Wednesday 12 June 2019

Hey, Boss, Lemme Watch Huck!

Huckleberry Hound didn’t need a lot of hype to become a hit. People found the show upon its debut in 1958 (in some cases because of newspaper ads placed by local TV stations) and critics discovered it, too. They liked it. They were tired of old theatrical cartoons and perhaps the gentle humour of Huck and his friends elsewhere on the show fit the sedate suburban ‘50s.

We’ve reprinted a bunch of stories from critics-turned-Huck-fans from the show’s first season. Here’s one more from the Boston Globe of March 14, 1959. You likely won’t understand the local reference jokes. In case the reference to Fred Allen puzzles you, Daws Butler used his Allen voice as a narrator in the cartoon where Huck is quelled by mosquitoes. The Phil Silvers voice was heard in Little Red Riding Huck.

The critic goes on to say he likes Huck better than Tom and Jerry. The same opinion was made by no less a person than Bill Hanna, though we suspect Bill had a vested interest in promoting his new cartoon series. You can read about it in this post.

Adult Cartoons Now
Huckleberry Hound New TV Funny "Man"


DEAR BOSS—This may be a strange request, but what are the chances of sneaking out of the office a little earlier than usual on Thursday nights?
I gotta get home to a house that was never going to be ruled by television, scrub up and eat supper without bolting my food—all before 6:30.
That's "Huckleberry Hound" time, and I've gotta be ready. It's important.
If you haven't had a chance to catch hilarious Huck and his flip-talking pals on Tee-Vee, you're missing what's probably the funniest show ever—particularly if you're a push-over for "adult" cartoons.
This Huckleberry Hound bit—supposed to be the first all-animated, half-hour program ever produced specifically for television— should have you in stitches.
It does all of us at our house.
If Huckleberry himself won't get you roaring, the antics of Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo Bear, the mice Pixie and Dixie, the cat Mr. Jinks or some of his other furry and feathered friends will.
Should you find I'm wrong and you don't howl most of the 30 minutes except for the commercials, I'll promise to put in a full day on Thursday in the future and live, as I do now, real dangerously on that day.
In order to watch Huck and his pals—providing I can't sneak out earlier—I've got to:
1. Race that convertible 'round the corner right in front of the Quincy Police Station on two wheels without cutting my speed.
2. Leap the sometimes-open draw bridge at Fore River.
3. Ignore the oft-red traffic light in front of the Hingham Police Station.
4. Tear through Cohasset like I did something wrong.
5. Flop down at the supper table without scrubbing my hands—let alone taking off my overcoat and snowshoes.
6. Bolt that food, tote that barge, lift that bale.
And even with all this hustle, there's a chance I might miss the first few minutes of Huckleberry. You know as well as the next boss that things like that don't make for a happy, well-adjusted employee.
Of course, if you let me sneak out, you'll probably have to let some of the others sneak out, too.
I'm not the only Huckleberry Hound fan around.
If you've got a minute, let me tell you what little I know about the show.
It was first introduced last September, and now some 180 TV stations through the country carry it each week.
The characters' "voices," like the ones resembling Art Carney's, the late Fred Allen's and Phil Silvers', are tremendous.
But it's the dialogue that causes the fractures. The episodes are spiced with such ticklers as: "We gotta outwit that nitwit" and "How's that for size blue eyes?"
Huckleberry's cartoonists—William Hanna and Joseph Barbera—have faced each other daily over twin desks for 20 years.
When they began working together in motion pictures, Hanna was an idea-and-production man supervising photography and physical preparation, and Barbera was a sketch artist.
Cartooning was a sideline with them both. We should have such a sideline.
It developed into the Tom and Jerry cartoons. They turned more than 200 films detailing the adventures of the mischievous rodent, the bungling feline and, of course, the ferocious bulldog, Spike.
The creative routine which began with Tom and Jerry is now applied to Huckleberry Hound and his friends.
But there's one difference—Huck is twice as funny.
In the Hollywood offices of Hanna and Barbera's recently formed H-B Enterprises, there's only one set rule: "Always start the day with a laugh."
That's a pretty good rule.
Results of this rule are on Channel 7 Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
So can I sneak out early, huh?

We now have a late bonus, thanks to Jerry Beck. It’s, well, I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it must have been on toy store shelves close to when Huck was created, as you will note the presence of everyone’s favourite cartoon dog that speaks only one word.

A late note: reader Keith Semmell says it’s part of a toy put out by Knickerbocker in 1959.

Let’s finish our post with an endless loop from the first Huck cartoon that aired, Huckleberry Hound Meets Wee Willie (it was the fifth Huck put into production). There are loads of money-saving cheats in this cartoon, including a cel of a police car with the background by Sam Clayberger moved behind it. The car and Huck don’t move; you can see the wheels don’t even turn.

1 comment:

  1. I also love Huck. As I've have said many times, he was " Mr. Every Man ". We sympathized with Huck from one professional to another. Policeman, Fireman, Truant Officer, Dog Catcher, Farmer, and on and on. Especially those magical early seasons.