Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Too Good For the Brats

It is a little hard for us, sitting here almost 60 years after the fact, to comprehend how easy-going, calm Huckleberry Hound was a huge fad at one time. He was pleasant. He was droll. He was involved in familiar situations (rescuing a cat from a tree, fending off a barbecue from a dog, trying to get rid of pesky mosquitos, crows or termites), in gentle satires (as a western good guy out to bring in the bad guy) or genial silliness (trying to capture a Frank Fontaine-ish lion). No wonder he won an Emmy in 1960, the first given to a syndicated programme and the first given to a cartoon (and up against parent-group favourites Mr. Wizard and Captain Kangaroo, not to mention Quick Draw McGraw).

As Huck’s popularity increased, the press took notice (thanks partly to plants from Arnie Carr’s PR department). Even Newsweek magazine wrote about the blue dog. I don’t have the Newsweek, but the Philadelphia Inquirer of July 18, 1960 wrote about it in its “TV Digest” column.

Huck probably peaked about the time this article was written. Soon, Hanna-Barbera’s PR push centred on its new gimmick—a prime-time cartoon that wasn’t for children. And gentle Huck was overshadowed by a louder, brasher character on his own show—Yogi Bear. Within months, Hanna-Barbera would announce its first feature film based on one of its characters. And it wasn’t Huck.

Island Named ‘Huckleberry Hound’
HERE's what one of the Nation's magazines is saying this week about television:
NEWSWEEK: Tucked away in the Antarctic's Bellingshausen Sea sits a fleabite-size island that bears the euphonious, if somewhat curious appellation, "Huckleberry Hound."
It was so named by the crew of the Coast Guard icebreaker U.S. Glacier, in a gesture of fealty that may mystify future naval historians but will puzzle not at all the salaaming devotees of one of TV's most popular characters—a cartoon dog.
Huckleberry, a noblehearted canine with the look of a bloodhound recently roused from an esthesia and a voice not unlike that of drawling comic Andy Griffith, is currently wowing the customers on a half-hour show in 180 U. S. cities plus such remote spots as New Zealand, Australia and Japan.
Designed for the post-Pablum set, Huck, together with his animated sidekicks — Mr. Jinks, a Method-acting cat, and Yogi Bear, a porkpie-hatted bumble head who bears a startling resemblance to comic Art Carney's sewer-working "Ed Norton"—now captures 13,000,000 viewers a week, almost as many of them adults as tots.
* * *
AS PROOF of this, the show can list such recent distinctions as: A proposal from the student body of the University of Washington that Huck be given an honorary degree; the renaming of the traditional Jazz and Cycling Society of Hull, England, to the Yogi Bear Club; a petition submitted by seven Ph.D.'s from Los Alamos asking if Huck could be shifted to a later time so they wouldn't miss it.
The enterprise which whelped all this puppy love is Hanna-Barbera Prods., a three-year-old Hollywood cartoon factory that now ranks as the world's largest. Run by square-faced William Hanna, a former construction engineer, and dark-haired, effusive Joseph Barbera, an ex-accountant, the firm was formed after the pair were fired from M-G-M, where both had worked on the cat and-mouse "Tom and Jerry" series — Hanna as idea man, Barbera as a cartoonist.
"We've tried to get back to the primary objective of cartooning — to caricature and satirize," explained the enthusiastic Barbera.
"What makes the show so merry is that they don't labor the satire" is the way one egghead fan put it. "You can almost hate children for liking Huckleberry so much—he's too good for the brats."


  1. Gosh! Such a good cartoon series was done by a construction engineer turned idea man and an accountant turned cartoonist! I guess it makes sense: it was well constructed but the animation looked kind of cheap. (By the way, I want a real answer to the question: who did it first? Did Daws' Southern-accent cartoon voice (or for a TIME FOR BEANY character or on a Stan Freberg record) originate before or after Andy Griffith became nationally famous (sometime after his national TV debut in 1954 and his hit Capitol 45, "What It Was Was Football" in 1955)? Was he or wasn't he doing an Andy impression? The world needs to know!)

    1. Daws insisted he didn't. As he used basically the same voice in 'Billy Boy' at MGM, and as it was made by Tex Avery well before his unit was disbanded in March 1953, I'd say Griffith had nothing to do with it.

    2. Actually a voice that Daws based on his neighbors..:) SC

  2. I was curious to find the location of Huckleberry Hound Island, so I checked Google Maps. There's no sign of the island there, but it does find The Huckleberry Hound Partridge Road in Fort Worth, Texas, and Huckleberry Hounds Kingston Road in Australia. I wonder when those roads were named and how many people under the age of 40 know the origin of the names.

  3. From a snippet of an April 28, 1960 Newspaper article " Those who might wish to visit Huckleberry Hound Island at some future date probably will not find it on an official map. It's likely they, could not reach it, too, without a private icebreaker and then only during a highly favorable season. Just the same, as far as the Glacier's crew is concerned. Huckleberry Hound Island Is right there, just. 73 miles from Cape Flying Fish at 71 degrees 40 minutes South, 98 degrees 19 minutes West! "

  4. I guess most Gen-Xers who watched "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" didn't get the Clementine joke :-P