Wednesday 30 April 2014

How Daws Butler Played Snagglepuss

“If we hadn’t have had Daws, there may not even have been a Hanna-Barbera,” said a man who should know. The statement was made by Bill Hanna.

Hanna’s right. Who else could have brought all those wonderful early Hanna-Barbera characters to life other than Daws Butler? And made them friendly and fun? There were still plenty of great radio actors around in the 1950s but I can’t picture any of them doing it.

Daws was interviewed by newspapers over the years—especially when the TV cartoons started reeking of nostalgia—but was finally given his due with a TV special in 1987 called “Daws Butler—Voice Magician.” As of this writing, someone has uploaded it on a video sharing site and we hope it’s still there. But we’ve managed to clip his comments about the main Hanna-Barbera TV characters he voiced and you can listen to them below.








In the interview portion, Daws speaks about Tex Avery giving him a job in cartoons at MGM. His first cartoon for Avery was “Out-Foxed,” released on November 5, 1949. Daily Variety of December 15, 1947 mentions it as one of 14 Metro cartoons in various stages of production, so it’s safe to assume Daws recorded the voice track for it around that time (he uses a Ronald Colman-style voice for the fox). Whether that was his first cartoon is unclear. Keith Scott has identified Daws’ voice in Columbia’s “Short Snorts on Sports,” released June 3, 1948. Daily Variety reported on November 16, 1946 the studio was about to close (the building was empty by the following August), so that gives you an idea when his first cartoon work was. Anything you read on-line (especially in make-up-the-information-yourself data sites) claiming he worked in cartoons any earlier is pure misinformation. Daws was in the Navy during the war and never stepped foot in California until after he got out of the service and got married.

A couple of other notes about Daws’ early voices:

● Mr. Jinks sounds very much like a voice that Stan Freberg used on records and radio. As Daws and Freberg worked on many projects together in the ‘50s, it’s conceivable Daws lifted the voice from him.
● Baba Looey’s register was lower and delivery a little flatter in the first few Quick Draw McGraw cartoons. Either Joe Barbera (who voice directed the early cartoons) or Daws decided to raise the voice and make him sound younger (and, therefore, cuter and more attractive).
● Blabber Mouse may have had a “toothy” sound, but that was courtesy of Elliot Field, the Los Angeles afternoon radio disc jockey who originated the voice. Daws took over the character after four cartoons when Mr. Field left the studio.
Radio-TV Daily reported in 1963 on a $500,000 lawsuit by Bert Lahr against Kellogg’s, Screen Gems and Hanna-Barbera because the Daws’ Lahr-inspired Snagglepuss was appearing in commercials for Cocoa Krispies. Lahr’s litigiousness actually predates any cartoon mountain lions. The Spokane Spokesman-Review of June 12, 1962 reveals Lahr brought suit in federal court in late 1958 because voices like his were being used in commercials. After being sent to a lower court for jury trial and then to appeal court, Lahr was told in 1962 he could sue for damages. The cartoon character, in that case, was a duck hawking Lestoil. (Daws likely didn’t voice the character as the spot was produced by Robert Lawrence in New York).

Joe Barbera once said that Daws Butler was more than a voice actor, he helped develop the studio’s characters. There may have been a Hanna-Barbera without him, but it wouldn’t have been the same.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Quick Draw McGraw — El Kabong Was Wrong

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Hicks Lokey; Layout – Paul Sommer; Backgrounds – Vera Hanson; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Alex Lovy; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey, Sheriff – Daws Butler; Old Injun Fighter, Cactus Cecil, Bank Teller, Villain – Don Messick; Lily Belle, Paperboy – Jean Vander Pyl.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Cactus Cecil tricks El Kabong into letting him rob a bank.

Note: Howard Fein has identified the animator in this cartoon as Lew Marshall. I thought Marshall was a Story Director by this time but the animation doesn’t look like Lokey’s. I’ll take Howard’s expert word for it.

Everyone thinks of “Death Valley Days” as being hosted by Ronald Reagan. Fair enough because, after all, he was later President of the United States and you can’t get a much higher profile than that. But, when the show arrived on TV in 1952, the story-teller was The Old Ranger, who appeared at the beginning of the show to introduce “another interesting true story.” In “El Kabong Was Wrong,” writer Mike Maltese borrows that concept, and the cartoon is narrated by The Old Injun Fighter, who takes the audience into his confidence throughout.

That’s the only new gimmick in this cartoon. It features familiar-looking incidental characters and the Maltese staples—catchphrases, an incorrect costume change, Baba lipping off Quick Draw and backtracking, ridiculous echoing dialogue, lots of kabongging—but it all adds up to a funny cartoon, despite the familiarity.

The bad guy in this tale is Cactus Cecil, “the meanest, toughest hombre that ever slapped leather or robbed a bank” the Old Injun Fighter tells us. Cut to Cecil in a bank where he repeats the line. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cecil is puny, has a meek voice and absolutely no one pays attention to him, including the bank teller, who sings to himself about Cactus Nell instead. “Do I get the money or must I count to ten?” Cecil asks. He’s completely ignored. “If I count to 127, will you give me the loot?” he pathetically asks. The sheriff grabs him and tells him to go play outside. “Oh, pshaw!” cries Cecil in frustration, which he does periodically during the cartoon.

Now the Old Injun Fighter introduces another scene. There’s the typical caped melodrama villain with Don Messick’s Norton South voice and Lily Belle, who has the same design and costume as Texas Tillie in “Gun Shy Gal” the previous season. He wants her to marry up with him so he can steal her ranch legally. She cries for El Kabong. You know what happens next. After being kabongged, the bad guy makes a run for it. “San Francisco, open up your golden gate,” he yells.

“Extry, extry! El Kabong runs villain,” yells a paperboy. Pan to Cactus Cecil holding his gun at the boy. “I’ll take a paper, boy. Of course, this is a stick up.” The paperboy doesn’t even give him any respect. “The price is still a nickel,” the kid tells the would-be robber. “Take it or leave it.” Another “Oh, pshaw!” from Cactus Cecil and it’s a fade into the next scene.

Cecil reads a classified ad in the paper from El Kabong offering his services to females in distress. That gives him an idea. He puts on a dress and a wig to masquerade as a “helpless-appearing little old lady.” He robs the bank. “Come back here with that money, you helpless-appearin’ little old lady,” yells the bank teller in pursuit. He cries for help from El Kabong. “That sounds like a helpless-appearing little old lady in distress,” remarks Baba. “Undisturb yourself, helpless-appearing little old lady,” says Quick Draw, who vanishes to return as El Kabong—after first appearing as a kid on a tricycle. And just as Cecil hoped, El Kabong kabongs the bank teller. “I don’t know how to thank you, Mr. Kabong,” says the disguised Cecil. “Oh, shucks, m’am, uh, just knit me a holster.”

The teller has a lump on his head as he brings in the sheriff. “I don’t believe it,” says the sheriff. “El Kabong has turned outlaw and took up with that helpless-appearin’ little old lady who is really Cactus Cecil in disguise.” “You just scurry off on your helpless-appearing little old legs,” Quick Draw tells Cecil, and yells “Hold on thar!” at the sheriff, who shoots him in the hoof. “Oooh, that does that ever smart,” says Quick Draw. He had “I’ll do the thin’in’ around here” earlier in the cartoon, so Maltese fit in all the catchphrases.

The sheriff clues in El Kabong about the identity of the helpless-appearing little old lady and threatens him with the El Kaboose if he doesn’t get the money back. “There’s nothin’ I hate worse than bein’ in jail,” says Quick Draw after he kabongs Cecil and runs off with the sack of cash. Maltese has a quick series of little gags here. Cecil chops a huge redwood (in the middle of the Western desert?) onto Quick Draw, then uses scissors to snip his rope. Fortunately, the sheriff breaks the fall of our plummeting hero. The sheriff’s had enough. “‘Don’t go west,’ my mother said. ‘You’ll get hurt,’ she said. Bu would I listen? No, not me. You was right, mom. Your boy is a-comin’ home.” But it turns out Cecil isn’t free to run away. In a familiar ending, Baba Looey’s hiding in the bag of money and makes the arrest. “Oh, phsaw!” we hear for a final time.

So it’s time for the Old Injun Fighter to wrap up today’s programme. But he’s got a surprise guest—El Kabong and Baba Looey. He asks Quick Draw to explain how he goofed. The old guy gets kabonged instead. “If there’s anythin’ I cain’t stand, it’s an Old Indian Fighter tattle-tale,” says the annoyed Quick Draw. Baba adds a superfluous and not funny line because, well, Baba has to end every cartoon by saying something.

Maltese’s song lyrics for the bank teller:

I’ll never forget the day I fell for Cactus Nell.
Sitting on a thumb tack made me tall in the saddle.
Oh, I won’t be at the roundup, Nelly, because I’m such a square.

And for Quick Draw:

Oh, I’m a lonesome cowboy
Because the girls don’t like my face.

As for the real music, Hoyt Curtin’s western clip-clop opens the cartoon. An up-tempo piano/xylophone version of “The Arkansas Traveller” accompanies the villain trying to force Lily Belle to marry him. The Flintstones’ “Bridge” is heard as the villain gets away from El Kabong, while the minor-key flute melody line of the Flintstone theme is used under the newspaper scene. And part of the Wally Gator xylophone running music shows up when the disguised Cecil tries to get away with the money. And the cutter found a use for the Dixieland version of “That’s Quick Draw McGraw” during the chase scene. The only Curtin music that isn’t familiar is a Latin-flavour cue when the sheriff has to explain to Quick Draw who the helpless-appearing little old lady is.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Check Your Local Listings

Let’s look at some TV ads for some Hanna-Barbera shows.

Ruff and Reddy debuted on December 14, 1957, but this ad is from 1959. Aren’t those great little cartoon characters? (In the ad, I mean). Saturday mornings then weren’t whole blocks of cartoons, mainly because Hanna-Barbera hadn’t begun churning out series after series to sell to the networks. So some stations bought cartoons (or other programming) from syndicators to air before the network came on. This station in Buffalo chose to run formerly silent cartoons with endless numbers of mice in the morning.

“People Are Funny” was how television demeaned people before reality shows and Maury Povich came into being.

Yogi Bear got his own show in the early part of 1961. This Buffalo station was among the among the 150 or so on the “Kellogg’s Network,” where Kellogg bought a half hour Monday through Friday and aired Huck, Quick Draw, Woody Woodpecker and whatever else it had purchased with the characters pushing cereal in between cartoons. The Yogi Sunday comic gets a plug, too.

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this before, but I like this ad. Complete with stock shots.

This came from Fred Grandinetti. Must be after 1961, judging by Tracy and Magoo.

The Hanna-Barbera shorts went from funny to pleasant with occasional moments. But the TV Magoos were never funny. As I kid I wondered who was behind that awful UPA studio and why that Abe Levitow guy was allowed to make cartoons. Today, you can look up UPA and Levitow’s background on the internet. In the ‘60s, we were left in ignorance. It’s unfortunate a lot of very good people made very bad cartoons due to the restraints of television.

“The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour” is outside the scope of the blog, but I include it as a curiosity. I never saw this show. That’s understandable because it wasn’t on the air very long. It debuted April 14, 1978 and the last show was May 11th (with guests Tom Bosley, Connie Stevens and the Sylvers) before being replaced by reruns of “CHiPS.” It aired on NBC opposite “Welcome Back, Kotter” and “What’s Happening” on ABC. It came about when Joe Barbera became infected with Disneyitis, a disease which compels you to expand from mere cartoons into longer, live-action programming. Considering the crushing restrictions by networks on cartoon stories back then, it may not have been a bad idea on paper, but TV variety was pretty moth-eaten by 1978.

The network must have pushed the show for a bit because I’ve found several box ads in newspapers for it. One for the premiere reads:

An all-star line-up of guests has been set for the premiere of the unique comedy-variety series, “The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour,” Thursday, 8-9 p.m. Robert Conrad (star of NBC-TV’s “Black Sheep Squadron”), Melissa Sue Anderson (on NBC-TV’s “Little House on the Prairie”), Linda Lavin (star of CBS-TV’s “Alice”), Leif Garrett (recording star with the hit song “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”), Peter Lupus (of TV’s “Mission Impossible”), and Hanna Barbera’s lovable Yogi Bear are the guests. The hosts are nearly human, almost life-size adult puppets, Honey and Sis, who dance and sing and think they can perform just about anything their guests do. Honey and Sis audition for a condescending Melissa Sue Anderson, who portrays the director of a musical whose leading lady is a no show. Linda Lavin wants no part of either of the puppets when she sings “Gone at Last.” One of the regular features of the series is the “Truth Tub”—a hot tub in which the show’s stars relax. In the series opener, the truth is that the tub is not big enough for all the stars. Another regular feature of the series is the “Disco of Life,” in which Honey and Sis spotlight people interacting at a disco.

Can’t you hear the laugh track guffawing uncontrollably?

Another show featured Gary Burghoff, Twiggy and Tony Randall. Maybe. One paper complained the network couldn’t straighten out who was appearing and kept sending revised lists. Anson Williams, Charo and Gavin MacLeod appeared on another show, with Anson and the two puppets spoofing “Three’s Company” with the side-splitting names of “Kissy”, “Jaynut” and “Jacky.” I’ll take “The Muppet Show” on another channel, thanks. You can read about “Honey’s” experience on the show HERE.

Well, let’s end with something much more fun. William Wray, who you likely know from “Ren and Stimpy,” has this drawing in his collection and posted it on the internet.

Someone may know if this was drawn by Dick Bickenbach, but it sure is attractive.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Flintstones Weekend Comics, April 1964

Someone at Hanna-Barbera was sure fixated on mastodons/mammoths/elephants 50 years ago this month, as one or the other is in three of the four Flintstone Sunday comics. The drawings of all of them are very funny.

I’ve been unable to find a version with all three rows for April 26th.

April 5, 1964.

April 12, 1964.

April 19, 1964.

April 26, 1964.

Please click on any of the comics to enlarge them.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Augie Doggie — Dough-Nutty

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – C.L. Hartman, Layout – Tony Rivera, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Mike Maltese, Story Director – Lew Marshall, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Augie Doggie – Daws Butler; Doggie Daddy, Lefty Louie – Doug Young.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Augie puts a counterfeiter through a bunch of stunts.

This cartoon’s an unusual one because the focus is neither on Augie Doggie or Doggie Daddy. In fact, Daddy takes a seat and occasionally comments to us about the cartoon while the action carries on. And Augie’s morality is a little odd. It’s okay to be a counterfeiter and pass counterfeit bills to your dad, but think you’re a “law-abiding son?” Can Augie be that brain-dead? So it is the counterfeiting Augie holds the counterfeiting Lefty Louie for police.

Since Dear Old Dad doesn’t have much to do outside the first and last scenes, Doug Young uses his screen time to play Louie in what seems to be his version of the Slapsie Maxie voice.

The animator in this cartoon was Clarence Lafayette Hartman, Jr. C.L. was born in Ft. Worth, Texas on March 20, 1916 to Clarence and Cecile (Moorehead) Hartman. His father was, and this is odd, a musician with the Crazy Well Water Co. out of Mineral Wells. By 1930, the family was in Kansas City where the elder Hartman was a musician on KMBC, the CBS station. Young C.L. had two years of college before beginning his career as a commercial artist in Chicago. He was already in animation by 1939 (and at a low rung; he worked half the year and made $700). Hartman enlisted in the military in July 1941 (6’ 3” and 204 pounds);
Daily Variety of Dec. 15th that year reveals he was working for Walt Disney. An interesting internet find is one of a number of Christmas cards he designed while a member of the Signal Corps Photographic Center on Long Island.

Where Hartman spent much of his time after the war is unclear; he did book covers and some commercial animation, landing at UPA by 1954 and then working for the Larry Harmon studio before moving to Hanna-Barbara. He also animated for Creston (the former TV Spots) on “Calvin and the Colonel” and his name turns up on the Grantray-Lawrence Spiderman cartoons, among other places. Hartman died in Los Angeles in June 26, 1985.

Now, back to our cartoon.

Mike Maltese has set up the story pretty well (despite the aforementioned criminal ignorance). Augie asks Daddy what’s the one thing he wants most that costs lots and lots of money. “A new car. The diffiry-ential is interferin’ with the carbul-lulator.” Lefty Louie shows up with a gun to get his money-making machine back from Augie, who asks if the reward for his capture will pay for a couple of new cars. It will. So Augie hides the machine and won’t tell Lefty where it is. “Ya better humour him, Lefty,” says Dad. “I’ve seen dat stubborn look of his before.” Stubborn? What? Augie’s grinning and looking the other way. C.L. apparently wasn’t paying attention to the dialogue. Anyway, Augie tells Lefty he has to play “circus” to get it back. “Don’t go away, folks,” Daddy advises us. “This could be interestin’.”

That takes up the whole first half of the cartoon. C.L. hasn’t had to do very much. Even during walk cycles, the characters’ bodies remain rigid. Mainly, he’s drawn mouth movements, head jerks, the ubiquitous eye blinks and an arm going up and down. The animation’s extremely basic and looks like it belongs in the crappy TV Popeyes that Hartman, Cal Dalton and others worked on for Larry Harmon. The one exception is when Daddy turns around. The body pretty much has to move. The drawings are on twos.

The cartoon now turns into one of those stunt cartoons that Maltese liked using in this series, the type where Daddy fails at a series of stunts he reluctantly attempts to try to please Augie, “Treasure Jest” and “Tee Vee or Not Tee Vee” among them. In fact, he used the circus stunt concept with “Big Top Pop.” (You could put the lineage all the way back to “Bear Feat,” one of the Three Bears cartoons Maltese wrote for Chuck Jones at Warners). The gags:

● As the “Great Divo,” Lefty dives 100 feet into a tub or water. Whoops. No water. Daddy adds the water. C.L. draws characters’ mouths either open wide or talking way up into their snout.
● A high-wire act goes fine until Lefty keeps wheeling his unicycle off the wire and into the air. Gravity kicks in.

Cut to a shot of Daddy in a make-shift stand, enjoying a pop and a hot dog. Hmm. Angular tree foliage? Scratchy line for grass? Must be a Dick Thomas background.

● As Captain Pyrite, Lefty emulates Robin Hood Daffy and crashes his trapeze into a tree.
● As Speed Wizard, Lefty rides a motorcycle at 100 miles an hour into a brick wall. Maltese wrote a couple of Quick Draw cartoons where a character cracks into little pieces after a smash, like in a Tex Avery cartoon. But that’s evidently out of Bill Hanna’s budget now, so just the bike falls into pieces.
● One more act. Lefty is Claude Riches, the lion tamer. Yes, Augie has a lion in a cage in his back yard. Don’t ask how. We don’t see the attack. We see almost three seconds of a shot of the outside of the cage. We see about four seconds of a shot of the inside of the cage. Then we see another almost two seconds of the outside of the cage. No animation. Not even a violent camera shake. Just a drawing, Doug Young yelling, the roar of a lion and Hoyt Curtin’s music. Hanna must have been overjoyed at the money saved.

In what was already an old cartoon routine (Warners, Lantz, lord knows who else), Lefty demands the police arrest him to get away from the abuse.

The cartoon ends with Doggie Daddy driving a huge car with a small one as a spare tied onto the trunk. It’s similar to a gag at the outset of Yogi’s “The Runaway Bear” (1959), written by Joe Barbera and Charlie Shows.

Familiar Curtin music from “TouchĂ© Turtle,” “Loopy De Loop” and other cartoons around that time has been put underneath the action. It includes two different circus fanfares and ends with a familiar xylophone chase.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

A Variety of Stories

Hanna-Barbera was once the largest producer of TV animation. Thanks originally to the popularity of Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Mr Jinks (and the meeces), the studio grew gradually and steadily as it added more and more cartoons to its assembly line.

In some ways, it’s difficult to determine who actually started with the studio when Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera helped incorporate H-B Enterprises in July 1957. There are no credits on any of the Ruff and Reddy cartoons that began airing the following December. Dick Bickenbach told historian Mike Barrier than he was working on R & R the final week he was at the MGM studio, and we know Charlie Shows wrote them.

However, after “The Huckleberry Hound Show” began airing in September 1958, and as the studio began developing more productions,
Variety has some short squibs about additions to the studio staff. Some of the names are a little surprising as they never appeared on the credits of any cartoons at the time.

As well, Variety announced a number of H-B projects that didn’t come to fruition. Let’s pass on what we’ve been able to uncover. Some stories are incomplete due to a full access of Variety’s archives. I’m somewhat disappointed none have those rhyming headlines the paper was known for, like “Stix Get Fix of Pix.” The closest we get is a reference to the King of Rhyming Cartoon Dialogue, Charlie Shows. So don’t frown, clown. (Hmm. Charlie’s becoming infectious).

January 20, 1958
George Sidney's Cartoonery Making Blurbs for MGM-TV
H&B Productions, cartoon outfit formed less than eight months ago by George Sidney in partnership with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who previously produced "Tom and Jerry" animated series for Metro, already is expanding its operations, Sidney reported over weekend.
Sidney, who prexies company which now has a staff of 25, drawn from Metro cartoonery when Culver lot shuttered its cartoon activities, said that he will use a cartoon sequence in his Columbia re-lease, "Pepe," starring Cantinflas, along lines animated action was used some years ago in Metro's "Anchors Aweigh," which he directed.
'Ruff' Series for SG
Company, Sidney disclosed, is already is doing tv commercials for Metro, as well as program of cartoons for Screen Gems, "The Ruff and Reddy Show," now on NBC-TV Saturday mornings, under sponsorship of General Foods. Total of 52 segments have been completed for SG.
While H-B deal with SG includes these 52 subjects only, talks already have started with the Columbia tv subsid for another series. Outfit last week launched production of 78 segments for a new program.
The "Ruff and Reddy" series was made in color, according to Sidney, with a view to linking a number of segments together for theatrical release in Europe later as a cartoon feature. Feature cartoon production already is being actively planned by the three partners, who are weighing the possibilities of three different properties. It's expected company will have this initial feature ready for release in early 1960. Industrial and medical cartoon films likewise are planned, Sidney stated. [remainder of the story involves Pepé]

January 22, 1958
Sidney-Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Operation Now Employs 25, Expanding
After less than eight months of operation, H& B Productions, cartoonery formed by George Sidney in partnership with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, is expanding is operations. Hanna and Barbera formerly produced the Tom and Jerry Animated cartoons for Metro. H& B Productions staff now numbers 25, drawn from the Metro cartoonery when the Culver lot ended animation.
Sidney, who is prexy of the firm, reported that he will use a cartoon sequence in "Pepe," his upcoming Columbia film starring Cantinflas. Sequence will be inserted along lines of animated action used in Metro's "Anchors Aweigh," which Sidney directed. H& B now is doing commercials for Metro, as well as for Schlitz, S & H Green Stamps, Junket and others. In addition, it is doing a program of cartoons for Screen Gems, "The Ruff and Reddy Show," which started televising five weeks ago over NBC-TV every Saturday morning, 9-9:30 a. m., under sponsorship of General Foods. Total of 52 segments have been completed for SG. While H-B deals with SG includes these 52 subjects only, talks already have started with Columbia subsid for a further series. Outfit last week launched production on 78 segments for a new program. The "Ruff and Ready" series was made in color, according to Sidney, with a view to linking [story in Weekly Variety carries on as Daily Variety story above].

October 22, 1958
Sidney Mulls Mex Cartoonery for TV
George Sidney, prexy of H&B Productions Cartoonery, is considering opening a cartoon studio in Mexico City for production of cartoon programs made exclusively for Latin American television market. Producer leaves for Mexico soon to discuss project and has skedded meetings with co-producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbara on future plans of company, which currently is filming "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" in association with Screen Gems.

December 4, 1958
Maltese Story Head of Hanna-Barbera Prod'ns
Mike Maltese has been named to head Hanna and Barbara Productions' new story department. The company produces the animated "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" tv series. Maltese was with Warner Bros.' cartoon production department for past 22 years.

December 11, 1958
Vidfilms Using Live Action, Cartoon Technique
Milt Rosen will write half-hour pilot teleplay of a projected adult-level cartoon-and-live action series for Hanna and Barbara Productions. H-B currently produces "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" for Screen Gems. Producers say the new series would have a novel format, and decline to discuss how it will be put together.

December 24, 1958
Hanna-Barbera Expands
Announced expansion of Hanna and Barbera Productions is being activated with lease of the first floor of the Cinema Research Bldg. for the cartoon studio's camera department. Frank Paiker is in charge of the new setup. Other departments remain at Kling.

January 14, 1959
By Eddie Kafafian
"Adventures In Space," lp album based on the NBC-TV show, "Ruff and Reddy," produced by Hanna and Barbara Productions for Screen Gems, is being released by Colpix Records. Hecky Krasnow produced the session with background music by William Hanna, Hoyt Curtin, Joseph Barbera and Charles Shows.

January 28, 1959
Hanna-Barbera Plots 197 Cartoons
A record production year for cartoons has been set by Hanna and Barbera Productions for the coming year, with 197 cartoons to be made for tv during 1959.
This includes segments of "Ruff and Reddy," "Huckleberry Hound," "Arf and Arf," [Augie Doggie] "Quick Draw McGraw," end "Snooper and Blabber," as well as commercial and industrial animation.
Firm headed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, as v.p.'s, and George Sidney as prexy, makes cartoons for distribution by Screen Gems in Europe, Latin America and the Orient, in addition to domestic screenings.

February 3, 1959
Barbera Talking Jap Cartoon Co-Prod'n
Deal is in negotiations for co-production pact between Hanna and Barbera Productions and Interlingual International, of Tokyo, for filming of cartoons for Japanese market.
Project would call for initial work to be done here and animation and inking to be done in Japan.

February 16, 1959
Hanna, Barbera Sign Lipscott, Bob Fisher
Alan Lipscott and Bob Fisher will develop and write a new half-hour animated cartoon series for Hanna and Barbera Productions, to be distributed by Screen Gems. Signing of the writers is part of H & B Company's plans to expand its story department to have established writers working with animators on cartoon series for tv.

February 25, 1959
Chris Allen is prepping a "Huckleberry Hound" album for Colpix, based on Hanna and Barbera Productions' "Huckleberry Hound" tv series.

March 18, 1959
Robert Carr, previously with Walt Disney, joined Hanna and Barbera Productions' animation dept.

March 24, 1959
Alex Lovy Joins H-B
Alex Lovy, formerly with Walter Lantz cartoonery, where he was director on the Woody Woodpecker series, has joined Hanna and Barbara Productions as a director of cartoons.

April 8, 1959
Animators Dick Lundy and Gerard Baldwin have joined Hanna and Barbera Productions as animators on "Huckleberry Hound" and "Ruff and Reddy." Lundy moves over from La Brea Productions, and Baldwin from Sutherland Studios.

April 15, 1959
Hanna-Barbera Expands
Three new additions to the staff of Hanna and Barbera's cartoonery were announced yesterday. They are Warren Foster to the story department, and Paul Fennel as assistant cartoon director, and George Nicholas as animator.

April 23rd, 1959
H-B Adds Animators
Don Patterson, Bob Bentley and Chick Otterstrom have joined Hanna & Barbera cartoonery as animators as part of the outfit's continued expansion.

May 29, 1959
H-B Cartoons May Get Col Release
It’s likely that Hanna & Barbera’s tv cartoonery will take over UPA’s former chore of making theatrical cartoons for Columbia release. Bill Hanna said the animation outfit has “no definite commitment with anyone” but admitted that H-B is planning a series of animated theatrical shorts to start later this year.
Columbia’s the logical outlet for the cartoon series since H-B prexy George Sidney has a picture pact with the studio and the cartoonery’s “Ruff and Reddy” and “Huckleberry Hound” are made in association with Col’s vidsubsid, Screen Gems. The expanding H-B organization has some of its offices at Columbia.
UPA and Col recently dissolved their production-distribution deal on short subjects and UPA’s doing its own distributing—although Columbia will distribute UPA’s feature, “1001 Arabian Nights.”

July 28, 1959
Harmon Names Fennell A.P. For Vid Cartoons
Paul J. Fennell has been signed as associate producer on Larry Harmon's "Bozo, the Clown" and "Tintin" telecartoon series now in production at California Studios. For the past four months, he has been a director on Hanna and Barbera's several animated series being produced for Screen Gems. Within the Harmon org, he will function in conjunction with Charles Shows, associate producer who heads the writing department on "Bozo" and "Tintin."

August 7, 1959
Name Change For H. B.
H. B. Enterprises has offially changed its corporate name to Hanna and Barbers Productions. It's George Sidney's company in which William Hanna and Joseph Barbera are veeps.

August 13, 1959
Kellogg 'Quick' Buy Jumps H-B Cartoon Output To 39 Hours
Kellogg Co. has purchased national sponsorship of "Quick Draw McGraw," new half-hour cartoon series produced by H-B Enterprises in association with Screen Gems. Kellogg will spot the series in more than 180 markets starting in the fall.
Deal gives H-B (Bill Hannah [sic] and Joe Barbera) the unprecedented cartoon production goal of 39 hours of animation for the coming year. H-B production setup at Amco Studios now employs nearly 175 staffers, working on a 24-hour-a-day basis in three eight-hour shifts. It's the only production unit in Hollywood on a 24-hour schedule.
Besides "Quick Draw," which will consist of 26 animated half-hours, H-B is producing 26 half-hour "Huckleberry Hound" segments, also sponsored by Kellogg, which renewed the show for a second year; and 26 half-hours of "Ruff and Reddy," going into its third year on NBC-TV. Latter will be telecast in color in the fall.
By way of comparison, the 39 hours a year stacks up against a total of 48 minutes a year that Hanna & Barbera averaged during the 20 years they produced the "Tom & Jerry" cartoons at Metro. Those took eight weeks apiece to make, ran only six minutes, and the total studio output was eight a year. Hanna & Barbera copped seven Academy Awards with those.

November 9, 1959
Honolulu H-B Office
Hanna and Barbera Productions are opening a branch office in Honolulu. Joseph Barbera, veepee of the company, recently returned from a two-week trek to the islands and revealed that arrangements are underway for the space by William Hanna, partner to Barbera, now in Honolulu.

December 9, 1959
Hanna & Barbera Near Closing Cartoonery Deal With Columbia Pics
Hanna & Barbera will be the exclusive theatrical "cartoon producers for Columbia under a contract now nearing the signing stage, according to company officials Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. H-B thus takes over the spot held by UPA Pictures, whose option Col did not renew earlier this year.
The company, formed under the presidency of director George Sidney out of the inactivation of Metro's cartoon department, is now grossing an estimated $ 2,000,000 per year and has nearly tripled its staff (35 or 40 at Metro) since its formation in July, 1957.
Hanna and Barbera pointed out that the theatrical cartoon chore - the first they've undertaken since becoming an indie will not cause a staff increase since the 10 "Loopy de Loop" (a French wolf) cartoons for Col will be made during the slack season of their tv operation (Oct.-Dec). H-B now makes three weekly half-hour television cartoon series distributed via Screen Gems, Col vidsubsid.
Under the theatrical pact, Col will have exclusive call on H-B's theatrical product and will retain annual options for five years;- so the deal's to be mutually exclusive. On the boards is still another half-hour weekly cartoon teleseries, a situation comedy for adults.
"We've actually turned out in one year more footage than we did at Metro in 20 years," said Bill Hanna. "We used to make eight 'Tom & Jerry's' (about 7 mins. each) a year. Last year we averaged five cartoons a week." Speedup's explained in large part, of course, by the elimination of "inbetweening," i. e., detail. H-B calls it "planned animation."
Hanna and Barbera said they have for the time being abandoned any plans to have any of their work done overseas. The final cost, they said, is apt to be higher than doing it here. They had recently sought a co-production deal with Interlingual International of Tokyo.

December 30, 1959
Animated Situation Comedy To ABC-TV
ABC-TV has bought "The Flagstones," first half-hour situation comedy to be produced in animation, as a night time program next fall. Series created by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems deals with modern civilization against a pre-historic background.

August 10, 1960
H-B Promotes Lovy
Alex Lovy, for the past two years story director on various Hanna-Barbera shows, has been promoted to associate producer on all H-B product. Lovy will function in this capacity on "Huckleberry Hound," "Quick Draw McGraw," and and "The Flintstones."
Prior to joining Hanna-Barbera, Lovy was with Walter Lantz, Cascade Pictures, and Screen Gems.

If you thought Mike Maltese and Warren Foster left Warners Bros. and arrived at Hanna-Barbera at the same time, it’s not true. Variety reported on November 14, 1957 that Foster had signed a contract with the John Sutherland studio. Maltese didn’t leave Warners for another 12 months.

How long the team of Lipscott and Fisher were at H-B is unknown. The same year the two signed a deal to write 12 episodes of “Bachelor Father” and four of the Dennis O’Keefe show, developed a pilot called “Hong Kong Collect” while Lipscott, who wrote for Milton Berle on radio in the ‘30s, tried to get someone to buy his “Mishmash in Never-Never Land” concept.

Milt Rosen was a radio and TV writer who also penned a bunch of books. I imagine if Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were serious about a live action/animation series, the cost would have put it out of the question. Of course, they later accomplished it in the latter part of the 1960s with the Gene Kelly “Jack and the Beanstalk” special (1967) and “The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1968).

Chic Otterstrom and Paul Fennell likely never appeared on the credits at the studio that year. Otterstrom had spent the 1940s animating at the Screen Gems studio (the name was appropriated for Columbia’s TV endeavours after getting out of the animation business). Fennell went back to the early ‘30s (Chuck Jones was his assistant animator) and directed for Cartoon Films in the ‘40s before opening his own company. Apparently, anecdotes abound about his time working for Filmation many years later.

A number of names are missing (Ed Love’s, for example), so Variety didn’t report on every arrival. La Verne Harding’s name appeared on a number of cartoons in the 1959-60 season. The trade paper mentions on June 18th she would be animating “Hickory, Dickory and Doc” at Walter Lantz. And it seems animators bounced around a lot. An August 19, 1960 Variety piece lists new staffers hired by Animation Associates (who made “Q.T. Hush”) and includes John Freeman, Clarke Mallory, Don Williams, Ed Aardal and Virgil Ross, all of whom made shorts for H-B around that time (the company was co-owned by John Boersma, who also ended up at Hanna-Barbera).

The studio got extremely busy. The publicised numbers—197 cartoons were scheduled for the 1959-60 season (Variety, January 28, 1959) and 39 hours of animation a year (Variety, August 13, 1959). And with “The Flintstones” soon to air, it got even busier.

One other note before we leave Variety behind.

December 18, 1958
‘Hound’ Comic Book
Harry Eisenberg will illustrate and write copy for Dell Publications’ comic book based on Hanna-Barbera’s “Huckleberry Hound” teleseries.

Too bad the great Harvey Eisenberg got miscredited.

Saturday 12 April 2014

Yogi Bear — Acrobatty Bear

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Dick Thomas, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Colonel – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ringmaster – Don Messick; Cindy Bear – Julie Bennett.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: Yogi joins the circus to be near Cindy Bear.

As a kid, I liked watching Yogi Bear outwit Ranger Smith. And I thought it was funny hearing him mispronounce “filet mignon”—even I knew it was wrong—then seeing him getting kicked out of France. And I laughed watching him getting chased around by a dog who would only say “Yowp.”

But a love story? What kid wants to see that? Especially in a cartoon. I sure didn’t.

Yet Hanna-Barbera thought I and millions of others did. The studio dug into this cartoon, lifted the ideas of a Yogi-Cindy relationship, the circus, and the evil ringmaster, added the snickering dog concept from the Huck cartoons, sprinkled in a few songs and mixed it all into a feature film.

Gak!! Let parents watch that tedious relationship stuff and on their own time. I want to see Yogi running over sleeping-bagged campers on a motor scooter.

And worse still, said me-as-a-kid, Cindy isn’t even interested in him in this cartoon. First, she liked his handstand. Now, she doesn’t. She walked away from him. Why is Yogi wasting his time with her? If someone doesn’t like you, don’t you ignore them and hang out with someone else?

Little did I know that not too many years later, I would see guys make complete asses out of themselves over uninterested or fickle women. Obviously, little boys are smarter than adults.

So it is with such childhood baggage that I look again at this cartoon some five decades later.

Actually, writer Warren Foster reused a couple of his early Yogi plots in this cartoon. In “Love Bugged Bear” the previous season, Yogi put up with physical abuse by a girl bear because he was love-struck and was rewarded by having her run off with another bear. And in “The Biggest Show-Off on Earth,” Yogi joins the circus thinking he’s a star, but gets mistreated during his act and finally decides to quit and go back to Jellystone Park.

Journeyman Bob Bentley animated this cartoon. Schlesinger, Fleischer, MGM, Lantz, UPA, he had worked at all those studios. I’m probably missing some (yes, I know, he worked elsewhere after Hanna-Barbera) . In this one, he emulates Mike Lah’s animation at H-B a few years earlier and has characters speaking without a jaw. Just a mouth moves. Here are some examples. Cindy has a black mouth line but only red lips animate and they don’t stay attached to the line all the time.

You’ll notice above that Boo Boo has a string around his bow tie and that Cindy’s fingers are crooked all over the place. Bentley has his characters in an advanced state of arthritis in various portions of the cartoon. The fingers don’t twiddle, like they would if Carlo Vinci were animating.

And another example of how animators didn’t work straight ahead. These are consecutive frames. Yogi isn’t even close to being in the same place, let alone position.

The cartoon opens with Yogi and Boo Boo watching a circus caravan with a truck that has a fender that keeps changing color.

They notice one of the trucks is marked with Cindy Bear’s name. Yogi is “still carrying a torch” for Cindy. You can tell by looking into his eyes. Yogi decides to jump onto the caravan and reunite with Cindy, even though Boo Boo warns “the ranger said you’re not supposed to leave the park.” Ranger Smith isn’t in this cartoon; this is the last cartoon where he wouldn’t make an appearance.

The next scene’s in the future. Yogi’s looking for Cindy in the circus. He gets crushed by the huge hand of Colosso the Gorilla. Southern belle Cindy appears; romantic Southern belles appeared on network radio in the ‘40s, especially Shirley Mitchell on “The Great Gildersleeve” and Veola Vonn on a number of shows (Jack Benny’s being one). She’s not interested in Yogi. He doesn’t take the hint. Meanwhile, the Southern Colonel circus owner and sadistic ringmaster (layout man Dan Noonan has designed him like Norton South and other bad guys who had appeared on Quick Draw McGraw cartoons) need someone to take Charlie’s place (“Good old Charlie,” they say, placing their hats on their hearts in remembrance of their late lion tamer) and hire Yogi, who thinks being in the circus will win Cindy’s heart. Don’t do it, Yogi! You’re wasting your time! Ah, bears never listen to little boys yelling at the TV.

The evil ringmaster whips Yogi when the bear sits down in the chair he’s supposed to use to learn how to fend off lions, though the ringmaster never explains that it’s all part of a potentially-deadly lion-taming act. There’s a really nice drawing of Yogi yelling that could have been used for the basis of a take. Instead of holding it and widening it, or doing a Vinci-like vibration, it’s on screen for two frames and that’s it. The opportunity for a take is wasted. Instead we get an inside joke. Yogi: “As Quick Draw McGraw says, ‘ooh, that smarts’!” But instead of Yogi objecting to the abuse, he simply takes it. And nowhere before the end of the cartoon does the bad guy get punished for his behaviour.

Finally, the show goes on, but not before Yogi gives us an Ed Sullivan reference and refers to it as “The Shoe.” We get some Yogi rhymes: “That Cindy’s great on a roller skate” and “Don’t look so forlorn, a star is born.” Wait a minute. Yogi passes the ringmaster. But then the ringmaster’s at the door of the lion cage to let him in. How could that happen?

The rest of the cartoon involves Nero the lion chasing Yogi all around the circus (“That’s my cue to skidoo”; “I ask you, what else could I do?”), but the audience loves it. They think it’s part of the act. Seems to me that’s a hoary old cartoon plot. Cindy praises Yogi. Finally the bear wises up and makes fun of her, basically telling her he could have been killed trying to impress her. He runs back to Jellystone, with the lion chasing right behind him. He grabs Boo Boo, slams the door shut and the two hide under the covers to end the cartoon.

Cindy returns later in the season, including in another cartoon where she’s willing to give her momentary affections to whichever bear hands her the most material goods. Tell her to stick her shallowness and capriciousness, Yogi! Ah, but he won’t. We kids are smarter than the smarter-than-the-average bear, it would appear.