Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Three Mixed-Up Mooses

You know the creative process works. An idea gets batted around until it seems to work. It may be rejected later and kicked around some more in different directions.

I imagine that happens in cartoons all the time. Hanna-Barbera fans know the tale of how the Flintstones were tried in different time periods until the Stone Age as hit upon. Scooby Doo started off without Scooby Doo (the show was originally about teenaged detectives). And as you can see to the right, Dan Gordon and Joe Barbera are looking over a concept called “Harebrained Hare” in 1960 which morphed into Touché Turtle.

Another idea for a series that made some twists and turns was for “The Three Mixed-Up Mooses.” The only reference I’ve spotted about this is in a Variety article. But reader Mike Rossi sent along a picture of what looks to be end title art. H-B fans can readily see that the Mooses were changed into dogs and became the Goofy Guards on the Peter Potamus Show.

The Mooses were supposed to be a second theatrical series released by Columbia Pictures, which had been putting Loopy De Loop on screens for undiscerning children since 1959. Here’s the full story from Daily Variety of April 25, 1963. The Mooses are incidental; the story is really a rundown of all the things Hanna-Barbera was up to.

At the time, the studio was housed in a cinder-block-looking building on Cahuenga, where it had moved from the Kling Studios in 1960. The studio had no windows and apparently only one telephone in the hallway for staff. It was too small to fit everyone so people worked from home (that’s how Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera could brag in interviews that the studio “has no time clocks”).

You’ll notice the mention of Wally Burr, who died earlier this month. Arthur Pierson’s name can be seen on later episodes of The Flintstones. He had been a vice president of Roland Reed Productions and, before that, Transfilm and Jerry Fairbanks Productions, after an acting career (he was on the Board of the Lambs Club in New York). Bobe Cannon had worked on the “Eep Opp” sequence of The Jetsons with Jerry Eisenberg but, before that, had started as an assistant animator at Warners Bros. and eventually won Oscars at UPA. He died in 1964.

“Father Was A Robot” was a story by Al Ruddy, Bernard Fein and Mann Rubin. Ruddy, Michael Fenton and Brian Hutton were developing it as a pilot in July 1962. As you can see, Hanna-Barbera got involved a year later, and assigned Sloan Nibley to write the screenplay. Oddly, in April 1964, Variety reported H-B had just purchased the story. In October that year, Joe Barbera was touting it as a live action feature about a “funny, swinging robot” (and $75,000 had been spent building it). That’s the last anyone heard of it. “Hillbilly Hawk”? Hanna and Barbera elected to go with Hillbilly Bears instead.

Record $9 Million Budget Earmarked For Hanna-BarberaProd'ns For Next Year
A record $9,000,000 in production has been budgeted by Hanna-Barbera Productions for the coming year, as it embarks on an expansion program marked by a diversification of the company's activities. Six-year-old animation company moves on May 1 to its new $1,300,000 building on a strip of land on the inbound San Fernando Valley-Hollywood freeway.
Prexy Joe Barbera and his partner, Bill Hanna, who founded the company in 1957, yesterday stressed the production figure is for firm commitments and a minimum, inasmuch as other deals are currently in negotiation.
26 'Flinstones'
On H-B's production agenda for the ensuing years are 26 "The Flintstones" cartoon epiaodes (on ABC-TV), overall budget $1,600,000; 156 5-min. syndicated shorts, $1,500,000; a "Yogi Bear" feature film, $1,800,000; two half-hour industrial films, $450,000; 28 theatrical film shorts for Columbia release, $700,000; a live-action feature, "Father Was A Robot," $1,500,000.
H-B's new hq, which has 40,000 square feet of space, will house all of its activities, such as animation, recording, music, dubbing, commercials, etc. It was designed by Arthur Froelich, and its basement is also a bomb shelter. Company's half-hour industrial films are being done for Mutual Fund of America and Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical. Its theatrical film shorts for Col consist of "Loopy de Loop," "Hillbilly Hawk" and "The Three Mixed Up Mooses" briefies.
Pierson Blurbery Chief
Arthur Pierson has joined the company as associate producer on entertainment product, and head of its industrial films division. Walter Burr, a producer-director with Leo Burnett & Co., joins H-B June 1 as head of its live action commercials division. Robert Cannon, formerly with Walt Disney and UPA, heads the company's animated commercial division, and Hal Styles has been named chief of the firm's new syndicated commercial branch, which plans 250 teleblurbs. In addition to production coin, H-B rakes in about $200,000 for production design for licensees merchandising various H-B cartoon characters Also, "Flintstones" and "Yogi" comic strips are carried in 220 newspapers by the McNaught Syndicate, and H-B do this production work. H-B's "Flintstones," "Yogi" and "Huckleberry Hound" cartoona are shown in 41 foreign countries.
Barbera explained the company is diversifying into many other fields because "we're going into markets that have never been touched." He said H-B has received a much as $76,000 for a half-hour teleshow, and pointed out few sponsors can afford this kind of coin. Consequently, H-B policy is to prepare shows with "tailor-made" budgets depending on what a sponsor can afford.
Two years ago the animation trend in tv fell flat on its face, Barbera recalled, but that doesn't mean the interest is not still there, he added. He said he finds agency and sponsor reps in N.Y. very receptive to good ideas for animation series, and some such deals are now in negotiation.


  1. I'm always fascinated by the early characters who never made it to the screen, since these are the ones which would share enough characteristics with those that did to have made them watchable to me. Thus far, from what I've seen, H-B was pretty economical with their ideas, recycling everything into other characters which did make it. While Harebrained Hare would have been great (H-B had no rabbit characters until Ricochet the next year), the Mooses may have met some reticence on the part of people who thought that they'd be stepping on Bullwinkle's sizable feet. I see that the 1964 budget included 156 5-minute shorts which is equivalent to two 26-episode series, presumably MAGILLA and PETER. That the latter was being developed alongside the MOOSES theatrical project means that either they had no idea what was going to be on those two programs yet, or that there were other series earmarked for them which didn't make it. Because all of the histories of H-B that exist have insisted on featuring the entirety of the company's output, none of them have ever delved deeply enough into the day-to-day development process to ever learn any of these details--so Don, I thank you for helping to put a little more light on them. (We really do need somebody to do a book called HANNA-BARBERA: THE FIRST TEN YEARS .)

  2. Wonder if any of the "Hillbilly Hawk" concepts got recycled into the Pumpkin Puss and Mushmouse series?

  3. Wow. Great find, Yowp. And thanks for the picture, Mike Rossi. Always fascinating to see characters that never made it, at least not in their original form. And I heartily second Mike T.'s motion for a book about H-B's first 10 years.

  4. "The studio had no windows and apparently only one telephone in the hallway for staff. It was too small to fit everyone so people worked from home (that’s how Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera could brag in interviews that the studio “has no time clocks”)."

    Telecommuting before telecommuting was cool. Just another way in which H-B was a pioneer.

  5. Fascinating. I used to watch re-runs of old HB shows on Cartoon Network in the '90s, even though most of them aged poorly. As for Wally Burr, I never knew that he and Joe Leahy used to work for HB in the '60s.

  6. I've read this story for the last few days and enjoyed. I'm probaly here in the minority, but I've always enjoyed what the moooses became:Yippie,m Yappee, and Yahooeey the dogs, especially given the countless Scooby clones later..SHane, where did you catch Joe leahy's name in the article..I noticed Wally Burr';s name there and didn't even know he was involved that long ago..