Saturday, 1 July 2017

Yakky Doodle in Happy Birthdaze

Produced and Directed by Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna.
No credits.
Voice Cast: Yakky Doodle – Jimmy Weldon; Chopper – Vance Colvig; Finnigan the Guard, Butcher, Bone Carriers – Daws Butler; Museum Boss – Herb Vigran.
Music: Hoyt Curtin.
Episode: Production R-28.
Copyright 1961 by Hanna-Barbera Productions.
Plot: Yakky “buys” a dinosaur bone from a museum for Chopper’s birthday and the museum’s security guard tries to get it back.

You know by now that I’m not a fan of Yakky Doodle, but I have some sympathy for the little duck in this cartoon. He paid 27 cents for a bone. Why should he think it wasn’t a legal transaction? And he wanted to give Chopper a present. So his intentions were good and his actions are quite logical. I think the characterisation is a good one in this short.

That doesn’t mean this is a great cartoon. It’s actually really lacklustre. There’s a lot chasing but not a lot of witty dialogue to punctuate the stops and starts of the chase. And the writer (my guess is this is Tony Benedict’s story) is marking time in spots. “It’s not real money, Chopper,” Yakky says. “It’s candy money. Yum, yum!” What’s Chopper’s brilliant response? “It’s candy money. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Yum, yum. Now ain’t that cute? Ha, ha, ha, haw, haw.”

It’s accompanied by a rigid Yakky (who blinks his eyes), and a rigid-except-for-head Chopper. The animation’s really limited in parts of this short, but the characters are well drawn. There’s lots of dry brushwork, too.

The story is simple. Yakky raids his piggy bank to buy Chopper a birthday present. He has 27 cents. He goes to a meat store. The largest bone there isn’t big enough as far as Yakky’s concerned. “What is your pal, Chopper, a rhino-saucer-us-sus-sus?” says the butcher (Daws adds extra syllables in a German accent).

Yakky sees a dinosaur bone being carried into a museum, which didn’t pay anything for it. Yakky takes it and leaves his 27 cents. A security guard is dispatched to bring it back. Chopper gets into the fray until the guard explains it was from a museum. Chopper tells Yakky it’s against the law. But, no, the guard doesn’t send Yakky to jail for theft. Instead, there’s a happy ending with the duck and the Irish stereotype singing “Happy Birthday” to Chopper to the theme of “Clementine” (I still can’t decipher all the lyrics). Naturally, the cartoon ends with another “Now, ain’t that cute?”

Mismatched shots. These are consecutive frames.

Dick Thomas, the workhorse of the Hanna-Barbera background department, was assigned this cartoon.

Herb Vigran supplies a voice in this cartoon. At least, I think it’s Herb Vigran. My guess is he was recording something on The Flintstones and Joe Barbera had him cut a couple of lines for this one while he was there. (I can’t help but wonder if Vigran was one of the people who auditioned for Fred when Barbera was looking for voices at the start of the series). The possibility has been raised that the museum boss could be Vance Colvig, and I can’t dispute that.

Hoyt Curtin’s version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” opens the cartoon. In fact, the sound cutter used only two cues from the start to the scene when the guards walk into the museum with the bone, which takes up a minute and 36 seconds. The bulk of the music can be heard in a typical Touché Turtle cartoon.


  1. Thanks a lot, YOWP. You should totally do an article on Herb Vigran and Hershel Bernardi. Didn't he also do the voice of the cop thay Fred dunks in the pool in the episode ''The Swimming Pool'' Fred: Who's in the pool?. Policeman: It ain't Brigittey Bradot. Imdb says it was Michael Rye, but I have my doubts.

    Didn't John Stephenson also guest-starred on of the post-1960s shorts? I read that somewhere. I am 100% certain that the first thing he ever did for H-B was ''The Golf Champion'' on ''The Flintstones''.

    1. No, the cop in the pool is Daws Butler. I don't know who Charlie is.
      There's a Vigran piece on Tralfaz.
      I don't recall Stephenson ever appearing on the Yogi show.

  2. Best I can make out on that garbled rendition-

    Happy Birthday,
    Happy Birthday,
    Happy Birthday, Chopper, friend...

    Though it's just a teensy present,
    It's the thought that counts, my friend...

    It's all for you-u-u-u-u...

    1. Thanks TCJ for another fine contribution!

  3. Sergio Goncalves2 July 2017 at 05:31

    Speaking of Touché Turtle, it would great if you could please start reviewing his cartoons once you're done reviewing the Yakky Doodle and Snagglepuss shorts. I understand Touché is not your cup of tea, but I (and, surely, your other dedicated readers) would love to see this blog keep on going and going and going, just like the Energizer bunny.

    Thanks, as always, for your hard work.

    1. Alas, Sergio, it has been a challenge updating this blog. I just do not have the time, and I've had DVD problems for months. I have pushed to keep the blog going to the studio's anniversary.

    2. Also the only other shorts series up to the early 60s not covered: Hokey Wolf, from the Huckelberry Hound show..and in addition to the Jetsons, Top Cat or the Flintstones....I know you're not a Ruff and Reddy or Loopy De Loop fan, but since you reviewed the Yakky shorts.. Steve C

    3. Didn't YOWP cover all ''The Jetsons'' episodes?

  4. I always just assumed the museum owner guy was either Jimmy Weldon or Vance Colvig since they only really did Yakky and Chopper otherwise, so it would be harder to pick them out. Thanks for clarifying on that!

    I guess the butcher didn't know/care that rhinos are veggie.

    My DVD set doesn't have the credits on this one either and if I recall, it also has the Hokey Wolf jingle over the title for some reason.

    1. Most of the Yakky and Snagglepuss shorts aired in syndication for years without full credit sequences. Yakky's cartoons were usually prefaced with the Hokey Wolf closing theme, and occasionally with Huck's. Snagglepuss' cartoons were usually prefaced with Huck's closing theme, which itself was used to introduce the latter's cartoons. (I never knew Huck's cartoons had their own theme and credit sequences until well into the 1990s.)

      The complete credits for each Yakky and Snagglepuss cartoon were restored for the COMPLETE YOGI BEAR SHOW DVD, except for this short and one with Snagglepuss.

  5. This Yakky, like "Countdown to Tenant", has four, more than the (get ready for Yogi Bear phrasing) average Hanna-Barbera cast (three or less usually) for earlier shorts, and using Herb Vigran was different..he played cops over on the 'Stones..:) The "candy money
    that yakky pretends to have at the beginning always reminds me of the "gold"-wrapped chocolate money...Yakkiy should've pretended to "unwrap" it..I agree too with Georgi Mihailow totally about an article on Herb Vigran and Hershcel Bernadi..Daws Butler did the cop in that epsiode, the debut production wise thaty Georgi mentions..Herb and Herscherl ain't even IN that one..SC

  6. And on Tralfaz you should do an article on Sheldon Leonard.SC

  7. One thing is very clear: Carlo did the animation.