Saturday, 14 March 2015

Yogi Bear—Queen Bee For a Day

Produced and Directed by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
Credits: Animation – Don Williams, Layout – Dan Noonan, Backgrounds – Neenah Maxwell, Written by Warren Foster, Story Director – Paul Sommer, Titles – Art Goble, Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Yogi Bear, Bug Expert, Man, Short Ranger, Bees – Daws Butler; Boo Boo, Ranger Smith, Woman, Charlie, Bees – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Production J-53.
First Aired: week of April 10, 1961?
Plot: Boo Boo, in a bee costume, tries to escape capture.

Warren Foster gets in some pretty good lines in this cartoon and they’re read, naturally, with the usual expert flair you expect out of Daws Butler and Don Messick.

After Ranger Smith tells a corny joke about dogs and fleas:

Bug Expert (dryly, after a sarcastic chuckle): Very funny. I laugh at that joke every time I hear it.
Then after Smith’s next bad joke:
Bug Expert (to the camera): It must be the lonely existence that makes them crack up.
Boo Boo, stuck in a giant bee costume, inexplicably makes a buzzing sound as he runs past a pair of husband and wife tourists, with Smith chasing him.
Smith (to the tourists): Don’t be alarmed, folks. It’s only a deadly Magnimus Rex.
Tourists (shocked): A Magnimus Rex!!

I like the fact that they just happen to know what a Magnimus Rex is, being a rare bee and all. In case you’re wondering, Magnimus is “great” and Rex “king” in Latin. I wonder if Foster thought using Regina (“queen”) would confuse the audience into wondering what Saskatchewan had to do with a bee.

The cartoon then cuts to a stream of vehicles rushing out of Jellystone to avoid the killer bee. Nice frosting on the trees.

And then there’s the scene where the bees form the shape of an arrow, get in the bear tuchus and then start laughing en masse.

Neenah Maxwell painted the backgrounds. Here’s one that’s used a number of times in the cartoon. You can see the same trees at both ends. It takes Yogi 16 frames (one foot of film) to run reach the same blue tree again.

Here’s another background. The bees go into the hole. The hole isn’t on an overlay, though. Don Williams animates a cycle of bees, eight drawings on ones.

Williams drew characters with odd eye shapes in other H-B cartoons; in some cases one eye was half-shut. That doesn’t happen in this cartoon, but note the eye shape on Boo Boo below. And Ranger Smith has an extremely short tie for some reason.

The cartoon in brief: for the umpteenth time, Ranger Smith tells Yogi to stay away from the picnic areas. Yogi rejects the idea of “natural bear food” until Boo Boo mentions honey. After being stung by bees, Yogi dresses Boo Boo in a queen bee costume to lure away the bees. Boo Boo gets stuck in the costume. Meanwhile a bug collector spots Boo Boo and being utterly clueless, thinks he’s found a real giant bee (the aforementioned Magnimus Rex)—one that can kill you with just one sting. After some running around, Yogi gets the bee costume off Boo Boo and lies to Ranger Smith that he’s killed the giant bee but has been stung in the process. Here’s Boo Boo’s look to the audience as Yogi lards on the BS to Mr. Ranger.

The duped and sympathetic ranger tells Yogi for the time he has left before going to that Big Jellystone in the Sky he can do whatever he wants. Fade into the last scene with Yogi chowing down on a sandwich (and celery?!). “Boo Boo, we’ll never eat that forest fare while I’m smarter than the av-er-age bear,” rhymes Yogi as the cartoon ends.

Someone screwed up something in this cartoon regarding colour. In the first scenes in Ranger Smith’s office, Smith’s 5 O’clock Shadow is darker than the rest of his head. I like it but, of course, painting two colours instead costs money and time (which also costs money), so he’s back to one tone in later scenes.

Hoyt Curtin’s music is put to good use here. The old pathetic trombone cue that got trotted out whenever Fred Flintstone told a (generally made-up) tale of woe appears when Yogi is making up the story about his impending death due to a bee sting. And the Flintstones trumpet and xylophone chase music is heard is heard when the Ranger is chasing the “bee” and the tourists are driving away from the park. And one of the Flintstones’ bridges (I don’t know the number; it’s not 1 or 9) accompanies the laughing bees.


  1. Boo Boo buzzing like a bee was pretty amusing. In the Quick Draw McGraw short: "Baba Bait" (also animated by Don Williams), Don Messick made that same "buzz" noise for the Masked Mosquito.

  2. Don Williams' animation of H-B characters always looks strange to me, like they wandered in from an another studio- not sure which one. But his drawing of a nonplussed Boo-Boo reacting to Yogi's sob story is priceless.