Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Bear That Wasn't

The ‘50s and early ‘60s were an era of novelty records. There were songs about itsy-bitsy bikinis, purple people eaters, witch doctors and dragon-nets. And there was one about Yogi Bear. Well, kind of.

From out of nowhere in 1960, three frat brothers at Adelphi University on Long Island formed a group called the Ivy Three and banged on the door of Shell Records, a little company owned by a New Jersey dentist. Shell seems to have existed to sell its masters to more well-off record companies. Ivy member Charles Koppelman (aka Charlie Cane) co-wrote a song called “Yogi.” It was recorded by Georgie Young and the Rockin’ Bocs on the Swan label, but the Ivy Three’s version hopped on the charts at Number 80 on August 8th and peaked at Number 8 eight weeks later before the inevitable burnout (the Polka Dot Bikini, “Brontosaurus Stomp” and “Alvin For President” were on the charts at the same time). London Records bought the song and released it overseas.

The Ivy Three cut one more 45 before calling it a career; Shell seems to have died in 1961, too. But before then, the Alpha Kappa frat boys took their “Yogi” song to the Dick Clark show where the three singers gave a cheesy miming demonstration while a guy in a bear suit cavorted around them.

And that brings us to the “kind of” part. Other than the quasi-Daws Butler impersonation (which sounds more like Art Carney’s Ed Norton) in the chorus and the arbitrary shout of “Hey, Boo Boo!” the song has absolutely nothing to do with Yogi Bear or any cartoon characters. The lyrics involve a yogi, as in the transcendental meditation kind. You can read the lyrics here. And below, you can watch that 53-year-old performance on Dick Clark’s show. No doubt tossing in the impression was a great way to trade on the popularity of Jellystone Park’s best-known denizen. And the charts show that people liked it for a few weeks.

Koppelman went on to an interesting career in the music industry. You can read about it in the May 18, 1992 edition of The New Yorker.

Click on the arrow to play a clip of the Georgie Young version. Actually, you get about half of the song. Billboard of August 1, 1960 reveals the vocalist is Bobby McGraw, though the label artist is Georgie Young.

If you prefer the original Yogi Bear song we all know and love, here’s Hoyt Curtin’s jolly closing theme from the half-hour cartoon show, which didn’t exist at the time the Ivy Three had their less-than-monster hit, with the Randy Van Horne Singers and Greg Watson’s (?) sound effects. Note how Curtin works in a snippet of the Kellogg’s jingle in the first two bars.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Quick Draw McGraw — Gun Shy Gal

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Paul Sommer; Layout – Tony Rivera; Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: – Quick Draw, Baba Looey, Candy Store Clerk, Billy the Little Kid, Horsie, Wild Bill Hiccup, Sheriff, Townsmen – Daws Butler; Narrator, Townsmen, Man With Hat – Doug Young; Texas Tillie, Ma McGraw – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Emil Cadkin-Harry Bluestone, unknown.
First Aired: 1960?, week of March 6, 1961.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-038, Production J-100.
Plot: Quick Draw tries to bring in Texas Tillie.

I’ve always liked the ending of this cartoon. Here you have a bunch of men completely in fear and helpless against the evil badwoman, but a little old lady can take care of her just by walking in, grabbing her ear and pulling her off to jail. And the capper is she takes care of the fibbing Quick Draw McGraw, too.

About the only confusing thing about the cartoon is its title. Who’s the “Gun Shy Gal”? Texas Tillie isn’t shy of guns. It doesn’t appear Ma McGraw is either.

Writer Mike Maltese takes a bit of time to set up the main action in the cartoon, and he turns it into a running gag. “Many stories have been written about the colourful characters of the old West,” our narrator tells us to open the cartoon. Quick Draw keeps butting in, thinking he’s the one the narrator is talking about. And, no, it’s not Baba Looey, who eventually butts in, too. This gives Maltese a chance to fit in puns about some of the colourful characters, such as Billy the Little Kidder(a jellybean-stealing boy on a stick-horse that inexplicably neighs) and Wild Bill Hiccup (you know the joke). Note that Wild Bill has little pipe-stem legs; Tony Rivera has been designing characters again.

Finally, the narrator gets around to introducing Texas Tillie, who has Jean Vander Pyl’s Mae West voice. She shoots the hat off a man in a saloon because “a gentleman always removes his hat in the presence of a lady.” Cut to the sheriff complaining Tillie got away with all the town’s money. The dialogue lacks Maltese’s real outrageousness in his Warners Bros. dialogue.

Narrator: Well, you’re the sheriff. Why don’t you go after her?
Sheriff: Well, I need a haircut and shave, and I’m married, and besides—she’s dangerous.

With that, the sheriff supposedly zips away. Paul Sommer is the animator. While Carlo Vinci would stretch the character in a bunch of different shapes between the pose and the exit, and Ken Muse would simply eliminate the stretch drawing, Sommer provide a weak in-between, a far too solid drawing. This, by the way, was the only cartoon Sommer seems to have animated upon his arrival at Hanna-Barbera; he was moved into layout and then story direction a year or so later. Sommer had come from the east in 1937 with Fred Quimby’s first hirings at the new MGM studio. He worked at Columbia in the 1940s until the studio closed and then moved back across the country to Terrytoons (thanks to Howard Beckerman for the information). He spent some time with former Columbia director Howard Swift at Swift-Chaplin Productions in Hollywood before taking over at Song Ads in mid-1957. About the same time, he headed a unit at TV Spots run by Sam Nicholson.

The narrator then talks to the townsfolk. In unison, they repeat how dangerous Tillie is. That brings about a “Hold on thar!” and a pan over to Quick Draw who declares he’s “not afraid of a mere frail sensitive female-type bandit.” So now we get some routines of various lengths (like Maltese’s gag-writing for Wile E. Coyote) as Quick Draw fails to arrest her. First, he pretends to be Cane Clobber bearing jewelled brace-e-lets for her. She locks his legs in the handcuffs (off camera, of course). Next, Quick Draw (wearing a sombrero with pom-poms) parks himself outside her window to serenade her to jail in a stupid, off-key song, accompanied by a one-note guitar. Tillie’s atop the house and shoves the chimney on him. Quick Draw then sneaks up behind her in a rocking chair and tries to scare her. Tillie doesn’t even look. She pulls out a gun, aims it behind her and fires. “Ooo. That smarts.”

Finally, Quick Draw decides to “fights fire with fire, and females with females.” That’s when he calls for his Ma and complains “There’s a weak, sensitive, female-type bandit who won’t me arrest her, ma.” And with a “Hold on thar, female bandit,” Ma drags her by the ear to justice. But when Quick Draw tells the sheriff he arrested Tillie “all by myself, too,” Ma washes his mouth out with soap. Baba tagline: “I like that Quickstraw. He’s good to his mother—if he knows what’s good for him. Iris out on Quick Draw sucking on a bubbling bar of soap.

Jean Vander Pyl recycled her Ma McGraw voice (Ma’s only appearance) into Ma Rugg of The Hillbilly Bears a few years later.

This is one cartoon where Quick Draw doesn’t say “I’ll do the thinnin’ around here.”

There’s wisely no stock music behind Quick Draw’s atrocious guitar serenade, and there’s another brief portion of the cartoon where music would distract. Otherwise, there are lots of snippets of cues as some scenes are short. What I think is Clarence Wheeler’s “Woodwind Capers” shows up toward the end, and we get almost a full rendition of the Jack Shaindlin medium march that ends very similar to his cue “Sportscope.”

0:00 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub Main Title theme (Curtin).
0:15 - ZR-39A WESTERN SONG (Hormel) – Narration over desert, shots fired from candy store.
0:27 - ZR-94 CHASE (Hormel) – Billy the Little Kid scene.
0:47 - GR-347 GATHERING THE PRODUCE (Green) – Narrator over desert, Wild Bill Hiccup scene.
1:11 - GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO (Green) – Narrator over desert, shot of men in saloon.
1:35 - GR-348 EARLY MORNING (Green) – Men shout “Texas Tillie!”, Tillie tells them to stick ‘em up.
1:41 - GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT (Green) – Hat lifting scene, sheriff, Quick Draw vows to capture Tillie.
2:38 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw and Baba talk while walking.
3:02 - CRAZY GOOF (Shaindlin) – Shot of Tillie’s house, Quick Draw offers “bracelets,” guns in face.
3:54 - ‘FIREMAN’ (Shaindlin) – “I have a pair of six-shooters,” Quick Draw in handcuffs.
4:14 - La Cucaracha (?) – Quick Draw says he’ll serenade Tillie.
4:32 - off key singing, Tillie drops chimney on Quick Draw.
4:46 - CB-83A MR TIPPY TOES (Cadkin-Bluestone) – Chimney crash, Quick Draw in chimney.
5:08 - Tillie rocks in chair.
5:14 - WOODWIND CAPERS? (Wheeler) – Quick Draw peers around side of wall, Tillie shoots him.
5:30 - GR-472 HICKSVILLE (Green) – Quick Draw gets his ma, “We’ll see about that.”
5:52 - LAF6-16 Sportscope-ish (Shaindlin) – Ma races off camera, pulls Tillie by ear, pulls Quick Draw by ear, Quick Draw with soap in mouth.
6:42 - Quick Draw McGraw Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Flintstones Weekend Comics, May 1963

Comic books and comic strips have, on occasion, gone off in different directions than the animated series which gave birth to them. The Roadrunner comics had the Roadrunner talking… and in rhyme. Mickey Mouse had marvellous adventures in Floyd Gottfredson’s comic pages while the on-screen Mickey became fairly lacklustre.

And Gene Hazelton, or whoever came up with stories for the Flintstones comics, thought it’d be a great idea for Dino and Pebbles to talk. Well, they talk to themselves. The concept of thought balloons greatly increases the opportunities for observational humour but the purist in me just isn’t comfortable with it (and don’t ask me about the several lame post-Flintstones cartoon series).

So it is we get to hear Dino’s innermost thoughts beginning this month 50 years ago in the weekend colour comics (whether it happened in the daily strips by this time, I don’t know). Dino and Pebbles actually appear in all four comics in May 1963, though they don’t drive the plot in all of them. As a fan of Baby Puss, I regret to point out the cat doesn’t appear in any of them again this month.

The final panel of the May 5th comic has an imaginative, slightly-overhead layout. I like Dino peeking around the back of the house, with a question mark over his head. Dino’s pretty comical; look at him covering his head in the opener. We get a silhouette panel, and snow-capped volcanoes in the end panel.

Ouch! Bad pun in the May 12th comic. Like the mole drawing though. The exterior of the hospital is nice, too. Nice shape to the title in the opening panel; very ‘60s. Dr. Rockwell has a half cocoanut shell ashtray. I wonder if 100 years from now, people won’t be able to understand there was a time no one gave a second thought about smoking and there was virtually no anti-tobacco lobby. Say, is that hospital receptionist writing on a stone . . . with a pencil?

A great gizmo highlights the comic from May 19th. A dinosaur is overtop of a mountain in the second panel of the second row. Looks like a different artist from the week before.

Dino’s wonderfully expressive in the May 26th comic. Check out the last row. Nice expression on Fred, too. The triceratops toy shows up for a second time in the opening panel. And Wilma comes down with a case of Instant Watch Syndrome, where a cartoon character wears a watch whenever required to by the plot, before and after which it mysteriously disappears.

As usual, you can click on each comic to enlarge it for better viewing.

Monday 20 May 2013

Puppets Expose Fred and Barney

So did Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera actually rip off “The Honeymooners” and turn it into “The Flintstones”? Sure, you’ve heard Joe rhetorically ask “Did ‘The Honeymooners’ have a Pola-rock camera?” as if that settles the question.

But why get the answer from Joe Barbera when you can get it from puppets?

Here’s a clever video on the history of TV which includes a mention of the Modern Stone Age family. It’s terrific and worth your time to watch if you haven’t seen it. These guys are on Facebook at this page.

My thanks to Jim Baxter for the link.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Augie Doggie — Horse Fathers

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Don Williams, Layout – Hi Mankin, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Alex Lovy, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie, Roscoe, Fly, Passerby – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy – Doug Young.
Music: Phil Green, Jack Shaindlin.
First Aired: 1961.
Episode: Quick Draw McGraw Show M-037, Production J-109.
Plot: Augie gives Daddy a blue horse for his birthday.

Mike Maltese gave Doggie Daddy an over-emotional horse in “Nag! Nag! Nag!” in the first season, so he tried it again in the second season. Different horse, though. This one is named Roscoe and is blue (I suppose if Hanna-Barbera can have a blue hound dog, it can have a blue horse).

The toothy horse in this cartoon is designed by layout man Hi Mankin, who I presume was freelancing. This is the only H-B cartoon where I can find his name, at least until he arrived at the studio to work on Jonny Quest in the ‘60s. Hi spent most of his life in comic art but he has an interesting animation pedigree. His dad was the owner of Cartoon Colour Co. in Culver City, which supplied paint for cels. One of his aunts was married to Max Maxwell, the Disney and Harman-Ising veteran who was the first production manager at the Fred Quimby-run MGM cartoon studio in 1937. Young Hi was an in-betweener in the Hanna-Barbera unit at MGM in the late ‘40s. You can read more about Hi here. Hiram Julian Mankin III died in Los Angeles on December 30, 1978. He was only 52.

Hi’s layouts aren’t all that spectacular. About the best thing in the cartoon is some of the expressions animator Don Williams gives to the characters, especially Roscoe. Note how first two drawings below of the cowboy hat and Daddy and the horse’s bodies are the same, they’re just turned around and inked and painted in reverse.

I mentioned in the post on Williams’ animation in “Pop’s Nature’s Pup” from the previous season that it looks like Williams animated the medium-shot scenes at one time and the close-up scenes at another because the shots didn’t match. The same thing happens in this cartoon. The two drawings below are on consecutive frames but the expressions don’t match.

Mike Maltese’s story is a variation on the “Can-We-Keep-(insert name of pet here)?” plot he recycled over and over in the Augie cartoons. The difference this time is the animal Augie’s bringing home to Dear Old Dad is a birthday present. Augie enumerates his gifts for us as Daddy sleeps to open the cartoon—a scrumptious birthday cake, a large parcel, a ten-gallon hat (Daddy size) and a noisy wake-up complete with horn and bass drum (“Jupin’ Jumpiter!” exclaims Daddy in a nice word turnaround). No doubt Daddy speaks for all fathers watching when he confides: “After all, it’s a father’s birthday duty to withstand surprises.”

“Be aghast with wonderment at your gift,” says Augie, pointing to the large package. Inside is Roscoe, who jumps on Daddy and slurps him like a dog. Daddy tries to kick him out of the house, but we gets tears from Augie and the Sylvester Junior-like “oh-the-shame-of-it” catchphrase and self-psychoanalysis. “Because my dear old dad rejected my birthday gift, I shall grow up with a trauma.” So Daddy lets Roscoe stay. “I wouldn’t want my boy to grow up with a trauma. They’re the woist kind,” he tells us.

Cut to the next scene, with Daddy about to enjoy his birthday cake with Augie and the horse. Roscoe, for some reason, has lost his nostrils in the medium shot of the three characters. A fly enters the cartoon and lands on Daddy’s nose. Roscoe tries to swat it away but smacks Daddy in the snout instead. Williams animates the nose, as it bounces around in four different positions, a bit of extra drawing that would be deemed superfluous in later cartoons. “It was only a fly, dear old dad” Augie says. “It felt more like a horse fly to me,” Dad muses. It’s time to blow out the candles, but the horse does it before Daddy has a chance—and blows the cake out the window and onto a chuckling “innocent passerby” (as he calls himself). Chuckles gives Daddy a gift, too—a punch in the face.

Roscoe neighs “I’ll say!” when Augie suggests the animal can take “flabby dad” on a healthy horseback ride. “Tall in the saddle dad” crash into the wall above the living room door when the grinning horse gallops through it. The hammy horse bawls when Daddy says “I remain terra firma and terra cotta” in not accepting the Roscoe’s apology, and tells him he can “throw all the transoms” he wants. Roscoe responds with a Muttley-like mutter and another crashing ride for “ditto dad.”

Daddy gives up. But that isn’t the end of it. Roscoe whispers something to Augie. The boy sets-up Dad. “What do you think of anyone who would separate a father and a son?” he asks. “Words cannot elucidate a low-down, no-good, low-life who would dare do such a thing,” Daddy exclaims. That’s Roscoe’s cue to invite his son to live with them. What can they do with two horses in the house? Much like the horse in “Nag! Nag! Nag!”—use them for furniture. Daddy looks at the camera and does his standard “After all, how many homes can boast a pair of real, live horse bookends?” line as the cartoon ends.

The sound-cutter wisely cuts the background music when Augie is tooting the toy horn and banging the drum to wake up Doggie Daddy. Roscoe gets his own galloping music—Jack Shaindlin’s “Six Day Bicycle Race.” Otherwise, the music is Phil Green’s work from the EMI Photoplay library, most of it from the Kiddie Comedy Suite.

0:00 - Augie Doggie Main Title theme (Hanna-Barbera-Curtin).
0:25 - GR-259 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER (Green) – Daddy sleeping, Augie looks over gifts.
1:02 - No music. Noisemaker and bass drum wake up Daddy, Daddy asks “What’s going on?”
1:17 - EM-107D LIGHT MOVEMENT (Green) – “It’s your birthday,” Daddy opens package, Daddy allows Roscoe to stay, horse slurps Daddy.
3:11 - GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS (Green) – Horse slurps Daddy, birthday cake scene.
4:35 - GR-256 TOYLAND BURGLAR (Green) – Daddy wants to evict horse, Augie suggests horse ride.
4:55 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Horse ride, crash.
5:06 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – “Tall in the saddle dad,” horse cries.
5:44 - SIX DAY BICYCLE RACE (Shaindlin) – Horse ride, crash.
5:54 - GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY (Green) – Daddy gives up, “…do such a thing.”
6:21 - GR-65 BUSH BABY (Green) – “Hear that Roscoe?” Roscoe Jr. comes in, bookends.
7:00 - GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS (Green) – Daddy talks to audience.
7:10 - Augie Doggie End Title theme (Curtin).

Wednesday 15 May 2013

The Continuing Hunt for Red Coffey

Before there was a Yakky Doodle played by Jimmy Weldon on the “Yogi Bear Show,” Hanna-Barbera had a similar duck with a similar voice provided by Red Coffey. The duck appeared with Yogi, Augie Doggie, Snooper and Blabber and even Loopy De Loop, the boring good wolf. The duck was called Iddy Biddy Buddy on Yogi’s early cartoon “Slumber Party Smarty” and in merchandise. Before Iddy, there was a similar duck with a similar voice by Coffey on a handful of Tom and Jerry theatrical cartoons at MGM. The only on-screen voice credit for any of those cartoons was on the Loopy short, and the billing read “Red Coffee.”

Trying to answer the question “Whatever happened to Red Coffey?” has been somewhat maddening. A post on the blog was devoted to the subject awhile ago. A few of Red’s former co-workers chimed in with some valuable information. So I’ve tried again to hunt him down and have finally met with a bit of success.

When we last left Red, he had split from his partnership with singer Jerry Wallace and was on the road in 1960 with “Hellzapoppin’.” Commenters picked up the story and said Red was later in a revue featuring his wife Karen and that his actual last name was Coffman.

Leave us put on our Super Snooper deerstalker cap and stalk down some clues. Trying to find someone with the nickname “Red” isn’t exactly easy. So let’s see if we can find him through his wife.

Red and Karen travelled hither and yon during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Stories and ads about their appearances bill her as “Karen De Luce.” A check of that name on the web has found a couple of complaints were lodged against her in the mid-‘60s before the American Federation of Musicians for back salary. One reveals her name was actually Dolores Coffman. Aha! A clue! So what happens when we plug that name into the search engine at Elementary school, my dear, Blab. We find ourselves with a Dolores Irene Coffman, who was born in Missouri in 1917 and died in Orange County, California in 1997. Her maiden name was “Luse.” Hmm. “De Luce.” “D. Luse.” Coincidence? Let’s find out.

Gingerly, we type “Dolores Irene Coffman” into a newspaper search engine. And that’s when we come up with this story from the
Abiline Reporter-News of April 5, 1965.

Voice of Yogi Bear Hurt In East Abilene Smashup
A one-car smashup in east Abilene injured the voice impersonator of a children’s television show and his wife at 4 a.m. Monday, police reported.
In fair condition at Hendrick Memorial Hospital are Mr. and Mrs. Merl Coffman of Reseda, Calif.
Coffman is the voice for the “Yogi Bear” and “Huckleberry Hound” shows under the stage name of Roy Robert Coffee, 40, said Officer Joe Hicks.
Cotfman complained of pains in the head, chest, pelvis and knee. His wife, Dolores Irene Coffman, 47, suffered cuts on the ankle, hand and wrist, a hospital official said.
The accident occurred as the Coffmans attempted to turn off Interstate 20 onto the U. S. 80 business route into Abilene. They were traveling west. Their 1964 station wagon hit a guard railing and wedged. A heavy duty wrecker was called to pull it loose. The car was a total loss, Hicks said.
Coffman was driving and was trying to find a gas station since he was low on fuel, according to Hicks.
The officer said Coffman told him he was the voice for the children’s shows. A hospital official confirmed this. Hicks added he saw receipts for Coffman’s role in the television shows.
Hicks was assisted in the investigation by Sgt. Dwain Pyburn and Officer Carl Ewell.

Well, we finally have part of a real name of our proto-Yakky Doodle and a genaeological web search reveals a little bit more.

Merle H. Coffman was born on April 24, 1923 near Arkansas City, Kansas to Homer C. and Ethel Irene (Mitchell) Coffman. He was the youngest of two brothers. His father was a railway brakeman while his mother worked in a dress shop; they died about six weeks apart in 1982. In 1940, the family was living in Cushing, Oklahoma. Merle and Dolores married in Nevada on February 25, 1961. Their revue had various incarnations. It played at the Gold Room in the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. But it also trudged through small town America; construction hadn’t finished at the 125-seat lounge the 18-member cast was supposed to open in Spencer, Iowa in 1973 but the show went on. The Social Security Death Index reveals Merle H. Coffman died in August 1988. seems to indicate he died August 1st in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Could they have have been entertaining on a cruise ship? Alas, the trail runs cold again.

There’s one other interesting news story about Red. It’s from the
Pasadena Independent of March 4, 1960.

Former Deputy Held on Three Drug Counts
A former deputy sheriff was arraigned yesterday in Los Angeles on three counts involving marijuana possession and sale.
Ross H. Moore, 37, taken into custody at his West Covina home after he assertedly sold marijuana to undercover deputies, appeared before Municipal Judge Winthrop Johnson for the brief court proceedings.
His associate, in the alleged violation of the State Health and Safety Code, Merle H. Coffman, 36, was arraigned on single count of possession of marijuana.
Both men were taken into custody last Tuesday at their home at 436 East Michelle St., following an investigation started February 20 by the sheriff’s narcotics detail. Undercover officers purchased marijuana from Moore last February 25, they alleged.
Following the court appearance, the two suspects were returned to County Jail, pending a preliminary hearing March 10. Bail for Moore was set at $15,000. Coffman's bail on the one count was $2,500.
Moore, who served three years as a Los Angeles county deputy, was allowed to resign in 1951 rather than be discharged for excessive use of force on a prisoner.

I haven’t found whether the charge stuck or what happened to the case, but evidently it didn’t affect Coffey’s career as he toured with “Hellzapoppin’” later in the year.

Karen and Coffee cut a novelty 45 that wound up on a couple of private labels; we can only presume they sold it at venues after each of their sets wrapped up. But ol’ Red also worked out a legitimate record deal. In November 1959, the Warner Bros. label released a novelty Christmas song by Coffey, as Red Coffee, called “Ducky Christmas.” Billboard called it an attempt to take advantage of the Chipmunks’ popularity, though none of the voices are sped up. Here is it, for you fans of Hanna-Barbera duck voices.

As incredible as it may seem, that ditty was an effort of the Sherman brothers, Richard and Robert, who would be tapped by Disney to do outstanding work on Mary Poppins.

You’ll notice his stage name in the references above is “Coffee” instead of “Coffey.” With the exception of a few blurbs on the “Hellzapoppin’” tour, it’s consistently spelled that way in the stories and ads I’ve found during the ‘60s and ‘70s. I can only speculate that Red changed it for good after he and Wallace broke up their act in the late ‘50s. That means the credit as “Red Coffee” on the Loopy De Loop cartoon “This is My Ducky Day” is an accurate reflection of the name he was using at the time the cartoon was made and, therefore, correct.

One final note—a number of ads bleat that Coffey/Coffee was the voice of Yakky Doodle (and worked on Tom and Jerry). We know Coffey was the pre-Yakky duck at Hanna-Barbera. But Coffey did voice Yakky himself at least once. Celebrity interviewer Stu Shotak has a copy of one of the cartoon bumpers from the half-hour Yogi Bear show in his collection, not available on DVD, where Yakky’s voice is definitely Coffey’s. Jimmy Weldon’s Yakky was always more upbeat sounding than Coffey’s duck.

So leave us put away the deerstalker cap for another day. We can only hope in the future we’ll find some more clues in the hunt for Red Coffey.

Saturday 11 May 2013

Yogi Bear — Bareface Disguise

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Art Davis; Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas; Written by Warren Foster; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Narrator, Superintendent – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith – Don Messick.
Music: Bill Loose-John Seely, Jack Shaindlin, Geordie Hormel, Spencer Moore.
First Aired: week of October 31, 1960 (rerun, week of March 6, 1961).
Episode: Huckleberry Hound Show K-029.
Plot: Ranger Smith disguises himself as a polar bear to get the goods on Yogi.

Art Davis had been in theatrical animation for more than 30 years before he headed over to Hanna-Barbera after a bitter break with Warner Bros. In this cartoon, he tries to adapt as best as he could to the limits of television animation and does his best. The expressions he gives the characters are basic but convey the emotions of the characters.

Here’s a good one, when it dawns on Yogi why Whitey the Polar Bear’s behaviour doesn’t add up.

And here’s Boo Boo being annoyed and trying to interrupt Yogi’s con job on Whitey. A simple expression but we know what Boo Boo’s thinking.

And here’s a slowed-down version of Boo Boo in shock and running to tell Yogi after thinking Whitey has swallowed Ranger Smith. The drawings are on twos. Artie had a specific way of drawing angular wide-open mouths on characters at H-B in some of his earliest cartoons. Nice balance by Boo Boo.

This cartoon’s a character piece as opposed to a gag-fest. Warren Foster doesn’t give anyone a lot of snappy one-liners; even Yogi’s rhyming phrases are kept to a minimum. It’s a simple battle of wits and Yogi comes out on top. There’s no need to punish him in this cartoon because he doesn’t do anything bad. It opens with Daws Butler as the narrator for a change (Don Messick has plenty to do as Ranger Smith) and a nice night-time background of Jellystone by Dick Thomas. The rounded tips of the bushes are at an angle and there are white and black outlines of trees in the distance. Cut to the Ranger Station where Ranger Smith is telling the superintendent on the phone that he has a sure-fire scheme to catch Yogi with a picnic basket. The superintendent wears his badge to bed. Smith’s scheme is to dress up in a bear costume and mingle with Yogi to catch the bear’s thievery. You can tell Tony Rivera’s the layout artist. Smith has little pipe-stem legs and 5 o’clock shadow lines.

Smith dresses up as a polar bear and walks into Yogi’s cave. The snoozing Yogi suddenly sits up. “Wake up, Boo Boo. It’s Opening Day! Hey, hey, hey, hey!” Uh, no, Yogi. It’s night. There’s even a full moon out. Now comes a long, humourless scene. Ranger Smith-as-Whitey tells how he’s come from the North Pole to learn how to live on picnic baskets in a national forest. Yogi is surprised that they know all about him. But then he reels off a list of all the rules that bears have to follow at Jellystone. That’s even though Yogi doesn’t follow any of the rules, and he’s just heard that bears at the North Pole know he doesn’t. So why does he say “check” as the Ranger begins to list each one? He doesn’t know yet that it’s Ranger Smith in a bear suit.

Ah, Yogi’s a crafty one. He reveals it in the next scene to Boo Boo after he asks Whitey to step outside, where it’s become daytime during their brief conversation. He was suspicious before Whitey even said anything because of his perma-smile and how he talks without moving his mouth. Nice suspicious look on Yogi’s face by Artie. The cave wall looks like chips have fallen off it; you can see the grey and blue-grey outlines that gives them their depth. I’m still working to see if this was something exclusive to Thomas’ backgrounds.

Outside, Ranger Smith lifts up the bear head to get some fresh air. Boo Boo sees it and panics, running to tell Yogi he saw Ranger Smith inside Whitey’s open mouth and thinks the polar bear has swallowed him. Ding! Yogi catches on to the Ranger’s con (hey, I can rhyme like Yogi, too! Hey, hey, hey!). He tells Boo Boo to be quiet as he pulls his own slick sell job, telling Whitey what a “brave, handsome woodsman” and great guy Ranger Smith is. Whitey tries to goad Yogi into stealing a sandwich from a nearby picnic basket (thus catching him in the act and allowing him to ship Yogi to the St. Louis Zoo). Instead Yogi goes into his patented phoney histrionics, like a character in a ‘30s Tex Avery travelogue. He can’t do it, he just can’t do it. “I can’t let the ranger down. He’s the best friend a bear ever had!” Yogi cries as he pounds the ground with his fists. Smith has had enough. He reveals that he’s really Whitey and Yogi reacts by “fainting.” Smith tells the bear he was only being tested and since he passed the test, he can have a pie from the picnic basket. Now Boo Boo finally clues in that “Whitey was Mr. Ranger all the time.” It seems to me Boo Boo’s usually more savvy than this.

The cartoon ends with the ranger force-feeding the bear, with a sneaky look from Yogi ending the cartoon (at least the superintendent doesn’t walk in on the ranger’s comfort-feeding like in “Do or Diet”).

The sound-cutter doesn’t seem all that concerned about the music; he changes cues in mid-sentence. There’s one brief snippet, joined in progress, when Boo Boo spots Ranger Smith inside Whitey and rushes into the cave to tell Yogi. I’m pretty sure it’s a Jack Shaindlin cue but I don’t remember hearing it in any other cartoon and don’t have a copy of it.

0:00 - Yogi Bear Sub Main Title Theme (Curtin-Shows-Hanna-Barbera).
0:28 - ZR-50 UNDERWATER SCENIC (Hormel) – Opening narration, Ranger on phone, holds polar bear suit.
1:19 - TC-432 HOLLY DAY (Loose-Seely) – “The first picnic basket he takes,” polar bear walks to Yogi’s cave, “Who’r you, Whitey?”
2:10 - TC-437 SHOPPING DAY (Loose-Seely) – “I’m a polar bear,” polar bear and Yogi talk, “Now who do I know…”
3:11 - LAF-27-6 UNTITLED TUNE (Shaindlin) – “And shoot off his mouth…”, Yogi talks to Boo Boo, Ranger lifts head on costume.
4:00 - horn and oboe music (Shaindlin?) – Boo Boo outside cave, talks to Yogi.
4:10 - LAF-10-7 GROTESQUE No 2 (Shaindlin) – Yogi stares at audience, Yogi cons Ranger as polar bear, picnic basket, “Get a sandwich. Go on.”
5:41 - L-75 COMEDY UNDERSCORE (Moore) – “Let’s see if you have your old cunning…”, Yogi hams it up, feints, Boo Boo finally cues in, “Have a bite to eat.”
6:46 - LAF-7-12 FUN ON ICE (Shaindlin) – “Oh, I don’t know, sir,” Ranger feeds Yogi.
7:10 - Yogi Bear Sub End Title theme (Curtin).