV tray were. Here are Brian’s descriptions:

There's an old TV tray with "Your TV Pals" on it, and the various characters... the rubber Yogi sitting on a log was a Western Publishing promotional item of some sort...

The big Yogi head (sorry, not a great picture) is a 3-foot tall or so fiberglass construction, with the same face on the other side. It seems to have been mounted to something at some point. Our best guess is it's something from a Yogi Bear campground, but I haven't found any documentation on it yet.

The Jellystone Park gate is from a set of toys from that new movie (never saw it) but it has a nice vintage cartoon look to it.

Facebook reader Mike Rossi sent me a picture of a Mr. Twiddle he got on e-Bay. It’s a ceramic animator’s maquette model.

Almost two years ago, there was a post about a personal appearance by Yogi Bear at a Sears store. Author Tim Hollis sent me a photo and a note at the time. You see the photo above. His note:

Apparently that was part of some sort of nationwide promotion with Sears, because attached here you will find a poor quality photo of the characters at our local Sears here in Birmingham in December 1962. (Yes, that's our local Bozo the Clown, Ward McIntyre, introducing them.) In case you hadn't seen a photo from these appearances before, I thought you'd be amused at how "unfinished" the costumes look.... it's almost as if Yogi's collar and tie, and Boo Boo's bow tie, got lost by the airline on the way down!

And now, here’s the lovely Tim Hollis modelling the latest Hanna-Barbera-wear. Well, from a few years ago. Tim writes:

The left photo, with Yogi, was Christmas Day 1966; the right photo, with Pebbles, was October 1967. It would appear that both shirts were made by the same company, judging from the lettering style, the collar and the cuffs.

A boy wearing a Pebbles shirt?! Oh, well. Tim, incidentally, is working on his book TOONS IN TOYLAND, a history of merchandising cartoon characters, including the H-B ones. We’re looking forward to it.

My thanks to everyone who contributed to this post and have sent me pictures of merchandise, memorabilia and other picture postcards since the blog started.

Saturday 25 August 2012

Yogi Bear — Home-Sweet Jellystone

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Brad Case, Layouts – Don Sheppard, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi, Telegraph Boy, Ranger Tom – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose/John Seely; Jack Shaindlin, Spencer Moore, Geordie Hormel.
Production: E-124, Huckleberry Hound Show K-050.
First Aired: 1961.
Plot: Ranger Smith leaves Jellystone after getting a big inheritance and Yogi schemes to get him back.

With “The Flintstones” in production in 1960, Hanna-Barbera reached out to hire more staff to work on its busy schedule of half-hour syndicated shows. Brad Case and Don Sheppard were among the people picked up by the studio. They had been working on the thankless “Dick Tracy” and “Mr Magoo” TV cartoons distributed by UPA in 1960. About the same time, their names can be found on several Hanna-Barbera cartoons; whether they were freelancing or on the studio’s staff, I don’t know. They both went on to bigger and, perhaps not necessarily, better things. Case had been at Disney in the Bambi period but Sheppard had a far more interesting past. We’ll get to it in a bit.

Sheppard came up with a neat little design for a telegram boy on a scooter, and a cigar-shaped car for Ranger Smith.

Case draws a fairly attractive Yogi, but his Ranger Smith varies within the cartoon. At times, Mr. Ranger has a point at the end of his nose. His Boo Boo in long shot looks a little crude.

And the rangers’ heads seem too big for their thin bodies.

Veteran Bob Gentle handles the backgrounds. He uses various shades of green, even within the trees themselves. I like how the foreground trees are a triangular block of colour with squiggly lines within the triangle to represent branches. And here’s how Gentle renders the exterior and main interior shots of the Ranger’s mansion. Gentle seemed to like swirling lines on his carpets; I’ve seen him do it in other cartoons.

Warren Foster’s story doesn’t contain a lot of great gags. It’s mainly a character piece, reinforcing that Yogi Bear and Ranger Smith really like each other; their adversarial role is really a game. The best bit comes at the start when Yogi directs the telegram boy toward him. “Get lost, you dusty old bear,” is the response. Yogi’s called that in a bunch of cartoons but this time, he actually brushes the dust off himself. The woodsy background where Yogi and Boo Boo are standing is used in much of the cartoon; there are only 10 backgrounds in the whole cartoon. You can see the bears are standing behind an overlay; it saves Case from drawing the bottom half of the bodies.

The telegram is for Ranger Smith, telling him he’s the only heir to his late Uncle Charlie’s fortune. To get the money, he has move into the family mansion—meaning he has to quit his job at Jellystone. “No more babbling brooks! No more wind sighing through the pines!” says the Ranger, though what he has against brooks and a breeze is unclear. Curious Yogi shows up at a window, Smith hands him the telegram and then runs down how the bear is a pain. “Yogi, you are a bad bear and I’m glad to get away from you,” exclaims Smith. The hurt bear outlines how the bears are “always trippin’ over the red tape,” and explains the Ranger is “known to all the animals as Jughead Smith.”

So the Ranger drives away. Yogi’s gleeful. “The Ranger was on to all my tricks, Boob. And with him gone, the pic-a-nic baskets are at my mercy.”

Ah, it’s all a fa├žade. The scene cuts two weeks later to the mansion where the Ranger is telling himself how great life is. But when the mailman’s whistle blows, he excitedly races to the mailbox and is disappointed there’s no word from Jellystone. Cut to another two weeks later. Yogi forlornly lists how many days and hours the Ranger has been gone. A picnic basket won’t cheer him up. He’s got a pile of them. It wasn’t the food he wanted from them. “I miss that battle of wits. The Ranger was a worthy adversary, Boob.”

But Yogi’s got a scheme to get the Ranger back, one that’ll work because the Ranger is “one of the good ones.” Cut to the mansion, another month later. Smith’s still wearing the same ranger uniform; you’d think he’d be able to afford something else. He calls Jellystone and when he hears that Yogi hasn’t eaten in weeks, he rushes back to the park, giving up his wealth to care for the bear, who’s on the ground faking being on death’s doorstep. Ranger Smith carries the bear back to his cave as Boo Boo says to us “There’s one thing you’ve got to admit about Yogi. He’s smarter than the aaaa-verage ranger. Hey, hey, hey!” Boo Boo even imitates Yogi’s inflections; a nice job by Don Messick.

The background music for the cartoon is pretty typical for Yogi’s third season. I’d have to check, but it seems to me that many of the earlier Loose/Seely cues, like ‘Zany Comedy’ and ‘Eccentric Comedy’ that were used a lot in the first season were abandoned by the third season. Cues like ‘Holly Day,’ ‘Shopping Day’ and ‘Domestic Children’ sound lighter and friendlier. The first two are in this cartoon.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin-Shows)
0:25 - C-14 DOMESTIC LITE (Loose) – Opening scene with Yogi, Boo Boo, Telegraph Boy.
1:02 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – Smith talks to Tom, Yogi in window, Smith hands Yogi the telegram.
2:17 - L-80 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – Yogi reads telegram, Yogi and Smith get snarky, “Well, so long, Tom.”
3:15 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “I leave the park in your hands,” Smith drives away, Yogi rushes away, exterior shot of mansion.
3:55 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose/Seely) – Ranger in mansion, sifts through mail.
4:21 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose/Seely) – Ranger talks at mailbox, Yogi misses Ranger, Ranger dials phone.
5:21 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Tom on phone, Yogi and Boo Boo talk, Smith talks to himself by phone.
5:57 - ZR-47 LIGHT MOVEMENT (Hormel) – Smith runs in house, pulls up in car.
6:17 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – Yogi fakes collapse, Smith carries Yogi to cave. Boo Boo does Yogi impression.
7:10 - Yogi Bear End Title theme (Curtin).

A biographical post-script: The layout man on this cartoon, Don Sheppard, is a great example of how one runs into conflicting information on-line when trying to learn something about the life of Hanna-Barbera artists.

The Animation Guild Pegboard of April 2008 has a brief obit for Sheppard. It says he worked from 1955 for Kling Studios, Le Brea Productions, Allied Film Artists, Disney, Warner Bros., UPA, Hanna-Barbera, Jack Kinney, Fine Art Films, Pantomime and Marvel. It also says he died February 21, 2008 at age 91, meaning he would have been born around 1917. But the on-line Social Security Death Index has a Donald Leroy Sheppard who died on that date (in Hawaii) but with a birth date of January 1, 1926. The California Birth Index confirms the date, and puts the birth location at Los Angeles.

If that’s the case, and the Guild age is wrong, then Don Sheppard would appear to have had an interesting little career prior to animation the Guild doesn’t mention. For that Don Sheppard was a cartoonist in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, and not only got into a bit of trouble, but was the subject of a feature spread in Life magazine.

Insulting propaganda cartoons of the enemy are an accepted part of warfare. But Sheppard drew them after the war was over.

Military records show he was living in Marin County when he enlisted across the bay in San Francisco as a private on January 28, 1944, age 18. How he came to draw for the military paper is unclear, but the Associated Press reported trouble in 1946, only a couple of months after he started contributing.

“Stars and Stripes” Drawings Suspended After Germans’ Protest
FRANKFURT, Germany, May 13—(AP)—The U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes has suspended T-5 Don Sheppard’s cartoons, featuring fat, pig-tailed German girls with swastikas embroidered on their under-clothes.
Army officials said the action came as a result of Germans’ protest that the drawing held German womanhood up to ridicule.
Lt. Col. William G. Proctor, Hillsboro, N.H., officer in charge of Stars and Stripes, said Sheppard will still be permitted to display the frauleins in “occasional” cartoons but that repeated publication “could be offensive enough to the Germans to jeopardize our occupation program.”
Sheppard, 20, of Mill Valley, Calif., said he drew his cartoons to “discourage soldiers from taking their fraternization and frauleins too seriously.”

The drawing in the clipping above is taken from Life (it was a better quality one than the murky newspaper copy). You can go to the magazine HERE and scroll down to page 11 to see more of Sheppard’s work.

After the war, Sheppard married Diane Meredith, a dancer at MGM and the daughter of silent film star and stage actor Charles Meredith. The Los Angeles Times of May 23, 1951 reports “He is now planning picture productions.” We find him, according to the May 22, 1956 edition of Variety leaving the Kling Studios along with Dick Lundy and setting up (with three others) La Brea Productions.

Attempting to fill in biographical blanks has been like hunting for pieces of a puzzle dropped ten storeys out a window in a windstorm. The above clipping mentions San Rafael, California. There was a Don Sheppard mentioned in 1950 in the Independent-Journal, a Marin County paper. That Don Sheppard had a brother George and sisters Mary and Betty. A hunt through Census records has found the sisters with a link to their parents, Edward and Genevieve. But both parents were single in the 1930 Census, so it appears to be another dead end. It would have been nice if it bore fruit. Edward Sheppard had a roommate in San Diego in 1930, one with a Hanna-Barbera voice connection. His name was Howard McNear.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The Daws Debut

Daws Butler stood in front of many microphones over the years, in nightclubs and in cartoon, television, radio and recording studios. He obviously had to do it for the first time, and that first time was on January 11, 1935.

Daws was born in Toledo on November 16, 1916. His family moved to Oak Park, Illinois between August and December of 1921; his father originally worked as a special representative for Biggs Bros., a real estate company. Daws honed his considerable talents through his school years. We’re fortunate the local paper in Oak Park had a school column, and that column reported on the activities of one of its students, Charles Dawson Butler.

Here’s a little news item from the column of January 17, 1935. While Daws started out as an impersonator, he didn’t do one human voice in his debut.

And now it appears that another local boy has made good in the big city. Dawson Butler made his radio debut Friday evening over WGN [Chicago] on an amateur program. Artist Butler imitated a saw sawing wood, a steamboat whistle, and a flivver starting in cold weather with such perfection that many of his listeners accused him of taking saws, steamboats, and flivvers down to the studio with him. Mr. Butler’s only regret is the fact that there isn’t such a great future in these noises. Despite this handicap, we predict he will go far.

The broadcast seems to have helped open the door for his first professional work. The paper has several stories about Daws’ fledgling amateur activities. Let’s jump past them to a full-fledged news story about Daws published November 21, 1935, with the accompanying photo.

Dawson Butler “Getting to Top” With Imitations
A Horatio Alger story now in the making is the story of Dawson Butler, eighteen-year old villager, who lives at 441 North Lombard. As young as he is, he has a long list of entertainment credits in his book of accomplishments, and with his imitations and impersonations of radio and screen stars is well along the way to that elusive place called “the top.”
Dawson, who attends Oak Park high school, is versatile there, his activities including cartooning for the Trapeze and contributions to the Tabula, the latter work giving him practice in writing his own script, as he does for all his own appearances. Some of his favorite impersonations are Winchell, Bernie, George Arliss, Edward G. Robinson, W.C. Fields, Stephin Fetchit, Charles Butterworth, Joe Brown and that favorite of everybody, Schnozzle Durante.
Those who have seen him declare “he’s got what it takes” and he’s destined to go places.
But here’s his story: Dawson made his first appearance about a year ago at WGN on Quin Ryan’s amateur show. In the spring he followed his initial success by winning the amateur contest at the Walkathon contest in Maywood and topped this during the late summer by winning contests at the Sherman and also at Harry’s New York Cabaret where he received a two weeks’ engagement.
Last month he appeared at the Edgewater Beach hotel for two weeks as a result of their amateur auditions. First prize in this contest went to an Oak Park girl, Miss Jane McEvilly of 618 Harrison, who attends Trinity high school.
While this young masculine star was appearing at the College Inn during one of George Olson’s amateur nights, a representative of one of the loop booking offices signed him for work at the new Pierre. This night club, formally called Pierre’s Continental Casino, one of the most exclusive of Chicago’s after dark spots, opened recently in a blaze of brilliance, attended by the city’s four-hundred.
Dawson was guest artist on Monday night, November 11, on the Midnight Fliers program at the Blackhawk, thus adding another appearance to his list, and starting on December 14, this clever showman will start a week’s engagement at the state and Lake theatre.

Daws hooked up with a couple of other young men and they formed a group of impersonators (apparently much like Hollywood’s “Radio Rogues”). “The Three Short Waves” were performing in Chicago by December 1935, They were still together on March 4, 1937 when the Oak Leaves reported on Daws for a final time. This story got his age wrong and seems to have misspelled the name of the third wave.

Young Mimic Is Home After Tour with Club Revue
Dawson Butler of 423 Wisconsin has returned home after a five month tour with Paul Choice’s “Kit Kat Klub Revue.” With Jack Lavin and Willard Orvity of Chicago, he took part in an act of impersonations entitled “The Three Short Waves.” Mr. Butler wrote the material for the act which is a comedy and novelty feature, and the revue played in cities and towns throughout New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.
A year ago, Mr. Butler, Mr. Lavin and Mrs. Orvity [sic] gave their show in Chicago, at the Edgewater Beach hotel, the Congress, the Blackhawk and Harry’s New York Bar.
Among the famous people Mr. Butler imitates are W.C. Fields, Jack Oakie, Ned Sparks, Joe E. Brown, Charles Laughton, Lionel Barrymore, Stepin Fetchit, President Roosevelt, Fred Allen, Walter Winchell, Bob Burns and Ben Bernie.
Mr. Butler is seventeen years old and before joining the vaudeville unit attended Oak Park high school. At school he drew cartoons for the Trapeze.
He is also a composer of novelty songs and writes both the words and music. It is a hobby which he hopes to turn into a life work.

I can’t any references to the Waves past 1937. There may be a reason for that. An Associated Press story dated March 29, 1939 mentions that a 20-year-old Jack Lavin of Chicago, who was entertaining in a bar in Grand Forks, North Dakota, was charged with grand larceny after he and another man were accused of taking $40 from a woman who was in their act. Whether there could have been two young Jack Lavins from Chicago entertaining in clubs in the late ‘30s is hard to say, but it’s easy to assume they’re one and the same and the Waves had broken up by then. I can find absolutely nothing about Willard Ovitz, as I gather his name is spelled.

It’s interesting to note Daws’ repertoire of impressions, and how he banked them for use years later by animated characters. He did a Joe E. Brown-type voice at Hanna-Barbera for both Peter Potamus and Lippy the Lion. His Durante popped out of Spike the dog’s mouth at MGM. Charlie Butterworth somewhat suspiciously sounds like Cap’n Crunch. Daws’ Fields impression was re-worked into the forgettable Merlin the Magic Mouse at Warners. And he put his great Fred Allen voice in one cartoon, Huckleberry Hound’s “Skeeter Trouble” (1958). Daws matches Allen’s inflections so well that it’s a shame he never used the voice again; he was a lot better than the weak Ollie O’Toole or Peter Lind Hayes who did fake Allens on Jack Benny’s radio show from time to time.

Countless numbers of people have entered amateur contests over the years—in vaudeville houses, on radio, in nightclubs and on television. Only a tiny percentage went on to much bigger things. Cartoon and comedy fans can be thankful one was Daws Butler.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Flintstones Weekend Comics, August 1962

Odd and imaginative. That’s what we get out of Gene Hazelton’s gang writing and drawing the Flintstone Sunday comics (Saturday in Canada) for August 50 years ago. Dino doesn’t make an appearance and Baby Puss seems forgotten. But the whole gang is in the first two comics. By “gang,” I mean Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty. The kids hadn’t come along yet. Click on any comic to enlarge it.

I can understand large dinosaurs, but large carrots and potatoes? Ah, they’re plot devices in the August 5th comic as they help set up the great end gag. The artist doesn’t clutter it with a pile fo houses; Fred’s home is the only one for miles around. This comic has the only silhouette panel of the month.

Someone evidently went through the designs for the first Flintstones cartoon put into production, “The Swimming Pool” (1960) and picked out Barney’s snorkeling outfit because he’s wearing it in the comic for August 12th. I love the long underwater panel of Barney and the sea creatures. And we get a two-headed dinosaur. If this were the cartoon show, the scene would end with a shot of the dinosaur with some two-heads-are-better-than-one quip out of both mouths.

Wilma stands up to Fred, just like in the earliest TV cartoons, on August 19th. We get to see some of the inventions used on the TV show as well, like the mastodon vacuum cleaner, the boar garbage disposal and the bird-beak-as-record-player-needle.

I really like the concept of a Rolling Stone Club. You probably couldn’t build a half-show show around it, or use it as a throwaway gag; a newspaper comic is the right length for it. The incidental characters for August 26th all on-model and could have easily have fit in on the TV cartoon.

Coming next month: water buffaloes and car surfing.

Saturday 18 August 2012

Snooper and Blabber — Real Gone Ghosts

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Lew Marshall, Layout – Dick Bickenbach, Backgrounds – Bob Gentle, Story – Mike Maltese, Story Sketches – Dan Gordon, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Narrator, Scarum, Blabber – Elliot Field; Snooper, Captain, Harum – Daws Butler.
Music: Jack Shaindlin, Phil Green.
Fired aired: week of Nov. 30, 1959 (rerun week of May 30, 1960).
Episode Number: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-010.
Plot: Snooper and Blabber are hired to remove two ghosts from a ship.

How many times has the guys-disguised-as-ghosts routine been used? Mike Maltese doesn’t use it here. The ghosts are actually ghosts in “Real Gone Ghosts.” And whether the gag was used before this, I don’t know, but I’ve always liked how the ghosts roll up like an old window shade before disappearing.

This is one of those cartoons where you don’t ask yourself a lot of questions, like how can a ghost can hold a badminton racket, or how come a ghost’s clothes can become ghostly and disappear, go through walls, etc. The purpose is to watch Snooper and Blabber (mainly Blab) get walloped by a couple of ghosts they’re trying to evict from a ship. Of course, they succeed (by sinking the ship) but still lose in the end, with another cartoon coming to a conclusion with the Hanna-Barbera Endless Chase™. It’s an average cartoon but still more entertaining than Casper.

Maltese starts out with a spoof of the radio show ‘Inner Sanctum,’ with its squeaking door and scary-but-smarmy narrator. And he borrows from his Warners cartoon “The Haunted Mouse” (1941) with a ghost giving a hotfoot. The sound-cutter uses a couple of Phil Green mystery cues in this scene and it works really well. The Capitol Hi-Q library had more dramatic horror music (after all, it was used in the movie “Night of the Living Dead”) but the bombast would have been a bit much.

The Captain vows to the ghosts he’ll get rid of them by hiring “only the greatest private eyes in the world—Super Snooper and Blabber Mouse, that’s whom!” It looks like this is another scene where Maltese’s workload at Hanna-Barbera left joke opportunities hanging. Says Scarum, the ghost with a green hat: “Uh, Harum, what’s a private eye?” It’s the perfect set-up for a punch line. The answer? “Search me.” You know if Maltese had more time, he’d have come up with something funny or corny instead of a straight line.

Cut to the “Greatest Private Eyes in the World.” They’re so great, they don’t have an office. They live in garbage cans in an alley and their phone is a police call box. Hmm. Seems to me that idea was used again in another Hanna-Barbera series down the road. Anyway, we switch from “Inner Sanctum” to “Duffy’s Tavern” as Snoop, using his Archie voice, answers the phone with an Archie-like rhyming motto. “When others fail, we stay on the trail.”

Snooper and Blabber arrive at the docked ship. Nice angles in Bick’s layout. Bick gives the car a door, something he generally avoided.

The basic idea behind the rest of the cartoon is Snoop doesn’t believe in ghosts, while Blab is afraid of them. The ghosts chase and abuse Blab and laugh. That’s really about it. A look at some of Maltese’s dialogue:

Snoop: Now, there’s nothin’ to be nervous about, Blab. Just keep sayin’ “There ain’t no ghosts.” Simple, right?
Blab: Right, chief.
Snoop: Oh, and another thing. Don’t fire ‘til you see the whites of their sheets, right?

Maltese does fit in the predictable “Be my ghost,” as Blab runs through a door that Harum (the pink pirate-hat one) has made in his body. There’s Harum’s “What’s your speed, keed?” that sounds left over from Charlie Shows’ rhyming pairs of words he shoved into Yogi Bear’s mouth a year earlier. And when Snooper catches the falling Blab, who has an anchor falling above him, and the whole lot go through the ship’s hull into the harbour, Snoop turns to Blab and says “You’ve put on a little weight, haven’t you Buster?” Maltese should have left it there, but the scene cuts to the ghosts and Scarum adds “Yeah. Fat in the head,” which is really a weaker line.

The finale has Snoop tossing a bomb at the “phoney phantoms” (yes, he still doesn’t believe in ghosts). The ghosts play baseball with it, but Harum’s swing at a “spooky screwball” misses, the bomb goes down a bell-mouth ventilator into the hold and kablast! The ship sinks. Observes Blab on the dock, “The captain ain’t going to like it, Snoop. There ain’t no ship.” Snoop replies that there “ain’t no ghosts” either and the ghosts repeat the line over and over as they chase Snooper and Blabber down the street in the detectives’ car (after it, for reasons unclear, loses the body and chassis along the way).

A few things:

● Daws uses an Ed Wynn-type voice for Harum. It’s a more excited version than the one he used for Wally Gator a couple of years later.
● The cartoon is one of four where the voice of Blabber is supplied by Elliot Field, who was hosting the afternoon show at KFWB at the time.
● When Blab runs into a brick wall, the sound cutter uses a gong.
● Maltese brings back Harum and Scarum rolling up like window shades in the Snagglepuss cartoon “Be My Ghost” with Don Messick as a giggly Scarum (Harum has traded his pirate hat for a nightcap).

Unfortunately, several of Jack Shaindlin’s cues will have to remain unidentified but you’ve heard them all before in cartoons.

0:00 - Snooper and Blabber Main Title Theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - EM-131I EERIE (Green) – Pan across ship, hotfoot, Ghosts laugh, “That does it!”
1:09 - GR-57 THE SHADOW OF A MAN (Green) – “I warned you gooney ghosts,” ghosts vanish.
1:54 - tick tock flute music (Shaindlin) – Snooper answers phone, pull up to ship, ghosts vanish.
2:52 - PG-181F MECHANICAL BRIDGE (Green) – Snoop and Blab runaway scene.
3:13 - EM-131I EERIE (Green) – Blab hunts for ghosts, finds Scarum..
3:42 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Scarum scares Blab, brick wall, down and up hatch, Harum appears.
4:36 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Harum laughs, badminton, Harum boos.
5:28 - rising scale vaudeville music (Shaindlin) – Blab up mast, Snoop catches anchor, Snoop tosses bomb, Harum misses bomb with bat.
6:27 - related to Boxing Greats No 2 (Shaindlin) – “I missed,” ship sinks, “The Captain ain’t going to like it, Snoop.”
6:42 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – “There ain’t no ship,” ghosts in car chase Snoop and Blab.
7:10 - Snooper and Blabber End Title theme (Curtin).

Thursday 16 August 2012

Broadway’s Meece-tro

“Music to Chase Meeces By” could very easily have been the title of a record album by Jack Shaindlin. It could have been the title of several of the hundreds of albums Shaindlin made over the years.

Unless you worked in the radio, television or film industries, you would never have seen any of these albums. Shaindlin was a composer and conductor who had several simultaneous careers—one of which was being in charge of a music library service, first called Filmusic, then Langlois Filmusic. Anyone who wanted Shaindlin’s mood music for the background of their movie or TV show could buy it. And Hanna-Barbera did; using stock music was a common (and comparatively inexpensive) practice on television in the ‘50s. There were maybe 15 of Shaindlin’s cues which were cut into the sound tracks of Pixie and Dixie and the other pre-1960 cartoons; Joe Ruby once said the cutters themselves picked the music.

Shaindlin was certainly known to the public in the late ‘40s for some of his work. He was employed by Lang-Worth Feature Programs where he conducted for a couple of musical shows the company transcribed for sale to radio stations, especially small ones without a network affiliation. The music varied from pop favourites to waltzes from ballets but was so generic, stations could play them for years; I found one was still running the discs in the mid-‘50s. At the time, Shaindlin was also conducting the Carnegie Pops. He was famous enough for newspaper columnists to write about him. We went into Shaindlin’s life in this post but have saved the newspaper stories until now. First, from 1951:

BROADWAY . . . . by Mark Barron
NEW YORK, June 2 (AP) — The audience in Carnegie hall which saw and heard maestro Jack Shaindlin conduct an all-George Gershwin concert tonight were witnessing one of the few times that this notes Broadway musical director has been seen in public in full formal dress.
In show business, Shaindlin has long been known as “the shirt-sleeve” conductor because the attire he usually wears when he mounts the podium is more appropriate for a gymnasium instructor.
Despite these “strip tease” appearances in front of his orchestra, he probably is heard by more people who listen to music than any other conductor in show business. Besides such occasional formal concerts as the Gershwin program tonight, he provides music for more than a hundred films a year. Fresh in mind are “Teresa,” “Lost Boundaries,” “The Roosevelt Story,” “Farewell to Yesterday,” and “Whispering City.” Two recent ones are “The Whistle at Eaton Falls,” which was filmed in New Hampshire and “The Man With My Face,” which was filmed in Puerto Rico.
But the greatest “circulation” for Shaindlin’s music comes from his putting sharps and flats onto the sound tracks of “The March of Time,” Fox-Movietone and Universal newsreels and innumerable short features and documentary films.
Export on Timing
Watching this tall, sun-tanned conductor set the music on a March of Time release—a story on Morocco—the other day was a lesson in precision timing.
“In conducting an orchestra on radio or in a Broadway musical show,” he said, “I do not have to worry particularly about a margin of time. But for films I must synchronize the music to each portion of the film to one twenty-fifth of a second’s precision. The problem of timing sometimes gets me into serious trouble.
“Once when putting music to a March of Time film on Brazil I was told five minutes before we recorded the music that a sequence to be accompanied by the Brazilian national anthem had been cut 24 feet or 16 seconds less time—and that’s a lot of time.
“I had to record immediately and wondered how I could cut a piece of music which is sacred to a whole nation. I decided, instead, to quicken the tempo and just made it. Later I got a letter from an indignant gentleman in Rio De Janerio [sic] bawling my out unmercifully for playing his national anthem at a galloping pace. He said the next time he was in New York he was going to avenge the insult by pounding me in the nose. Needless to say, I haven’t been answering the phone to any Brazilian gentlemen since.”
Shaindlin, who looks more like a Texas cowboy than a Russian was born in the Crimea where his father was a wholesale oil dealer. That was during the revolution and Shaindlin, then a youngster of twelve, found it difficult to keep at his piano lessons while so much shooting was going on outside.
Led Army Band
“One day the commander of one of the Red army units was killed,” Shaindlin said, “and it was necessary to have some music at his funeral. There was a six-piece army band but no one to lead it. Although I was only 12 they drafted me for the job and the fellows in the band all said I did fine.
“My father was killed by a bandit, so my mother decided to take the family and join her brother in Chicago. We got to Constantinople before out money ran out. I played piano in waterfront dives for eight months to get money to get us as far as Rome. There I played piano some more to get us to Marseilles, and then piano some more to get us to Chicago.
“There I entered a musical contest being run by a newspaper and I won only to discover that the first prize was a trip to Europe, the place I had worked so hard to get away from. So I traded in first prize for the second prize, a baby grand piano.
“Then I started hiring out with my piano to work my way to Broadway and I’m nailing my piano to the floor here. I’m not moving again. I’ll let my music on films, records and radio do all my traveling henceforth.”

Shaindlin must have had some stock stories. The one about winning a trip to Europe (to study music) was reported in Leonard Lyons’ Broadway column in 1947. And the Brazil tale appeared in a June 15, 1947 column, one very similar to what was written four years later.

Up and Down Broadway
By Jack Gaver
United Press Staff Correspondent

Jack Shaindlin reversed his usual procedure when he conducted one of Carnegie Hall “Pop” concerts by donning a coat and tie before he mounted the podium. Ordinarily he shucks down to a wide open collar and rolled-up shirtsleeves before he lifts a baton.
For Shaindlin is not accustomed to public shows. When he conducts, the only people around are the musicians, the place is a studio and the work at hand consists of scoring movies.
His work probably has been heard by more persons than that of any other conductor, for he specializes in assembling, arranging and conducting the background music for newsreels, short subjects of various kinds and “The March Of Time.” When you do this for a dozen years or so, your work gets around even if the general public doesn't know you from a cymbal player.
The walls of Shaindlin’s office are lined with cabinets containing musical scores all carefully labeled so that he can immediately lay his hands on a chunk of whatever type of music the newsreel of the moment calls for.
“I use only the best musicians in New York,” Shaindlin said. “About 30 of them at a time. I hardly dare tell you how few out of the hundreds of members of Local 802 I can use. I have to have men who can get a score perfect the first time. A few, but by no means all, are symphony orchestra men.”
Shaindlin appreciates the musical art as much as the next one, but his present work is strictly a business with him and he refuses to waste any time and money fussing around with numerous false starts the way they do in Hollywood. His theory is that if a conductor knows what he wants and he has men who can deliver it, there’s no need for a second take.
The conductor comes by his impatience with dawdling naturally because he grew lip in a hard school. He was a piano-playing kid in Russia when the revolution caused him and his family to flee by degrees to the United States. They had to stop in practically every country along the way to earn more money to keep going.
“I never got much of a chance at a formal musical education after we got here,” Shaindlin said. “Therewas always the need to work. I used to play the piano accompaniment to silent movies and graduated from that to pit bands in movie and vaudeville houses. You don’t learn how to waste time being fancy in that sort of work.”
Scoring short subjects may seem like an easy job, but Shaindlin has to give them extreme care. Even though his music is merely for background purposes, somewhere there are a few sharp-eared critics just waiting to catch mistakes. There was the Brazilian incident, for example:
“It involved a ‘March of Time’ documentary on Brazil,” Shaindlin explained. “There was one spot just long enough for the Brazilian anthem. I had it all worked out, then just as we were ready to record I was advised that the footage of that sequence had been cut and I had 12 seconds less time for the anthem. Rather than cut it short, I decided to get the whole piece in by stepping up the tempo ever so slightly. Who would notice?
“Well, one Brazilian did. The company got a hot letter from this fellow, who said the conductor had insulted Brazil by playing the anthem too fast and that he was taking the next boat for New York to erase the blot by assassinating the conductor. Needless to say, I didn’t meet the boat.”

A sense of humour had Shaindlin, at least according to Broadway columnist Earl Wilson, who quoted him on occasion. One column included the random witticism: “Jack Shaindlin offers his psychology on humility: ‘The only thing you’ll get by asking for it in a low voice is a low salary’.”

Not much in this post has had something to do with Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but let’s change that. Prior to the release of the Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound DVDs by Warner Home Video and the Pic-A-Nic Basket music CDs by Rhino, the late Earl Kress had been responsible for researching background music in the cartoons so the rights could be acquired. In the course of his work, he was given copies of the original Hanna-Barbera music clearance sheets. They were found going through Earl’s effects and were sent to me by Earl’s buddy Rick Greene.

The sheets are for music from the very first Huckleberry Hound show, which would have been in 1958, but the sheets are from June 1960. Perhaps the little cartoons-between-the-cartoons were changed for rebroadcast, meaning a change in music.

You’ll notice Charlie Shows gets a composing credit on the theme songs, and that each of the cartoons had a 20-second before cue before them, indicating that individual credit titles appeared before each cartoon, not just a title card. And only one cue has a formal title. I suspect that’s because it didn’t come from Langlois Filmusic or Capitol Hi-Q, which used alpha-numeric titles. It came from the Sam Fox library, probably the Variety series.

If I recall, Guyla Avery was Bill Hanna’s secretary.

Earl, unfortunately, never collected these sheets for all the cartoons. But it’s nice that he photocopied one set and would no doubt be very happy that fans of Jack Shaindlin, and his fellow stock music composer, are getting the chance to see what played when Jinksie chased them miserable meeces.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

From the Bookshelf

Here’s today’s trivia question: What does this….

….Have to do with this?

A hint—the photo at the top is of the man who immortalised the phrase “Ah, there’s good news tonight!” We’ll get to the answer in a second.

But first…

We’re getting word about books that have been, are about to be, or may be, published that involve Hanna-Barbera. You might want to know about this one from Leslie Stern, whose step-father was H-B designer Iwao Takamoto.

Iwao himself wrote a book not too many years before he died and it’s a nice remembrance of his time at H-B. Of course, there’s the sad side about what happened during World War Two, as his and other innocent Japanese families were removed from their homes in California and moved to camps.

Tim Hollis, who somehow manages to churn out book after book, has another one. The cover you see to your right is pretty self-explanatory. Hanna-Barbera’s deal with Kellogg’s that put Huckleberry Hound on the air in 1958 logically seems to have had a pitch clause as a lot of the syndicated H-B characters started hawking cereals. Later, of course, Post picked up the Flintstones as spoke-cartoons in ads that were, to be honest, more fun than those Flintstones sequel shows.

You should find the book through on-line sources.

If you want to see my all-time favourite H-B cereal commercial, watch below. I think someone told me Ed Love animated this. Daws Butler does a great job as Mr. Jinks. And how can anyone hate meeces singing “Yeah, yeah, yeah”?

And now the answer to our question above. Here’s the connection.

Elliot Field, as you may be able to see in the fuzzy caption, provided voices on the Quick Draw McGraw Show. He was the original voice of Blabber Mouse (four cartoons) and played Grumbleweed and a variety of other roles in the first Quick Draw cartoon. At the time, Elliot was the afternoon drive host on KFWB radio in Los Angeles. He had arrived after a brief but successful career on stations in San Antonio and Dallas. But, before that, in Walter Winchell’s column of June 18, 1956, is the squib.

Elliot Field, long with Gabe Heatter, will be a news specialist for a Boston station.

Elliot wrote me to explain that he was Heatter’s show and recording producer on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1952-56.

But Elliot’s career goes back to the Golden Days of Radio. Last week, he celebrated the 70th anniversary of his first job in radio. His first job was on “Youth on Parade,” a sustaining (no sponsor) programme fed to 83 CBS stations from WEEI Boston. A chap named Dolphe Martin created the half-hour Saturday morning show in 1941, which featured young people singing, an orchestra, adventure sketches, doing impressions, and so on, just like any variety show. The show went network the following year after 44 broadcasts.

You may be wondering how Elliot was hired at Hanna-Barbera, which was looking for new talent (and not familiar voices from network radio) when Quick Draw went on the air. And why he left before coming back to work on a few episodes of “The Flintstones.” I’m curious, too. Elliot says he’s putting everything together in a memoir. It’s be interesting to read when he gets done. When it’s published there will, indeed, be good news tonight.