Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Invading the TV Schedule

Huckleberry Hound may have given the first real boost to the Hanna-Barbera empire but, by 1961, he wasn’t number one in the kingdom. Monarchs Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera were putting more of their efforts (and treasury) into their prime-time success, The Flintstones. And not only had Yogi Bear been pulled away from the Huck show into his own, he had been tapped to star in the studio first full-length animated movie. At the end of the 1961-62 season, Huck went into permanent reruns.

We’ve spent pretty close to nine years on the blog passing along ancient articles on the studio in its growing years. Here’s an interesting one from the Philadelphia Inquirer of November 28, 1961. It was a gold strike for Hanna-Barbera. Not only did it give the studio publicity, it was a free plug for a feature story on the Flintstones, Yogi, Joe, Bill, and all in the December 2, 1961 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, which gave H-B even more publicity.

Ingeniously, the Inquirer played Reader’s Digest, boiling down magazine articles for a column as an easy way to fill space on its entertainment pages. All it took was a rewrite. You can read the Post article on Joe Bevilacqua’s web site devoted to Daws Butler, but you can see the “TV Digest” column from the Inquirer below.

Pair of Cartoonists Surprise Themselves With Sudden Riches
HERE'S what one of the Nation's magazines is saying this week about television:
SATURDAY EVENING POST: The most surprised men in Hollywood these days are a pair of middle-aged cartoonists named William Hanna and Joseph Barbera.
Four years ago they were has-beens, bounced out of the movie business with no prospect of future employment. This year, as owners of four fantastically successful television shows plus a major contender, they will gross an estimated $9,000,000.
Leading the list in order of importance on this two-man hit parade is "The Flintstones"—the first cartoon show to make a successful invasion of television's supposedly adult hours.
If it all sounds and looks like a prehistoric version of "The Honeymooners," nobody seems to care. "The Flintstones" finished the 1960-11 season with an audience of 13,882,000 homes, according to Nielsen figures.
The rest of the Hanna Barbera cavalcade is both a cast of characters and a menagerie. The Barrymore of the bunch is three-year-old "Huckleberry Hound," star of a half-hour show which appears weekly on some 180 independent stations.
On another midweek evening, same time, same station, Quick Draw McGraw stalks his man. . .on still a third evening during TV's kiddie hour, Yogi Bear cavorts around Jellystone Park.
• • •
LAST, but by no means least is Hanna and Barbera's economic expectations, is a new half hour, "Top Cat," featuring a band of Dead End cats led by a Bilko-type hustler.
Desperation, plus their own artistic instincts, inspired the partners to create a process which they called "Planned Animation."
Realism was junked for drawings that were broadly comic and basically simple. They worked out short eats. When a character spoke, only his mouth moved. When he walked, only his legs moved.
The result was a seven-minute cartoon which needed only 2000 drawings but still resembled full animation so closely that only a professional could tell the difference.
“The Flints,” as everyone at Hanna-Barbara Productions calls it, cost $65,000 per half hour, making the program one of the most expensive half hours on television. (In full animation it would cost $200,000.)
This year the company will gross around $1,000,000 from television, but the partners swear that profits are low. "We plow every cent we get back into better quality production," Bill Hanna says.
This may well be true of the cash they receive from advertising sponsors. But their animal cartoons are earning them at least $1,000,000 more is other markets, Last year sales of games, soaps, stuffed animals and other toys based on Huckleberry Hound and his entourage totalled $40,000,000.
Their success has inevitably inspired the most sincere form of television flattery—imitation.
There are a swarm of rival cartoon characters on the evening air this evening, ranging from a moose that talks like a man to a trio of chipmunks who cut up like small boys.


  1. Maybe the jagger rocky, woody, and bark-y look of the format of "the Flintstones", as well as the torn-edged clothing takes time to animate. That's why it's expensive.

  2. sorry, i meant jagged, not jagger.

  3. +YOWP Do you have any info on Naomi Lewis who played Mrs. Gruesome in her first episode on ''The Flintstones'', and, who is possibly the last surviving actor from the show? (sans Ann-Margret and James Darren).

    1. You already asked this and it was answered.