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 façade. 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.


  1. I always get a kick out of that expansive ranger's office setting with barely any furnishing in sight.

  2. THis is an excellent example of character development it shows, like other shows, someone leaving and what other and how other characters react. I always get a kick out of the ranger's cigar car.SC