Thursday 24 January 2013


When we were packing up for our temporary move, I uncovered this gem – another of those lost treasures of childhood replaced, much later, following a dedicated rummage through the contents of an antique emporium –– aka junk shop!

This Marx bagatelle was a licensed product tied-in with the 1958 Hanna-Barbera TV series, The Huckleberry Hound Show.

The show was truly groundbreaking: its economic look challenging the traditional Disney animation style and it was the first cartoon programme to receive an Emmy.

But the fact that this toy so prominently features Huck's co-star, Yogi Bear, is an indication that The Huckleberry Hound Show was but a precursor to the far more popular The Yogi Bear Show which followed in 1961. Just as the stardom of Disney's Mickey Mouse was eventually eclipsed by Donald Duck, so the Hound was fairy swiftly deposed by the Bear.

Nevertheless, to Huck goes the glory of having introduced the world to a new pantheon of cartoon stars including – in addition to Yogi (and his side-kick, Boo Boo), Pixie and Dixie and Mr Jinks – the likes of Hokey Wolf (and Ding-A-Ling), Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss, The Flintstones, Top Cat, The Jetsons, Johnny Quest, Wally Gator, Magilla Gorilla, Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo...

I still vividly remember the week in which The Huckleberry Hound Show debuted on British TV. As a nine-year old lad with an obsessive love of cartoons, I was beside myself with excitement to find that the TV Times contained an article about the show and its creators, William ('Bill') Hanna and Joseph ('Joe') Barbera, and line drawings of the cast of characters.

I spent the next few days copying these characters onto a sketchpad I had been given for my birthday. It was at this moment (rather than after watching all those Disney films I loved to distraction) that I formed the ambition (never realised) to become an animator.

My mother was appalled: wasting good drawing paper was bad enough, it was the waste of time that she really objected to. I should probably have been buckling down to my homework, certainly I was well and truly ticked off: 'You don't seriously think that drawing cartoons is ever going to get you job, do you?'

Well, that was true - it didn't! But I have spent a good many years writing, broadcasting and speaking about the art of animation, so perhaps the time wasn't entirely wasted!

Anyway, here – for nostalgia's sake – are the opening credits to The Huckleberry Hound Show – including the top-and-tailing sequences featuring the show's USA sponsor, Kellogg's (and their trade-mark Cockerel), that us British kids never saw...

As Huck would say in his Southern drawl: 'Be seein' y'all!"


disbob said...

Thanks Brian. It was great to sing along with the opening and end titles, but I loved the middle section you posted, remembering the links with fondness.
I too started my own sketching and attempts at animation by learning to draw Huck, Yogi and Mr Jinks, despite an environment of Disney. HB characters just seemed so much simpler to get right.
Did you start doing impressions of these characters at school, too? I certainly did, and didn't do any others till Napoleon and Lafayette in The Aristocats.

SharonM said...

Great Blog, Brian, bringing back lots of memories.
Boo Boo 'the Ranger wouldn't like it, Yogi' was my favourite.

Phil said...

It's amazing what we Brits missed out on with American TV shows. I had no idea about the Kellogs sequences on the Huckleberry Hound show - so thoroughly integrated into the title sequence!

The middle clip is probably entirely voiced by Daws Butler, the incredible talent who did Huck, Yogi, Jinks and Pixie. (Dixie, I believe, was Don Messick.)

Brian Sibley said...

disbob – Yes, you are right about the simplicity of the HB characters. I had a 'How to Draw Mickey Mouse' booklet, but never quite got him right (easy though he LOOKS), but I was well away with Huck, Yogi & Co.

Did I do impressions at school? Did I? 'Yea, sir, Mr Ranger, sir!'; 'Oh, my darlin', oh, my darlin', oh my darlin', Clementine...'; 'I hates those meeces to pieces!'; 'EXIT–––– stage left!'; 'Yabba-dabba-dooo!' and 'Up and at 'em, Atom Ant!'.

Oh, yes!!'Dat's my boy who said dat!'

Need I say more?

SharonM – Well, obviously you can still quote them, too! :)

Phil – I can't remember how the UK version of the show opened and closed but it certainly didn't feature the Cockerel or Snap, Crackle & Pop! I have a recollection of a static title card: could that be right?

I do remember when they changed the title sequence of Top Cat to Boss Cat presumably because of some concern about advertising, since there was a UK cat-food of the same name... It was always mystifying because the title song still called him 'TC' not 'BC'!!

Daws Butler was a vocal genius. Without taking anything from the great Mel Blanc, I think he may have been the Number One...

Phil said...

I think you're right about the static title card.

I shared your bafflement over Top Cat/Boss Cat. There was also a Boss Cat comic strip in TV COMIC (or something similar), but they took it one step further: they had all the other characters calling TC BC. This made no sense at all to me as a child, but I must have had a dawning realisation at some stage that things were being manipulated for different audiences.

The only other similar instance I can think of is Popeye's acquaintance Bluto, who was called Brutus in the comic. That one still makes no sense to me!

SharonM said...

I used to, and still do, mimic the voices of Yogi, Boo Boo, Pixie and Dixie etc.

Greg Ehrbar said...

According to animation expert Jerry Beck, Bluto was called Brutus for a brief period because someone thought there was a legal reason to change his name. Later it was discovered that there was no such issue and you'll find that later Popeye projects use the "Bluto" name again.

Brian Sibley said...

Thanks for answering that, Greg! Not sure why your comment came through six times, but you are always very welcome here! :)

Brian Sibley said...

By the way, Greg, I've added Mouse Tracks to my blog roll here and over at Decidedly Disney. Apologies for not having doe it sooner! :)