Sunday 25 June 2023

Explaining Doggie Daddy

Of the three cartoon series that made up The Quick Draw McGraw Show, Augie Doggie was the last, even though, in a way, it was first.

Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, as you well know, directed the Tom and Jerry series at MGM. Tom’s nemesis, on occasion, was a bulldog named Spike. By the ‘50s, the series was getting stale. Barbera looked around for some new characters, so he paired Spike with a son named Tyke and hired Daws Butler to give the dad a Jimmy Durante voice and Durante’s “Dat’s my boy who said dat” relationship on radio with Garry Moore.

When Mr. H and Mr. B. opened their own studio, they borrowed freely from cartoons made at Metro and when Quick Draw was being developed, brought back the idea of a Durante-sounding father dog and his young son.

There was some tinkering on the part of Hanna, Barbera and writer Mike Maltese. Variety on January 8, 1959 announced the doggie pair were named Pete and Repete. The paper revealed a change on January 28 and said the series would be called “Arf and Arf.”

We’re unable to discover when the studio settled on “Augie Doggie” and “Doggie Daddy” but it was no later than April 1959 as we can see from this model sheet by Dick Bickenbach.

Maltese deserves credit for naming the characters. His niece Margaret told me Augie was the name of her mother’s brother. And writer Tony Benedict mentioned to me that Maltese would say things when the two were talking and the words ended up as Augie Doggie dialogue. Augie also owes a bit to Warner Bros.’ Sylvester Junior, invented by writer Warren Foster for the Bob McKimson unit, especially when Augie would pull off one of those “Oh, for the shame of it all!” routines.

Daws Butler didn’t repeat (or “repete”) his Durante voice for the new series. He recalled in an interview that it took a lot out of his throat and he didn’t want to do it, so Barbera held auditions for the part. Radio actor Doug Young told TV historian Stu Shostak that Daws ran into him in a bookstore one day and corralled him into make an audition tape for Hanna-Barbera. Young remembered he and Peter Leeds auditioned for Doggie Daddy.

All this may have resulted in a delay getting Augie and Dear Old Dad into production. The first cartoon in the series was apparently the 16th made for the Quick Draw show, Foxhound Hounded Fox. The cartoon is different than later ones in the series as it mainly focuses on Augie and a fox, instead of the familiar formula of Doggie Daddy being put upon and making observations to the TV audience about what was happening.

While a number of newspaper articles commented on the Quick Draw show or Quick Draw himself, one columnist focused on Augie and his long-suffering father. Here’s what’s the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Luke Feck wrote on June 17, 1960.

Dog Show
"Drink this, fun-loving Dad, of mine."
"Anything you say, my scientific son," a Durante-like voice gravels back.
That's the way next week adventures of Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddie gets off the ground Tuesday night on Channel 9’s “Quick Draw McGraw.”
As a cartoon-loving friend of mine once said. "This show isn’t for the kids alone. I wouldn't miss it on a bet."
"Why is that, fun-loving friend," I asked.
“I think it’s funny, sober pal of mine,” he replied.
"Why," I asked, trying my hardest not to sound overly sober.
“It works on two levels, levelheaded one,” he said.
“Oh,” I said, patting my flat-type hair, “are you calling me a flathead?”
"No, it really does work that way. There's the straight visual gimmick for the kids, but there is something deeper than that in it. This is a cartoon with a message for the youngster and the oldster alike.”
"And better than Yogi Bear," I said trying to put him in his place.
"Of course not," he said.
Now, I had to give him credit for proving that he was a pretty discerning fellow.
"BUT LOOK, besides the visual yuks, they have some pretty sophisticated humor and some mighty punny fun.” (I had to interject a “Good Grief” at that unsunny pun, which did nothing to brighten my day.)
"They have this young dog, Augie Doggie, and he seems to typify the younger generation—he’s might smart and sometimes he sure wonders what gives in the head with his dad, Doggie Daddie.”
"Is that questioning attitude typical of the younger generation?" I asked as naively as only a bachelor can.
"Those worryin' little sons of mine do nothing but wonder about their Dad's stupidity," he said.
"They have reason, family loving friend,” I said slipping into the Augie Doggie idiom.
"Imagine, a grown man like you making his children watch a cartoon series instead of the news. That sophistication deal is just a crutch to cover up your arrested development," I said.
That's what I said. But what I did, on a basis of what my friend had said, was to call WCPO. They promised me a screening of next week's show.
I saw the cat and mouse affair, a pair named Snooper and Blooper, and a horse named "Quick Draw McGraw" and his partner Baba louie.
The cat and mouse—nothing like Jinks, Pixie and Dixie of the Huckleberry Hound show—didn’t really say anything that was meaty but there were plenty of sight gags for the kiddies.
The horse named Quick Draw did a fairly funny take off on the Zorro bit and was occasionally bright and once even witty.
Finally, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddie turned up with a bit of nonsense about lighter-than-air medicine that Augie made for his Daddie.
I must report that now I am an Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddie fan of theirs. So much a fan, in fact, that I converted the Boss into a fan of theirs too.
The boss, by the way, bears a close resemblance to Doggie Daddy in looks and mannerisms. He just doesn't bark, fortunately.

While Mr. Feck enjoyed Augie, and the Quick Draw show was nominated for an Emmy in its first season, there’s always a wet blanket that wants to impose their views on everyone else. This letter appeared in a newspaper in York, Pa., on October 6, 1961:

Editor, The Gazette and Daily:
On October 3, I was shocked to witness with my children a most objectionable display of sadism on a “kiddies” cartoon program entitled Augie Doggie and Augie Daddy [sic]. This was at 5 p.m., the so-called children’s hour. I immediately telephoned the station and voiced my complaint, with the thought that perhaps no one there really looked at the film before putting it on the air.
Fully 75 percent of the duration of this cartoon for little ones’ entertainment was taken up by watching “Augie Doggie” run through the house and yard firing a shotgun at point blank range at both “Augie Daddy” and a burglar, neither of which was hurt, although their faces were blackened and clothing tattered from the shots.
Aren’t there enough children shooting themselves and others needlessly without having an incentive such as this put before their eyes?
What more can I and other conscientious parents do to stop this revolting situation? Copies of this letter are being sent to Mr. Minow, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C., and the Department of Television Programming, National Broadcasting Company, New York.

I don’t know what the woman expected NBC to do about it, as Augie was never on the network.

As a kid, about all I copied from The Quick Draw McGraw Show was Daws Butler’s pluralisation of sheep as “sheeps,” which drove my mother crazy and my dad had to tell her “He knows the real word. He heard it in a cartoon.” (On second thought, I might copied Quick Draw by yelling “Kabong!” and hitting my brother on the head with a Beany and Cecil toy guitar, but I can’t remember after 60 years).

Layout artist Bob Givens, who arrived at Hanna-Barbera with Maltese from Warners, said in a 2011 interview “the Augie Doggies, they were kind of fun to do.” Maltese seems to have enjoyed putting together the stories. Doggie Daddy would watch things fall apart but, generally, maintained a sense of humour. Doug Young’s performances made you believe Dear Old Dad was a caring father. The cartoons are still pleasant to watch after all these years.