Saturday, 7 March 2015

Say Cheese, Huck!

“I’m pop-a-lar. Mighty pop-a-lar,” Huckleberry Hound might say. And he’d be right. Critics loved his show when it debuted in 1958; we’ve posted a number of old columns here. But Huck kind of became the Florence Lawrence of TV cartoons. Lawrence was the world’s first movie star identified by her real name, but she soon was eclipsed by Mary Pickford and other talent. Huck soon found himself taking a back seat at the Hanna-Barbera empire to Yogi Bear, then the Flintstones, then Scooby Doo, and, well, you get the idea. Despite that, the low-key Huck can still bring a smile in his best cartoons.

For the time the “Huckleberry Hound Show” was in first run, 1958 to 1962, Huck got a fair amount of publicity. Let’s go on a Huck treasure hunt (say, that’d be a great name for a show. Oh, wait. They gave it to Yogi) and see what publicity art we can find. You can click on each picture to enlarge it in a new tab.

Here’s our star with his creators in a publicity shot. I wonder how many of these cardboard stand-ups were hanging around the Hanna-Barbera studios? You’ve no doubt seen pictures of Daws next to a couple, and the voice actors of the Flintstones next to their characters. Note the little window on Huck’s nose. I wish I could see the photos on the wall. I guess this was taken at the Kling (formerly Chaplin, later AMCO) studio on La Brea, where Hanna-Barbera resided from July 1957 to April 1962.

This is from a 1959 TV Guide. It would seem the ad was designed to have Yogi and Boo Boo on a page to the left, but this ad has only one page.

This is from a post card and features the original main cast of the Huck show. I don’t know if Dick Bickenbach or Art Goble did the writing (it might be Joe Barbera’s) but it looks original, not the retro style that popped up after the Cartoon Network debuted in the U.S., so this would be from some time in the late ‘50s. I suspect Bick did the artwork. A lovely rendering of the characters. (A side gripe: it appears to be a hard cartoon art rule today that each character must, without exception, have a huge open grinning mouth. What’s wrong with a smile, like you see here?).

These photos I grabbed off eBay (hence the marring watermark) are what prompted this post. I saw them and decided to hunt through the Chicago Tribune’s on-line archives to find the articles they went with. Unfortunately, the folks at the Trib didn’t scan the “T.V. Pictorial” supplement so the articles are unavailable.

The first publicity photo is dated October 3, 1962 and the caption reads: “Hollywood, California- - Huckleberry Hound, a firm believer in dogma that every hound must have its day has boned up on the closing baseball season and is once again ready to embark on his annual All Star K-Nine. Skowron, Jay, Moran, Wills, Davenport, Berra and N.Y. Mets among those mentioned by mentioned by Huck.” Well, naturally, Berra would be mentioned!

The second one features what is a drawing based on “Lion Tamer Huck” but there was never a cartoon (unless it was unmade or one of those cartoons-between-the-cartoons) featuring Huck and a fish (designed similarly to the Wily Trout in Yogi’s “The Stout Trout”). There’s a date written on the picture, presumably when the story appeared on page 6 of Chicago’s American TV Pictorial. There are also dates on the back of October 21, 1959 and November 9, 1961 but I can’t find articles about Huck in the papers of those dates, let alone the picture.

The third photo is stamped May 17, 1961 on the reserve but it’s obviously from 1960 judging by the suggested caption from Screen Gems in New York City (with misplaced punctuation): “Fast talker....Huckleberry Hound (right) introduces Hokey (center), the glib wolf who assumes co-star status in January, replacing Yogi Bear, who gets to head up his own show. With Hokey is Ding A Ling (left), a nebbish wolf who believes almost everything Hokey says. “Huckleberry Hound,” the Emmy winning animated series, is produced for Screen Gems by Hanna-Barbera. Productions and telecast on 180 TV stations in the U.S.” The first Hokey cartoon I can find in TV listings is for the week of March 23, 1961; I admit I don’t have listings for the previous three weeks of the Huck show.

But I did find this in the Tribune of June 3, 1961, congratulating the editor of the Saturday TV Week section on its fifth anniversary.

Since we’re passing on Huck stuff, here are a couple of more things you might like.

The cover of a ViewMaster booklet, 1960. It’d be nice if someone took the time to digitise all those old slides from the early Hanna-Barbera days. A few are on-line and we’ve posted some here.

A letter from Huckleberry Hound? This envelope is from the Huckleberry Hound Fan Club from way back years ago. I wonder if the New York address was marketing man Ed Justin’s, who was based in New York.

The first time I saw this version of the Huck intro, I was disappointed. Where’s the rooster? Isn’t he supposed to be doing this? This drawing is from the re-done animation when Huck was first placed in syndication without a Kellogg’s sponsorship, 1966 I’m led to believe.

Lastly, a sketch for what appears to be a greeting card from long after Huck was in first-run.

This post is dedicated to Greg Chenoweth, who has proclaimed on many occasions to be the world’s biggest Huckleberry Hound fan. If Greg wasn’t the first reader of this blog six years ago, he was pretty close to being the first. Greg’s “purty nice people,” as Huck might say, and that could be why he has an affinity with a purty nice blue hound dog.


  1. These are the wall photos adjusted for perspective. They appear to be landscapes.

  2. This illustration which shows Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw surprising the editor, just could be drawn by the legendary Harvey Eisenberg (the "Carl Barks from Hanna-Barbera"), OK?

  3. I'm probably tied with Greg C. as number one "Huck fan"! I have the season 1 (alias the ONLY legally released, if at all, season of the show, one DVD).SC

  4. I’ve always thought Huck got a raw deal. He was H-B’s first Emmy award winner and set in motion future hit shows. Unlike Disney’s Mickey Mouse, which became the company’s logo, H-B let their first successful TV character sink into near oblivion. Now, Huck is barely recognized by anyone who isn’t a baby boomer.

  5. Daws Butler was always so great as Huckleberry Hound. Just listening to his performance made me feel relaxed.

    On a side note: John Stephenson isn't reprising Mr. Slate for that Flintstones/WWE wrestlers thing! Murder!