Sunday, 9 June 2019

Was Boo Boo a Boo Boo?

Did Yogi Bear really need Boo Boo on his show? Before we look at that, let’s look at Boo Boo in one of those little cartoons between the cartoons on the Yogi Bear Show. He looks like he’s in pain sliding down the pole. The oval eyes and heavy eyelids make me think Don Williams animated this.

By this time, Boo Boo was firmly entrenched in Yogi’s world, along with Ranger Smith and Jellystone Park. But that wasn’t always the case.

Yogi first appeared on the Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958 before getting his own spin-off series in early 1961. The first Yogi cartoon put into production was Pie-Pirates. Boo Boo tagged along as he and Yogi tried to steal a pie from a rural home. Boo Boo didn’t warn “Mr. Ranger won’t like it” because there was no Mr. Ranger. Not many of the cartoons that year took place in Jellystone Park and Ranger Smith had not been invented yet.

During the rest of the season, Yogi appeared in a number of different situations without a “bear-type buddy.” Several of the cartoons were in a spot gag format which suited Yogi pretty well. Charlie Shows provided dialogue in the 1958-59 season with former New York animator Dan Gordon coming up with storyboards for his old buddy Joe Barbera who was involved in the story process, too.

Boo Boo or not, Yogi proved to be an incredibly popular character. The opening animation to the Huck show was changed in 1959 where Yogi now joined Huck in carrying the sponsor’s banner into the first scene. There was a change in the writing department as well. Shows went to work for Larry Harmon and Warren Foster was brought in from John Sutherland Productions. Foster got a full “writer” credit and was given the responsibility for all the cartoons on the Huck show. A decision was made to make Boo Boo a permanent sidekick, that a ranger be created as an antagonist and to centre the plots in Jellystone Park. The format limited Yogi an awful lot—no more spot gags or adventures with woodland creatures—but it arguably gave Foster a base to work with and Yogi became so popular, he was spun off into his own show.

Boo Boo was a solid character. Don Messick found an ideal voice for him. But if you’ve been reading the Yogi Bear newspaper comics we’ve posted here, Gene Hazelton and his writers didn’t deem Boo Boo essential and Yogi was involved in situations involving other character.

Personally, I like some of the Boo Boo-less cartoons of the first season (note that Boo Boo and Yowp never appeared together) and the Yogi/spot gag format. But the little bear is etched in the minds of pretty well all Yogi Bear fans, so perhaps it’s best that he became a permanent member of the TV cast.


  1. Boo Boo had a little more reason for being than some of the other future second bananas in the Hanna-Barbera universe, in that he served sort of a passive Jiminy Cricket role as Yogi's conscience, when he voiced warnings about the bear's latest scheme (it's also why 'Pie Pirates' has a different feel to it, because Boo Boo's all-in on joining Yogi in stealing the food off the windowsill).

    The formula would get repetitive as time went on. But there was a reason for it in the first place, other than just pairing a tall main guy with a smaller partner.

  2. I agree with J.Lee. I believe Boo Boo did serve as Yogi's voice of reason . But it also says a lot about the writing, story, and voice acting that Yogi was equally funny, and there were some great moments without Ranger Smith and Boo Boo in some of early episodes.

    1. I,too, agree with J.Lee. One of the IMO best ones;'s is DAFFY DADDY with no Boo Boo or Ranger Smith (he'd come later).

  3. 1. Yogi needed a best friend who also acted as a conscience. Huck didn't need one because he never thought about breaking the rules and stealing.

    2. The dynamic and chemistry between Don Messick and Daws Butler was simply magical.

  4. Hans Christian Brando11 June 2019 at 18:32

    As thankless as the sidekick role so often is, Yogi needed Boo-Boo the way Lucille Ball needed Vivian Vance to act as confidante/accomlice. In both cases, the dynamics of the duo was compromised by a third party: Ranger Smith in Yogi and Boo-Boo's case, Gale Gordon for Lucy and Viv.

  5. Boo Boo did have his share of unusual and uncharacteristic moments, even if only in the comic books, as I wrote about HERE and HERE!