I grew up in the 1950s watching animated television series. The first series was a little known cartoon series entitled “Crusader Rabbit”.
While working for Terrytoons Alex Anderson had an idea which was to create an animated series made expressly for television. Terrytoons didn’t buy into the idea, preferring to remain in film animation, so Anderson approached Jay Ward. Anderson and Ward formed a partnership and in 1947 Television Arts Productions was born.
Trying to sell the idea to air on NBC was unsuccessful but they supplied Jerry Fairbanks as supervising producer allowing him to sell it in national syndication. A lot of NBC affiliates picked it up for local airing.
Upon second viewing of this series I see just how limited the animation is. With this series Ward and Anderson created the original limited animation production. But, it was so limited that in a typical foot of full animation there are roughly 40 drawings. In Crusader Rabbit Ward and Anderson brought this down to 4 images per foot creating more of a storyboard than actual movement. The only thing saving this production is the same thing that made Jay Ward animation so great, the writing.
We will see more from Jay Ward in this blog.
Television animation continued and with the influx of Hanna Barbera we saw limited animation reach new heights of entertainment. I thought I’d write a blog on Hanna Barbera but I like to include a filmography with as many links as possible so I decided to take it one series at a time.
Their first foray into television coming off of a stint at MGM Hanna Barbera produced their first show “Ruff and Reddy”, a cliffhanger series of cartoons which were about 3.5 minutes in length, with not a whole lot of personality. But, it introduced a new voice to the television audience. Reddy, the dog was voiced by Daws Butler. He was a dog with a heavy southern drawl.
Joe Barbera said of Daws Butler, “I can remember distinctly when I first met [Daws], I said, ‘I kind of like this voice, but I think I’m gonna make it kind of a Southern voice because Southern voices are warm and friendly.’ Daws said, ‘Well, now I can do a Southern voice which is like North Carolina, or I can do a Southern voice that would be like Florida, that would be a cracker kind of voice, or if you want to get a little harder, we could get into Texas,’ and by gosh, he had about twelve different Southerners”.
Hanna Barbera’s next series introduced another dog with the same voice and twang. This dog had more personality than Reddy and sported a blue coat, a hat and a bow tie. This character was named “Huckleberry Hound”. It premiered and was syndicated in 1958. The show had 3 segments featuring Huck, Yogi Bear, Hokey Wolf and Pixie and Dixie. Yogi was more popular than Huck and it hatched into its own series in 1961. That same year saw the first Emmy for Hanna Barbera. This made H&B a household name and the kings of television animation.
This and other series from H&B proved to be popular enough for various licensing deals. Huck, Yogi and Quick Draw McGraw began appearing in events, books, theme parks and rides.
The biggest show in town is Huckleberry Hound
For all you guys and gals.
The biggest clown in town is Huckleberry Hound
With all his cartoon pals.
It’s Huckleberry fun, it’s for everyone,
So come on, gather ’round.
Get yourself all set,
Turn on your TV set
For Huckleberry Hound.
That oh, so merry, Chuckleberry,