Thursday, July 21, 2011

Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Volume Five...

I'm typically several years late when it comes to purchasing the Golden Collection series and this one's no exception. I purchased this a few days ago and it arrived yesterday. Thanks to the availability of Looney Tunes: Spotlight Collection, Vol. 5 I was able, several years ago, to see 30 of the cartoons that are featured in this edition of the Golden Collection. As usual the Golden Collection is more for the cartoon enthusiasts...animation historians...and die-hard fans of the Looney Tunes. The main reason for the Spotlight Collections were to aim at the general audience and aim at those who wouldn't pay more than $20.00 for a DVD collection (although the Golden Collections are well worth the higher price). A lot of the reviews of this DVD I've not read (there's too many) but those that I've skimmed through touch base on just about everything and so I'm not going to do any break downs of too many individual cartoons.

Given that the Golden Collection, this one being no exception, are filled with extra features and mini-documentaries on animators, directors, and the like I watched most of the extra features and bonus material first and that's what this review will mostly be about.

The documentary I watched right away was "Drawn To Life: The Art of Robert McKimson" which is found on disc 2. I watched this first because I wanted to, first of all, see what the animators, historians and fans of the cartoons had to say. I also watched it first because McKimson is like the unheralded giant of classic Warner Brothers cartoons...and many cartoons by McKimson played a lot on ABC-TV's Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show of the '80s and '90s and I was raised on his cartoons every bit as much as I was raised on the cartoons by Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, and Tex Avery.

The documentary is a celebration of McKimson's career. He's noted as being one if not the only person employed at Warner Brothers cartoons from it's beginning in the early '30s to it's eventual closing in the late '60s. McKimson and his brothers, Charles and Tom, were natural artists and obviously this enabled them to become animators...and later, as we know, Robert became a director at the studio. Within the documentary, strangely enough, there isn't any archival commentary from McKimson's peers at the studio and there's no verbal recordings of McKimson. There are pictures of him shown (of course!) and there's invaluable commentary from his son, Robert McKimson, Jr., and several others but there's no actual footage of the senior McKimson on camera discussing his career or the characters he known for (Foghorn Leghorn, Barnyard Dog, Prissy, Tasmanian Devil, Hippety Hopper, and Sylvester Junior).

While the documentary on McKimson is a celebration of his work and his talents it wouldn't have been realistic without discussing the sad but true fact that he's largely forgotten and unheralded when compared to Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, and Tex Avery. Several historians and cartoon enthusiasts offer their opinion on why that's the case...a lot of it has to do with the fact that McKimson passed away in 1977 before all the nostalgia and enthusiasm for cartoons really started to take off but also, according to some of the commentators, it also had to do with his low-key demeanor. It's a study in extreme ironies: McKimson was a skilled artist, animator, and director who did quite a lot of memorable cartoons but because of his low-key nature and the acclaim put on Friz, Chuck Jones, and the others through the decades it's created a scenario where a director's work is highly memorable albeit the name of the director isn't as well known by comparison. For example...say a couple of people are discussing various Bugs Bunny cartoons. One guy says "oh that was hilarious! let's see now...who directed it? it was either Chuck or Friz....hmmm, oh? it was Robert McKimson? it was a hilarious cartoon!". Other examples can also be used to describe the irony of the "oh, it was Robert McKimson? Hilarious!" realization. After awhile our mythical conversationalists recognize that McKimson directed his fair share of classic cartoons even though his name isn't as lauded as Chuck and Friz.

Another extra is "Once Upon a Looney Tune"...which airs prior to the McKimson documentary on disc 2. In this feature we see the exploration of the zany, irreverent spin on fairy tales which is what's featured on Disc 2 of the collection. There are various spoofs of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Bears in addition to other fables and fairy tales. It's interesting to note that in the "Once Upon a Looney Tune" feature they air a clip of Coal Black, a parody of Snow White. Those who are die-hard fans of the Looney Tunes know all about Coal Black but it caught me off-guard when I saw the clip pop up on the screen.

Bob Clampett gets his own's Disc 3. Along side Tex Avery and Robert McKimson, Clampett's cartoons are laugh out loud funny in my opinion. It's often been said that Friz Freleng's cartoons had superior timing and razor sharp music coordination which brought out the humor in almost every cartoon. It's been said that Chuck Jones had superior timing, too, on top of using eye blinks, facial expressions, and word play to bring out the humor in his cartoons...but pretty much everyone who's given commentary about a Looney Tunes cartoon seems to point out Bob Clampett's work as being the looniest of all. Ironically, Clampett received a mini-documentary of his life and career back in the Golden Collection, Volume Two but it took until Volume Five for him to get a disc devoted to his directorial contributions at the studio.

There have been other Clampett cartoons sprinkled throughout Volumes 1 through 4 so it isn't like his work was completely ignored. However, compared to the amount of cartoons directed by Friz and Chuck featured on Volumes 1 through 4, Clampett's contributions pale by comparison. Some say it's because Friz and Chuck were at the studio much longer and made more cartoons therefore more of their contributions are showcased...which makes sense...but then there are those who say that limiting the Clampett cartoons was did intentionally because the irreverence, satire, and all out zaniness clashed with the works of Freleng and Jones.

There are two bonus features on Disc is all about the "Wacky Warner One Shots". This feature examines quite a lot of the cartoons from Warner Brothers which didn't star any of the popular characters (like Bugs, Porky, Daffy, Sylvester, etc. etc.). The second bonus feature, "Real American Zero: The Adventures of Private SNAFU", looks at Private Snafu...the inept soldier who doesn't do anything right. The training films were designed to teach newly enlisted soldiers how NOT to behave. By watching Snafu do the wrong things and get into a lot of trouble it was teaching soldiers to learn from Snafu's mistakes. The Snafu cartoons were never shown to the general public for obvious reasons. It's fun, though, to see the regular gallery of historians and animators who've contributed to the Golden Collection series speak more R-rated, too. The mini-documentary isn't an all out barrage of cuss words but given that it's all about the Private Snafu cartoons the language is a little bit looser. There are two bonus cartoons of SNAFU adventures and there are three cartoons starring SNAFU's Navy counterpart, Mr. Hook. SNAFU cartoons were made for the U.S. Army while the HOOK cartoons were made for the U.S. Navy.

Disc 1 features cartoons starring either Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck. Of course there are several cartoons that feature Bugs and Daffy together outwitting a shared enemy. In "Ali Baba Bunny" the shared enemy is Hasan, the simple minded treasure guard who can't remember the magic phrase 'open Sesame'. The main extra feature on Disc 1 is a Chuck Jones documentary from 2000 called "Extremes and In-Betweens: A Life in Animation". This is the second documentary on Chuck...the first, "Chuck Amuck", was featured on Volume One.

Part 2 of the "Extremes and In-Betweens" documentary is on Disc 2...along with another Chuck Jones spotlight called "A Chuck Jones Tutorial: Tricks of the Cartoon Trade". This was originally a bonus feature on the DVD release of "Extremes and In-Betweens".

This Volume Five nearly completes my collection of the series...I now need to get the final volume, Six, to make it complete.

Disc 4 showcases early cartoons. A bonus extra, "Unsung Maestro's: A Directors Tribute" takes a look at various directors at Warner Brothers who contributed quite a few cartoons for the studio but were never given a lot of spotlight. A lot of the time it was because some of the directors were there prior to the arrival of future super star characters like Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, and Bugs Bunny. The directors of the Looney Tunes in the earliest of years get some spotlight in this feature. One of the more notable cartoons on Disc 4 is "Scrap Happy Daffy" from 1943. It was directed by Frank Tashlin. The first cartoon directed by Tex Avery, "Gold Diggers of '49", is featured on Disc 4. It stars Beans the Cat but many historians say Porky Pig is the real star. The cartoon is also notable for injecting a lot of what would become trademarks of the Warner Brothers cartoons: visual humor, pop-culture references, and general craziness. The cartoon premiered in 1935...several years before Mel Blanc would become the voice of Porky Pig and what we have is original voice, Joe Dougherty, providing the vocals. The cartoon was animated by Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones several years before the two of them would become cartoon directors. Research shows that "Gold Diggers of '49" is the second cartoon to feature Porky Pig.

All in all this is another perfect Golden Collection...some have ripped this collection apart but I have no idea why there's anger and bitterness at all. There was bitterness felt by some about Volume 4 due to several of the disc's concentrating on lesser known characters and highlighting cartoons that lacked a lot of the trademark humor of later cartoons from the studio. One of the disc's on Volume 4 was devoted to Speedy Gonzales which infuriated some but delighted others.

This Volume 5, in my opinion, doesn't feature any cartoon that deviates too much from what Looney Tunes enthusiasts crave. You can't go wrong with a disc devoted to Bob Clampett, neither! On top of this there's the wonderful look at Robert McKimson's work that I wrote of at the top of this review...and then there's the Chuck Jones documentary...and there's three Looney Tunes specials added as extra features on Disc 4: "Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals", "Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales", and "Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over".

In the latter, from 1980, several new cartoons are added to the lengthy list of theatrical Warner Brothers releases: "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bunny", "Soup or Sonic", and "Spaced Out Bunny". The "Soup or Sonic" short is a Coyote and Road Runner adventure.

In "Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales", from 1979, you get three newly animated adventures: "Freeze Frame" is a Coyote and Road Runner adventure while "Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol" casts Yosemite Sam as Scrooge, Tweety as Tiny Tim, Porky as Bob Cratchit and Bugs portrays a bystander bent on showing Scrooge how to treat people with respect. The third segment of the 1979 special was titled, "The Fright Before Christmas", and it featured Bugs and the Tasmanian Devil.

The "Bugs and Daffy's Carnival of the Animals" is a 1976 prime-time special featuring all new animated segments of Bugs and Daffy competing against the other which further fuels the Bugs vs. Daffy comical feud first explored in the theatrical cartoons. The 1976 special has a bit too much live action/symphony performance for me but the animated sequences are great.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Remembering Mel Blanc...

July 10, 1989 is the day that the world lost Mel Blanc. I'm one of the millions of people who grew up hearing his voice on many cartoons. I never met him in person and have no connection to him or his family but like millions of others we've been impacted by his voice and have laughed at his visual performances. The death of the animation world's most celebrated voice actor not only made national but international news. One of the programs that I remember seeing at some point in the mid '80s when I was around 7 or 8 years old was a Lifetime show called Mother's Day hosted by Joan Lunden. The reason I remember this particular show is because Mel Blanc, of all people, made a guest appearance. In the show he was decked out in a sweatshirt with a picture of Bugs Bunny on the front.

In addition to voicing cartoon characters he also had an equal amount of time playing bit parts and recurring characters on many radio comedies of the '30s and '40s and then when television came along as the country's main choice of entertainment he often shown up in guest starring roles on TV comedies and talk-shows. The radio program with which Mel Blanc is so closely associated is the Jack Benny Program. Mel not only had recurring characters on the radio show but he also brought the characters to television in the '50s and '60s on Jack's television program (1950-1965). One of the characters, Sy, became part of a legendary comedy routine that highlighted the comedic timing of both Mel Blanc and Jack Benny. My grandfather introduced me to Jack Benny's television happened around the mid '80s time period...the reruns were airing on the local PBS stations on Sunday morning. Ever since the mid '80s I've been aware of Jack Benny and Mel Blanc and have long been a fan of Warner Brothers cartoons of which Mel was the primary vocal star.

As others have said and I also agree, Mel Blanc was an actor first and that used his expressive voice and entire body in most every performance...but it's the acting that brought everything together.

The vocalizations are what he's known for but it's his acting abilities that enabled those vocalizations to become believable. When you watch a cartoon and hear any number of his characterizations...the funny thing is...the character sounds real. It's one of those things that'll forever puzzle a lot of people. When you hear him as one of the radio characters he played...he sounds exactly like you'd expect his character to sound. Professor LeBlanc, the long-suffering violin teacher of Jack Benny, sounds pretty much the way you'd expect a long-suffering teacher to sound: easily irritable, agitated, sarcastic, and prone to fits of crying and misery. In Professor LeBlanc, Mel could go from misery and angst (during a violin lesson) to absolute joy and happiness (once the violin lesson was over!). Mel provided the voices of not only Professor LeBlanc but he was also heard as Sy the Mexican, Polly the Parrot, Carmichael the Polar Bear, Jack's Maxwell car, and the Train Depot announcer. These were just a few of the well-known characterizations...he provided voices for many nameless characters throughout his involvement in Jack's program from would-be burglars, to repairmen, plumbers, store clerks, and other occupational characters.

Speaking of store of Blanc's most hysterical performances every Christmas season for many years was on Jack's program. In many holiday episodes Mel played the part of a nice, courteous store clerk who was driven insane throughout the course of the episode by Jack's annoying habit of changing his mind over what to buy someone for Christmas. Typically a routine would involve Mel having to wrap a gift...then unwrap the gift...wrap the new gift...put it back in the delivery room...then, upon another change of mind from Jack, Mel would have to retrieve the wrapped gift...unwrap it...wrap up the new gift...send it to the delivery room. This gift exchange routine would go on, at various moments, throughout each holiday episode. About mid-way through Mel would lose his temper just a little. By the episode's final exchange Mel would completely lose his mind and turn into a sobbing mess.

Mel turns into a sobbing mess in the clip below...

Mel asks for a Tip in this hilarious clip from one of Jack Benny's television programs. In the clip you'll see Jack, Mel, and Don Wilson (Jack's long-time announcer). I couldn't embed the above video because of the embedding option for it is disabled.

In the video clip below you'll see Jack and Don Wilson discussing the introduction of the show while Mel Blanc comes in about 2 and a half minutes later as a Taxi cab driver. Jokes follow about Mel's character being the owner of a cab service...Blanc then wonders what Jack's profession happens to be. Self-deprecating jokes from Jack as well as jokes from others teasing Jack's "celebrity status" were always prominent on Jack's program. This inquiry from Mel's character prompts Jack to deliver a line that comes off as an ad-lib (based on how Don Wilson and Mel both reacted to it!). You can find quite a few other clips featuring Mel and Jack on You Tube.

Lastly...and I'm not meaning to put a damper on things but a lot of the modern-day depictions of the Looney Tunes characters obviously lack Blanc's vocal touch.

It's one thing to keep the characters in the public eye (which I'm glad that they're doing) but at the same time the characters need to have voice actors who come near-perfect to Blanc's voice. At the present time Bob Bergen and Joe Alaskey are just two that spring to mind that sound similar to how Mel voiced the characters...while Frank Welker does a swell Barney Rubble.

Some of the artists who perform the role of Bugs Bunny put too much emphasis on trying to sound Brooklyn-Bronx and they end up over-doing it or they come off sounding nothing like Bugs Bunny and more like a stereotypical New Yorker.

As you can tell from my comments, I'm guilty of the following as are thousands of other people: Although it's probably unfair to have this kind of opinion but a lot of people judge new Looney Tunes cartoons NOT on the actual storyline but on how close the vocals are to Mel Blanc. Nothing makes a new Looney Tunes cartoon grow on me quicker than if the vocalizations are in the tradition of Mel Blanc. Animators and the musicians can re-create the look and sound of the classic cartoons but, for me, I tend to pay attention to the vocalizations, too. If the vocalizations aren't satisfactory it tends to put a dark cloud over the whole thing.

Mystery resolved: Hopefully this puts an end to the long-held belief that Mel was allergic to carrots. The truth is Mel didn't particularly like carrots unless they were boiled and had a lot of butter or syrup on them. The often told story is Mel had to quickly spit out the carrot that he'd bite into or become sick to his stomach due to some allergic reaction. The reason he'd spit out the carrot is simply to clear his mouth...the last thing you want is to be reading a script and a piece of carrot come up from behind a tooth or wherever and cause a reading to become wasted. People still like to say Mel was allergic to carrots. It's a funny and ironic scenario if it were true but in reality it's just an urban legend and completely, 100 percent false. Mel Blanc was NOT allergic to carrots!

Mel Blanc's son, Noel, often appears on radio programs to discuss animation, old-time radio, and his dad's legacy. He contributed to the various DVD collections that were issued in the middle of last decade (2000-2009) titled The Golden Collection. Each DVD release would feature 4 disc's of Looney Tunes cartoons. Loaded with extra features saw the inclusion of an on-going series titled Behind The Tunes. These installments ran an estimated 5 minutes and they featured clips of a specific cartoon or a profile of a specific character and there would be commentary on-screen by those who participated in the making of the cartoon...or there would be commentary by a relative. Noel Blanc appeared in quite a few of these brief documentaries. In one installment he speaks about Mel's performance and Oscar win for the cartoon "Birds Anonymous" which featured Sylvester trying to give up birds. Technically the producer of a short-subject received the actual award but those who worked on the cartoon rightfully claimed victory, too. Former producer of the Warner Brothers cartoons, Eddie Selzer, willed an Oscar to Mel according to Noel's recollections.

Mel is spoken of with reverence within the various documentary programs in the DVD collections and eventually the collection featured an in-depth look at Mel Blanc's life featuring clips of several of the directors, some of Mel's co-stars, and Noel too. The director's on-screen comments were all taped years before the DVD collections became a reality. Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng are the two who appear on camera with recurring frequency. Robert McKimson is highlighted in a 15 minute documentary; Frank Tashlin gets a documentary; and Bob Clampett has his own documentary, too. Tex Avery is frequently mentioned as is Art Davis.

Speaking of the Oscar...the following cartoons, all featuring Mel as the main voice artist, won an Oscar. I'm listing the actual director of the short-subject because I feel the director had much more creative influence over the cartoon than the producer:

1. Tweetie Pie: 1947 (Friz Freleng)
2. For Scent-imental Reasons: 1949 (Chuck Jones)
3. Speedy Gonzales: 1955 (Friz Freleng)
4. Birds Anonymous: 1957 (Friz Freleng)
5. Knighty-Knight Bugs: 1958 (Friz Freleng)

Mel Blanc's contributions to animation can still be heard. Somewhere in the world the classic Looney Tunes are still airing...if not the Looney Tunes then you're bound to hear his voice on The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Each series airs on the Boomerang channel in America. Mel voiced Barney Rubble and various incidental characters on The Flintstones and Mr. Spacely and other incidental characters on The Jetsons. Boomerang also airs "Wacky Races" and "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop". In the latter, Mel is heard as the Bully Brothers, Yak-Yak, and Chug-a-Boom (recreating the Maxwell vocalizations).

Mel Blanc: May 30, 1908 - July 10, 1989.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


It's a cute series in places, a laugh out loud series in places, and above all it's fun. I'm speaking of the animated series, Heathcliff. The cartoon series debuted in 1980 but research shows that the character's been around since a comic strip. The original series of Heathcliff episodes aired for two seasons, 1980-1981 and 1981-1982. The first episodes aired as Heathcliff and Dingbat. The second season episodes featured Heathcliff sharing top-billing with Marmaduke (another comic strip character) in Heathcliff and Marmaduke. Scatman Crothers performed the theme song. In the first season, much like in the second season, Heathcliff stars in his own segments. The Dingbat segment from season 1 features a trio of bizarre characters: Dingbat, a dog with an accent similar to Bela Lugosi. Spare Rib, a skeleton, and the Jimmy Durante sounding Nobody the jack-o-lantern, rounded out the trio. The official title of the second segment was Dingbat and the Creeps. Altogether there were 25 episodes produced during 1980-1982.

I'm not listing each and every role in the series but here's a brief overview of who voiced who in the 1980-1982 series...

Mel Blanc provided the voice of Heathcliff and Spike in the first 25 episodes. June Foray provided most of the female voices but other female artists like Janet Waldo and Marilyn Shreffler provided voices, too. Frank Welker provided the voice of Dingbat while Don Messick was the voice of Spare Rib and Nobody. Messick, as mentioned, gave the Nobody character a Jimmy Durante kind of voice while his vocalization for Spare Rib was similar to other high-pitched roles that Messick provided in the past: Pixie Mouse, Ruff the Cat, Scrappy-Doo, etc. etc. Paul Winchell provided the voice of Marmaduke and Phil Winslow. Henry Corden was the voice of Clem and Digby.

The 1980-1982 version of the show, airing on ABC-TV, was not broadcast heavily in reruns. I never saw any episodes from the series until You Tube came along! A lot of the reason why the original 25 episodes weren't heavily reran probably had to do with the fact that in 1984 a syndicated version of the series debuted. This 1984 version didn't feature Marmaduke and it replaced the Dingbat and the Creeps segment with a new segment called Catillac Cats. In fact, the syndicated series was referred to as Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats but it was never officially given that name.

This syndicated series contained much of the same style of Heathcliff stories as in the past: Heathcliff either playing pranks on neighborhood businesses, or, annoying the easily annoyed Grandpa Nutmeg; or getting in cat fights with other cats AND dogs who either harassed him or attempted to steal his girlfriend, Sonja, away. The Catillac Cats segment centered around a comical gang of alley cats who hung out in a junkyard. The leader of the pack was Riff-Raff who was more of a con-artist forever dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes. Next in "command" was Hector...a brown cat who was often intimidated by the smaller Riff-Raff but wasn't afraid to verbally assault the roller-skate rhymer, happy-go-lucky white cat Wordsworth or the heavyset purple cat, Mungo. Cleo, a female cat, was depicted as Riff-Raff's girlfriend. Leroy, an easily irritated but also easily confused dog, was the Guard dog of the junkyard.

Hector, Wordsworth, and Cleo were designed with distinct 1980's fashions and although it enabled the series to become dated it nevertheless became one of the memorable aspects of the syndicated version of Heathcliff. Hector wore a headband with an '80s hairstyle...Wordsworth, in addition to always being on roller skates, wore headphones while presumably listening to music on a walk-man (which perhaps explained why he always spoke in rhyme). The actual device was rarely visible but the headphones were always seen. Cleo wore lavender leggings...what was probably an acknowledgement to the exercise craze that seemed to take off in the '80s.

The 1984 syndicated series became a huge's popularity kept the series in first-run production for four years through 1988. There were 86 episodes produced this to the 25 from it's original run (1980-1982). Upon the conclusion of it's last first-run episode and subsequent reruns the series became a hit all over again on Nickelodeon. The channel aired reruns of the syndicated series for four years, 1989-1993. Afterward, research shows that the reruns aired on The Family Channel for 6 more years, 1993-1999. What this means is the episodes that originally aired in syndication (1984-1988) remained on the air in reruns non-stop for 11 more years. Currently the episodes are airing on the This TV brand of networks and you can watch various episodes on DVD and on You Tube. The early episodes from 1980-1982 can sometimes be found on You Tube.

Mel Blanc provided the voice of Heathcliff in the ABC-TV version and the syndicated version. This character is often cited as being the final original character that Blanc provided a voice to. Much of the '70s and '80s saw Mel Blanc reprising his iconic Looney Tunes roles for television productions or commercials...and he also returned to his role as Barney Rubble in the many Flintstones animated productions and cereal commercials. The Heathcliff series pretty much dominated Blanc's schedule during the decade (1980-1982, 1984-1988). I do not know how many years it took to actually produce the 86 syndicated episodes...the voices are often recorded first and it wouldn't be unusual to have voice actors/actresses do all of their lines weeks before the actual cartoon went into production. Whatever the production schedule was the fact is the cartoons aired for 4 years (1984-1988) and then were reran for 11 more consecutive years. Blanc passed away in 1989...and it made national and international news. His last performances of his Looney Tunes roles came in 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. A finished recording of his Mr. Spacely role in The Jetsons upcoming movie made it's debut in 1990. Ironically, Blanc and George O'Hanlon (the voice of George Jetson) both passed away in 1989 during production of the Jetsons movie. O'Hanlon passed away on February 11, 1989 and Blanc passed away on July 10, 1989 (tomorrow marks the 22nd anniversary of that sad day).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hee-Haw: 1969-1992, Part Ten...

A few minutes ago I came across a web-site originating from Oklahoma. I discovered that a Hee-Haw exhibit is taking place at the Oklahoma History Center. Those of you are familiar with the area or in the vicinity of Oklahoma City will probably know where the venue is. If not, the information can be found here along with a video clip of Roy Clark, Vince Gill, and Garth Brooks giving their comments on Hee-Haw and it's lasting impact. There's a nice article/write-up about the show and it mentions that although the show's been out of production since 1992 it's continued to find audiences through reruns. It reran on The Nashville Network (TNN) for nearly four years starting in the fall of 1993. Those reruns were a ratings success for the network and it helped promote the stage revival at Opryland Theme Park called Hee-Haw Live which got underway in the summer of 1994.

Upon the conclusion of the closing credits of the television rerun there would typically be a promo for Hee-Haw Live complete with ticket information, address, and phone number. Later, commercials for the future best-selling home video, Hee-Haw Laffs, began airing on TNN. The stage show featured just a small group from the regular cast and a few newcomers performing sketches and routines associated with Hee-Haw. Off the top of my head I think the members of the stage show were Lulu Roman, Grandpa Jones, Gunilla Hutton, George Lindsey, and theme park regular Jason Petty (now known as the definitive Hank Williams, Sr. in various stage productions). It was also around this time, the mid '90s, that the show's producer, Sam Lovullo, released his Life in the Kornfield book. I'll also add that the DVD releases from the middle part of last decade (2004-2006) have also helped introduce the program to multiple generations...especially since a lot of those episodes have turned up on You Tube and other video hosting sites within the last several years. Then a couple of years ago RFD-TV started airing the program...starting with the debut episode in 1969 and moving forward. Last night's episode was from 1972 with Porter and Dolly as special guests.

The Hee-Haw exhibit article states that the exhibit will be on display for exactly a year and so you'll have until sometime in April or May of 2012 to catch the exhibit. I had been watching Hee-Haw clips on You Tube earlier and it inspired me to do a Google news search and that's where I found the story about the Oklahoma City Hee-Haw exhibit. Strangely enough I didn't come across this article in May or June or I would've mentioned it then.