Archive for June, 2009

30
Jun
09

Sunday Morning Cartoons

We’ve used the phrase, “Saturday morning cartoons” for decades. Recently, as I was thinking about this expression, it reminded me of another phrase that, while not as common as “Saturday morning cartoons” is, nonetheless, accurate–Sunday morning cartoons. You know, those cartoons those of us of a certain age watched while waiting for Sunday school/church. What follows is a discussion of programs airing in the Atlanta TV market.

The first program that comes to my mind when I think of cartoons which aired on Sunday mornings is “Davey and Goliath.” Clokey Productions (the same people responsible for “Gumby”) created “Davey and Goliath” for the Lutheran Church in America, which is now a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. For the uninitiated, his program featured the adventures of a young boy named Davey Hansen and his dog, Goliath. Goliath had the power of speech, but only Davey and the viewers at home knew this. Goliath merely barked around Davey’s sister, Sally and Davey’s parents. Goliath often had to use his power of speech to help keep Davey on the straight and narrow.

While doing research for this entry, I found out that among the voice actors on “Davey and Goliath” were Dick Beals, Hal Smith, Norma MacMillan and Ginny Tyler.  Beals, who apparently never went through puberty due to a glandular problem (much like Walter Tetley from “Rocky and His Friends” /”The Bullwinkle Show–which I will discuss here in the future), was able to do children’s voices throughout his career and did many notable character voices besides the voice of Davey Hansen.   Beals also provided the voice of the title character on “Gumby.”  His other notable animation voice credits include Buzz Conroy (“Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles”/”The Space Ghost/Frankenstein, Jr. Show”), Yank and Dan (“Roger Ramjet”), Arthur Spacely (“The Jetsons”), and Tiny Tom (“The Lone Ranger”).  Beals was also the voice of a well-known animated commercial pitchman, Speedy Alka Seltzer.

Hal Smith was perhaps best known for his role of Otis Campbell on “The Andy Griffith Show.”   Smith’s list of animation voice credits is extensive and includes such programs as “Top Cat”, “Speed Buggy”, “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?”, “The Quick Draw McGraw Show”, “The Peter Potamus Show”, “Loopy De Loop”, “Josie and the Pussycats”, “The Jetsons”, “Jabberjaw”, “Hong Kong Phooey”, “The Funny Company”, “Funky Phantom”, and “Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles.”  Smith provided the voices of Mr. Hansen and Goliath on “Davey and Goliath.”

Norma MacMillan doesn’t have many cartoon voice credits, but she is noted for providing the voice of one famous character–Sweet Polly Purebred on “Underdog.”  MacMillan was, apparently, also the voice of Davey Hansen at one time.

Ginny Tyler’s list of animation voice credits is also rather brief.  She was the voice of Jan on “Space Ghost and Dino Boy”, Daisy the Carhop on “The Flintstones”,  Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman on a 1978 version of “The Fantastic Four”, and also provided voices on “The Cattanooga Cats.”  On “Davey and Goliath, Tyler was the voice of Sally Hansen.

And who can forget “The Mighty Hercules”?    This show was syndicated to local TV stations beginning in 1961.  The local stations had the option of either showing episodes of “The Mighty Hercules” as a part of local kids’ shows or as a stand-alone thirty-minute program.  The production company was Trans-Lux Productions, which also produced the 1960’s version of “Felix the Cat.”

In the first episode of “The Mighty Hercules”,  Hercules wins a sporting competition and, for winning the competition, Zeus (Hercules’ father) honors Hercules’ request to go to Earth and fight the forces of evil.  Hercules gets his strength while on Earth from a magic ring.

Among the other characters on the show were Helena, Hercules’ girlfriend; Newton, a centaur and Tewt, a satyr.  Newton had the rather annoying habit of repeating everything he said.  Tewt, as I recall, was mostly silent and communicated by means of playing a flute.  Newton interpreted Tewt’s tunes.   Other characters in the show included Herc’s two main villanious adversaries–Daedalius, an evil wizard who had a cat named Dydo and Willamene, a sea witch.

The voice artists on “The Mighty Hercules”, for the most part, did not have any other voice-related credits.  They were Jimmy Tapp (Hercules), Gerry Bascombe (Newton/Daedalius/Tewt), Helene Nicholson (Helena), and the only actor who had any other vocal experience, Jack Mercer (Popeye).  The artist who performed the theme song of “The Mighty Hercules” was none other than Johnny Nash of “I Can See Clearly Now” fame.

Several Saturday morning cartoons extended their lives by also airing on Sunday mornings.  Among these was “Kid Power”,  a show based on the Morrie Turner comic strip, “Wee Pals.”  As was the case with the comic strip, the TV show featured a multi-racial cast of children.

There was another fairly famous cartoon program that aired a good bit on Sunday mornings.  That program?  “Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show.”  Much more on that in the future.

I should note that I was going to include a clip from the opening of the “Wee Pals” cartoon with this post.  However, after looking through a few YouTube pages, I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I will forge ahead without it.  I have included clips from the other shows I’ve mentiond in this post.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my sources of information for this post.  They were the TV.com web site and Don Markstein’s Toomopedia web site.

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08
Jun
09

June Bugs

In years past, Cartoon Network–and later, Boomerang–gave over the first weekend in June to the annual “June Bugs” marathon. This cartoon block featured almost every Bugs Bunny cartoon ever created.

I don’t know if “June Bugs” is still an annual event–I suspect not–but I do know that, during at least one “June Bugs” airing, not all cartoons featuring Bugs made it to the airwaves. That year, there were twelve cartoons which Cartoon Network did not show. The following comes from the DVD Talk web site and features a list of the twelve cartoons not shown, as well as their respective directors, release dates and synopses of each: The reference I am citing here has been up for awhile and refers to a future air date for a program which may have aired previously. It is apparently possible to view and/or download at least some of the following online.

1 – Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt (Friz Freleng; 1941): An Academy Award nominated cartoon in which Bugs is hunted by a dopey Indian named Hiawatha (who looks and acts a little bit like our old friend, Elmer J. Fudd). At one time this cartoon was a regular feature (and I do mean regular) on the Turner Network’s cartoon programs.

2- All This and Rabbit Stew (Tex Avery; 1941): Tex Avery’s final Bugs Bunny cartoon. It features a black stereotype hunter going after Bugs. It has been pulled from television distribution since the 1960’s.

3- Any Bonds Today? (Bob Clampett; 1942): A special short wartime propaganda film (also known as “Leon Schlesinger Presents Bugs Bunny” or “The Bugs Bunny Bond Rally”). It basically features Bugs singing the title song. In the middle, Bugs appears briefly blackface and does an impersonation of Al Jolson.

4- What’s Cookin’ Doc? (Bob Clampett; 1944): One of Bob Clampett’s most famous Bugs Bunny cartoons. A parody of the Academy Awards in which Bugs is convinced he’s a shoo-in to get the award. The reason this is now banned? Bugs shows the audience a short clip from his Oscar nominated “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt”. Does anyone remember that waaaay back in 1998, Warner Bros. had this cartoon as part of their touring “Bugs Bunny Film Festival”.

5- Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips (Friz Freleng; 1944): Another WWII era cartoon. Castaway Bugs washes ashore on and island where he soon encounters a bunch of stereotypical Japanese soldiers. In the end, Bugs defeats them all.

6- Herr Meets Hare (Friz Freleng; 1945): Bugs meets up with WWII enemies again. This time it is Hermann Goering and, in the end, Hitler himself. This short is still scheduled to be included in the upcoming Toonheads: The Wartime Cartoons special on Cartoon Network.

7- A Feather In His Hare (Chuck Jones; 1948): Another not-very-bright Indian hunts for Bugs. Bugs tricks him by, among other things, making snowballs in the middle of July. In the end, Bugs and “the last of the Mohicans” are shocked to realize they are now fathers (“Eh, what’s up, pop?”). This Chuck Jones cartoon was also regularly seen on the Turner Networks up until 1998.

8- Which is Witch? (Friz Freleng; 1949): In Africa, Bugs finds himself hunted by the tiny witch doctor, I.C. Spots, who needs a rabbit to finish his latest potion.

9- Frigid Hare (Chuck Jones; 1949): On his way to a two week vacation in Miami, Bugs takes a wrong turn and ends up at the South Pole. There he rescues a cute little penguin from an Eskimo. This cartoon is a fan favorite which was also seen regularly on television until very recently.

10 – Mississippi Hare (Chuck Jones; 1949): Bugs, asleep in a cotton field, has his cotton tail mistaken for cotton. Bugs soon finds himself on a riverboat where he meets short-tempered gambler Colonel Shuffle. Gags include an exploding cigar causing the Colonel to appear in blackface and Bugs duping the Colonel into walking overboard when the Rabbit sells him a ticket to “Uncle Tom’s Cabinet”. While never shown on Cartoon Network, this cartoon aired as part of Kids’ WB Bugs N Daffy Show (1995-8).

11- Bushy Hare (Robert McKimson; 1950): Many cartoon fans fondly remember this cartoon. A bunch of runaway balloons carry Bugs into the clouds where he bumps into a stork heading to Australia to deliver a baby kangaroo. Bugs is delivered to Mama Kangaroo and, to make her happy, Bugs pretends to be her “son”. The Rabbit then encounters an aborigine, who he nicknames “Nature Boy”. “Nature Boy” is basically a human version of a popular character who McKimson would introduce four years later: the Tasmanian Devil. This cartoon was seen regularly on Nickelodeon from 1988-99.

12- Horse Hare (Friz Freleng; 1960): A western parody set in 1885 at Fort Lariat. Bugs is left in charg8e of the Fort, when a tribe of Indians led by Yosemite Sam attacks. In the end, the day is saved when the Calvary shows up. Unfortunately for Sam, who gets caught in the middle of the oncoming Calvary and Indians (“Whoooooa, Calvary!!! Whoooooa, Indians!!! Whoooa!!!”).

07
Jun
09

Tubby and Lester

Here we come to the third member of the local Atlanta kids’ shows triumvirate, “Tubby and Lester.” This one aired on Channel 11 in Atlanta which, at the time, was the local ABC affiliate.

The titular characters were supposed to be knockoffs of Oliver Hardy (Tubby) and Stan Laurel (Lester). As was the case with local kids’ shows in those days, they had a group of cartoons they ran during their air time. Fittingly enough, one of the cartoons featured animated versions of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy themselves. Although I can’t find any documentation on this, I seem to remember “Tubby and Lester” also featured a cartoon short based on the Abbott and Costello comedy team, with Bud Abbott performing the voice of his animated counterpart. Also, according to a web reference I found that confirms my memory, “Tubby and Lester” ran the “Dick Tracy” cartoon. Finally, I remember the show having this unseen chracter called The Riddle Ghost whose sole purpose in life appeared to be cackling demonically at lame jokes.

05
Jun
09

Mr. Pix

In an earlier post, I mentioned local Atlanta kids’ television shows and posted some information about “The Popeye Club”, which aired on WSB-TV. I am now moving along to another local Atlanta institution, Mr. Pix.

As I mentioned earlier, Dave Michaels, who was an Atlanta news reporter and also formerly was with CNN, was Mr. Pix. I don’t remember much about Mr. Pix and Tim Hollis’ “Hi There, Boys and Girls” doesn’t contain much information about it. The one thing I do remember about the show is that Mr. Pix was so named because of the pictures he drew. One thing I remember regarding the pictures was that he used to draw the letters of the alphabet and then would try to make something else from it. At some point during each show, he would pretend to take suggestions regarding what to draw from the children watching at home. I remember watching the show and thinking that Mr. Pix could actually hear the suggestions from the kids at home. I thought it would be incredibly difficult for him to make something from the letter Z, so I shouted as loudly as I could, “Z! Z!” I was never so surprised as I was when Mr. Pix said, “Okay, Z”, and proceeded to make something out of it.