Saturday 31 December 2016

Huckleberry Hound Strikes a Pose

Huckleberry Hound trivia? Here’s a piece from Frank Rizzo, who interviewed various rock stars in 1985 about their first musical memory. The answer he got from Michael Stipe of REM:
“It was ‘Moon River.’ It used to make me cry when I was a kid. I liked it a lot because there was a line in it about ‘Huckleberry friend.’ But I thought it was about Huckleberry Hound which would give you an idea of how young I was, about 5.
With that, here are some drawings of Huck from the early days. Whether they’re Ed Benedict’s or Dick Bickenbach’s, I don’t know. The drawings of Huck in the Stone Age and the dinosaur come from Caveman Huck (about 1961), with layouts by Tony Rivera.

And one other piece of Huck trivia. Bob Hope sneered at Huck’s TV audience. From the Wall Street Journal, April 2, 1963:
CHICAGO—Bob Hope’s theory about the current ruckus over the accuracy of TV audience rating systems is that it all started “when Huckleberry Hound topped the President’s State of the Union message.”
In Chicago to receive an award from the National Association of Broadcasters, Mr. Hope spotted Newton Minow, Federal Communications Commission chairman, in the audience, and commended him for his “needling, suggestions and constructive prodding.” These efforts, he said, have “led the industry up the path to the Beverly Hillbillies,” a popular situation comedy.
“That’s all we needed,” Mr. Hope added, “an outhouse in the vast wasteland.”
This is the same Bob Hope that brought you those highbrow TV specials featuring Charo, college football cheerleaders and obvious glances at cue cards.

Friday 30 December 2016

Shrimpasaurus on the Barbie

The Flintstones were seen around the world (as Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera liked to point out in interviews) but the series seems to have made a distinct impression on one person in Australia.

Frankie Davidson, among many talents, recorded novelty songs in the 1960s, such as I Hope Your Chooks Turn Into Emus, which—and I’ll stand corrected—doesn’t appear to have charted in North America. One of his other novelty songs was a tribute to The Flintstones called “Yabba Dabba Doo.”

Here he is performing it back in the days of skinny ties and thin lapels on the TV series Australian Bandstand. The character cutouts in this performance are adapted from some of the original publicity drawings dating to the pre-Flintstones Flagstones period, designed by Ed Benedict.

My great thanks to Mike Kazaleh for letting everyone know about this video snippet.

You can read more about Davidson’s long career at this web page.

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Ruff and Reddy Go to a Party

Ruff and Reddy made their TV debut 59 years ago this month but even though their show was named after them, they weren’t altogether the stars. There was a live-action host, Jimmy Blaine, introducing the various elements of the programme, which also included old theatrical cartoons made by the Screen Gems studio in the 1940s.

The show aired on Saturday mornings and was strictly kids fare. Writer Charlie Shows came up with child-appealing rhyming titles, character names and, occasionally, dialogue. Still, it launched Hanna-Barbera Enterprises on its way, and the company took a huge leap the following year with its Kellogg’s-sponsored Huckleberry Hound Show, which appealed as much to adults and college students (and critics) as well as kids.

Huck and his co-stars were quickly merchandised. To a small extent, Ruff and Reddy were, too. One of the first bits of merchandise, maybe the first, was the book Ruff and Reddy Go to a Party, published in 1958 by Whitman. It seems to have been aimed at the Grade One crowd. The TV show was an action/adventure series. There’s no action or adventure in the book. There’s a little girl and a little elephant (who appeared on the first R&R TV storyline).

Harvey Eisenberg is responsible for some of the artwork here. Harvey was Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s layout man for several years at MGM and later drew some of the Yogi Bear and Flintstones comics that appeared in weekend newspapers. Donald Parmele tells me Neil Boyle was probably the artist that did the painting on Harvey Eisenberg's drawings, and says that’s usually the way the credits worked at Whitman/Western publishing.

You can click on the pages to make them bigger.

Sunday 25 December 2016

Dino and Christmas

Almost all the animated Christmas TV shows in the mid-1960s were specials. There was one exception—“A Christmas Flintstone,” just another episode in the 1964-65 TV season.

Well, it was a little more than “just” another episode. A couple of original songs were ordered for it and some of the backgrounds are more elaborate than what you’ll find in a usual Flintstones show, at least in my opinion. Whether the Hanna-Barbera studio budgeted more for this show, I don’t know, but Bill Hanna found a way to save a bit of money.

During the song “Dino the Dinosaur’s Christmas Tree,” there’s no animation at all. There are just dissolves from one piece of artwork to another. It’s actually a nice visual change from what’s been happening in the cartoon until that time.

Below are the drawings. The lyrics are, as best I can transcribe Alan Reed,

Dino the dinosaur heard some children say
We don’t have a Christmas tree
To trim for Christmas Day

So Dino the dinosaur said “I mustn’t fail!”
And he found a tree, and sawed it down
With his funny tail.

And the children were surprised and said
“Who trimmed this lovely tree?”
And who do you think just gave a wink
And smiled secretly? He!

Dino the dinosaur stood proud when Santa called
“That’s the finest tree I ever did see,
Merry Christmas one and all!”

Merry Christmas one and all!”

Now, as a bit of a Christmas present, here are a few short cues from the Flintstones, not available in any stores. They sound like cassette dubs so there a lot of top end and some hiss on them. Click on the title to download. Thanks to all who have read, and contributed to, this blog over the past year.









Wednesday 21 December 2016

Flintstones Weekend Comics, December 1966

Two Christmas-time comics highlight the Flintstones’ Sunday strips that appeared in newspapers 50 years ago this month. Thank Richard Holliss for the coloured versions.

No Dino? Well, everyone else shows up on December 4th.

Nothing like striped Stone Age pants. I like the cupid hanging from the ceiling in the last panel in the second row. The punch line of the December 11th isn’t exactly for kids, is it?

Floorboard it, Fred! How many times did Wilma ever say that? If you’re like me, you can hear the TV voice artists doing the characters, even the incidental ones. I hear Janet Waldo in her blustery battle-axe voice in the last panel, second row. This is from December 18th.

This comic was published December 25th. Santa’s here! Some lovely bluish nighttime colouring. Note the Load Limit sign on Fred’s roof.

Click on any of these comics to make them larger.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Mr. H. and Mr. B.

When the Hanna-Barbera studio first opened in 1957, Joe Barbera oversaw all the voice sessions. He was still doing it when the Jetsons were in production in 1962 but, by then, had hired Alan Dinehart to handle some of the workload.

But maybe the best-known and respected of the studio’s voice directors was Gordon Hunt, who was first given screen credit in the 1974-75 season on the Waltons animated knock-off These Are the Days. Mr. Hunt’s time at Hanna-Barbera is after the period of the studio’s life this blog deals with, but we feel it’s appropriate to mention his death this past weekend.

Hunt and Joe Barbera had a connection that pre-dated the cartoon studio. Joe fancied himself a playwright and penned a comedy called “The Maid and the Martian.” Barbera had aspirations of taking it to Broadway and, indeed, rights were optioned to do that. However, it made its bow at the Gallery Stage in Los Angeles on October 15, 1952. It was hastily mounted after the scheduled revue was cancelled four days earlier—at the suggestion of preview audiences! The director of Barbera’s play was one Gordon Hunt.

“The Maid and the Martian” somehow morphed—without Barbera’s name attached—into a screenplay by Hunt and Al Burton that was snapped up by American-International Pictures in 1961 and turned into the beach film Pajama Party (1964).

Hunt had a number of writing jobs around this time, some with actor Darryl Hickman, and Variety listed his occupation as a writer in its blurb about his marriage to Jane Morrison in Las Vegas on January 29, 1961. The marriage resulted in a daughter named Helen Hunt.

He also did some voice acting as well; I’m sure you can find a list of his credits on-line.

Maybe the funniest story about Gordon Hunt I’ve read is in Shirley Jones’ autobiography. She was married for a number of years to Marty Ingels, a comedy actor who decided to get into the star management business. One day, Marty was yammering on the phone about the wonders of a client (Robert Culp) when he was accidentally disconnected. He tried calling back but got a wrong number. He got Hunt. Out of nowhere, “We’ve got the rights to Pac-Man!” was the first thing Hunt said to him and before long, offered the job voicing the character to Ingels.

Hunt wrote a book about auditioning; one of the contributors was Joe Barbera.

Saturday 17 December 2016

Snagglepuss in Tail Wag Snag

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
Credits: Animation – Allen Wilzbach, Dick Lundy (uncredited); Layout – Noel Tucker; Backgrounds – Art Lozzi; Written by Mike Maltese; Story Director – Lew Marshall; Titles – Art Goble; Production Supervision – Howard Hanson.
Voice Cast: Snagglepuss, Snuffles, 2nd Adventurer – Daws Butler; Major Minor, 1st Adventurer – Don Messick.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-72 (sixth of eight in 1961-62 season).
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: The Major uses Snuffles to try to capture Snagglepuss.

It seems as if Snuffles the biscuit loving dog was in a whole bunch of cartoons because he made such an impression on viewers, but he only appeared in eight. Seven were with Quick Draw McGraw, the eighth was this cartoon with Snagglepuss.

The two characters work well together. Snuffles goes through an emotional battle in this one, with Major Minor bribing the dog with an increasing number of dog biscuits to capture Snagglepuss, while the mountain lion tries to stop it by appealing to his friendship. There’s an amusing sequence where Snagglepuss tries to distract Snuffles by jointly singing “While Strolling Through the Park One Day”, but after every line of the chorus the dog turns threatening.

In the cartoon’s climax, the Major hands Snuffles the whole box of dog biscuits (with Hanna-Barbera kissing up to sponsor Kellogg’s by featuring its brand of dog biscuits in the carton). Snuffles goes into such ecstasy that he leaps through the roof of Snagglepuss’ cave. Then just as the rifle-bearing Major is getting a bead on the mountain lion, Snuffles crashes on top of him. Snagglepuss lives to see another cartoon.

Allen Wilzbach is the animator of this cartoon but it appears the Snuffles ecstasy animation toward the beginning was reused from an earlier Quick Draw McGraw cartoon animated by Dick Lundy. Wilzbach’s Snuffles has been apparently really been chowing down on the dog biscuits.

Wilzbach really saves on Bill Hanna’s budget. Besides reusing drawings, there’s almost five seconds of the Major standing stiff with his eyes blinking three times. Some other randomly selected drawings.

Art Lozzi is the background artist. Here is his establishing shot.

Lozzi loved blue. You can find dark blue trees, mountains and rocks in a bunch of his cartoons around this time. Here is Snagglepuss’ cave.

And Lozzi uses a sponge to create a textured background card. You can see the yellow spongework in Snagglepuss’ cave above.

What would a Snagglepuss cartoon be without Maltese’s punny dialogue between our hero and his nemesis?

Snag: It’s the Major! Come all the way from Tallahassee. Where he shat me in the high grassy. Or did he gun me in the Gloamin’ in ol’ Wyomin’?
Major: Neither. I shot you in the county seat of old Mesquite.
Snag: But none the nevertheless, I got away, diddled I?

We don’t get a “Heavens to Murgatroyd” in this cartoon. We do get a “Heavens to first aid!” and “Heavens to astronaut!” Other catchphrases include:

● Exit, smartin’ all the way, stage left.
● Like Mother Hubbard, my cupboard is bare. Empty, even.
● For shame! Five shame, even!
● It’s me, your old pal, your buddy. Bosom, even.
● I don’t think I could stand it. Or sit it, even.
● Consider the quenceconses.

The cartoon ends with Snagglepuss running past the same tree, telling us “Every dog has its day. And so has a lion. So has a lion. Kiwanis, even.” Here’s an endless run cycle to finish our post.