Saturday, 24 May 2014

Yogi Bear — Yogi’s Pest Guest

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bill Keil, 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, Yo-Yo Bear – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Consul, Tourist – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
First Aired: 1961-62 season.
Plot: A goodwill bear from Japan causes picnic basket mayhem at Jellystone Park.

“An Okinawa bear, hmmm? I wonder what they’re like.” You and me both, Ranger Smith. Are bears indigenous to Okinawa? Maybe a bear swam over from Siberia once.

The credited animator in this one is Bill Keil, yet another Disney veteran who arrived at Hanna-Barbera to work on “The Flintstones” first season. William Bond Keil was born in Pittsburgh on August 2, 1916 to William Frederick and Alice Jeanette (Bond) Keil. His father was a sheet metal worker. The family was in southern California after the middle ‘30s and Keil went to work for Uncle Walt. In 1939, Keil married Jeanne Lee, an inker at Disney. In between his Disney and H-B careers, he worked on Jack Kinney’s first TV Popeye cartoon, “Barbecue For Two.” Tom Sito’s book
Drawing the Line mentioned Keil retired from Hanna-Barbera at the start of a strike in 1982. He was supervisor of animators at the time. He died in Los Angeles on August 29, 2003. (See the comment section; I’ve received several notes saying Don Williams animated this cartoon).

The cartoon starts off with Ranger Smith on the phone to Sheldon. Was there a Sheldon at Hanna-Barbera then? Was he a buddy of Warren Foster? Or did Foster pull the name out of thin air? Anyway, the ranger breaks a lunch date because he’s got to receive the gift of an Okinawa bear named Yo-Yo from a Japanese official. Smith gives Yo-Yo freedom of the park. Yo-Yo parks himself in Yogi’s cave and sleeps. Yo-Yo’s not even on Yogi’s bed; he’s on the ground with a log for a pillow. But trespassing’s enough to bug Yogi who threatens to give Yo-Yo a fat lip. Here’s a short sequence of drawings. They’re all on twos.

Yo-Yo responds by flipping Yogi. Here are some of the drawings. Notice that Yo-Yo brings Yogi’s arm up and down a couple of times but the drawings aren’t identical.

The Ranger asks Yogi to treat Yo-Yo like a good-will ambassador, so Yogi gives him a picnic basket. Yo-Yo goes nuts, even eating the basket.

15 picnic baskets stolen in an hour. Ranger Smith thinks it’s Yogi, so he puts on a disguise to catch him in the act. We catch a good look at one of the background drawings for almost eight seconds while the ranger chats to himself off camera (a sky colour that’s other than blue is unusual for Thomas). As we all know, the thief is Yo-Yo, who flips over Mr. Ranger and runs off with his basket. A ranger dragnet captures him (apparently, Jellystone only hires black-haired rangers with the same haircut), but Smith magnanimously listens to Yogi’s plea to let Yo-Yo go because he now knows the rules. Foster’s end gag is cute. Yogi explains how picnic baskets are a temptation to bears and battles to follow the rules are sometimes lost. The camera pulls back to see that Yogi is holding a picnic basket behind him so the ranger can’t see he’s stolen it.

Here some more backgrounds. The front part of the cave entrance is on an overlay. The long one is complete.

Hoyt Curtin wrote some specialty Japanese-sounding music, though I don’t know whether it was originally for this cartoon. Listening to the opening cue, you’d expect to see Fred and Barney driving somewhere.


  1. William Keil didn't animate this. The credits are from another Yogi short: "Iron Hands Jones." Don Williams did the animation in this one.

  2. Hoyt Curtin’s “specialty Japanese-sounding music” was from the Flintstones episode “The Prowler”, played over the scenes featuring Betty’s stereotypical Judo Instructor. Who, in turn was preceded by Pixie and Dixie’s Judo Instructor, “Judo Jack”.

  3. This is another of those “late-in-the-run” Yogi cartoons that I feel could have been drawn-out into a half-hour show – had H-B decided to go that way with the Bear.

    Everything about Yo-Yo’s arrival and initial attempts at acclimation could have been expanded upon, not to mention his conflicts with Yogi (where Ranger Smith would take Yo-Yo’s side, even if Yogi were a semi-innocent victim). Yo-Yo’s “reign of basket terror” could also have been extended, along with a few unsuccessful efforts toward his capture.

    Other such cartoons I’ve mentioned in the past, that could have become half-hour episodes, were “A Bear Pair” (trip to Paris), “Gleesome Threesome” (Ranger Smith’s Florida vacation), and “Slap-Happy Birthday (Ranger Smith’s birthday). Even “Queen-Bee for a Day” would have been a good candidate, with far more humor to be milked out of the “Bee-Panic”.

    I sometimes wonder if a half-hour, prime-time Yogi Bear show (given his great and established popularity, at the time) would have been more successful than was Top Cat.

  4. Well, the Honeymooners was a short sketch at first and then became a half-hour show. Why not Yogi?
    I think the Yogi birthday party cartoon proved it could be done. It doesn't feel padded. And Foster wrote a pile of Flintstones half hours so he could work in that format. But for whatever reason the studio felt a prime time sitcom had to borrow from other prime time sitcoms and use prime time sitcom writers.