Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hubie and Bertie...twice the mice is nice

One of the lesser known character teams in the Looney Tunes family are a couple of mice named Hubie and Bertie. Each mouse changed color and voice in different episodes but what most recall is that Hubie is always depicted as the smart mouse and Bertie is the dumb mouse. The mice are perhaps more popular visually than they are by name because in a few of Chuck Jones' cartoons there were mice characters and their design and look were based on Hubie and Bertie. Now, throughout the final three cartoons of the series, they tormented a neurotic cat named Claude but in their first cartoon they tormented a similar cat in speech pattern and personality but visually different from Claude. The character's all had distinct voices. Mel Blanc and Stan Freberg provided the voices for all of the episodes...but some sources say that an actor named Dick Nelson voiced the role of Bertie in one cartoon short, "Roughly Squeaking", from 1946, and that Freberg voiced Hubie...the mouse often voiced by Mel Blanc. Hubie and Bertie can be seen on the various DVD collections of the Looney Tunes. Their likeness has appeared on other cartoons as well...including cameo appearances on 1990's editions of Warner Brothers cartoons. As I mentioned earlier, the names of Hubie and Bertie may not ring a bell but once you actually see the mice you'll no doubt go "oh, now I remember those mice...". The duo headlined six cartoons:

1. The Aristo-Cat; 1943
2. Roughly Squeaking; 1946
3. House Hunting Mice; 1947
4. Mouse Wreckers; 1949
5. The Hypo-Chondri-Cat; 1950
6. Cheese Chasers; 1951

Mel Blanc's autobiography came along 21 years ago in 1988. It was issued a year before his death and I'd known of the book for years but never had the chance to read it until I came across a copy for sale on eBay about 5 years ago. I've since read the book and continue to read and skim the pages to continually remind myself of things I've read. There are several pictures that appear throughout and there's plenty of backstage gossip and other anecdotes that Mel recalls. There's also a chapter devoted to his career on Jack Benny's radio show called "Me 'n Jack". There's some candid moments in the book where Mel gives his opinions of cartoons now {1988} verses then and what he thinks about those who are dishonest in the radio and cartoon business and want to steal material. And so, people who do come across this book on-line somewhere and purchase it, you'll be in for a nice trip back in time as well as an open and honest look at the present through the eyes and mind of Mel Blanc.

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