July 29, 2017


(CBS, September 17-December 10, 1988)

CBS Entertainment Productions

Christina Lange – Raggedy Ann
Josh Rodine – Raggedy Andy
Charles Adler – Grouchy Bear
Kenneth Mars – The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees
Dana Hill – Raggedy Dog
Katie Leigh – Sunny Bunny
Kath Soucie – Raggedy Cat
Tracy Rowe – Marcella

Raggedy Ann is a rag doll with a candy heart in her chest, making her a gentle and caring sort. Her brother, Raggedy Andy, is more adventurous, bold and mischievous. They have graced the pages of many books and even spawned their own line of actual dolls whose popularity has long surpassed those of the books. Now, while it may have been a given to make fictional toys into real one, they were, in fact, based off of an actual toy.

The original book.

            Author and illustrator Johnny Gruelle was searching for something in the attic of his parents’ home sometime in the early 20th century and stumbled upon an old homemade ragdoll that belonged to his sister. Gruelle thought the doll would make a good story and kept it; however it wasn’t until his daughter, Marcella, was born that anything came of it. Watching her play with her dolls inspired Gruelle’s stories surrounding the doll he had found.

One of the original handmade dolls.

            Gruelle named the doll “Raggedy Ann” from the James Whitcomb Riley poems “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphant Annie” and submitted it to the U.S. Patent office. By the time his patent was granted in 1915, Marcella had died from an infected vaccination at the age of 13. Raggedy Ann was adopted as the mascot for the anti-vaccination movement at the time. In 1918, the Gruelle published the first Raggedy Ann book, Raggedy Ann Stories, through the P.F. Volland Company. A version of the doll was handmade by Gruelle’s family to sell along with the book. The book and the doll proved a success, and Gruelle released the follow-up in 1920, Raggedy Andy Stories, which introduced Ann’s brother Andy, while the doll entered mass production. Their owner, Marcella, was modeled after Gruelle’s daughter.

            Gruelle continued writing new Raggedy Ann stories until his death in 1938. Gruelle continued to be credited on future books for the next two decades regardless of who worked on them. In 1941, Fleischer Studios adapted the series into a theatrical short called Raggedy Ann and Andy. They produced two more in 1944 and 1947. Dell and Gold Key published comic books starring the characters between 1946 and 1973.The franchise received a feature film in 1977 called Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure directed by Richard Williams and starring Didi Conn, which was adapted into a stage play in 1981. The next two years, CBS aired two holiday-themed specials directed by legendary director Chuck Jones and starring June Foray and Daws Butler: Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Great Santa Claus Caper and Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile. An adaptation of the book The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees aired as an episode of CBS Storybreak.

Production cel featuring Ann, Andy, Grouchy, Camel, Raggedy Cat and Raggedy Dog.

            Based on the ratings for the specials it aired, and for the franchise’s 70th anniversary, CBS commissioned a new animated series starring Raggedy Ann (Christina Lange) and Andy (Josh Rodine). The series revolved around Ann and Andy, as well as their friends Grouchy Bear (Charles Adler), The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees (Kenneth Mars), Sunny Bunny (Katie Leigh), Raggedy Dog (Dana Hill) and Raggedy Cat (Kath Soucie) as they journeyed to foreign lands or alternate dimensions to combat the evil, but inept, sorcerer, Cracklin. Their owner, Marcella (Tracy Rowe) was unaware of their adventures as the toys would remain lifeless in the presence of humans.

The evil wizard Cracklin.

            The Adventures of Raggedy Ann and Andy premiered on September 17, 1988. It ran for a single season of 13 episodes, all directed by Jeff Hall. Davis Doi provided the character designs as well as produced the show. Bobby Bennett and David Storrs composed the show’s theme. Despite the show’s short run, CBS kept it on its schedule until the fall of 1990. In 1998, 20th Century Fox released most of the show on single-episode VHS tapes. In 2014, New Video Group released the complete series to DVD, as well as across three DVD collections containing four episodes each. 

“The Perriwonk Adventure” (9/17/88) – The toys track down Marcella’s missing locket to a village where it will be offered as a sacrifice.

“The Pirate Adventure” (9/24/88) – A treasure hunt leads to Andy being kidnapped by priates.

“The Mabbit Adventure” (10/1/88) – Ann, Andy and Sunny Bunny have to help the Mabbits protect their spell book from Cracklin.

“The Beastly Ghost Adventure” (10/8/88) – The ghosts from Marcella’s ghost story appear to come to “life”.

“The Pixling Adventure” (10/15/88) – Ann and Andy have to return a prince before the evil Count Gerich takes over.

“The Ransom of Sunny Bunny Adventure” (10/22/88) – Cracklin has Sunny Bunny kidnapped in order to lure Ann and Andy into a trap.

“The Megamite Adventure” (10/29/88) – Marcella’s cousin’s robot Magamite is taken to another dimension and used by Cracklin to transform that world’s water into silver.

“The Boogeyman Adventure” (11/5/88) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Christmas Adventure” (11/12/88) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Sacred Cat Adventure” (11/19/88) – A magic genie kidnaps Raggedy Cat and unintentionally takes the other toys with them.

“The Little Chicken Adventure” (11/26/88) – Marcella’s rocking horse pretends to be a unicorn and ends up in the sights of Little Chicken, an Indian boy that needs to rope a unicorn.

“The Warrior Star Adventure” (12/3/88) – NO SYNOPSIS AVAILABLE.

“The Magic Wings Adventure” (12/10/88) – Ann and Andy attempt to return a gigantic purple egg to its nest.

July 28, 2017


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Patti Deutsch was an actor and comedian best known as being a featured performer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and a panelist on 70s game shows. She would go on to provide the voices for Trixie, the Beaver Squadron, an operator and Raccoon Walla in several episodes of The Angry Beavers and Matta the Lunch Lady in The Emperor's New School. She also provided voices for episodes of The Smurfs, Darkwing Duck, Life with Louie and The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper.

July 26, 2017


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June Foray was an actress whose career began during the golden age of animation and led her to work for just about every production company there ever was. Her longest-standing role was that of Granny throughout the various incarnations and spin-offs. She also performed several other roles, notably that of Witch Hazel. Her other longest roles were Rocket J. Squirrel and Natasha Fatale in the Rocky & Bullwinkle franchise.

On Saturday mornings, she starred as Mother Gruesome in Frankenstein Jr. & the Impossibles; Ursula and Marigold in George of the Jungle; a gypsy fortune teller in an episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You!; Mrs. Baker in The New Scooby-Doo Movies; Granny, Sonja, Iggy, Muggsy, Crazy Shirley and Marcy in Heathcliff (1980); Jokey Smurf and Mrs. Sourberry in The Smurfs; Aunt May in Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends; Grandma Howard and Mrs. Seslick in Teen Wolf (1986); Grandma Cavemom in several episodes of The Flintstone Kids; Bertha Bird in an episode of Denver, the Last Dinosaur; Constance McSnack in an episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo; Mrs. Rogers, the Mayor’s wife, and Mrs. Dweeb in The Real Ghostbusters; Magica De Spell, Ma Beagle, Mrs. Featherby and Scrooge’s mother in DuckTales; Bathsheba, Saturna, Sister Mouse and Duchess in various episodes of The ABC Weekend Specials; Grammi Gummi and several other roles in Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears; various roles throughout Garfield and Friends; Blocky and Svetlana the Spy in Rugrats; and Martha Wilson in All-New Dennis the Menace.

She also provided voices for Super 6, The Pink Panther Show, The Incredible Hulk (1982), Saturday Supercade, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Foofur, CBS Storybreak, Tom & Jerry Kids, and The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat.

July 22, 2017


(ABC, September 15-December 22, 1973)

Filmation Associates

Ted Knight – Ben Turner, narrator
Keith Sutherland – Jackie Turner
Jane Webb – Laura Turner
Erika Scheimer – Susan Turner
Lane Scheimer - Ben Turner, Jr.
Hal Harvey – Gene Fox

            Lassie was the creation of author Eric Knight in a story he wrote for her daughter. Lassie was a collie who faced any odds to be reunited with the boy she loved. The character made her debut in a short story Knight penned for The Saturday Evening Post in 1938. He later expanded it into the 1940 novel Lassie Com-Home, published by The John C. Winston Company.

            When the novel proved a critical and commercial success, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer approached Knight about acquiring the rights to the book to adapt into a feature film. The film version of Lassie Come Home starring a young Roddy McDowell was released in October of 1943, ten months after Knight’s death. The film was a hit, earning almost $5 million at the box office and leading to a series of sequels; five of them released in the 1940s alone. During this period, Lassie was also featured in a radio program which originated the well-known theme song by Les Baxter.

            After the seventh film was released in 1951, MGM had no further plans for the character or Pal, the dog that portrayed Lassie. Pal’s owner and trainer Rudd Weatherwax acquired the rights to the Lassie trademark from the studio in lieu of back pay and took Pal on the road to various venues. He was approached by television producer Robert Maxwell about bringing Lassie to the relatively new media. Weatherwax and Maxwell devised the boy and his dog scenario set on a weather-beaten, modern American farm. Lassie debuted on CBS in 1954 and ran for an impressive 17 seasons.

Gold Key comic issue depicting the later years of Lassie.

            During the show’s 11th season in 1964, the decision was made to completely rework the show. Lassie was moved from the farm to become part of a group of United States Forest Service workers and stories revolved around environmentalism and conservation. Unfortunately, the change in the show didn’t fit the changing social views of society and the ratings steadily declined. When the FCC passed down new rulings designed to restrict how many shows were produced directly by the networks in order to allow fair competition for other companies, CBS took that opportunity to cancel the show. The final episode aired in 1973, but the show had already been airing in syndicated reruns for two seasons and would continue to do so for years.

Lassie and Musty.

            Wanting to get a bit more mileage out of the property, Jack Wrather, who had purchased the rights to the show in 1957, contracted Filmation Associates to adapt the concept to animation. They produced a one-hour pilot movie called “Lassie and the Spirit of Thunder Mountain” that aired during the first season of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie in 1972. Lassie (whose vocal effects were taken from the current “Lassie” at the time, Hey Hey) lived with the Turner family on a ranch near Thunder Mountain. An unscrupulous contractor named Aaron Lipton tried to steal the ancestral Native American land from the tribe who lived there, but the Turners and Lassie stood in his way with the aid of Lassie’s friends: Old Toothless, a harmless mountain lion; Edgar, a crow; Groucho, an owl; Fastback, a turtle; Robbie, a raccoon; Musty, a skunk; and an unnamed rabbit.

The Turners and Gene Fox.

            The following year, Filmation brought the pilot movie to series. The Turners and were now part of the Forest Force, dedicated to protecting the forest and those who ventured there. That brought the cartoon more in line with the shift that the live-action series took several years prior while still maintaining its original family-oriented element. They were not only aided by Lassie and her friends, but by Native American Gene Fox (Hal Harvey) who knew Thunder Mountain National Park better than anyone. Lane Scheimer assumed the role of Ben Turner, Jr. for the series from Keith Allen, while reprising their roles were Ted Knight as Ben, Sr., Keith Sutherland as Jackie, Jane Webb as Laura, and Erika Schiemer as Susan. As with other Filmation projects, each episode was followed-up by a Public Service Announcement about environmental concerns.

Promotional image of the entire Rescue Rangers team.

            Lassie’s Rescue Rangers began on September 15, 1973 on ABC. Hal Southerland directed the entire series, while Ray Ellis (as Yvette Blais) and producer Norm Prescott (as Jeff Michael) composed the series’ music. Unlike the earlier Lassie efforts, Rescue Rangers proved unpopular with audiences, Weatherwax and the National Association for Better Broadcasting, who released a statement declaring it the worst show of the season. The show ended its run that December, with ABC promptly cancelling it.

The DVD cover.

            In the 1980s, Family Home Entertainment released several episodes to VHS in North America. Additional episodes were released in the United Kingdom by V.I.P Video Gems and Channel 5. In 2006, Universal Pictures UK released a collection of episodes onto DVD with two different box cover art designs.

“Lost” (9/8/73) – The Rescue Rangers try to find a lost boy.

“The Animals Are Missing” (9/15/73) – A series of earthquakes leads the Rescue Rangers to discover a valley is more populated than they believed.

“Mystic Monster” (9/22/73) – A comet crashes in the forest and it may have brought a visitor with it.

“Lassie’s Special Assignment” (9/29/73) – Ben is sent to rescue a scientist from an enemy by a recorded message.

“The Imposters” (10/6/73) – The Turners are framed and arrested for a crime.

“Deadly Cargo” (10/13/73) – The Rescue Rangers are kidnapped by criminals as a way to get their drugs back.

“Grizzly” (10/20/73) – A grizzly bear prevents the Rescue Rangers from putting out a fire to save a city.

“Deepsea Disaster” (10/27/73) – A Navy reject spoils the Rangers’ underwater vacation.

“Black Out” (11/3/73) – When a town goes dark, the Rangers have to find missing citizens and contend with a thief on the loose.

“Arctic Adventure” (11/10/73) – The Rangers have to find missing firefighters so they can put out a blaze and save a town.

“The Sunken Galleon” (11/17/73) – The search for a missing diver leads the Rangers to a sunken treasure ship and an enemy submarine.

“Gold Mine” (11/24/73) – Gene is taken hostage by the pair his family rescued as they carry out their plot to rob Fort Knox.

“Rodeo” (12/1/73) – A series of strange accidents at the rodeo makes it seem like someone is out to get Ben’s friend Jerry Carr.

“Hullabaloo in Hollywood” (12/8/73) – The Rangers find trouble during the filming of a movie.

“Tidal Wave” (12/15/73) – An earthquake causes tidal waves to attack Florida and interrupt the Rangers’ vacation.

“Spirit of Thunder Mountain” (11/11/72) – A businessman attempts to steal land from a Native American tribe.

July 19, 2017


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Atkin played King Koopa in all three versions of the Super Mario cartoons, and was the only actor to appear in all three as the same character. His next major starring role was as the titular Sam in The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police. 

He also played Tomahawk in the short-lived Swamp Thing: The Animated Series; an exorcist and Lipscum in two episodes of Beetlejuice; Walter Langkowski, aka Sasquatch, in an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series; Harold Klump and Uncle Harry in two episodes of Tales from the Cryptkeeper; Mr. Malik on an episode of Goosebumps; and Morty in several episodes of Jacob Two-Two. He also provided voices for the spin-off shows ALF Tales and Little Shop.