Saturday, November 29, 2008

Captain Caveman!!!

As touched upon in the previous installment, Captain Cavemanboasted a total of 40 episodes.

Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels was patterned after Scooby-Doo with a title derived from the ABC-TV program Charlie's Angels. The stories followed a mystery formula and the hook of the show centered around the logic and cunning of Captain Caveman. His club often served as a weapon but usually it helped him fly...a scrawny bird often popped out from the tip of the club and would sometimes help fly the Captain wherever he needed to be; a lot of the times the Captain would piece together clues or come up with far-reaching idea's that usually somehow worked in his favor by story's end. In addition to his club, he could also pull things out of his fur. The objects were outrageous...if he were to pull out something huge he'd stick his hand further into his fur and mumble to himself and often talk to himself saying something like "oooh, that tickles..." and grunt and snort and then pull out something as big as a table for example.

After the initial 40 episodes aired, 1977-1980, they would repeat often on Saturday mornings and later found a home on the USA program, Cartoon Express.

Captain Caveman turned up as part of The Flintstones Comedy Show in 1980 for 18 episodes where he appeared in a segment that spoofed not only Superman but also spoofed Lou Grant, a hit drama program starring Ed Asner, a character that Asner had played on Mary Tyler Moore's self-named comedy show in the 1970's. The Captain, along with Betty and Wilma, worked at The Daily Granite newspaper and their boss was Lou Granite. The Captain used a "secret identity" named Chester...and would secretly become Captain Caveman. This Flintstones Comedy Show was the only series that featured the character in a situation where he spoofed Superman.

The caveman character was brought back in 1986 as part of The Flintstone Kids and it was Mel Blanc's last regular voice acting job prior to his death in 1989. The Flintstone Kids aired for two seasons, 1986-1988. In addition to Captain Caveman on this series, Mel was the voice of Barney Rubble's father and Dino. There were 19 episodes produced of Captain Caveman and Son during 1986-1987 and 1987-1988. There were 24 episodes produced of Flintstone Kidswhich featured Dino in every episode and sometimes, when needed, Barney's father, Robert, both voiced by Mel. In addition to this, Dino had a segment of his own, airing for 19 episodes, called Dino's Dilemma's.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's all relative...The Scooby influence...

Hanna-Barbera exploded in popularity with their made-for-TV cartoons. The foundation was layed in the late 1950's and it continued to grow through the 1960's. Although it would be fashionable to jump on the bandwagon with others and criticize the cartoons for their lack of animation but that isn't my style. Also, the mid 1960's out-put from Hanna-Barbera was often cited as not being as "good" as the cartoons in the late '50s and early '60s. I've seen plenty of the cartoons and while there are cartoons from this period that I'm not particularly a fan of, they do not fall into the category of "awful non-watchable" as some are quick to label them. After a flirtation in the mid 1960's with outer space cartoons and adventure dominated cartoons, the company hit the air with Scooby-Doo in 1969. This cartoon as I touched upon in another blog became a long-running series. The series was in first-run production from 1969-1971 and again during 1972-1973, as Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and The New Scooby-Doo Movies. When the series became a bonafide hit, Hanna-Barbera began to base a good amount of cartoons on the kids solving mysteries concept. There were many short-lived cartoons based upon this concept and many of the cartoons only ran one TV season, which for a Saturday morning cartoon, seemed to require no fewer than 16 episodes.

In a moment of speculation, this I assume would translate into 16 air-dates, then 16 repeats, which totals to 32 air-dates. After the repeat cycle ended the network would usually just repeat the cartoons again...and again...or cancel the series and replace it with something else from Hanna-Barbera. It would probably shock some to realize that cartoons usually do not have a lot of spite of how iconic or popular a series may have been. The cartoons to follow in Scooby's mysterious path as mentioned were many. If i had lots and lots of extra time I could look them all up but i'll summarize things and hit a couple of cartoons that follow the Scooby formula and point out which Scooby character matches which character on the knock-off.

1. Clue Club, 1976-1977: This series is one of my favorites. I watched this cartoon in the mid 1980's when it was a part of the USA cable program, Cartoon Express. The series involved four teenagers: Larry, Pepper, D.D., and Dotty and their two dogs Wolfer and Wimper. Larry is the Fred prototype while Pepper is the Daphne of the group. D.D. is the comical one with some cowardly traits shared with Shaggy. Dotty is the brains, the Velma equivalent. This time around, two dogs are spotlighted. Wolfer is the older dog who always thinks he has the mystery solved and proudly explains his theories to Wimper, only to be proven half-right or all wrong by the humans in the show as the story plays out. Wimper is the smaller dog with a southern drawl who often doubts Wolfer's assumptions but goes along with the latest theory Wolfer's dreamed up. The dogs spoke to each other but not to the four kids. Sheriff Bagley was often on-hand to apprehend the latest crook that the Clue Club exposed...recounting clues that had another style similar to Scooby-Doo. The voice cast for this series included David Joliffe as Larry; face actor Bob Hastings as D.D.; Patricia Stitch as Pepper; Tara Talboy as Dotty; Paul Winchell as Wolfer; Jim McGeorge as Wimper; and John Stephenson as Sheriff Bagley. The series didn't have a long life in syndication repeats. After it's network run, it vanished from the airwaves until it became a segment on USA's Cartoon Express in the late 1980's. After it left that program it remained in animation exile until the Cartoon Network and then Boomerang came along in the late 1990's. Even today, it doesn't air that often but sometimes it will pop up on Boomerang.

2. Jabberjaw, 1976-1978: This cartoon series focused on four teenagers and a talking shark. In a lot of ways it was a comedic parody of Jaws, using a shark as a comedic foil. In addition to this, the four teenagers were rock stars in a concept close to Josie and the Pussycats and the teens in Jabberjaw toured the oceans and dry-land at times stumbling into mysteries in between their concerts. It's also interesting to note that this concept was the original basis for Mystery's Five, the series that became Scooby-Doo in 1969 and it was the concept used for the Josie and the Pussycats series. Jabberjaw had a voice like Curly from The Three Stooges. He acted as the band's mascott and often reacted comically to whatever situation...often feeling that he didn't get any respect, a routine close to comedian Rodney Dangerfield. The four kids on the show and Jabberjaw headlined The Neptunes band. Biff was the Fred prototype while Shelly had the sour, bossy personality of Veronica from the Josie cartoons but Shelly also had a weakness for her own appearance, a character trait associated with Daphne from Scooby-Doo. Bubbles was the dumb bell of the group...this character was patterned after Melody from the Josie series. The comedy came from Jabberjaw and Clamhead. The Clamhead character looked similar to Shaggy and Alexander Cabot, two characters from Scooby-Doo and Josie and the Pussycats respectively, all three characters noted for their cowardly stance on things. Clamhead was a bundle of nerves and was prone to stammering "abba-abba-abba". I do not know if this was an intentional reference to a rock band known as ABBA or if it was a play on Fred Flintstone's catch-phrase Yabba-Dabba-Doo. Jabberjaw often jumped into Clamhead's arms in a pose similar to how Scooby would hop into Shaggy's arms in times of fright. The voice cast for this series included Tommy Cook as Biff; Pat Parris as Shelly; Julie McWhirter as Bubbles; Barry Gordon as Clamhead; and Frank Welker as Jabberjaw. The series ran during 1976-1977 for 16 episodes and they repeated for another year, 1977-1978.

3. Speed Buggy, 1973-1975: This is one of the examples of a huge success that only lasted 16 total episodes but ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. The show is about three teenagers who drive a race car/dune buggy. The car is referred to in the show's title...the teenagers refer to the car as Speedy. Speed Buggy could talk...and the driver of the car was a mechanic named Tinker. Mark and Debby were the two other teens that accompanied Tinker. The series was built around the concept of sabotage at race track's across the country...often, Speed Buggy and company would arrive at a race track to enter in a race. While there they'd stumble onto some sort of mystery centering around the goings-on at the track or by competitors wanting to win a race. The program aired on all three of the TV networks...meaning all 16 episodes ran and repeated on CBS, NBC, and ABC...then the series went into syndication...airing the same 16 episodes repeatedly. It's often baffling to me how a series can continually air with only a short number of episodes. The series remained on the network until 1979...airing the same 16 episodes that had first aired in 1973. The character of Mark was depicted as being of Indian heritage and was easily the Fred prototype. Debby featured the combined characteristics of Daphne and Velma while Tinker resembled Shaggy and often depended on Speed Buggy to protect everyone from any potential danger. Speed Buggy was often eager to run from trouble...often coaxed into being brave by Debby's flirtations to which Speedy would exclaim: "Vroom-a-Zoom, Zoom!!". The voice cast for this series included Mel Blanc as Speed Buggy; Phil Luther, Jr as Tinker; Michael Bell as Mark; and Arlene Golonka as Debby. As with other Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Don Messick and John Stephenson often played bit parts and villains.

4. Captain Caveman, 1977-1980: This series had a much longer episode life than the previous three I mentioned in this list. This cartoon boasts 40 episodes, instead of the standard 16. The cartoon centers around three young women, mostly late teen/early 20's, and a prehistoric, powerful, yet klutzy caveman. The plot of the show centers around the three girls and Cavey as he's called travelling all over the country solving mysteries. The girls use the name "The Teen Angels" and drive around in a van. On top of the van is a playground of sorts for Cavey...he doesn't get to ride in the van with the girls. The design for Captain Caveman can be traced back to the series Wacky Races and the Slag Brothers who drove the Boulder Mobile in that series. The brothers on that series were two thick haired cavemen resembling pint-sized versions of Cousin Itt from The Addams Family. Captain Caveman resembled a Slag brother but a big difference being that the Captain carried a wooden club and wore a super-small leopard skin cape. Due to Cavey being of prehistoric origin, his feet and hands were drawn in a Flintstones design while the girls were drawn modern. The full title of the segment was Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, a parody on the title of the ABC-TV show Charlie's Angels. The episodes ran 10 minutes in length and appeared as part of two Scooby-Doo programs. 1977-1978 as part of Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics and 1978-1979 as part of Scooby's All-Stars. In both programs, the Caveman appeared as one of the rotating segments. 16 episodes were made in 1977, 8 were made in 1978. There were 16 more episodes made of the character in 1980, giving the series it's grand total of 40 episodes. It was the 1980 series that allowed the characters to star in their own program, instead of the cast being a part of a Scooby ensemble show. Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels was the official name of a separate series in 1980. In addition to this, Captain Caveman would appear on another series in 1980, The Flintstone Comedy Show. On that series, the Captain played a Superman-type character, who wore a mild-mannered disguise during his day job. His secret identity was Chester and he worked with Wilma and Betty at a newspaper for Lou Granite. The main voice cast for Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels included Mel Blanc as Captain Caveman; Vernee Watson as Dee Dee; Marilyn Schreffler as Brenda; and Laurel Page as Taffy. The leader of the trio of girls is Dee Dee while the cowardly traits of Shaggy are found in Brenda. The stunts dreamed up to catch the villains are usually supplied by Taffy, who often sweet-talks Captain Caveman into being brave. The catch-phrase of the series was Unga-Bunga...the nonsense phrase uttered by Captain Caveman as his version of "Uh oh!" or "holy cow!". The character returned to TV as part of The Flintstone Kids in 1986.

5. Jeannie, 1973-1975: Rounding out the Top-5 shows using a Scooby-Doo format is this series that revolved around two young men, the genie named Jeannie, and a male genie named Babu. The plots of the show were centered around the usual mystery solving but it didn't get into the details of solving mysteries as other series. This program was mainly an animated take-off on the 1965-1970 live action comedy show, I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. On this cartoon series, simply called Jeannie, her new master is named Corey. Jeannie is re-designed as a redhead who casts her spells by crossing her arms and twirling her pony-tail. Corey and Jeannie often pair off together in the mystery/who-done-it stories. Corey's friend, the cowardly Henry, is often paired with Babu, a bumbling genie who has severe nervousness and because of this often blunders his spells. Babu is slightly over-weight and hollers "Yabble Dabble" when excited or nervous. There are no military or NASA references in this cartoon. Corey and Henry are teenagers/young adults. Henry and Babu provide the comedy. The voice cast included Julie McWhirter as Jeannie; Joe Besser as Babu; Mark Hamill as Corey; Bob Hastings as Henry; and Janet Waldo as Mrs Anders. In this era, Waldo was heard on various cartoon series. Previously, Waldo was the voice of Penelope Pitstop, Nancy from the Shazzan series, Judy Jetson on The Jetsons, and Josie from Josie and the Pussycats. As an added note, the three male voice actors had impact as face actors, too. Joe Besser was a member of the Three Stooges during 1956-1957 in addition to being a comedic foil on Abbott and Costello's TV show and Joey Bishop's show. Besser appeared in a string of short comedy films for Columbia where his "whiny character" became part of the public culture. Besser brought his comically exaggerated voice to Babu. Bob Hastings had a major role on the TV series Captain Video in 1949 and years later in McHale's Navy as Carptener and would later become known to TV audiences as Kelcy on All In The Family and in the 1990's he became the voice of Commissioner Gordon on the various updated versions of Batman. Hastings was also the voice of Archie Andrews on radio in the mid 1940's. In a related note, Bob's brother, Don Hastings, is a legendary soap opera star from As The World Turns. Mark Hamill would go on to become world famous as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films...he continues to provide many cartoon voices, with The Joker being the most famous. The Jeannie series ran 16 episodes and they repeated countless times. Jeannie and company appeared in an episode of Scooby-Doo as part of The New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1973. Babu himself later appeared as a member of the Scooby team on Laff-a-Lympics.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tex Avery

I don't want to get into too much technical talk when it comes to Tex Avery. He is a legendary figure in the animation industry. Tex introduced and perfected a zany and exaggerated animation style that influenced a generation. Avery's roots take shape while working at Warner Brothers on several classic cartoons and his legend is shaped while working at MGM, doing cartoons that Warner Brothers tended to shy away from...the more outragous and bizarre, the more funnier they were...the comic timing was the key to the success.

During his Warner Brothers stay, which started in 1935, Avery created the studio's major early stars: Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. The character's visual designs/appearances have changed through the years and other directors and producers have added their visions to the characters but Tex is who created the actual characters. To confuse matters, there is an earlier version of what became known as Bugs Bunny. This rabbit was gray, with a wise-cracking demeanor, and out-smarted hunters. The character is known as Happy Rabbit and as Bugs's Bunny, given credit for it's creation to Ben "Bugs" Hardaway. Then, Tex Avery came up with a rabbit character with an almost exact personality but the voice characterization was different...Mel Blanc provided the voice for both rabbit characters. The original voice for Happy Rabbit used a similar laugh made famous by Woody Woodpecker...a character Mel voiced for a few years, creating that laugh that became synonymous with Woody, by the way.

Bob Clampett is given creator credit for Daffy Duck along with Tex Avery. I would assume it's because Clampett did the most character re-design/personality shifts with this character after Avery left Warner Brothers.

As a side-note: The other directors at Warner Brothers all had their versions of Daffy, too. The overall look remained the same, the personalities of the character are what changed. Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Robert McKimson, and Art Davis each produced/directed their share of Daffy addition to Bugs Bunny. It is the Chuck Jones take on Daffy and Bugs that often gets singled out by animation experts and cartoon historians because he made the two characters rivals in show-business and this characterization continues to play out whenever the two are sharing the stage...Daffy wanting to have the fame and ruin the rabbit's career.

In addition to Bugs and Daffy, Avery is noted for being the one who made Porky Pig a star, even though the character was created by peer, Friz Freleng, with character designs by Bob Clampett. Avery's version of Porky was way more fatter than previously used...being cast as an adult, instead of a child-like character. His first cartoon short for Warner Brothers was "Gold Diggers of '49". The short was released in 1935 and it spoofed the Gold Rush in California during the middle 1800's. The Porky character was teamed up with a character named Beans. Porky and Beans, get it? The Beans character was intended as the star but Porky became the star in these cartoon shorts...and a star was born. Avery continued working at Warner Brothers until 1941 when he left the studio over creative control. His last cartoons had to be completed by other directors.

He left for MGM...

While at MGM he came up with a string of gag-filled cartoons mostly centered around Droopy and his associates. Also, a character named Red started to pop up in his cartoons. The character was created, at it's core, for sexual stimulation for the Wolf, who would go bonkers upon seeing her. His body would bend and twist into all kinds of shapes and he'd howl and bang his head on tables and against walls...whistling, clapping, howling some more. "Red Hot Riding Hood" was the first cartoon...followed by a string of other cartoons that would pop up periodically featuring the character: "Swing Shift Cinderella"; "The Shooting of Dan McGoo"; "Wild and Woolfy"; "Uncle Tom's Cabana"; and "Little Rural Riding Hood".

In addition to the Droopy and the Red cartoon shorts, Avery introduced George and Junior, a parody of Of Mice and Men using "Junior" in place of the character's actual name in the movie, Lenny. Avery also brought Screwy Squirrel to the animation world...I personally liked watching the squirrel cartoons but historically they're considered to not be too appealing given the star character's personality. Avery only produced five cartoons on the character.

"The Slap Happy Lion" and "Who Killed Who?" are two of the most laugh out loud funny cartoons from Tex Avery that i've ever seen. Each cartoon can be found on You Tube and both cartoons demonstrate the animation style Avery was famous for. "The House of Tomorrow", "The Car of Tomorrow", "The TV of Tomorrow", and "The Farm of Tomorrow" were Avery's other noted works for MGM. He also did work for Walter Lantz's studio...helming four cartoon shorts, 1954-1955. A salary dispute ended his stay at Lantz's studio.

Avery's out-put dried up after 1955 and for the next 20+ years he remained behind the scenes as a writer/gag-man for a variety of cartoon programs and TV commercials but he was never a director of any short subject cartoon again. He worked for Hanna-Barbera's company in the late 1970's.

Avery died in 1980 during production of "Kwicky Koala", a low-key but humorous series about a small koala who can disappear in split-second fashion. The disappearances were often necessary as Kwicky was constantly on the run from his nemesis, Wilford Wolf (John Stephenson mimicking Paul Lynde). Sharp eyed viewers will be able to tell that whenever Kwicky wiggles his ears that's the cue that he's about to disappear.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Future meets the Past

The Jetsons meet the Flintstones was a made-for-TV movie which combined Hanna-Barbera's well-known families in a single story. I'll give a rough re-cap of the movie. Some places may be out of order, though, as it's been awhile since I've watched the movie.

The Jetsons as well as the Flintstones are seen coping with a lot of headache in their respective time periods. George Jetson's irritated with his boss, Mr Spacely, while back in Bedrock Mr Slate is getting on Fred's last nerve. George and Fred's families are also having the meantime, Elroy Jetson invents a time machine. He hopes it will take him into the future...realizing how much pressure they're under The Jetsons decide to try out Elroy's time machine "just for fun" when at the last minute the machine slips from it's future setting to the past. They travel back in time to Bedrock. Fred and Barney have both lost their jobs in the meantime, after they sneak away from the gravel pit to get into a poker game that Mr Slate himself is attending. After Fred and Barney go in disguise as a husband and wife, the gag is up when Slate discovers who they are and fires them both. They keep this a secret from their wives.

As the Flintstones and the Rubbles head out into the wilderness they come in contact with the futuristic Jetsons. Each set of families mistake the other for savages as George demands that Astro protect the family and investigate the strangers while nearby Fred insists that Dino protect the family. Astro and Dino come face to face and are scared of each other. Wilma insists that Fred try and act friendly and they might not attack. Eventually the Flintstones and the Jetsons come in contact with each other...Wilma, Betty, and Jane become fast friends while George becomes friends with Fred and Barney.

Still pretending they have jobs, Fred spies George's suitcase filled with neat stuff. Fred hatches a plan to introduce George as his distant-cousin and with George's bag of goodies he hopes to worm his way into being Mr Slate's partner in the gravel company. The plot back-fires during a company sporting event when Slate looses events to Turk Tarpit...and Slate, after making Fred vice-president, fires him again. Meanwhile, during a time machine experiment, the Flintstones are transported into the future along with their stoneage car. Mr Spacely, thinking that Jetson had been spying on him for Cogswell, a Spacely competitor, notices Fred's stoneage car and hires him to be the spokesperson for the antique. The spy at Jetson's company was in fact George's computer, RUDI, who was being flirted with by a computer from Cogswell's company...using seductive language to coax information from RUDI for Cogswell.

Meanwhile, Fred becomes somewhat of a celebrity while Barney is hired by Cogswell to be their mascott. This causes a rift between the two friends...which spills over to include their wives, Wilma and Betty. As the Flintstones and Rubbles are at each other's throats in the future, back in the past The Jetsons have become millionaires almost overnight with their hi-tech gadgets. Judy has become a groupie for a local singer named Iggy Sandstone. She falls in love with him but he doesn't take it too seriously...when Judy finds Iggy with a crowd of girls she decides to break things off. In the meantime, tt isn't a happy life for the Jetsons as the bills rack up...and the Jetsons long for their own time the Flintstones and Rubbles also want to go back home.

In the meantime, the Jetsons robotic maid, Rosie, travels back in time and meets up with the Jetsons. Elroy believes he's fixed the time machine and the Jetsons are sent back into the future. The Flintstones and Rubbles, while in their stoneage car, are awaiting a zap back into the past from Elroy's time machine but they learn that the time machine is broken beyond repair so they're stuck in the future forever...but, almost spiritually, just as the Flintstones and Rubbles are accepting that they'll never go back home to Bedrock, they vanish...with Fred exclaiming his catch-phrase "Yabba-Dabba Doo!!" as they disappear back in time. George remarks that their stoneage car was just as homesick as they were.

The Jetsons Meet The Flintstones debuted in 1987 and it's been made available on home video. I do not know if it has made it's way onto DVD yet. As you can see, the movie is 21 years old this year. The principal voice actors are no longer living but there are a few supporting players who are still around but semi-retired. Frank Welker was used in secondary roles as was Don Messick in addition to the starring roles of Astro and RUDI. John Stephenson's main role was Mr Slate. Jon Bauman, from Sha-Na-Na fame, was the voice of the Iggy rocker.

George O'Hanlon: George Jetson
Penny Singleton: Jane Jetson
Daws Butler: Elroy Jetson, Henry Orbit, Cogswell
Janet Waldo: Judy Jetson
Don Messick: Astro, RUDI, Mac, additional voices

Henry Corden: Fred Flintstone
Jean Vanderpyl: Wilma Flintstone, Rosie
Mel Blanc: Barney Rubble, Mr Spacely, Dino
Julie McWhirter: Betty Rubble

John Stephenson: Mr Slate
Hamilton Camp: Turk Tarpit
Frank Welker: Dan Rathmoon, Johnny, Mr Goldbrick, additional voices
Jon Baumann: Iggy Sandstone

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Hanna-Barbera wolves

I'm giving spotlight to three wolves of Hanna-Barbera. The first wolf in this trio is the French originated Loopy de Loop. This character appeared in theatrical short-subject cartoons and it's noted as being Hanna-Barbera's only theatrically produced cartoon series. The episodes were produced during 1959-1965 and featured the voice of Daws Butler in the title role. The episodes started out in small doses and increased as the years went on that by 1962/1963 there were usually 10 or 11 episodes produced a year.

Loopy is a good wolf...the concept of the series was finding Loopy minding his business at the start of each story and through a series of events he often finds himself wanting to help people in trouble because of his good nature...but, here's the thing...Loopy is a wolf...and the character of the wolf is villainous and greedy in the eyes and minds of the public. This causes people to run for their lives and run off whenever Loopy shows up because they think he's there to cause harm. In spite of his catch-phrase "I am Loopy de Loop, the good wolf", people, usually women, hit him over the head with whatever they can find or they scream "help!!!" at the site of him. Loopy spoke in a French-American accent that Daws Butler would sometimes use for other characters, including the recurring villain Pierre on the Huckleberry Hound series. Loopy was distributed to theatres by Columbia Pictures. In addition to Daws Butler, other voices included Don Messick, John Stephenson, Doug Young, Arnold Stang, Mel Blanc, Jean Vanderpyl, and others from the Hanna-Barbera voice unit.

Another wolf happens to be a character known as Hokey Wolf. This character was a con-artist, playing into the "wolf is a sneak" characterization. This character was also voiced by Daws Butler and the voice he used is patterned after the Sgt Bilko character on The Phil Silvers Show. The fast-talking con-artist voice Butler had often given to various characters in the past was now the official voice for Hokey Wolf. I wonder if Loopy de Loop appreciated Hokey's schemes? Afterall, Hokey was continuing to give wolves a bad name...

Hokey was paired with a side-kick, a fox whose often smarter than Hokey but on the surface comes off as the dummy. Ding-a-Ling was the side-kick's name, called simply "Ding" by Hokey. In most of the adventures Hokey hatches some sort of get rich quick scheme...sometimes, though, Hokey is simply out to out-wit anyone and con his way into getting something for nothing. Phil Silvers' character of Sgt Bilko, when excited, would speak in a "big grin, cheerful" cadence...and pieces of that sound were adopted by Daws Butler and served as the inspiration for the con-man voice Butler used for Hokey. Doug Young supplied the voice of Ding-a-Ling, giving it a Buddy Hackett vocalization. Young was also the voice of the Jimmy Durante sound-a-like character, Doggie Daddy, in early '60s cartoons. Hokey cartoons ran for two seasons, 1960-1961, 1961-1962.

Lastly, we come to Mildew Wolf. This character originated from a series known as It's the Wolf which appeared as a segment on The Cattanooga Cats series. Paul Lynde gave voice to Mildew, the wolf always plotting schemes to catch a character known as Lambsy Divey, voiced by Daws Butler. Lambsy's "guardian" or protector was a character named Bristle Hound, voiced by Allan Melvin. The plots of the series contained a similar pattern in each episode so a lot of it's charm/appeal lay within it's voice talent and the elaborate schemes of Mildew in his quest to have Lambsy for dinner. The formula was used in the Yakky Doodle series which featured a helpless yellow duck being chased after by hunters or by Fibber Fox. Yakky's protector was the bulldog, Chopper. It's the Wolf is a series often noted for the catch-phrase "it's the wolf" said by Lambsy on each episode. The phrase being pronounced: "it's the wool-ufff! it's the wool-ufff!". Lambsy had a voice similar to Beany, Augie Doggy and Elroy Jetson...those voices often nick-named as Butler's "little boy voices". The Lambsy Divey name comes from a pop song featuring that word in it's lyrics. "Mairzy Doats", the pop song, is translated to Mares Eat Oats but the song is sung with words thrown together for comic effect. Lambsy Divey translates to Lambs Eat Ivy. It's the Wolf ran as a separate series during 1970-1971 but it originated during the 1969-1970 Cattanooga Cats series. Mildew later made a return to animation in 1977 as co-host of Scooby's Laff-a-Lympics along side Snagglepuss. Mildew and Snagglepuss wore their yellow suits, patterned after the ABC-TV sportscasters, and gave interviews and chatted with the "athletes" prior to each stunt. The play-by-play was handled by narrator Don Messick. Paul Lynde was not the voice of Mildew this time around. Instead, John Stephenson did his Paul Lynde impression for the series.

During the original run of Mildew Wolf's adventures, 1969-1971, Paul Lynde was giving voice to another Hanna-Barbera character: The Hooded Claw, a villain on the series The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Paul was not credited on that series or on the other series he lent his voice to. This was did at the request of Lynde himself who I suppose felt doing cartoon work wasn't something he wanted everyone to know? At the time he was the star of the game show Hollywood Squares and appeared in a wide variety of other projects as far away from animated cartoons as you can get.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I couldn't do an animation blog without including Scooby-Doo and for all the jokes and spoofs the series has gotten and still receives every so often, it's a series that will continue to thrive in one form or another. I am partial to the original versions that aired into the mid 1980's. The child version, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, was entertaining as well. I was not that fond of the last versions primarily because the 2002 revival changed the series charm and the dialogue made the characters self-aware with jokes about their own pop-culture identities and it often departed from the formula. The formula being: four kids and their dog travel the country in their van solving mysteries. Although that formula is cliched and although the series is the basis for numerous spoofs because of it's formula-based stories, when it's all said and done, it's Scooby-Doo and what more is there to expect?

Scooby-Doo hit the CBS-TV airwaves in 1969 and it ran for two seasons: 1969-1970, 1970-1971. The show's full name is Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? and according to the show's producers the show was a combination of all sorts of teenage programs all rolled into one. The Archies was one inspiration...Fred representing the 'Archie' character while Velma represents the 'Betty' character...Daphne representing 'Veronica'...and Shaggy representing 'Jughead'. Also, Dobie Gillis is often cited as an inspiration because of the show's teenage approach. The beatnik character of Maynard Krebbs being an inspiration for Shaggy. The live-action drama, The Mod Squad, was another inspiration for the show as those teenagers traveled around in a bus solving mysteries. Ironically, too, is Scooby's full title was inspired by Car 54, Where Are You? an early 1960's comedy series about two police officers. The Scooby-Doo 'name' was thought up by Fred Silverman after listening to Frank Sinatra's hit song "Strangers In The Night". At the end of the song, Sinatra sings "doobie doobie doo...doh doh dah dah dah..." and so Silverman christens the dog, "Scooby-Doo", and it's main theme song carries the famed "Scooby doobie doo" lyric. The series that became Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? went through a series of tests and had various character changes and name changes before it hit the air. The kids travel in a van decorated with flowers, a symbol of the late '60s hippie culture, and they call it The Mystery Machine.

The series returned to the air with new episodes in 1972 under the name The New Scooby-Doo Movies and this series teamed the gang with a special guest each episode. Actors and actresses voiced animated versions of themselves. This series is one of the more talked-about and a lot of the episodes have been issued on DVD. Several of the episodes have never been released on DVD because the actors/actresses involved signed contracts back then allowing them partial owership over the episodes they appeared in. This version of Scooby ran until 1974. There was no more new Scooby produced for CBS afterwards. The series went into re-runs on that network and it was ultimately canceled. Fred Silverman had left CBS and went to ABC-TV at this time and he bought the Scooby show after CBS dropped it.

New Scooby shows started to air on ABC in 1976 and new episodes would continue to pop up throughout the rest of the decade and into the early 1980's. Scooby's nephew, Scrappy-Doo, became a big part of the series at the turn of the decade. Scrappy is one of the most hated characters because of the way the character breaks up the coward formula that Scooby and Shaggy both share...Scrappy's catch-phrases are "Puppy Power!!" and "Let me at 'em!!". He's also prone to saying "splat!" when describing what he wants to do with criminals and ghosts. Two ensemble programs, Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics and Scooby's All-Stars, aired in 1977-1979. These programs spoofed the Olympics and ABC sports. Scooby was the captain of the Scooby-Doobie team. Yogi Bear was the captain of the Yogi Yahooey team. Mumbley was the captain of the Really Rottens team. The series was 90 minutes in length and it featured a half hour Scooby cartoon from previous seasons, a new Scooby half hour adventure produced exclusively for this series, plus the half hour Laff-a-Lympics segment.

After these programs went out of production, Scrappy was introduced in 1979 and further adventures would consist mainly of Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy solving mysteries in short-subject adventures, usually two eleven minute adventures each episode. There was one season where Scooby and the gang, including Scrappy, all solved mysteries together in a formula similar to the original concept...but by 1981/1982 Fred, Daphne, and Velma were written off the show. Daphne made a return in 1983 episodes...but the series had drifted so much from the original concept of four teenagers and their dog solving mysteries. There was even a version that focused on Scrappy in the wild west with a character named Yabba-Doo, Scooby's brother.

After four seasons of producing short-subject episodes, 1979-1983, there was a new half-hour adventure with Scooby in 1985, The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo which featured Vincent Price. This series left the air in 1986. ABC ended it's 10 year run of Scooby cartoons in 1986 and the series went into syndicated reruns thereafter, never to return to network TV with new episodes ever again.

But...that wasn't end of Scooby...

Scooby and the gang returned three seasons later in 1989 in child form. Inspired by the success of The Muppet Babies and other cartoons that came along after that show debuted in 1984 which featured kid-versions of adult characters, Scooby and the gang were brought back in child form on A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. This series ran for two seasons, 1989-1990 and 1990-1991 before going into re-runs. ABC continued airing the show for two more seasons, consisting of re-runs during 1991-1993.

After this series was taken off the ABC schedule in 1993, Scooby was off network TV for good, or, as of this writing, 11-12-08. It's a safe bet to say the series won't make a return to network TV. Network TV refers to the channels owned by CBS, NBC, or ABC. Cable TV is another story however...

Scooby made a return to animation in 2002 on the cable TV network, The WB. What's New, Scooby-Doo? debuted in 2002 as a result of the success of the Direct-to-Video Scooby films of the mid to late 1990's. This series had a longer run than any previous version, remaining in production through 2006. This series marked the return of the core line-up: Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby solving mysteries. These episodes, as I touched upon at the start of this blog, were borderline satire on how pop-culture views Scooby and it's characters blending into self-awareness and parody instead of sticking with the original formula. The characters were patterned, visually, the way they appeared in the late 1990's Scooby video movies. The animation was did in the Warner Brothers style, instead of the classic Hanna-Barbera style. During the run of this 2002-2006 series, a live-action version was released to theatre's. It became a box-office hit as did it's sequel. A network known as The CW aired an updated Scooby cartoon patterned after Scooby's appearance in the live-action movies. This series was called Shaggy and Scooby-Doo: Get a Clue and it was a parody of Austin Powers movies. That series lasted two seasons.

Some of the catch-phrases:

"Scooby-Doo!! Where are you???"- often said by Shaggy in the early versions and used in the main theme in most versions of the show; Scooby's a cowardly Great Dane.

"Would ya do it for a Scooby snack?"- this line was most often said by Velma trying to coax cowardly Scooby into being brave. A Scooby snack is simply a dog treat but humorists tend to tie it in with a drug reference.

"Scooby doobie doo!!"- this was said by Scooby in a rush of excitement or at the close of each episode.

"Zoinks!!"- Shaggy

"Jinkies!"- Velma

"Jeepers!!"- Daphne

Fred never actually had a one word catch-phrase like the other three but he did use a line, or a variation of that line, on every episode...

"Let's split up and look for clues"

"Dum, Dum, Dum, Dum"- Scooby-Dum

"Puppy Power!", "Let Me at 'Em!", "Splat"- Scrappy-Doo

Last but not least...the villains would utter...

"And I would've gotten away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!!"

and another one was...

"And I would've gotten away with it if you kids and that dog hadn't shown up!!".

Monday, November 10, 2008

Big City Falcon

Taking place in Big City, crime of all kinds is tackled by super-hero's Blue Falcon and side-kick, Dyn-o-Mutt, who also goes by the name of Dog Wonder. The series is a parody of Batman and Robin. I'm sure most know that Robin was often referred to as the Boy Wonder.

The concept of the series was to have Blue Falcon pursue crime and evil-doing along side Dog Wonder. They receive their missions from an executive known as Focus One who appears on a big screen hidden behind a book case. Blue Falcon's secret identity is art dealer/collector, Radley Crowne. Falcon's lair is the base of operations for the two heroes. Upon getting their mission statement from Focus One, it's time to fly off...which Blue Falcon delivers his catch-phrase, the urgent and up-beat "To the Falcon Car!".

The adventures are basic and simple, nothing really complex...afterall this is a spoof of super-hero cartoons and the plots outlandish and filled with slap-stick cartoonish violence. Dynomutt is a mechanical to extend all parts of his body. This ability would prove valuable in almost any case but in this case it proves to be a hindrance for Dynomutt is klutzy and his powers are always mal-functioning which leads to a lot of the humor.

A highlight of the show is seeing Dynomutt blunder and get the two of them in trouble with that week's villain. A mal-function would often lead to Blue Falcon uttering another catch-phrase, "D-o-g-g-g-g Won-n-n-n-der-r-r-r-r!!!" said in a hilarious, drawn out, frustrated manner. One of the mal-functions, specifically the net, would almost always capture Blue Falcon instead of the villain. Dog Wonder's enthusiasm makes him a character viewers may feel sorry for because in spite of the mal-functions, he still has the enthusiasm to do things right. An example of this would be "Don't worry, BF...I'll stop 'em with the Dyno super-duper instant glooper glue...".

I made up that line but if it were a real scene we'd see Dynomutt grab the glue gun from his chest, where his props/weapons were stored, and we'd see Dynomutt spray the glue but it probably would go all over Blue Falcon, or, Dynomutt would squirt the glue on the floor, but it would land in Blue Falcon's walk path, and stick him to the floor. That's a typical mal-function that Blue Falcon would endure, often causing him to utter "Dog Wonder!!!" in that drawn out delivery I was writing about earlier.

The villains of the series bordered on the Batman and Dick Tracy style villains. Each villain had a schtick...a lot of them had facial or body defects that added to their personality. Fishface, for example, was a villain that was part man and part fish. The Worm was a villain that played on the cliche of the scientist working on an experiment but is caught in the crossfires and as a result their personality is transferred to the creature they were experimenting on. Low Brow was a cave-man villain. An obvious parody came along with The Queen Hornet whose name was patterned after The Green Hornet. The Queen spoke like a cross between Mae West and Jayne Mansfield. The Gimmick was a megalomaniac genius often did in by his own schemes. Super Thug was a parody of fact, in the episode Don't Bug Super Thug the show's announcer parodied the announcing style of the Superman cartoons telling us of Super Thug's incredible powers and abilities. The villains were over-the-top but perhaps the villain who was more down to Earth was The Red Vulture, which parodied Blue Falcon's name.

Blue Falcon and Dog Wonder were tied to the Scooby-Doo show. The cast of Scooby-Doo made several appearances on this series. Everybody Hyde was an episode that featured Blue Falcon and Dynomutt teaming up with Scooby and the gang to capture a villain who used a potion that transformed him into a Hyde-like creature/monster. Willie the Weasel was the unlikely villain who used a Mr Hyde disguise while committing crimes. The Wizard of Ooze is an episode that featured the super-heroes and the Scooby gane on the pursuit of a swamp rat, going by the name of Swamp Rat who teamed with a henchman with the peculiar name of Mud Mouth. The two villains were on the prowl for water pumps...they used the pumps to flood Big City with swamp water in an effort to create an evacuation...leaving the city easy to loot.

If there were still any doubters where Blue Falcon and Dog Wonder's inspiration came from, there was an episode actually called The Injustice League of America which featured many of the villains from the series teaming up to destroy the two super-heroes. For those who don't know, Batman and other super-heroes in the DC Comics universe, mostly those depicted in the Superfriends TV series, were collectively referred to as The Justice League of America, or JLA for short.

Blue Falcon and Dog Wonder were introduced in a series known as The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Adventure Hour, which ran for 16 episodes in 1976. The series was released on DVD a few years ago. There were four further adventures of Blue Falcon and Dog Wonder produced in 1977 that aired on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics program...the four episodes were broken into two parts each, parodying the cliff-hanger, and allowing the series to claim eight 11 minute episodes instead of four 22 minute episodes.

Those 1977 episodes and the 1976 episodes were later ran together in numerous syndicated airings throughout the late '70s and '80s leaving some to wonder why those four episodes from 1977 weren't a part of the DVD release a few years earlier but technically since those 1977 episodes weren't part of the 1976 show that is why they weren't included in the Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt DVD.

Dog Wonder's pet-name for Blue Falcon is "BF". In turn, BF's pet-name for Dynomutt is "Dog Wonder" or often, "Dog Blunder". The voices are Gary Owens, in the role of Blue Falcon; and Frank Welker as the voice of Dynomutt. Ron Feinberg is the emotionally-charged announcer, which is a parody of the style heard on the 1960's live-action version of Batman. Larry McCormick, a news anchor, was heard as Big City's Mayor. John Stephenson was heard as several of the villains: Red Vulture, The Blimp, Von Flick, and The Glob. Stephenson was also the voice of Big City's Chief of Police as well as numerous other incidental characters.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Superfriends

The Superfriends as many fans of 1970's cartoons will know consisted of animated adventures of DC comics super-heroes. The series had a shaky start at first and some say was ahead of it's time. The original version of the series featured a slightly different line-up than what you see in the above picture. The original version did not have The Wonder Twins and Gleek. Instead, the original version had two kids named Marvin and Wendy and their dog, known as Wonder Dog. The stories were almost always ecological or environmental depicting mad scientists wanting to hurt the environment. A moral/lesson was often at the core of each story, too.

The Superfriends headquarters was referred to as The Hall of Justice League in the first version and Hall of Justice thereafter. Ted Knight was the program's narrator.

That version consisted of 16 hour long episodes and ran just one season, 1973-1974, and would continue to re-run until ABC-TV decided to re-try the show with a different twist.

The All-New Superfriends Hour
came along in 1977 and this version is the one that caught on. Marvin, Wendy, and the Wonder Dog were gone and in their place were Zan, Jayna, and Gleek a trio of aliens from the planet, Exxor. The two teenagers it's been said were patterned after Donny and Marie Osmond. The Wonder Twins displayed super powers...something Marvin and Wendy hadn't. Zan could transform into any form of water-based shape: water, ice, steam. Jayna could transform into any animal. The powers of the Wonder Twins were executed by the two of them hitting their fists together and shouting "Wonder Twin Powers...Activate!". Gleek couldn't transform into anything but he had a shape-shifting tail that could also stretch, which often came in handy. The core line-up of Superfriends were Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. The stories in this 1977 version were far less ecologically charged but they still carried a moral lesson. William Woodson was the narrator of the revival series and he'd continue with the show throughout it's run. Half of the 1977 season was issued on DVD earlier this year with Volume Two hitting stores in January 2009. There were 15 episodes of the 1977 series produced.

This 1977 series was split up into a formula. The first adventure paired two of the Superfriends together in a 6-7 minute adventure. The second segment, also running close to 7 minutes, featured The Wonder Twins and Gleek dealing with teenage issues in adventures of their own. The third segment, known as the main story, featured a 30 minute adventure with all of the Superfriends. The fourth and final segment focused on one of the Superfriends teaming up with a guest super-hero. In between all of this were extra's. The De-Coder segment featured a word association game broken into two parts. The first part of the game gave a viewer a clue and they were to remember it because part-two of the de-coder would reveal the second part of the word association clue. A viewer was to guess what the word was in relation to the main Superfriends adventure. Another extra was the Magic segment where one of the Superfriends would demonstrate some form of magic trick and then in a follow-up reveal how the trick was did. Another was the health segment where exercise was promoted. These bumper segments ran barely a minute.

After the ratings success of the 1977 version, ABC-TV debuted Challenge of the Superfriends which also ran an hour in length, in 1978. This version of the series introduced the super-villain group known as The Legion of Doom. The first half of the show featured an adventure with the core line-up of Superfriends along with the Wonder Twins and Gleek. The second half of the show didn't feature the Wonder Twins and Gleek but instead increased the number of Superfriends from five to eleven and focused on 13 villains who operated from the Hall of Doom: Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Sinestro, Bizarro, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Black Manta, Grodd, Solomon Grundy, Cheetah, Giganta, Captain Cold, and Toyman. The new additions to the Superfriends that season were: Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Samauri, Apache Chief, and Black Vulcan. The last two super-heroes were created in 1977 for the All-New Superfriends Hour and hadn't actually appeared in DC comic books. Samauri was another creation for the Superfriends cartoon that never appeared in the comic books. There were 16 hour long episodes made for the 1978 season. The show ran 1 hour and consisted of two 30 minute episodes and technically that means 32 half-hour episodes were a part of this series. The series was released on DVD as "Challenge of the Superfriends" and "Superfriends: Volume Two", breaking up the two segments of the hour program.

In the 1978 series we saw Aquaman turn into a pre-historic beast as a result of radiation exposure. Superman and Wonder Woman shrink themselves to micro-size and travel through the Aquaman beast's veins. Gleek, while the beast is strapped down under chains, accidentally turns on the shrink ray, which shrinks the chains and allows the beast to easily break his confinement. All the while, Aquaman beast has gotten loose and goes on a destructive rampage of Metropolis. The episode is appropriately titled "Journey Through Inner Space". The Phantom Zone, a place where Kryptonian's sent their criminals, is the focus in the episode "Terror From the Phantom Zone" when three villains escape and seek revenge on Superman. Red and Blue Kryptonite are both featured in this episode. The villains expose Superman to the red kryptonite, which ages him. Later, he has to travel to the remains of Krypton to seek out blue kryptonite, which may reverse his aging. Aquaman's base of operations, Atlantis, is featured briefly in the episode "The World Beneath the Ice".

In another episode, "Battle of the Gods", we see Wonder Woman and the other Superfriends in a challenge set forth by Zeus. The episode starts out with the Superfriends in a galactic fight with space aliens. Shortly afterward, Wonder Woman is telepathically contacted by Aphrodite. This brings Wonder Woman to a planet, home of the immortal Gods. There, she saves Aphrodite's temple from collapsing but we soon learn that Hera is jealous of Wonder Woman and Aphrodite. The rest of the Superfriends arrive on the planet, setting in motion Hera's antics. She and Aphrodite begin bickering, she accuses Aphrodite of giving lavish praise to "mortals" like the Superfriends. Zeus appears and halts the argument and challenges the Superfriends to face hardships "that only the greatest could survive".

In the Challenge segment, a lot of the episodes revolved around the Legion of Doom's conquest of universal control. Each story featured several members of the Legion hatching a plan to rid the world of the Superfriends. All of their attempts failed but the Legion was never the end of each story, Luthor would almost always have an escape plan, causing the Legion to get away just in time. In "Trial of the Superfriends", the Legion put the Superfriends on trial. Well, some of the Superfriends: Batman, Robin, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman. Luthor is the judge. Sinestro acts as prosecutor while Grodd acts as the leader of the "jury". The episode centers around a destructive element known as liquid light. While several of the Superfriends are on trial and later set free without their power devices, running from Brainiac's android duplicates, several other Superfriends are on the pursuit of other members of the Legion who are planning on releasing the liquid light in a heavily populated area. In the episode "The World's Deadliest Game", Brainac creates a device that makes the Earth appear to vanish. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Black Vulcan are at the moon helping NASA. As the three head for home, they notice the Earth is gone. Hawkman contacts Superman...but the transmission cuts out. Toyman, watching the events unfold on a monitor at the Hall of Doom, mimics Superman's voice on a radio and tells the three that the Earth is light years away and they need help. This causes the three to make their way to the signal picked up on Hawkman's radio but nothing's's then that they fall into a black hole and land on Toyman's artificial planet of toy traps. "Swamp of the Living Dead" shows the Legion of Doom joining forces with a "sinister being" conjured up by a swamp witch. The evil spirit captures the Superfriends, who are placed inside clear cases in the bottom of the swamp. The evil spirit gives the Legion of the power to command the dead. When the Legion double-crosses the evil spirit, he sets a group of zombies after them...causing the Legion to set the Superfriends free, hoping the zombies will go after them instead.

"Doomsday" features Sinestro, Cheetah, and Black Manta plotting revenge against the rest of the Legion. This happened at the start of the episode when the Legion deserted the scene of the crime, leaving three of their members helpless. Superman and the others capture Sinestro, Cheetah, and Black Manta and hold them at the Hall of Justice. In the meantime, Sinestro creates three anti-matter duplicates to take their place as the real villains escape into the universe of Qward. When Superman taps Sinestro on the shoulder, he vanishes into the Qward universe. Superman finds his way back to the Hall of Justice but in the meantime Sinestro, Cheetah, and Black Manta build a separate Hall of Doom and set out to destroy Luthor and the others. In the end, the Superfriends put an end to the plot, and the three villains re-join the Legion of Doom. There is an episode entitled "Superfriends: Rest In Peace" where Luthor discovers a deadly element that can wipe out all of the Superfriends. The plan works up until a clever plot twist causes the Legion's latest scheme to fail. This episode features a brief appearance by Batman supporting character, Commissioner Gordon; as well as Superman associates Lois Lane and Perry White.

The 1979 season saw the debut of World's Greatest Superfriends and this series focused on the core line-up of five Superfriends, along with the Wonder Twins and Gleek. The series ran one hour and eight episodes were made. The bulk of the show's airings were repeats of previous seasons.

Throughout 1980-1982, the series aired an hour in length but the formula was changed. Each hour show now featured a half-hour repeat episode from the previous seasons in addition to three new 7 minute episodes. These short episodes were naturally easier to churn out and produce and so Hanna-Barbera continued producing 7 minute episodes for three seasons. A new super-hero was created for this series of episodes, El Dorado. ABC-TV canceled the series during 1983 and a syndicated series was launched as a result. Hanna-Barbera continued to produce 7 minute episodes of the series because it was still running over-sea's, specifically Australia, and the syndicated program meant that it could thrive without network interference. These episodes weren't shown in the United States in abundance. The bulk of the episodes aired in the United States for the first time 12 years later in 1995 on the USA cable network on a compilation series called The Superman-Batman Adventures. Naturally, with such a lapse in time, most viewers who caught these episodes weren't even aware they were seeing episodes new to the United States.

ABC-TV picked the Superfriends series up again in 1984. This version was radically different than any previous take on the series. There was no Aquaman in this series...although he appears in the show's opening. Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show was a deliberate attempt to tie the series with the action-figures that used the 'Super Powers' logo. The show featured Firestorm as a new addition to the line-up and several of the stories were written around his eager enthusiasm approaching his job as a super hero, sometimes landing him and the other Superfriends into dangers. The series ran a half hour in length and featured two separate adventures, which means each adventure would run 11-12 minutes a piece. In addition to Firestorm, the series is noted for introducing Darkseid and his associates into animated form. Darkseid rules the planet Apokolips and on this series his henchmen were his son, Kalibak, and Dessad. The Wonder Twins and Gleek weren't a part of this show in the way they had been. They appeared in a few episodes, notably the episodes called "Uncle Mxyzptlk", "The Wrath of Brainiac", and "The Case of the Shrinking Superfriends". Brainiac appeared in skeletal form in this series in spite of the fact in the opening of the show he appears as he did in the 1970's. There were 8 episodes produced, each consisting of two segments, mathematically making 16 episodes and these were released on DVD. In this series, Wonder Woman's boyfriend, Steve Trevor, is name-dropped on the episode "Darseid's Golden Trap", which featured a rare Superman story dealing with Gold kryptonite. Red kryptonite was the focus on "Uncle Mxyzptlk".

A running theme in the 1984 series was Darkseid's attempts of getting Wonder Woman to fall in love with him. The very first episode, "The Bride of Darkseid", introduced this sub-plot.

The series did an about-face in 1985. This version, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, was was more serious and in a way kind of hinted at the overly dramatic portrayal of the super-heroes in the next decade. Cyborg was the latest super-hero added to the series. He and Firestorm had most of the action during this final version of the series. This version also featured a couple of firsts. Critics and fans have often claimed the series featured way more Superman villains and there's a reason for this. In my way of thinking, when someone says the show's name, Superfriends, which hero comes to mind? that is my theory as to why Superman had the bulk of attention throughout the classic run of the Superfriends. Yet, in the 1985 version, two of Batman's famous villains made their only appearance on Superfriends: Joker and Penguin.

The Joker was featured with Darkseid in the episode "Wild Cards". Penguin was featured with Felix Faust in an episode called "The Case of the Stolen Super Powers" even though Batman, nor Robin, are featured in the story. Bizarro and Mr. Mxyzptlk were featured together on the strange episode "The Bizarro Super Powers Team". Batman's origin was shown for the first time in animation on the episode "The Fear" featuring a much more wicked Scarecrow than originally depicted on Challenge of the Superfriends. Also, Superman died in one of the episodes...after prolonged exposure to kryptonite...but Superman survived, of course...but the story-line nevertheless tackled a subject seldom attempted. Darkseid was still pursuing a relationship with Wonder Woman. This is featured on the episode "The Darkseid Deception" where he masquerades as Steve Trevor.

Galactic Guardians ran 8 episodes as well...two of those 8 episodes contained a second segment. So, what we have here are 6 half-hour adventures and 2 episodes featuring two 11 adventures a piece. The Superfriends series, in all of it's versions, came to and end in 1986 after ABC-TV canceled the show when the last version of the series ended it's last repeat cycle. There was no more episodes produced, either. Superheroes were fading from animation by the late 1980's with a rare exception being a 1988 animated version of Superman. Superheroes wouldn't come back onto TV in any real big way until 1992 when FOX-TV debuted Batman: The Animated Series and that program set in motion the overly dramatic, angst-ridden depiction of the super-hero's that persists to this day. Superman and Spiderman {a Marvel comic hero} would see new animation series as a result of Batman's success on FOX. Later, an entirely updated version of the Superfriends was debuted, called Justice League, featuring ultra-modern updates of the characters. I consider myself a fan of the classic-era Superfriends. I've watched the newer versions and to me they are just too serious and lack charm, if that's the proper way to put it? The cartoons sound more like mini-drama's instead of adventurous cartoons...and the voices carry a hint of movie-star diction instead of cartoon animation.

The first version of Superfriends from 1973 is not available on DVD and neither is the 1979 version or the 1980-1983 seven minute short episodes. The shows that are on DVD are The All-New Superfriends Hour, Volume One released earlier this year. Volume Two will appear in January 2009. The other versions on DVD are: 1978's Challenge of the Superfriends, which was split into two DVD releases, one 16 episode collection featuring the Legion of Doom episodes and another 16 episode collection featuring typical adventures from the first half of the 1978 series; 1984's Superfriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, and Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. 

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Voice Acting Gods

I wanted to start this blog off discussing in brief who I consider the Voice Acting Gods. Now, the voice acting Gods isn't a rock group or a Christian group of some sort. These voice acting Gods delivered their words behind the scenes on animated cartoons and in some cases, old-time radio.

As is the case of putting together any list, it's almost always a case where people get in a debate. I often dislike those sorts of debates because when you have a list of greats, I always have the opinion that there's no room for debating...they're all good. I have a fondness for count-downs...bear with me...

#10- Hal Smith: This voice actor is known more as a face-actor, famously playing the role of Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show; Hal's cartoon work includes roles for Hanna-Barbera as well as Disney; For H-B, Hal gave voice to Coil Man on the series The Impossibles. Hal was also the voice in a trio of musketeers called "Yippee, Yappee, and Yahooie". Hal was the Yappee...Doug Young was Yippee...and Daws Butler was Yahooie. Hal did double-duty on this series as he was also the voice of the often-angry King. Hal was heard on the religious cartoon series, "Davey and Goliath", for five years and became the voice of the Owl in the "Winnie the Pooh" films and series. Hal later became the voice of Winnie the Pooh for a live-action children's show called "Welcome To Pooh Corner". After the death of Pinto Colvig, Hal became the voice of Goofy for several programs. Hal later provided the voices of Gyro Gearloose and Flintheart Glomgold for the Disney series "Duck Tales". These characters were his last major contributions to animation. August 24, 1916 - January 28, 1994.

#9- Alan Oppenheimer: This actor is well-known throughout the film and TV industry. He is still active in the industry at the age of 78. His contributions to animation include the characters of Man-at-Arms, Cringer/Battlecat, Beast Man, and Skeletor for the series "He-Man" in the early to mid 1980's. Oppenheimer was often used in a lot of multiple roles without any core character. This is why you see the phrase "additional voices" appear so often after his name because he never had one single role in a cartoon series and was often voicing all sorts of one-shot characters in ensemble cartoons. His voice was heard on various cartoon series: "Speed Buggy", "The Smurfs", "Transformers", "Go-Bots", "The Wuzzles", "Mighty Mouse", and others. He was born on April 23, 1930.

#8- Frank Welker: This actor has a wide range of character roles and like others in his generation often voices multiple roles. He has given voice to a staggering amount of characters in cartoons, video games, and in movies and is still busy. Welker is himself nick-named a God by several of his peers. Although he often lands roles in various cartoon projects of modern times, Welker is sometimes a bridge into the past due to his experiences in cartoons with a lot of the legends who are no longer living. His main characters include the roles of Megatron on "Transformers". He voiced several of the villains in that cartoon series but Megatron is the stand-out. In the "Superfriends" series Welker was heard as Toyman, Mr Mxyzptlk, Darkseid, and Desaad. In the "Blue Falcon" series, Welker was heard as Dynomutt. He gave voice to Jabberjaw as well...mimicking Curley Howard of The Three Stooges. Welker's long-running character is Fred Jones, the leader of the gang on the "Scooby-Doo" series. Welker started doing the Fred character starting with the cartoon's 1969 year will mark his 40th year giving voice to Fred as the "Scooby-Doo" series continues to pop up with new episodes every so often. Welker is also the voice of Scooby-Doo, too. He became the voice in 2002. Don Messick originated the voice in 1969 and ran with it until 1991. Scott Innes was the voice of Scooby in between Messick and Welker. Frank Welker was born on March 12, 1946.

#7- Paul Winchell: Although this actor is noted for three cartoon characters and a children's show, Winchell nevertheless is ranked #7 because the three characters he voiced in cartoons and his various children's shows impacted the genre. His TV show was geared toward children and featured him and his dummy, Jerry MaHoney. Winchell was a ventriloquist and hosted several 1950's and 1960's children's shows with his dummies. His first cartoon role of note was the villain Dick Dastardly in the cartoon "Wacky Races". Dastardly, always with his side-kick/pet dog, Muttley, was the star of "Wacky Races" since the character had the most screen time plotting stunts and traps for other racers that would always backfire. A few months later, a film debuted called "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day". In this film, Winchell gave voice to the character, Tigger. This would become Winchell's signature role in spite of the enormous success of the "Wacky Races" and "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines" on Saturday morning TV and in constant reruns. Winchell revived the Dastardly character in the 1970's and 1980's for special programming. In the 1980's Winchell provided the voice for Gargamel on the world-wide hit cartoon "The Smurfs". This voice was simply Dastardly with a new body, on the hunt for Smurfs. The Muttley role had been re-cast as Azrael, the orange cat. He continued to voice Tigger as well. He did this voice on TV specials and cartoon series up until 1994, replaced by Jim Cummings. The reason for the replacement was age-related, according to many things i've read. Winchell, ironically, continued to voice Tigger through 1999 on Direct-To-Video "Pooh" movies until retiring. Jim Cummings had already did the voice of Tigger off and on with Paul Winchell in the early 1990's...Cummings was also the voice of Pooh. One of the bizarre events following the death of Paul Winchell was the death of John Fiedler, the voice of Piglet in all of those "Pooh" cartoons. Fiedler died a day after Paul Winchell on June 25th. December 21, 1922 - June 24, 2005.

#6- Paul Frees: This actor possessed an impossible range and could vocally impersonate just about anyone. His work is showcased on the Jay Ward cartoons of the early 1960's. "Rocky and Friends", "The Bullwinkle Show", "George of the Jungle", and "Dudley Dorite". Frees often used his German-inspired voice on the cartoons...the voice he gave to the Boris Badenov character. A totally opposite voice was the daffy Captain Peachfuzz, based on Ed Wynn. Still another voice from Frees was the high-brow, snooty delivery he gave Inspector Fenwick. Frees often narrated cartoons...he did some on-camera work as well. One of Frees' celebrated impersonations is Ronald Colman. Frees made several comedy albums through the years and in one song he goes from one celebrity impression to the next singing a love song. Another recording from Frees is My Old Flame, credited as a Spike Jones recording because Spike is who ran the show, no matter who the vocalist on the recording was. On the recording Frees does his Peter Lorre impression. Half-way through a Lorre rant, the character breaks into a full-scale vocal assault recalling his German-inspired Boris Badenov voice. Frees found continued work at Disney as well. He voiced the character Ludwig von Drake in many films and TV appearances. At a Disneyland attraction, Frees voice was heard as the Ghost Host. In the animated cartoon featuring The Beatles, Paul Frees was the voice of John Lennon and George Harrison. Frees also possessed the ability to mimic Orson Welles and this talent allowed him to portray Orson vocally in several projects including a Stan Freberg comedy album and as the narrator of The St Valentines Day Massacre to name just two. If all of this wasn't impressive enough, Frees lent his voice to two icon's of TV commercials: the first being the Pillsbury Doughboy and the second being Toucan Sam of the Fruit Loops cereal. Maurice LaMarche took over the role of Toucan in the mid 1980's. Frees himself had taken over the Toucan role from Mel Blanc. Also, Frees was the voice of the Sprout on the Jolly Green Giant commercials. Frees in his career worked for many cartoon studios with Rankin/Bass being the studio most of his later work was recorded for. There is a demo reel on You Tube that you all should check out and listen to. June 22, 1920 - November 2, 1986.

#5- June Foray: Was there any question? I know she's a female and so she'd be considered a Goddess instead of a God but Foray's longevity in the business allows her to rate with the God's. Foray voiced minor characters at first...she was also a cast-member/comedy player with Stan Freberg at Capitol Records in the 1950's. Foray was the woman in nearly all of the Freberg-Butler comedy recordings of the 1950's. Famously she portrayed the role of Alice in Freberg's Honeymooners parody, The Honey Earthers, where people who live on the moon take a honeyearth. Freberg was Ralph and Daws Butler was Norton. She was the voice of nameless roles on Tex Avery cartoons, usually a narrator on cartoon spoofs of fashion shows. Foray was also the voice of the Chatty Cathy doll. It was on the Jay Ward cartoons that Foray built together a list of recurring characters. She was the voice of Rocky on the "Rocky and Bullwinkle" cartoons. She was also the voice of the German spy, Natasha Fatale, who always attempted along with Boris, to destroy "moose and squirrel". In a more girlish voice she portrayed Nell Fenwick, the daughter of Inspector Fenwick. Nell was infatuated with Dudley's riding horse, named Horse, even though Dudley himself had an eye for Nell. On "George of the Jungle", Foray was Ursula. She was a fixture at Warner Brothers as well where she became the voice of Granny, taking over the role from Bea Benaderet. Foray's other prominent Warner Brothers character is Witch Hazel. In the 1980's Foray was with the Disney cartoon "Duck Tales" voicing the characters of Magica DeSpell and Ma Beagle. On "Gummi Bears", Foray was Grammy Gummi. In "The Smurfs", she was heard as Jokey Smurf and as Mother Nature. Foray's last voice acting role to date was in 2007, voicing Granny on a video game. Her last regular work was on the "Baby Looney Tunes" series, voicing Granny. June Foray was born on September 18, 1917.

#4- John Stephenson: This voice actor is famous in animation circles for his character's rather bossy, sometimes smart-alleck demeanor. Stephenson is one of the more under-rated, even in animation circles. He has appeared on camera but it's in cartoons where his legacy resides. He became an integral part of Hanna-Barbera in the 1960's, 1970's, and nearly all of the 1980's. His most famous character role is Mr Slate, the short-tempered boss of Fred Flintstone on "The Flintstones" series. Stephenson originated the voice in 1960 and remained with the role ever since. Stephenson most often uses the same gruff, sometimes irritated vocalization on many cartoon characters...that 'voice' is sprinkled throughout Hanna-Barbera in many programs that you never know when that 'voice' will pop up. In addition to what I call that 'voice', Stephenson did mimic celebrities. The two he often did vocal impressions of were Joe Flynn and Boris Karloff. He also did a Bela Lugosi impression on a character known as The Great Fondoo. Stephenson's Joe Flynn voice was the smart-alleck...or the easily frazzled boss annoyed with the slightest problem in life. A great display of Stephenson's Joe Flynn take-off can be heard on "The Hair Bear Bunch" where Stephenson plays the character of zoo keeper Mr Peevly. Also, on "Inch High Private Eye" he uses the voice for Finkerton. Another use of that Joe Flynn voice is on "Grape Ape and Mumbley" as the character, Schnooker. The late 1960's revival of "Dragnet" featured Stephenson as the voice at the end of the show who would read the verdict of whichever criminal was sent to court on that episode. He isn't the one who was heard at the start of the shows with the famous phrase: "The story you're about to see is true...". That particular voice-over was provided by George Fenneman. Stephenson's Karloff voices were primarily used on several episodes of "Scooby-Doo". In 1977 he was called on to voice Doggy Daddy and Mildew Wolf for "Scooby's Laff-a-Lympics". Each character was an impression of a celebrity. Doggy Daddy's origins go back to the early 1960's. The original voice actor was Doug Young and the character was a cartoon parody of Jimmy Durante. Mildew Wolf originally appeared on a series called "Cattanooga Cats", voiced by Paul Lynde. So Stephenson not only had to vocally mimic Jimmy Durante but also do an about face and mimic the higher pitch of Paul Lynde. Stephenson continued as Doggy Daddy into the 1980's on various cartoon specials. The one constant remained Mr Slate...he last voiced this role in a legitimate performance in 2001 and later voiced the role in a spoof appearance on the series "Johnny Bravo" in 2004. To date, that is Stephenson's last time voicing Mr Slate. He has been retired since 2006. He was born on August 9, 1923.

#3- Don Messick: Now we're up into the Top-3. Messick's career is rooted mostly on Hanna-Barbera cartoons released in the late 1950's through the 1990's. His talent, similar to that of Frank Welker, was vocal sound-effects and strange noises. However, though, Messick's commanding voice could be heard on hundreds of classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons ranging between 1957-1965. At MGM, Messick was the voice of Droopy in selected cartoons in which voice actor, Bill Thompson, was unavailable. Messick would later voice Droopy on a full-time basis in the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's. Messick's career is also tied to Daws Butler's due to this stay at Hanna-Barbera. Messick began to gain notoriety in the animation field due to his professional partnership with Daws Butler in the early days of TV animation. "Ruff and Reddy", "Huckleberry Hound", "Yogi Bear", and "Quickdraw McGraw" were all major hit TV shows featuring the voices of both men. Messick could be heard in the roles: Ruff, Professor Gizmo, Pixie Mouse, Major Minor, Boo-Boo Bear, Ranger Smith, and any number of nameless roles and villains appearing in a single episode. Also, Messick was heard as the off-camera narrator...turn on any episode of "Yogi Bear" or "Ruff and Reddy" and you can hear Messick's voice welcoming viewers and setting up the scene. A typical line: "While most bears are hibernating, one bear, namely Yogi, says hibernating is for the birds, not the bears" and then the story unfolds with Yogi talking to the camera or to Boo-Boo. In 1962 Messick was cast as Astro on "The Jetsons". He voiced the character of Arnold on "The Flintstones" as well as a long-list of one-shot roles. After 1965, the Hanna-Barbera studio started to venture into more action-oriented cartoons...a lot of them centered around outer space. Messick voiced an aray of space aliens and several lead characters, notably Vapor Man on "The Galaxy Trio" and Benton Quest on "Jonny Quest". In 1968 he voiced Muttley, a snickering dog side-kick of Dick Dastardly. After a few more years of those kinds of cartoons, Messick landed the starring role that often eluded was 1969 and Don Messick started his long run as cowardly Great Dane, Scooby-Doo in "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?". Messick continued in this role throughout the 1970's and 1980's and into the early 1990's when "A Pup Named Scooby-Doo" had ended production in 1991. In 1981 Messick began voicing Papa Smurf on "The Smurfs"...this role continued until 1990. In 1990, Messick was at Warner voice to a new character, Hamton Pig, on "Tiny Toons Adventures". This would be Messick's last major cartoon character. In 1993 he revived Droopy for "Droopy: Master Detective" in which he has a son named Dripple. He was voicing Benton Quest in 1996. Messick suffered a stroke inside a recording studio according to what I've read through the years and he officially retired days later...passing away the following year. September 7, 1926 - October 24, 1997.

#2- Daws Butler: In the runner-up slot is this voice actor. Some more in depth voice people would say Daws should be at the top and the #1 be runner-up but the basis for this ranking is longevity, first and foremost, and impact second. Butler was a skilled performer, mimic, writer, and actor. He also sang in character. His earliest success is with Stan Freberg on the puppet series "Time For Beany" which ran 1949-1954. The series was the creation of former Warner Brothers producer Bob Clampett. Butler gave voice to Beany and Captain Huffenpuff. Stan Freberg gave voice to Cecil and Dishonest John. Those were the four main characters and the two would voice the other lesser-known characters that popped up, literally. Butler and Freberg collaborated on a series of comedy records for Capitol Records beginning in 1950/1951 and lasting through 1961. A lot of these recordings were re-issued in the early to mid 1990's during the old-time radio boom. Tex Avery, a cartoon producer/animator, hired Butler for a string of wild and silly cartoons released on MGM. One such cartoon short was "Jerky Turkey", released in 1945. Butler does a Jimmy Durante impression. It plays annually around Thanksgiving on Cartoon Network and or Boomerang. Another role Butler voiced was that of the Ronald Colman take-off of a nameless Fox in the Droopy cartoon short "Out Foxed" from 1949 where Droopy and a collection of other dogs are on a fox hunt and the prize is a steak. One of the more heart-warming MGM cartoon shorts Butler was in featured a cab family and the father's bitterness of his son wanting to be a hot-rod/sports car instead of a cab. The short is called "One Cab's Family". Butler voices the Father. Now that i'm discussing these short subject cartoons that Butler's voice appeared in I bet it's all coming back now saying to yourselves "oh I remember THAT one!". Butler gave voice to Chilly Willy and Smedley the Dog, among other voices, on the "Chilly Willy" short subject cartoons. In the late 1950's he was approached by Hanna-Barbera and he became that studio's #1 voice man. He was often un-credited for his voice work...most voice actors were. When the "Loopy De Loop" series was being made, it being a theatrical cartoon and a more bigger budget, Daws received voice credit. Butler and Don Messick teamed up in the studio and recorded hundreds of cartoons together for the next 6 years or so. Butler, an expert impressionist, prided himself on his ability to do legitimate ethnic characters where they didn't sound "cartoonish". At Hanna-Barbera, Butler was the voice of these characters, not in any particular order: Reddy, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Mr Jinx, Dixie Mouse, Snagglepuss, Quickdraw McGraw, Baba Louie, Super Snooper and Blabber Mouse, Wally Gator, Cogswell Cog, Elroy Jetson, Lippy the Lion, Fibber Fox, Hair Bear, and Yahooie. Butler was also the voice of Lamsy Divey, the character often pursued by Mildew Wolf on "Cattanooga Cats". Butler continued doing voice work in the 1970's and 1980's, mostly for Jay Ward's company on a series of TV commercials. Butler was the voice of Cap'n Crunch. However, a lot of his time was spent on his voice acting work-shop, which seen a lot of up and coming voice actors/actresses pass through. In 1987 a documentary was put together of Butler's life/career. The special was narrated by William Conrad, former narrator of the Bullwinkle cartoons but known to TV audiences in the 1970's as "Cannon" and as McCabe, also known as the "Fatman", on the 1980's series "Jake and the Fatman". The documentary aired on PBS stations and was called "Daws Butler: Voice Magician". Among those appearing on the special were Stan Freberg, Don Messick, June Foray, Walter Lantz, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, and Daws' wife, Myrtis Butler, along with a few other associates who knew Daws. A year later Daws passed away...a look back on Daws career is found on a DVD collection of "Yogi Bear" where it offers further commentary by the voice actor's of today who cite Daws as an influence: Tom Kinny, Charlie Adler, Corey Burton, and Nancy Cartwright. November 16, 1916 - May 18, 1988.

As you can see, the higher we go up the Top-10 the longer my "brief" summaries are. Before we reach #1, here's an extra...

Stan Freberg: All you have to do is say "Freberg" and depending on who you ask, they know who you speak of. Freberg is a complicated man to figure out and so I try not to. His satire has touched every facet of entertainment...his legacy is up for grabs. In his career he has cast a lasting legacy on various mediums: radio, big screen, TV, and records. In radio, Freberg is famously referred to as the man who replaced Jack Benny on CBS radio. Jack's radio show was in reruns on radio from 1955 until 1957, when Freberg's radio series started airing. So, technically, Freberg's program replaced Jack's. Freberg's career goes further begins in the mid 1940's at Warner Brothers...teamed up with Mel Blanc. Freberg portrayed a wide range of roles on various Warner Brothers releases in the 1940's through the 1960's. His work was un-credited, though. Freberg and Daws Butler teamed up for "Time For Beany" and as I expressed in the previous entry for Daws Butler, the two recorded comedy records for Capitol. Solo, Freberg became something of a marketing genius by accident. He often stated his hatred for commercials and for other elements of pop-culture and someone got the idea to have Freberg do a commercial the way he felt they should be delivered. One thing led to another and he found himself as a member of the advertising crowd...but something was different about a Freberg commercial. In a lot of them, the idea of selling a product was lampooned and made light of...I believe Freberg, along with Daws Butler, both shared the view that people tend to remember things that are funny or odd, instead of serious advertising which is referred to as "hard sell" in the commercial world. So, with one success after another and clients adding up, Freberg found himself on top of the commercial heap with his funny commercials, which at the time was something new that TV audiences didn't expect. His most popular client was Chun King Chow Mein. Freberg was often heard as the off-camera announcer on these commercials. Freberg won more than a dozen Clio Awards for his commercials. In cartoons, Freberg was known to play Junyer Bear and other slow-witted characters based on the Lenny character from "Of Mice and Men". One of his oddest roles was Pete Puma, a screeching mountain lion character. Freberg continued his commercials on into the 1980's and then returned to radio in the 1990's delivering a syndicated commentary known as "Stan Freberg Here...". It was also during this decade that his music career was re-discovered when CD's re-issues of his 1960's comedy recordings started to re-surface. He also released the long awaited "Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Part Two"...the first part having hit the stores in 1962. For over a decade Freberg's voice was heard on "When Radio Was", an anthology series heard on AM radio stations late at night/early in the morning spotlighting various old-time radio shows each broadcast. Freberg hosted the show until 2006, after having started broadcasting it in 1995. A career retrospective box set was issued, "Tip of the Freeberg", which consisted of just about every major Freberg recording and a new recording called The Conspiriski Theory which pointed out the ironic situation of having three people with similar sounding last names in the news at one time. In later years he provided insight into many classic Warner Brothers cartoons on the DVD collections that have been released. He even narrated one, "Irreverent Imagination", a look at the people behind the scenes at Warner Brothers during the Golden Age. Freberg was born August 7, 1926.

#1- Mel Blanc: Well, it has came down to this. The #1 Voice Acting God goes to Mel Blanc for making 'voice acting' an art form. His longevity in the business is something a lot of actors and actresses only dream of. June Foray is by far and away the only other voice artist close to Blanc's achievements. Blanc is also the most known voice actor because he received screen credit on the Warner Brothers theatrical cartoons beginning in the early 1940's through the mid 1960's. In addition to this, Blanc also appeared in a lot more mainstream TV news and talk shows. He, more than any other voice artist, made frequent appearances on the late-night talk shows but even more importantly as a recurring cast-member on "The Jack Benny Program", first on radio starting in 1939, and then on TV off and on from 1950 through 1965. His high-profile image afforded him super-star treatment a lot of the time...but he genuinely was a of the biggest comic foils for Jack Benny for decades. On Jack's radio and TV programs, Blanc was heard and later seen as Professor LeBlanc. On the radio and TV series, Blanc was heard as the train-station announcer. On radio, Blanc was heard as Jack's car, the Maxwell. Also, Blanc was the voice of Carmichael the Polar Bear and Polly the Parrot. In one of the most celebrated sketches, Blanc is playing a Mexican with a tendacy to say one word at a time. Jack encounters this character at numerous times and it always leads into what is known as the "Si Cy" routine where Jack becomes an interviewer of sorts asking the Mexican questions, to which he answers with a "Si"...this goes on for about a minute. Jack asks him what his name is, Blanc says "Cy", to which Jack repeats "Cy?" and Blanc replies "Si". It goes on and on like this until the typical pay-off at the end. The timing made it funny no matter how many times one watches it. Meanwhile, at Warner Brothers, a controversial claus in his new contract offered him "exclusive voice credit" which meant that only his name appeared on screen at the start of each cartoon...this claus was necessary or Warner Brothers was going to lose him to a rival studio and in an effort to make him stay put, they began to show "voice characterization: Mel Blanc" on all of their cartoon releases for the next 15-16 years or more. In the later made-for-TV cartoons of the mid 1960's for Warner Brothers often produced in tandem with DePatie-Freleng Productions, the other voice artist's names began to appear along with Mel's: Stan Freberg, June Foray, and Ralph James. The characters Mel Blanc gave life to include 90% of the entire Warner Brothers library: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester and Tweety, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Pepe Le Pew, Tazmanian Devil, Henery Hawk, Sylvester Junior, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E Coyote {during a few cartoons where the character spoke}, Elmer Fudd {late '60s/early '70s}. In addition to those main characters, Blanc also voiced a lot of one-shot characters within the cartoons. Blanc was heard as Private Snafu in a series of war cartoons and not many know it but he was the original voice of Woody Woodpecker and Toucan Sam. In the 1960's Blanc ventured over to Hanna-Barbera and promptly became Barney Rubble on "The Flintstones". Blanc was also heard as the prehistoric household appliances such as the garbage disposal and the vaccum cleaner as examples. It was during this series that Blanc nearly died in a car wreck. He survived the crash...reportedly being awaken from a coma by a nurse asking him "how are you feeling, Bugs?". He remained bed ridden for almost two years and recorded a handful of episodes of "The Flintstones" while in the hospital bed at his house. His co-stars would gather around his bed while a microphone dangled over-head. After making a recovery, he re-enterted a real recording studio again. Meanwhile, on "The Jetsons", Blanc was heard as Mr Spacely. A minor character emerged in the mid '60s named Deputy Droop-a-Long, paired with Don Messick's role as Richochet Rabbit. In another buddy-buddy cartoon, Blanc was heard as Sneezley Seal opposite Howard Morris' role of Breezley Bruin. In yet another cartoon, Blanc was heard as Hardy Har Har, a depressed paranoid character paired with Lippy the Lion, a character voiced by Daws Butler. One of the few new characters came along in the mid '70s, Quack-Up, a goofy talking duck who spoke a lot like Daffy Duck at his most hyper. The character was part of "Yogi's Space Race". Another new character was Captain the 1980's Blanc's major role was that of Heathcliff, a tough-acting orange cat. Like most of his peers, Blanc continued to give voice to his signature characters when called upon rather than starring as new characters. In 1988 he was heard on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?". There is a famous piano plying scene between Donald and Daffy Duck...representing the first time that the two iconic characters shared a scene together. Mel released his life story in 1988 titled "That's Not All, Folks!" which told his story from child-hood on through his decades on radio and TV as a voice artist and actor. Blanc's last performance is heard on "Jetsons: The Movie", which was released in 1990. He had passed away in 1989. The dialogue, of course, had been recorded earlier. Mel and George O'Hanlon {voice of George Jetson} had both passed away prior to the film's release in 1990 and the movie was dedicated to both of them. Daws Butler, who had voiced Elroy Jetson, had passed away in 1988 prior to production starting on "Jetsons: The Movie". May 30, 1908 - July 10, 1989.