Saturday, 30 December 2017

Bearly a Wizard

Yogi Bear mixes “a magic potion that will turn me into a handsome prince of a fellow.”

He says the magic words “Alaka-zee, alaka-zam.” Note the trance-like pupils.

As you might expect, it doesn’t work.

“I added too much yeast and turned beauty into a beast. Hey, hey, hee!”

The little cartoon being over, it’s on to the main cartoon.

I won’t venture a guess on who worked on this one.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Expanding World of Hanna-Barbera: 1960

The debut of The Flintstones may have been the highlight for Hanna-Barbera in 1960 but other things were going on at the studio as well. For one thing, they left the Kling Studios on La Brea you see to the right and moved into a windowless, concrete bunker at 3501 Cahuenga, which still stands. It couldn’t possibly hold the expanding operation so a lot of people worked from home, such as inkers and painters, and even writer Mike Maltese. For another, Screen Gems marketing guru Ed Justin worked out a cross-level promotional campaign for Huckleberry Hound, who “ran” for president.

But Huck’s sun was setting. Yogi Bear was eclipsing him as a star as, in 1960, a Yogi movie was planned before Jellystone Park’s best-known bruin even had a TV show—which was also created in 1960, thanks to a deal with Kellogg’s.

Here are some clippings from Variety for that year. They include mention of our old friend Harebrain Hare, who died on the drawing board that year, a factious column by “Huckleberry Hound” (beware of groaner puns), as well as a review of a Flintstones episode, complete with credits. Someone (sorry, I’ve forgotten who) asked me if I had information about actor Bob Hopkins who appeared in it. I really don’t. Hopkins was an impressionist who worked in the night clubs in the ‘40s and ’50, as well as appearing with Ken Murray on stage and on television. When Steve Allen left KNX for New York in 1950, Hopkins replaced him—but not for very long. He later ended up at KLAC. He wrote a couple of songs, too. He was 44 when he died of leukaemia on October 5, 1962. The other actor in the credits who may be unfamiliar to you is Jerry Mann. We posted about him here.

Poor Bea Benaderet’s name continues to be misspelled.

April 4, 1960
Alan Reed has been cast opposite Bea Benadaret and Jean Vander Pyl in Hanna-Barbera's new ABC-TV series, "The Flintstones."
Miles Lab and Reynolds Tobacco sponsor.

May 31, 1960
Jack Hellman column
YOU PROBABLY HAVEN'T HEARD MUCH ABOUT BILL HANNA or Joe Barbera because they'd rather push what they do than who they are. Sure you've heard about Walt Disney but did you know that Hanna-Barbera Productions is the biggest cartoon studio in the world with a staff of 185 (most of them over 50) ? You've also heard about Roy Rogers and his merchandise tieups, but did you know that H-B's "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw" gross 20 million a year in kid items? Betcha didn't know that the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons they did at Metro for 20 years has won seven Academy awards and never missed a year in 18 being nominated? Pat Weaver and Fred Wile (ex-NBC) won't believe this, but neither Bill nor Joe ever write a memo to a staffer. They just go over and talk to them. You'll be hearing a lot come autumn about their "Flintstones," an animated half hour which they like to call "an adult cartoon," which was bought off the story board by ABC and sold immediately to two sponsors. And they didn't quibble about price — $65,000 a week. From a humble start of eight 6-min. cartoons a year, they will have four half-hours a week on network or in syndication next season. Partners since 1939, Barbera is the one who hatches out the ideas, Warren Foster looks after the continuity and dialog, and Hanna directs the finished product. The voices you'll hear on "The Flintstones" are those of Mel Blanc, Alan Reed, Bea Benadaret, Daws Butler, Paul Frees, Bill Thompson and Jean Vanderpyl. Said Hanna, "anyone could live quite comfortably off their residuals."

July 19, 1960
Help Wanted
Animation artists here are hard to come by, with cartooning on tv in the midst of a boom.
Situation is such that Hanna-Barbera Productions, for example, hires vet freelancers who may elect to work at home. Many of the freelancers are women who were either laid off by the major studios or are too busy raising a family to punch a clock.

July 20, 1960
Hanna-Barbera’s Animation Spree; New Studio Set in Coast Expansion
Hollywood, July 19. - Hanna-Barbera Productions, the cartoonery which zoomed from nowhere in three years to become the major in the tv field, is opening up new studios here next month.
Hanna-Barbera's latest entry is "Flintstones," due to bow on ABC-TV this fall. Half-hour weekly series is the first animated adult comedy and is due to be watched closely as a trend pacer.
Other Hanna-Barbera entries, all distributed by Screen Gems, include "Quick-Draw McGraw," and "Huckleberry Hound," both sponsored on a national spot basis by Kellogg; and "Ruff and Reddy," NBC-TV.
With so much production underway and new projects being blueprinted, outfit estimates that currently it employs about 50% of the animators on the Coast. Principals Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera started out in '57, clinching a deal with SG after being turned down on their planned animation idea by virtually all the major tv outfits in the biz. Hanna and Barbera came to tv after about 20 years with MGM, where they worked as a team on the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons. When the motion picture biz dipped and short subjects got the short end of the stick as a result, they decided to peddle their own idea.
Planned animation, as opposed to full animation, relies strongly on story and dialog. It utilizes from 10,000 to 12,000 drawings per half-hour as opposed to 40,000 drawings which' would be needed in full animation. When Hanna and Barbera tried to pitch their planned animation initially, they were told it just couldn't stand up against full animation, represented on tv by the oldie cartoons. Economic impossibility of full animation in tv is underlined by the costs—full animation of a six-minute short subject runs to about $50,000.
Their planned animation policy worked out, for success of "Ruff and Reddy" was followed by "Huck" and "McGraw." In fact, Hanna and Barbera do theatrical shorts as well for Columbia release. "Loopy Deloop" is the title of their theatrical shorts. Hanna-Barbera's reentrance into the theatrical end finds the principals turning full circle.
Additional, outfit, which now employs 175 people, is in the commercial animated film field.

August 3, 1960
‘Huck’ Hound as SG’s ‘Man Who—’
What started out as a gag at Screen Gems—running cartoon character Huckleberry (Huck) Hound for President—has assumed "I-give-you-the-man-who" dimensions. It's still too early to tell whether Huck poses a real threat, BUT A PLATFORM IS BEING BUILT.
Plank: At a recent Hawaii electioneering junket, 10,000 people (more than turned out to greet President Eisenhower last month) were on hand at the Honolulu airport to greet Huck. (Huck being indisposed in an ink bottle couldn't make it himself, but sent an emissary, dressed in his likeness.)
Plank: Some 5,000,000 "Huck for President" campaign buttons have been run off; there's a comic book on the same theme; disk putting the theme to music; banners, picket signs, etc.
Plank: In the heartland of the United States of America— midway between Alaska, Hawaii and Brooklyn—in Mason City, Ia., the State Fair will feature a "Huck for President" rally. Similar rallies have been and are being conducted elsewhere in the country.
Plank: Huck is three years old.
Plank: Television stations, aware of Huck's friendly disposition to the industry, are lending their support with on-the-air endorsements for his nomination. (It's not only his particular paid-for show.) Some tv stations have been real sneaky about it. They slotted the Presidential Huck free plugs in local breaks during the recent convention coverage. When other candidates complained, station execs played it deadpan. "We want to add a light note to the business on hand," they stated.
Ed Justin, Screen Gems' merchandising director who started what he considered to be a gag, couldn't be reached for comment. Last seen, he was jetting for outer space, wondering where it would end (the campaign, that is).

Aug. 31, 1960

GOOD MORNING, y’ all . . . These are known as dog days, which is probably why Army Archerd asked me to do this column . . . or maybe he was just dog-tired and didn't realize what he was doing . . . in any case, Hollywood is a great town for canines . . . it's the only place where a man can produce a dog . . . at least, that's what one producer called his last movie.
Cartoon heroes, like yours truly, have a hard time getting into the gossip columns . . . Yogi Bear is bigger than Clint Walker, louder than Milton Berle, and even wilder than Louis Prima, but has yet to be itemed in the tabloids . . . Quick Draw McGraw was seen hoof-holding with a glamorous filly out of the Screen Gems stable, but no one mentioned it . . .
Actually, Quick Draw is being influenced by other western heroes in Hollywood . . . the equine star recently asked for a salary hike to $6,000 per cartoon . . . Bosses Hanna and Barbera dueted, "That ain't hay," and McGraw may be replaced by an elephant . . . they're big, but they'll work for peanuts . . . and they never get trunk with power. I've been busy myself campaigning for President . . . was very gratified by the 'Huck for President' rally in Honolulu at which 60,000 people showed up . . . it's a great country where a Hound Dog can grow up to be President — and come to think of it — many a President's been in the dog house from time to time . . . Yogi Bear says the reason I'm presidential timber is because I know such a lot about trees . . .
Yogi's been running my campaign . . . says I've got to get out and shake paws with my constituents . . . It's turned me into a pooped pup . . . woke up this morning and my nose was warmer than Brigitte Bardot's guest towels . . .
Ran into Baba Looey, the burro who gets big laughs on "The Quick Draw McGraw" show, and he tells me he's very excited about his upcoming vidstint with David Susskind on "Open End" discussing "The Social Responsibility of the Animated Cartoon in the Atomic Age" . . . he's also been pacted to do the voice of Desi Arnaz . . .
Augie Doggy has taken time out from his picture, "The Canine Mutiny," to cut an album of all-time great canine tunes . . . songs include "The Bassett Things in Life Are Free" . . . "Purple Puppy Eater" . . . "The Beagle Gall Rag" . . . "I've Got the World On A Leash" . . . "I'm Going To Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Litter" . . . and a tear jerker, "Mastiffs in the Cold, Cold Ground" . . . Doggy Daddy more involved with serious projects . . . wants to play "Hamlet" because he hears he was a great Dane . . . or at least Sir Walter Raleigh who laid his cloak over a wet poodle in the street . . .
Yogi Bear, whose last flick was the "Bear Foot Contessa," jets back to Jellystone National Park this week after negotiations for the starring role in "West Side Story" fell through . . . Bear's fancy footwork brought him to the attention of director Jerome Bobbins . . . but Yogi got carried away in a love scene with Natalie Wood and gave her a big bear hug . . . she'll be out of the hospital in a few weeks . . . Rin Tin Tin finally admitted he uses a double for the tough stunt scenes . . . Pal, the Collie who plays Lassie on tv, confessed exclusively to this reporter, he's sick and tired of his stint as a female impersonator . . . wants to get a Yul Brynner haircut and play a Mexican Hairless . . . Boo-Boo Bear, Yogi's Jellystone Park pal, has set up his own producing company — Boo Boo Productions. Three studios have filed suit against the company claiming they have been making Boo Boo's for years . . .
Big talk among the cartoon colony in Hollywood this week is "The Flintstones," first adult situation comedy in cartoon form . . . Heroes of the opus which won a Friday night slot on ABC-TV are Fred and Wilma Flintstone and Betty and Barney Rubble . . . supplying the voices are the talented Alan Reed, Bea Benadaret, Mel Blanc and Jean Vander Pyl . . . Y.C.M.A. (Young Cave Men's Association) planning huge demonstration for series debut . . . vidfilm series loaded with caveman gimmicks ranging from a dinosaur which doubles as a steam shovel, a Stoneway piano, to a suburban development complete with split-level caves . . . This is definitely the most ambitious project yet developed for the living-room monster and producers Hanna and Barbera have kept their brand-spanking new cartoon factory going on a round-the-clock schedule . . . It's tough to curl up in an ink bottle and go to sleep anymore . . . That's about it from Hollywood's cartoon colony . . . see you next year in Army's space with items you won't get from any other columnist in town . . . meanwhile, back to the drawing board.

October 20, 1960

Hanna-Barbera Productions, already conceded to be the world's largest cartoonery, has launched a reorganization and expansion program for 1961, entailing a near 100% increase in its annual production budget. Blossoming includes two new teleseries, initial plans for a third and production of company's first feature-length theatrical film.
For its 1961 schedule, H-B will spend more than $6,000,000, compared with the $3,500,000 laid out for its 1960 program. If current high ratings on "The Flintstones" hold up and a second brace of 26 segments is ordered, the total budget for '61 will run closer to $7,700,000.
Additionally, company toppers Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera are looking for two acres of ground on which they'll build new facilities, including their own sound stage, which will involve an expenditure of $760,000.
Expand — And Save
In line with its reorganization, H-B has made considerable personnel changes, promoting several staff members and adding others. With its enlarged personnel roster, the company already is committed for production of at least 36 hours of television product for the '60-'61 season. Company has become well known for its "planned animation," a system involving quality action with fewer drawings and resulting in a 50% saving of money and a 65% saving of time. Were the 35-hour slate to be produced via the animation techniques Hanna and Barbera used while at Metro, the $5,000,000 program would cost more than $15,000,000, according to Hanna.
H-B has just concluded a deal with Screen Gems for production of 104 five-minute segments for syndication. "All our shows have been planned for syndication," Barbera explained, "but so far all have been bought by single sponsors." Emphasizing the new five-minute shows definitely will be syndicated, Barbera revealed they will encompass two separate series, one starring "Lippy the Lion" and "Hardy Har Har" and the other starring "Hairbrain Hare" and "Dum Dum," all of them new H-B creations.
'Yogi' Feature Star
Company currently is in production on a "Yogi Bear" teleseries, bringing the character out of the "Huckleberry Hound" teleseries. "Yogi" also will be the star of H-B's first feature-length film, currently being written by Barbera and Warren Foster and being aimed for release next summer by Columbia. Barbera additionally revealed that success of the adult cartoon series, "The Flintstones" (now airing on ABC) has keyed interest in another family-type series. Talks already have been held with Screen Gems, and H-B currently is working on a character for the series which is expected to be ready for airing next fall.
Animation company has been in its new Hollywood quarters for less than three months and already finds only half of its staff can be accommodated, the other half now working at home. Current roster numbers 140 and, as an example of expansion, was boosted by the addition of 17 new girls in the paint-and-ink department within the past four weeks. H-B also has added another $25,000 camera to its facility, bringing total to four.
"And they're actually the equivalent of 12 cameras," said Barbera, "since they're in operation 24 hours a day."
H-B's "Ruff 'n' Reddy" series has just completed three years on the air. "Huckleberry Hound" currently is in national syndication on 192 stations through Kellogg's, with similar syndication on "Quick Draw McGraw" and same system planned for "Yogi Bear." With "Flintstones" on ABC, H-B finds another network exposure on CBS' Saturday show "The Magic Land of AllaKasam" which integrates fourth-run H-B product.
5-Year Col Deal
Besides its commercial operation — involving budget of $300,000 to $500,000 per year — Hanna-Barbera also has a five-year exclusive deal with Columbia for production of "Loopy De Loop" theatrical cartoons. H-B also has just completed animated sequences for "Pepe," Columbia release of a production by George Sidney, who was instrumental in bringing Hanna and Barbera to Col and Screen Gems three years ago. Sidney has a financial interest in H-B.
In line with its expansion, H-B has promoted to new posts: Alex Lovy and Dan Gordon, associate producers; Warren Foster, chief writer and story supervisor on "Huckleberry Hound"; Mike Maltese, chief writer and story supervisor on "Quick Draw McGraw"; Maltese and Foster, story supervisors on the new "Yogi Bear Show"; Tony Benedict and Kevin Gordon, upped to the story department; Bob Carr, from assistant animator to full animator; Guyla Avery to office manager; and Frank Paiker, head of camera department. They join Roberta Greutert, head of the paint-and-ink department; Greg Watson, head of the editorial staff; and Arnold Carr, head of promotion-advertising-publicity.

November 7, 1960
(The Monster From The Tar Pits)
Fri., 8:30-9 p.m., KABC-TV)
Those who first saw "The Flintstones" in its rounds of the ad agencies gave it a big plus to their clients. To see it again is to understand why it was snapped up by the William Esty agency and is now riding with the leaders in the Nielsen 20's. Those who labelled it a sleeper can take their places with the prophets of "Candid Camera." But rather, it's a wide-awaker in the idiom of Warren Foster's rollicking wordage for the inky characters.
Doubters may well ask, "how-cum a cartoon goes over so big?" It has never happened before in tv in the night hours, week in and out. To isolate the cause and effect in last Friday's stanza was to turn the key to its success: a skilled amalgam of character, dialog, and story line. The drawings are uproarious, the voices expertly fitted and a story to tell that doesn't just ramble from one violent incident to another. It might even lead to Jack Benny or Red Skelton doing a show in caricature and Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera are the ones to do it. It could be the answer to the critics wailing for something new and different. "The Monster From The Tar Pits" was a broad burlesque of a picture company location. The gag lines could have been considerably helped by a laugh track, but here's at least one "honest" program. On the sight side were such zany inventions as an elephant's trunk used to vacuum a mom.
It takes many hands to turn out a cartoon series to buck the night tide so successfully and the credits must be scattered so here they are: Producers, Hanna and Barbara [sic]; voices. Alan Reed, Mel Blanc, Jean Vander Pyl, Bea Benadaret, Bob Hopkins, Jerry Mann; below the line: Alan Dinehart, Foster, Howard Hanson. Kenneth Muse, Walt Clinton, Bob Gentle, Lawrence Goble, Donald Douglas, Norm Stainbach, Roy Wade, Hoyt Curtin.Helm.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Music For Alley and Cat

Christmas was Fred Flintstone’s favourite time of year, sang Alan Reed on a cartoon show quite some years ago, and it may be yours, too. So allow me to thank you for visiting this blog and, again, give you a little gift.

No, this isn’t the gift, but it has been sitting in my computer for a while. Evidently the cast of the Huckleberry Hound Show got sweaters from Perry Como for Christmas. They look like they’re ready to go out as a barber shop quartet (plus one). I don’t know who drew this or what Golden Bubble Bath is, but it’s an attractive drawing.

How about something from Dan Gordon?

Yes, it would be nice to have the full storyboard for Elephant Boy Oh Boy, but only the last page turned up somewhere in my travels. Mike Maltese wrote the story. He would make thumbnail sketches and then Gordon would take them and turn them into something that you see above.

I would like to be able to say I have more stock music from the original Hanna-Barbera series from the Langlois and Capitol Hi-Q libraries to post, but I don’t. Actually, I do have two cues I have not digitised from the Sam Fox library and, to be honest, I doubt I’ll have time to do it. However, thanks to reader J.J. Pidgeon (at least I believe he gave me these), we have some more background music from Top Cat.

I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of the series but my favourite H-B cues were written for it. Curtin needed city music for characters with names that evoked Damon Runyon, so he came up with cues with arrangements that evoke George Gershwin and George Shearing. T-10 and T-32 are really good metro chase cues with strings, clarinet and piano. T-113 has a neat jazz trumpet (Pete Candoli, I suspect). T-21 has a great little string line coupled with a baritone sax, while T-27 features an alto sax with piano chords in the background.

There are a few other cues I’ve tossed in because you may have heard them in different H-B shows. T-45 is a violin cue heard in my favourite Flintstones cartoon, Dino Goes Hollyrock, during the sequence where Dino is in studio watching Sassie and her arrogant co-stars shoot a heart-warming scene, and later when Dino films a scene with them.

One cue doesn’t fit in with the rest. Q-11 is a solo flute. You’ll recognise it is playing the Augie Doggie theme and you may recognise it as the music Mr. Jinks played to force the meeces to dance in Pied Piper Pipe (1960). The names are all from Hoyt Curtin’s sessions, except “Pizzi-Cat-o,” which is such a bad pun, it had to be used.

If you’d like to revisit some of our old Christmas posts, go to 2016 here, 2015 here, 2014 here and 2013 here.


T-4 Pizzi-Cat-o



T-21 Top Cat Sunset

T-23 Screwy Ideas

T-27 Lonely Alto

T-32 City Streets








Saturday, 23 December 2017

Double Sarsparilla

Quick McGraw McGraw turns western bartender in this little cartoon between the cartoons on his show. Augie Doggie places his order—a double sarsaparilla sundae. Is sarsaparilla an old-timey thing? I’ve never heard anyone ordering it and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on a menu.

Anyway, here are a couple of in-betweens.

Quick Draw flings it down the bar. For whatever reason, Augie doesn’t even reach for it. The sundae flies off the end of the bar. We see suds.

Cut to Doggie Daddy. Nothing bothers him. “I was going to order tutti frutti, but this will do.” Fade out.

Don Patterson animated this bumper with backgrounds by Fernando Montealegre.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Flintstones Weekend Comics, December 1967

Pretty early in the Flintstones newspaper comic run, both in the daily and weekend strips, the story would involve some kind of invention and end with the question “What will they think of next?” There were a number of comics in this vein, and apparently if was deliberate. 50 years ago this month, Gene Hazleton (who was in charge of H-B’s syndicated comic run) started a little contest. Perhaps he was looking for free story ideas. But the “think of” concept highlighted one of the Sunday comics.

Noise gag in the December 5th comic. Look! It’s Baby Puss (last panel, second row). Betty is referred to but neither she nor Barney appear this month. I guess I should make reference to the Bedroom Fire Department in the second row, clearly based on the appearance in an early episode.

It appears the Bedrock Auto Show is sponsored by the Water Buffaloes. This is the December 12th comic. Skunk gag.

Sorry the scan is so poor for this county fair comic of December 19th. Some very nice panels here, especially the one with the merry-go-round. Such detail.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, a girl who rhymes like a poet I spy. This comic, appropriately, appeared on December 24th.

Oh, that scamp Pebbles! This December 31st comic couldn’t figure out a way to add “stone” or “rock” to the Rose or Orange Bowls without it being too contrived. Mind you, considering some of the ridiculous names for bowl games today thanks to corporate sponsorship....

We haven’t seen Pops for too months, but don’t worry, he’ll be back next month.

My thanks, once again, to Richard Holliss for supplying the colour comics.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Night Flight Fright

Ruff and Reddy was different from the Hanna-Barbera cartoons that came after it. Like Crusader Rabbit before them, Ruff and Reddy went on adventures that ended with a cliff-hanger. There were two R & R cartoons in a half hour and each adventure went for 13 cartoons.

The first adventure began with “Planet Pirates” and “Night Flight Fright.” Each cartoon was budgeted at $2,700. The second (through thirteenth, actually) had a bit of an advantage money-wise. It started with a 25-second recap of the previous cartoon, so money was saved on animating (and, presumably, inking and painting).

Don Messick opens “Night Flight Flight” by explaining a mysterious flying saucer manned by two strange mechanical space men beamed the sleeping Ruff and Reddy into the craft and zoomed off for outer space. Charlie Shows wrote the dialogue which has his playing take on words: “We hope Ruff and Reddy are ready, ‘cause things look mighty rough.” Messick’s narrator is slow and calm; after all, this is a programme for children.

Now to the present. Ruff opens one eye, looks through the window of the space and thinks Reddy has left the TV on again. There’s a nice perspective Ruff in somewhat of a shadow with his back to us. H-B cartoons didn’t do this kind of thing even in 1958.

There’s a shock take cycle (three drawings on twos) as Ruff realises where they are. Ruff wakes up Reddy who is half asleep and not comprehending what’s going on. He decides to leave the space ship. We don’t actually see it. The camera cuts to an open door (with a looping background of space seen through it) then cuts to Reddy holding onto the edge of the space ship. Ruff finally pulls him back in after a four-drawing cycle of feet animation and more only-the-mouth moves animation.

Back in the spaceship, Ruff is scared off by one of the spacemen (he needs only one in-between to turn from one direction to the other), only to be captured. Says the dog: “Hey, Ruff, will you come back here? I was talkin’ to you. Where’s your polite?” We might ask you the same thing, Reddy. Through great portions of the series, he’s an arrogant blowhard who always thinks he’s right (until he needs to be bailed out from his mistakes). I simply don’t like the character.

Anyway, Reddy finally realises what Ruff is trying to tell him and rushes out of the scene being chased by the spaceman. More brushwork from the studio’s small ink and paint department.

Reddy grabs the cat out of the spaceman’s extended claw, runs into a room and slams the door shut. The design of the robots is pretty cool. And Ed Benedict (or whoever) doesn’t put legs on them so they can be inked to a cel and then just slid across the background without the need to animate them.

The two are in the control room and realise the robot spacemen are outside the door so no one is flying the craft. Reddy takes command. Naturally, he has no clue what he’s doing. But director Bill Hanna does. He cuts to a shot of the control panel for a full five seconds of budget-saving non-animation, with the camera trucking back a bit to simulate movement. The same with the falling spaceship. It’s on a cel tilted back and forth behind overlays of clouds. “Poor Ruff and Reddy,” earnestly explains the narrator. “They’re in double trouble. Millions of miles from home and falling helplessly through space. How will they get out of this spot?”

We’re enjoined to tune into the next episode. Well, since we’re only reviewing the first show of the series, we can tell you Ruff and Reddy end up on the planet Muni-Mula (“That’s ‘aluminum’ spelled backwards,” the narrator informs us), meet up with Professor Gizmo is a manner that makes no sense and they eventually crash their crippled rocket, the S.S. Gizmo (steam ship?!?) on Mt. Cucamonga. Then it’s on to a new adventure.

There are only three music cues used in the cartoon (besides the opening/closing theme). I can’t find the first one in my Capitol Hi-Q collection as I don’t have copies of all the ‘D’ series cues. I’m pretty sure it’s by Spencer Moore. The other two are by Bill Loose and John Seely and were later used in the Huck Hound show.

0:00 – Ruff and Reddy Sub-Main title (Curtin)
0:08 – space mysterioso music (Moore) – Recap, Reddy walks out of spacecraft.
1:26 – no music – Ruff looks out door, rescues Reddy. “I wonder where they’re takin’ us.”
1:58 – TC-219A CHASE MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Ruff runs, Reddy rescues him, closes door on control room.
2:35 – no music – Ruff and Reddy in control room.
2:46 – TC-215A CHASE MEDIUM (Loose-Seely) – Spacecraft weaves through clouds. Narrator closes episode.
3:28 – Ruff and Reddy Sub-End title (Curtin).

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Bob Givens

There weren’t many people who worked on Walt Disney’s Snow White, the first real Bugs Bunny cartoon and the original Quick Draw McGraw series. There was just one.

Bob Givens. Bob passed away today. He would have been 100 next March.

To old-time animation fans, he is best known as the man who drew the first model sheet of Bugs Bunny for Tex Avery in 1940; Avery being the director of A Wild Hare. But he had stops at a number of studios on the West Coast, working as a layout man, storyboard artist and designer. He left Warners when it shut down in June 1953 and returned to the studio some time in 1958 it appears. He made his way to Hanna-Barbera in November that year when Mike Maltese also quit Warners to work for the studio.

In 2008, Givens had a long, recorded chat with Mike Fontanelli, Will Finn and Steve Worth, and spoke a little bit about arriving at Hanna-Barbera and his work there. He gets his “day” and “week” mixed up when it comes to footage by the animators, but he once said Ken Muse was doing a picture a week, so that would work out to 100 feet a day. He was at the original H-B studio where the best cartoons were made.

Oh, yeah, when they were over on La Brea on the Chaplin lot. Everything was right there in the house, camera, everything. We didn’t send anything anywhere, except to Technicolor.

I laid out the things, the Quick Draws, we’d put ‘em on the floor. [Bill] Hanna’s over there muttering something. Joe [Barbera] and I are going through the thing and fixing little, simple, things. Joe was easy. “Fix the gun, the kids’ll remember what the gun looks like.” So easy changes. We had one a week of those things, 500 feet a week I was laying out.

Mike [Maltese] and I went over there as a team. We left Warners to go over there... [About why people liked Hanna-Barbera’s early cartoons] They were simple, that’s why. Later they got complicated with thousands of people. I guess they had to to keep the network happy. But that’s what was so great about those Quick Draws, they were simple. Dan Gordon did the stories and they were simple. [Baba Looey] was a take off on the Cuban [Desi Arnaz], “Queekstraw. I’ll do the thinnin’ around here.” That’s Joe Barbera. That’s his humour. “Thinnin’.” He can’t even say “thinking.”

Oh, yeah, yeah, [Barbera contributed a lot of gags] he was on top of everything. You didn’t get past him. Even on the way to the men’s room, he was right there watching. He was in ink and paint. He was the old tycoon. That’s what the old studios were so great, they had one tycoon like Harry Cohn. They were bastards but they were smart bastards. Also you worked for them, you knew where the tamale was, the boss was.

Well, Bill was doing the timing. In fact, they were partners. I found out that they weren’t really buddies at all. They were foils for each other. They needed each other. Joe would say, “For [] sake, Bill, we’re trying to work here. Will you keep it quiet, for []’s sake?” (meekly) “Okay, Joe.” That’s how it was, a friendly love affair. But I thought they were buddies from the word go, but not so.

I worked with Carlo [Vinci]. He was the one who was animating my little first Hanna-Barbera things, Augie Doggie. He was a good animator. Carlo was doing about 50 feet a week. Ken Muse was doing 100 feet a week at a dollar a foot. I was laying out 500 feet a week, but I was making more than that, about $250 a week, which was pretty good then, in 1958.

But he was doing 100 feet a day. Imagine that, just putting it on the sheets. Carlo was a slow guy, he was only doing 50 feet a day. “I can’t catch up with that damn Muse.” And that’s tremendous, you know. Putting it on the sheets would take you that long. But Ken was deaf as a coot. He’s turn his hearing down and he’s got his bottle of booze and (drinking sound) and he’d do a scene. And I was sitting right next to him and handing him drawings and he’s animating them before I can initial them. “Where’s the next one?” “Well, okay.” There was one other guy there animating at the time, Lew Marshall, and he was doing 40 feet a week. He was a real slow guy. 40 feet a week. “How does Ken do 100 feet a week? I have to work nights just to catch up.” But that’s when he was paying a buck a foot. It’s gone up a little since then.

I worked in that brick building when Hanna-Barbera was there [3501 Cahuenga]. It was a small place, about 30 people there. I had the little room next to the entrance there. Carlo was down the hall, Ken Muse was across the way. Dan Gordon was working at home but he’d come in once in a while. A big booze problem, you know. And his kid worked there for a while.
He repeated many of these memories in an interview in 2011 with Steve Hulett of the animation union, and mentioned a few other things.
I left there one time because they were missing payrolls. So I left and went back over to TV Spots to work on commercials. I was there about a week and a guy called me and I said “Who’s this?” He says “Joe.” I said “Joe who?” He says “Barbera. Hey, kid, I got the money, come on back.” So I quit and went on back, I got a raise by quitting. Joe says “Hey, welcome back.”

At one time I was walking by the side when Joe came in in his new car and he honked at me, almost ran over me. “Hey hold it there!” I says “I’ll back up and you can run over me, Joe, and then I can sue you.” And he laughed. He was great to work with, though, he had a sense of humor. Hanna was the opposite...he was the business guy.

They had some guys from Disney that came over and they were not used to this limited animation, so you know how they solved the problem? They animated just like they did at Disney’s then they pulled drawings....Joe said “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The early Hanna-Barbera stuff, before they started doing the super heroes, the Augie Doggies, they were kind of fun to do.
At H-B, Bob laid out:

Foxhound Hounded Fox – Augie Doggie (animator, Lew Marshall), Production J-16
In the Picnic of Time – Augie Doggie (Marshall), J-19
Dizzy Desperado – Quick Draw McGraw (Marshall), J-21
Pup Plays Pop – Augie Doggie (Ken Muse), J-unknown
Tee Vee or not Tee Vee – Augie Doggie (Carlo Vinci), J-unknown
Big Top Pop – Augie Doggie (Gerard Baldwin), J-29
Six Gun Spook – Quick Draw McGraw (Baldwin), J-32
Monkey Wrenched – Snooper and Blabber (Baldwin), J-44

Givens left the studio some time in 1959 or 1960; he was not included in the “thank yous” to staff in a Variety ad taken out by Bill and Joe in June that year after The Huckleberry Hound Show became the first syndicated show to win an Emmy. His name can be found on the credits of TV Popeyes produced by Jack Kinney and on TV Magoos at UPA in 1960.

His last screen credit was in 2001.

You can read a bit more about Bob Givens’ career at Hanna-Barbera in this post (unfortunately, the video link is dead) and his interview with the Animation Guild here and here. My condolences to Mariana and the rest of the family. Bob was not in good health for a while but he gave it a good fight.

Ruff and Reddy Turn 60

60 years ago today, the first handiwork of the Hanna-Barbera studio beamed into homes via television. It was the debut of Ruff and Reddy. And the series almost didn’t get made.

Hanna-Barbera Enterprises officially formed on July 7, 1957. H-B President George Sidney, the head of the Directors Guild of America, picked up the phone and within weeks, the company had worked out a deal with Columbia Pictures on the strength of a storyboard. Bill Hanna wrote in his autobiography that it cost 20% of the company but, in return, the Columbia’s Screen Gems TV operation gave H-B an option to produce five five-minute cartoons, the first two for $2,700, the second two for $2,800 and the fifth for $3,000.

Hanna wrote more about production methods and such, but omitted a tale of how it almost all got away. Joe Barbera, known for his flair for the dramatic, outlined what he remembered in his book. Columbia head Harry Cohn called to get a first-hand progress report on Ruff and Reddy. A pencil test of one of the cartoons was screened for him. Cohn’s comment to Screen Gems sales head John Mitchell about Hanna and Barbera: “Get rid of ‘em.” Cohn, having coped with Columbia’s own troubled cartoon studio in the ‘40s, the ups and downs of dealing with UPA in the ‘50s and then with cut-rate cartoon producer Sam Singer earlier in the year, wanted no part of Hanna and Barbera’s dog and cat.

But Barbera recalled: “We were destined to be saved by the slimmest of threads. A man in New York named Roger Muir, who had a children's TV show on NBC, heard about ‘Ruff and Reddy’ and wanted to use the cartoons much as we had originally planned—as bookends between which the hoary theatricals would be run. Muir’s offer kept us alive, and Screen Gems went ahead with the deal.”

A deal with NBC wasn’t announced until a New York Times story of November 11th (trade papers had similar stories within days) so you’ll have to figure out the timeline, unless Barbera was stretching the truth a bit.

It seems insane that a network could sign a Saturday morning show in November and begin airing it in December but that’s the way things worked back then. Saturday daytime programming in 1957 was filler. NBC didn’t even sign on until 10 a.m., CBS signed on at 9 a.m., and ABC didn’t start network programming until 7:30 p.m. In fact, none of the networks had any regular programming between 2 and 7:30! (at least on the East Coast).

So it was that Ruff and Reddy debuted in glorious black and white on December 14, 1957 at 10:30 a.m. (9 a.m. in Los Angeles) on a revamped Saturday daytime line-up on NBC (it offered three hours of programming until 1 p.m.). General Foods, which was already sponsoring Mighty Mouse on CBS during the same time slot, picked up alternate weeks of sponsorship on Ruff and Reddy, meaning the network filled ad time with NBC promos every other week during its first season. How Saturday mornings have changed.

Ruff and Reddy wasn’t just Ruff and Reddy. There was a person, Jimmy Blaine, who did schtick. And two old theatrical cartoons from Columbia’s Screen Gems studio were aired. I haven’t been able to find which two cartoons were on the first episode, but the first two Ruff and Reddy episodes were “Planet Pirates” and “Night Flight Fright.” Let’s look at the very first one. Unfortunately, the R&R series has never been restored and put on home video, and I doubt it ever will be, so you’ll have to pardon the fuzzy frame grabs.

Screen credit was never given on the Ruff and Reddy cartoons, but we do know Charlie Shows, Dick Bickenbach and Howard Hanson were employed at H-B Enterprises on Day One. So it’s safe to assume Bickenbach did the layouts on the first episode, Shows provided dialogue (the alliteration and rhyming gives it away) and Hanson handled the production schedule. Who animated those first two cartoons? It’s very tough to say because, besides mouth movements, there’s extremely little animation. Whoever did this 13-part adventure has the teeth filling the entire mouth in solid white during some of the dialogue. As for the backgrounds, my wild guess is Fernando Montealegre painted them (nice sponge-work on the trees and clouds). And, of course, the voices were provided by Daws Butler and Don Messick.

“Planet Pirates” opens with Reddy reading the “Daily Screech” which tells us about a “saucer shaped ship sighted by sheepherder.” The lounging Ruff has to explain to Reddy what a UFO is. No matter, Reddy is ready for “those flyin’ saucer fellers” with a space helmet and water pistol he won on Captain Comet’s TV show poetry contest.

The dialogue is interrupted by a news bulletin from a TV inside the house, with the announcer (Daws Butler) stating rumours of mysterious flying objects and a saucer-shaped ship are untrue.

Cut to a space ship moving left across a background drawing. Now we hear Don Messick’s narrator for the first time. “Well, I don’t like to argue, but,” he says calmly, “that’s no bicycle streaking through the skies right now. In fact, if I wasn’t afraid of being laughed at, I’d say that was a flying saucer.”

Hanna cuts to a close-up of the saucer (it’s still a cell sliding over a background), then to the “creepy creatures” from another planet “spying on our world.” Note the colour separation on their bodies. One of the aliens starts talking to the other, with that wavering voice that Messick used on The Herculoids and other shows. (He must have moved his tongue inside his mouth a lot to get that voice).

“According to my interplanetary dictionary,” continues the narrator, “these space men have come to Earth to find two typical Earth people to take back to their planet.” Yes, you can guess who they pick up on their viewer. Cut to Reddy, who promises to disintegrate any spacemen who come around and shoots his water gun for good measure. He and Ruff fall asleep then a ray lifts them both into the space ship. Again, there’s no animation, just characters on a cel slid upward. I really like the angles on some of the layouts. You rarely see this even in the Huck series a year later. Too bad.

Cut to a shot of space over Earth. “And away they go!” says our quiet narrator. “But where is this mystery ship taking our friends? And why?” The narrator plugs the next episode, followed by the end tag music.

Hanna-Barbera paid for the use of the Capitol Hi-Q library for this series, but only two cues are used. The first one was only used once outside Ruff and Reddy (on the third Pixie and Dixie cartoon), while the second may sound familiar from B-grade ‘50s science fiction films.

0:00 – Ruff and Reddy Sub Main Title theme (Hoyt Curtin)
0:06 – TC 304A FOX TROT (Bill Loose-John Seely) – Ruff reads paper, squirts gun, “There’s no such animal as a flyin’ saucer.”
1:15 – No Music – TV newsman broadcasts, Ruff pleased with the news.
1:38 – L-1203 EERIE HEAVY ECHO (Spencer Moore) – Saucer flies around, Ruff and Reddy kidnapped, saucer zooms away from Earth.
3:35 – Ruff and Reddy Sub End Title theme (Curtin).

You can more about Ruff and Reddy’s creation in this post, this post, this post and even this post.