Saturday 21 February 2015

Yogi Bear — Threadbare Bear

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Bob Bentley, Layout – Ernie Nordli, Backgrounds – Art Lozzi, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Government Official, Radio announcer, Mayor – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Housewife – Don Messick.
Music – Hoyt Curtin.
Production R-68 (first cartoon produced for 1961-62 season).
First Aired: week of February 5, 1962.
Plot: Yogi and Boo Boo escape after being shipped to the Cincinnati Zoo.

Did you know the U.S. government orders a count of bears in national parks, and then sends any excess number of bears to a zoo? It probably doesn’t, but it does in this cartoon because that sets up the plot.

There aren’t a lot of laughs in this one, but the story’s a nice, tight one. It’s a character study showing how much Ranger Smith really likes Yogi and Boo Boo, even pretending to kill them to get them back to Jellystone Park. My favourite bit is when Smith gets word on the phone that the two bears have escaped while being transported by truck to their new home at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Yogi and Boo Boo,” moans Smith. “They know nothing but the protected life of Jellystone Park. They could starve to death.” Fade in to a scene where Yogi and the fattened Boo Boo are in a woodsy setting, chowing down on food they’ve presumably stolen.

I’m more than a little confused by the title and the title card. The story goes like this: a government official selects Yogi and Boo Boo to be sent to a zoo. After a misunderstanding, the bears are forced into a truck. They escape. They eat stuff. They’re shot at. Ranger Smith hears what’s happening on the radio. He rushes to a cave where Yogi and Boo Boo are hiding. He pretends to shoot and kill them and offers to take the “bear skins” back to the ranger station. So where does the “Threadbare” part come in? Is this a case, like “Ring a Ding Picnic Basket,” which started out with a different name? And why does the title card have the bears in a circus cage? They’re going to a zoo.

Bob Bentley is the animator. There’s nothing really distinctive in his work here other than this diagonal exit. These are consecutive drawings. Ernie Nordli designed the radio with the old-fashioned grid aerial.

We all know about Hanna-Barbera’s repeating backgrounds. There’s one in this cartoon. You can see where the spongework on the hills directly behind Ranger Smith is different from one frame to the network.

Art Lozzi gets the background credit. Note the blue tree trunks and downward-pointing pine fronds. Lozzi drew those no matter who the layout artist was. The bushes in the foreground of the first drawing are on an overlay and the back door of the truck is animated on cels.

The last scene has fir trees with flipped up branches. Monte liked drawing the same kind in the first season of the Huck show.

Cartoon Miscellany: Yogi is Bear 14 and Boo Boo is Bear 37 . . . Jellystone has 52 bears . . . “Your bears have odd names,” observes the government guy . . . Ranger Smith isn’t happy to see Yogi to leave for a change . . . a jaunty version of (Meet) The Flintstones plays when Yogi and Boo Boo burst out of the truck. It’s not the theme for “The Flintstones” as yet . . . Yogi easily steals a huckleberry pie. He spent an entire cartoon three years earlier (“Pie Pirates”) failing to do the same thing . . . The studio had Don Messick do a housewife’s voice in falsetto. Why pay for Jean Vander Pyl when you don’t have to? . . . Yogi and Boo Boo escaped somewhere near Freeport.


  1. I’ve always wondered if this wasn’t the germ of an idea that developed into “Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear”, along with the climax of “Yogi in the City”, and perhaps another later cartoon I can’t recall now where Cindy might have been in the circus.

    Maybe the bear rugs in the Ranger Station were becoming “threadbare”, and that’s why Ranger Smith “needed the bodies”.

    For a cartoon with little or no humor, I’ve always liked this one.

  2. Me,too,Joe, on liking this one, and what you said in the first paragraph and just to add, that, that circus concept with Cindy was from that dang debut of hers eartlier that Yowp already covered, "Acrobattty Bear", if I'm correct. on numbers 14 (Yogi) and 37 (Boo Boo), just switch 'em and you'll have what I usually think are Yogi and Boo's respective ages (Yogi being 27, and Boo Boo 14,,.at the OLDEST!)..

    Like "Home Sweet Jellystone" & "Yogi In The City" this is one where the characters (this time the bears instead of the the Ranger) move, (here against their will) and it takeS Ranger Smith to get them back, and there's some really excellent character development where we find as before that they're really friends, that Ranger Smith really DOES care, pun alert, about the BEARS..SC

  3. Same here -- the final season episodes based on the characters' personalities intermixing in non-standard situations were better than the basic "Yogi vs. ...." plots just within Jellystone Park, which were starting to get on the formulistic side by 1961. You wouldn't want to have Yogi walking around in a city or being shipped out to some distant zoo as repeated story lines, but as change-of-pace outings, they work.

  4. Speaking of the Cincinnati Zoo: Isn't it supposed to be the second-oldest zoo in the country (after only Philadelphia's, itself a byproduct of the 1876 Centennial Exposition menagerie)? Too, let's not forget where the Queen City was headquarters for Taft Broadcasting, later owners of the Hanna-Barbera studio.

    1. There's an old routine from the "Fibber McGee and Molly" radio show where you can here Bill Thompson in his Wallace Wimple/Touche Turtle voice explain how the last passenger pigeon in existence died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1916. That's always been my main link between the zoo and Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

  5. There was a small blooper in this cartoon: When Ranger Smith tells Yogi to get onto the truck, his white collar briefly turns green just like his tie.