Remember that one day when you could wake up without an alarm? When you would get your favorite bowl of cereal and sit between the hours of 8 and 12? This is a blog dedicated to the greatest time of our childhood: Saturday mornings. The television programs you watched, the memories attached to them, and maybe introducing you to something you didn't realize existed. Updated every weekend.
George of the Jungle was the final animated series created by Jay Ward. Developed along with Bill Scott, the program was broken up into three
separate segments with different characters: George of the Jungle, Tom Slick and Super Chicken. Each segment received their own introduction with a
theme song by Stan Worth and Sheldon Allman(George even got a shorter version for his own
The George segments featured the bumbling
King of the Jungle George (Bill Scott) n a parody of Tarzan. He was a
big-hearted, but dim-witted, ape man who protected the jungle. His preferred
method of travel was by swinging on vines, which usually resulted in his
crashing face-first into trees. Promotion for the series began several years
before it premiered with George named “Walter” before it was changed to the
most non-jungle-sounding name they could think of. George lived with his mate
Ursula (June Foray) in a tree house; which George always forgot was a treehouse
resulting in his falling to the ground whenever he left it in a running gag. George
could never remember her name, referring to her by any other name (male or
female) or simply as “fella,” regarding her as a strange-looking man who
doesn’t shave. That’s why two of her were seen dancing in the show’s intro, to
play on George’s confusion over her identity. George’s best friend was an
intelligent ape named Ape (Paul Frees, impersonating Ronald Colman) and his pet
was an elephant named Shep who behaved exactly like a dog and only responded to
being called as such. Other inhabitants of the jungle included the District
Commissioner (Frees), pygmies, the message-delivering Tooky Tooky bird, and
poachers “Tiger” Titherage (Daws Butler) and “Weevil” Plumtree (Frees).
Tom Slick was about all-American racecar driver Tom Slick (Scott,
using a version of his Dudley Do-Right voice) who competed in various races by
customizing his car, the Thunderbolt Grease-Slapper. His pit crew consisted of
his girlfriend, Marigold (Foray), and elderly mechanic, Gertie Growler (also
Scott, in a manner similar to Jonathan Winters’ character Maude Frickert). Tom
was portrayed as the stereotypical good guy who did no wrongs and was
chivalrous towards women, facts his frequent nemesis Baron Otto Matic (Frees) took
advantage of in order to win races by underhanded means. The Baron was aided by
Clutcher (Butler, impersonating Frank Fontaine), his dim-witted lackey that
often received a wrench upside the head for his blunders.
Super Chicken was a parody of super hero stories, initially
promoted in trade papers 3 years prior to its premiere. Well-to-do Henry Cabot
Henhouse III (a play on Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. and voiced by Scott) drank a
special Super Sauce from a martini glass (or sometimes a bowl when its mixture
came out differently) to become the super-powered Super Chicken. Super
Chicken’s Super Suit consisted of a plumed cavalier’s hat, cape, Wellington
boots, mask and a fencing sword. Super Chicken’s sidekick was Fred (Frees,
impersonating Ed Wynn), a bumbling lion who wore a red sweater with a backwards
“F” on it. They traveled around the city righting wrongs in the Super Coop, an
egg-shaped air car. Originally,
Tom Slick was the second feature in the program, but halfway through production
his segment switched places with Super Chicken’s.
An original unaired pilot for George was made called
“E Flat Elephants.” The plot of it featured two poachers looking to steal Shep
for being the only African elephant to blow in E-Flat. Not much was different between
the pilot and the finished show beyond George’s hair, which was rendered
curlier. Ursula was also named Jane after Tarzan’s girlfriend, but the estate
of Edgar Rice Burroughs vetoed that resulting in its being changed. Ursula’s
new name came from either the friend of director Bill Hurtz’s daughter or
because she was inspired by Ursula Andress, as attested by Scott.
Two pilots were made for Super Chicken. The original
pilot featured Don Knotts as the lead voice before the project was scrapped and
recast. In the second pilot, Super Chicken’s real name was Hunt Strongbird, Jr.
and was played with a more snooty voice and smarmy personality. His design was
slightly different and there was no mention of his Super Sauce. The Super Coupe
also resembled a flying chicken coop, rather than an egg, further playing on
its name. Super Chicken’s introduction closely parodied that of Superman’s
1940s serial openings. Fred remained largely unchanged, gaining sneakers
instead of boots.
Tom Slick, Marigold and the Thunderbolt Grease-Slapper.
The series animation, handled in Hollywood rather
than Mexico, was more advanced than Ward’s earlier series, which pleased Ward
so much he allowed production to go over budget. As a result, the series was
produced at a loss leading to only the 17 episodes ever being produced. The series quickly ended its
run and entered into syndication to try and recoup some of the losses before
disappearing from the airwaves until the age of cable. Jay Ward Productions
left TV shows behind and focused on producing commercials and designing the
characters for them, such as Cap’n Crunch.
In 2007, Cartoon Network commissioned a remake of the cartoon. Produced in Canada using Adobe Flash, the series featured two short George segments starring Lee Tockar in the title role, omitting Tom and Super
Chicken. It retained the theme song, however it was performed by Urban Legend,
gave Ursula (Britt Irvin) the last name of Scott, and introduced new character
Magnolia (Tabitha St. Germain using a southern accent), a jungle native and
Ursula’s best friend. The show lasted two seasons before ending in January of
2008. Both the classic series and the first season of the new series were
released to DVD the same year.
“E-Flat Elephants” – Charlie Fowler and African Rose plan to steal
Shep, the only African elephant who blows in E-Flat.
“Super Chicken Pilot” – Chicken farmer Eggs Benedict develops a hatred
for chickens and targets Super Chicken.
“The Malady Lingers On / Monster Rally / One of Our States is Missing”
(9/16/67) – The Witch Doctor sends George after particular items to cure Shep.
/ Tom competes in a race against actual monsters. / Super Chicken’s former
classmate steals Rhode Island.
“Ungawa the Gorilla God / Snow What / The Oyster” (9/30/67) – A tribe
captures the District Commissioner and Shep to sacrifice to their god. / Baron
Otto Mattic wages he’ll win a snowmobile race. / A criminal disguised as an
oyster steals the world’s largest pearl.
“Oo-oo Birds of a Feather / Send in a Sub / Wild Ralph Hiccup”
(9/23/67) – Poachers go after the feathers of the Oo-oo Birds. / Tom takes on
undefeated Lucky Fool in a submarine race. / Super Chicken embarks on numerous
flights to catch an airplane-robbing desperado.
“Monkey Business / I’ve Been Railroaded / The Elephant Spreader”
(10/14/67) – Ape is kidnapped and forced to star in a jungle movie. / Tom and
Gertie enter a train race. / Prince Blackhole shifts the Earth’s tilt with
elephants to make it snow in India.
“The Desperate Showers / The Cupp Cup Race” / Rotten Hood (10/28/67) –
A tribe wants to sacrifice Ursula to make it rain. / Tom converts the
Grease-Slapper for a boat race. / Rotten Hood steals from the rich and keeps
“Little Scissors / The Great Balloon Race / The Eater Bunny” (10/7/67)
– Tiny Tony Tailor and his pygmies are committing crimes. / Baron Otto Mattic
will do anything to keep Tom from winning the balloon race. / Super Chicken
tries to find out why the Easter Bunny has gone bad.
“Next Time, Take the Train / The Geezer / Dranko the Dragster”
(10/21/67) – Dr. Chicago’s formula makes insects strong and aggressive. / An
old geezer steals the famous geyser Old Faceful. / Tom enters a drag race.
“The Trouble I’ve Seed / The Noodle / Overstocked” (11/11/67) – Dr.
Chicago’s new formula makes plants sentient. / The Noodle’s latest plan gives
Super Chicken amnesia, causing Fred to take up the mantle. / Tom enters a stock
car race against Sweet Willy Rollbar.
“Big Flop At the Big Top / Salvador Rag Dolly / The Sneaky Sheik”
(12/2/67) – A circus wants to capture George to perform. / Salvador Rag Dolly
uses wind-up toys to infiltrate birthday parties and steal valuables. / A
Sneaky Shiek sabotages the Thunderbolt Grease-Slapper.
“Rescue Is My Business / Merlin Brando / The Apple-Less Indian 500”
(11/25/67) – George’s new manager believe he should charge for rescues. /
Wizard Merlin Brando can only be the greatest by eliminating Super Chicken. / A
failed desert apple orchard becomes a raceway.
“Dr. Schpritzer, I Presume? / The Fat Man / The Double Cross Country
Race” (11/18/67) – George is tasked to find the missing Dr. Schpritzer. / The
Fat Man steals the priceless Maltese duck. / Baron Otto Mattic tricks Tom with
a fake race map.
“The Chi Chi Dog / Briggs Bad-Wolf / The Cheap Skateboard Derby”
(12/9/67) – George is asked to help a wealthy couple find the rare Chi Chi Dog.
/ Actor Briggs Bad Wolf comes to believe he really is a villain. / Tom enters a
motorized skateboarding race.
“The Treasure of Sarah Madre / The Laundry Man / The Irish
Cheapstakes” (11/4/67) – George and the District Commissioner go on a treasure
hunt. / Super Chicken must capture a money launderer and return the money to
the crooks. / Baron Otto Matic enters a race under an alias.
“A Man of All Hunting Seasons / The Muscle / The Badyear Blimp” (12/16/67)
– A hunter turns his sights on George. / Super Chicken needs to enhance his
strength to take on a bodybuilder. / Baron Otto Matic’s lackey races against
Tom in a blimp race.
“The Forest’s Prime Evil / Dr. Gizmo / The Swamp Buggy Race”
(12/23/67) – George is evicted by a developer who wants to civilize the jungle.
/ Inventive criminal Dr. Gizmo escapes capture. / Baron Otto Matic disguises
himself as a woman to take advantage of Tom.
“Kings Back to Back / The Wild Hair / The Mack Buster Trophy”
(12/30/67) – George is up for re-election as King of the Jungle. / A mad
scientist’s living toupee grows out of control. / Gertie mortgages her garage
to allow Tom to convert the Grease-Slapper into an airplane.
“The Sultan’s Pearl / The Zipper / The Bigg Race” (9/9/67) – George
tries to retrieve the Sultan’s stolen treasure. / Super Chicken must stop The
Zipper from blowing up the world. / Tiny Bigg sponsors a race that Tom must win
so Gertie can pay her mortgage.