Sunday 27 August 2023

Whip Up Some Cereal

The Quick Draw McGraw Show was bought and paid for by Kellogg’s, so the cereal maker made sure it had its imprint in the opening and closing animation.

As the Randy Horne Singers cheerfully bleated out “(That’s) Quick Draw McGraw,” the star drove a stagecoach through the plateaus of the American Southwest.

The camera cuts to a close-up of Quick Draw cracking his whip. Rather cleverly, the whip returns to spell the sponsor’s name with the letter-style familiar from cereal boxes.

But hold on thar! Quick Draw’s rope trick is only temporary. The letters fall and drop around his snout.

Quick Draw cracks the whip again. The force causes his head to swirl around, giving him multiple eyes and some funny expressions which viewers don’t see because of the pace of the animation.

The letters on the whip resume their correct form.

Some years later, Hanna-Barbera put out both the Huck and Quick Draw series into syndication, but without Kellogg’s participation; stations could sell the spot-break time that had been used to sell Sugar Pops or Corn Flakes. This also meant changes in the openings and closings to remove all references to Kellogg’s.

This annoyed me as a kid. “They’ve cut out Baba Looey on the stagecoach,” I grumbled loudly at the TV set.

I was also irritated about the changed opening to the Huck show. “Where’s the rooster?” I wanted to know. Years later, when Huck came out on DVD, the rooster footage returned and I satisfied myself it wasn’t something my childhood imagination had dreamed.

Animation director Robert Alvarez has these layout drawings in his collection. I presume they’re the work of Dick Bickenbach as his personal collection of H-B artwork ended up being auctioned on line. (Mr. Alvarez clears up the origin of these drawings in the comments. While Bick's artwork was auctioned, that is not the source).

I couldn’t tell you who animated these opening and closing sequences. I’m pretty sure the backgrounds are by Joe Montell, who worked for Tex Avery at MGM and later for John Sutherland Productions and Jay Ward in Mexico.

Now, thanks to the collection of the late Earl Kress, a little appropriate music. Here is the Kellogg’s “Good Morning” jingle on a xylophone. I’ve snipped out Hoyt Curtin’s slate and instructions. The xylophone player is named Chuck. There are three versions at different tempos. These were made at Western Recording on August 26, 1960. At the same session, by the way, Curtin recorded the vocals for the “Happy Anniversary” episode of The Flintstones.




And, because you want it, here is Hoyt Curtin scatting how he wants the Kellogg’s jingle to sound.


Ah, but that’s not all!

Also buried in Earl’s audio collection are the opening/closing Kellogg’s billboards for Top Cat. Weekly Variety reported on March 1, 1961 the series had been sold to the cereal company and Bristol-Myers (makers of Ban deodorant and Bufferin) on an alternate-weekly sponsorship basis.



This is the point in the post where I make my usual lament that Quick Draw isn’t on DVD (except for several episodes from the last season where music rights aren’t an issue) and that the Top Cat DVD has the same closing credits on all 30 episodes. (Kin Platt did not write the whole series, on-line "research" notwithstanding). We know from Variety’s review of Oct. 4, 1961 that Harvey S. Bullock wrote the debut “The $1,000,000 Derby” and Mike Maltese told interviewers he also supplied at least one story).

Kellogg’s deserves some credit for the success of the Hanna-Barbera studio. In 1958, H-B Enterprises was only turning out Ruff ‘n’ Reddy for NBC. Joe Barbera or Screen Gems’ John Mitchell or both managed to convince Leo Burnett, Kellogg’s agency, to replace one of its syndicated half-hour live-action strips with The Huckleberry Hound Show. Huck’s incredible success resulted in the birth of Quick Draw and the expansion of what became a cartoon empire.