Friday 22 March 2013

More About Yogi's Birthday Party

Here’s a fine, full-page cover for the Sunday supplement of the Miami News of October 1, 1961 where there’s a little bit more information about the airing of the Yogi Bear Birthday Party cartoon on stations during the week ahead (Boo Boo looks like he’s day-dreaming).

The show wasn’t a special in that it pre-empted regular programming. It ran in the usual half-hour slot that Kellogg’s bartered/bought for Yogi on whatever station normally ran it. Stations were encouraged to have their kids show host front some kind of on-air birthday party with youngsters in the studio audience. In Miami, the News said:

A SPECIAL Yogi Bear show—in color—on Channel 7 at 7 p.m. Wednesday will mark the popular cartoon character’s birthday. Channel 7 officials here are conducting a contest in which young viewers send in birthday cards—of their own design—wishing Yogi a Happy Birthday.

Designers of the 100 cards judged best will be invited to attend the special program Wednesday at the WCKT studios. Ice cream, cake, favors and a special three-minute break during the show in which prizes will be awarded to contestants will comprise the event.

So the Miami station had an in-studio cut-in during the Yogi half-hour. Kellogg’s didn’t buy additional time. That seems to have been the case almost everywhere I’ve looked as stations had other programmes on either side of Yogi they were committed to air (in Miami, Yogi was between “Huntley-Brinkley” and “Wagon Train.”) But they went all out in Fairbanks, Alaska, with a special broadcast. 228 kids showed up. The Daily Miner of October 5, 1961 reported:

Yogi Bear Celebration
Yogi Bear is going to celebrate his birthday tomorrow, with a special birthday party program, attended by Huckleberry Hound, Boo Boo Bear, Ranger Smith and other notables. The party will be seen on television from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday evening on Channel Two.
The local birthday party program for Yogi will be held in the USO. It will be emceed by Wee Willy Wally of KFAR-TV. Winners of the Yogi Bear contest will participate and 12 of the winners will receive prizes which will be announced on the air as the climax of the Yogi Bear Birthday Party program. The children invited to the USO are listed in tonight's paper on page six. Children are requested to be at the USO by 6:45 Friday evening and the party will last until 8 p.m.
It was originally planned to have the party at the KFAR-TV studios but the location had to be changed due to lack of space.

The Los Angeles Times of October 5, 1961 seemed to indicate Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera actually put in an appearance on the birthday broadcast but all that aired was the half-hour cartoon, so it’s your guess how they did it (a quick recorded message perhaps?).

It’s unfortunate the version of the cartoon that’s on DVD has no credits on it. Here are a few shots of the show:

Yes, it would have been cool to have multiple Yowps in the dog pack instead of an anonymous one-shot character.

This cartoon was unique. Hanna-Barbera never highlighted one character in an entire syndicated half-hour again. One wonders why the studio did it. Just to sell cereal? Perhaps. But this show aired when cartoon competition started getting heavy. The Miami News edition also contains an article about the explosion of new animation on TV. The Yogi birthday would certainly have given the series some needed attention amidst the distracting siren call of “The Alvin Show,” “Calvin and the Colonel” and other new cartoons looking for an audience. More than the usual effort was put in, with Hoyt Curtin contributing an original song (are those the Randy Horne singers in the background?), a voice cast of five and what appear to be an awful lot of scene cuts in some places.

It was also a swan song of sorts. Hanna-Barbera was evolving and moving away from the sponsored, self-contained, three-characters-in-a-half-hour style of show (“Magilla Gorilla” and “Peter Potamus” excepted). The studio already had two shows on prime time and more planned. Its new syndicated cartoons were shorter and weren’t part of a packaged show. Soon the studio would be enticing networks to dump live-action shows out of Saturday morning time slots.

And Yogi was moving on, too. To a theatre near you.


  1. While even as a TV watching four-year-old I had qualms about the way Yogi's stories were developing, the base the characters were built on over the previous three years was still far stronger than the carbon copies of the scheming funny animal vs. human authority figure the studio would turn out over the next several years. But 1961 definitely was the point where you could obviously see the growing workload the studio was taking on was outpacing the level of creativity the staff could come up with for the network half hours and the 30-minute syndicated shows.

  2. "The Los Angeles Times of October 5, 1961 seemed to indicate Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera actually put in an appearance on the birthday broadcast but the Google News archive is now impossible to search so I can’t find all of the article."

    This is why I can't really get behind Google if they don't finishing what they started. It was a real dumb move to discontinue updating it, let alone making it tougher to search now. Why start something and them forget it?

  3. At one time, I owned a 16mm print of this cartoon that I gave to Earl as a trade for something else. The end credits were on it, and all I can recall is that Harvey Eisenberg was credited for the storyboard.

  4. Ken Muse also animated on this show, doing the helicopter sequence toward the end.
    Mark Kausler

  5. I'd like that all of you see a scene from this special, involving Yogi. Boo Boo, Mr. Ranger, Cindy and several Hanna-Barbera classical characters from the three trilogies which Hanna-Barbera produced from 1958 until that occasion in which this special was produced: The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-62), The Quick Draw McGraw Show (1959-62) and the classical Yogi Bear Show (1960-62).
    This scene appears on the following link:

    Alongside Yogi are following characters: Ranger Smith, Snooper & Blabber, Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Quick Draw McGraw, Cindy (on her first version, where she looks like a Southern lady), Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy, the Meeces (Pixie & Dixie), Yakky Doodle, Hokey Wolf, Mr. Jinks and, of course, Boo Boo.
    All together now! A real Hanna-Barbera family album!
    Seeing this reference, I could recognize the Ed Benedict's design on it.

  6. I remember viewing "YBP" in synd., in the 1988 second half, at age 20yo.
    I also remember looking HARD at the closing credits - and being BUMMED at the ABSENCE of "ANIMATION" credits.

  7. 3/23/13 wrote:
    I recall seeing the "Yogi Bear Birthday Special" once on Ted Turner's WTBS station in Atlanta,and remember the segments, the songs, and ending credits(except of course, the animator credits),and the mention of Screen Gems imprint at the fade out (like the on-screen imprints on The Jetsons & The Flintstones' first three seasons. No "torch lady" logo or "Dancing Sticks" logo as I can recall,as Turner's company had those removed,and replaced with Turner's "globe" logo. Today, Warner Brothers must own the rights to this special,and they may have put out the DVD. I have yet to obtain a copy.) As far as I know, I haven't seen the special aired since 1988. Why doesn't Boomerang have a print of this special? Back in 1961, The ABC affiliate Channel 7-WXYZ Detroit must have aired the original version. I don't recall Channel 50-WDBK Detroit or Channel 25-WHYT of Flint/Saginaw showing this special on any of their syndicated time slots.

  8. On the 2010 DVD release of "Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper," this cartoon was included as a bonus episode. It also has the end credits intact and uncut.