Wednesday 23 January 2019

Home Sweet Bear-Type Cave

Yogi Bear’s homes were many and varied during his early days on The Huckleberry Hound Show. The studio saw no need to insist on using the same background drawings in each cartoon, so a new cave was designed for Yogi whenever he needed one (in The Baffled Bear, he lives inside a tree).

We’ve found six cartoons in Yogi’s first season in 1958-59 where he lives in a cave. Incidentally, he lived alone; Boo Boo moving in didn’t happen until Warren Foster took over writing the cartoons in the second season.

All six caves appear to be the artwork of Fernando Montealegre (that’s him to the right). Each of them features a variety of colour shades. Monty came from the MGM cartoon studio where he worked in the Mike Lah unit. He had a wonderful sense of stylisation. His work was far less abstract at Hanna-Barbera, but his art is still very attractive. There’s a fair bit of sponge-work; I’m not an artist so I don’t know what else he used to paint.

Montealegre was born in Costa Rica. I presume he’s the Fernando Miguel Montealegre who was born June 23, 1926 and died in Long Beach, California on April 29, 1991. Layout man Jerry Eisenberg told me Monty was into photography as well as art. His last animation work was apparently on a 1983 TV special called The Great Bear Scare. Alas I know nothing else about him.

Let’s look at his cave entrances.

Slumber Party Smarty

Foxy Hound-Dog

Big Brave Bear

Prize Fight Fright

Brainy Bear

Hide and Go Peek

In the second season of The Huckleberry Hound Show, Yogi has a cave that isn’t consistent within a cartoon. It’s in Lullabye-Bye Bear (1959). The trees in the background are different in winter than they are in spring. These backgrounds, from what I can tell, are by Joe Montell, who painted backgrounds for Tex Avery at MGM. He left Hanna-Barbera to go to Mexico and work for Jay Ward.

Lullabye-Bye Bear

Montell was big on dots that you see in the background above; they’re visible in his work at MGM and John Sutherland Productions.

This should give you a pretty good idea of some of the early background art at Hanna-Barbera and the fact the studio didn’t get worked up about Yogi’s home being consistent from cartoon to cartoon. Artists laid out and painted what was needed to make an individual cartoon attractive and fit the plot.


  1. I love his background designs for Josie and the Pussycats (1970).

  2. That's what he looked like?! MY God, he's gorgeous. Wow! He was also very talented.