December 28, 2019

THE HECKLE AND JECKLE CARTOON SHOW


THE HECKLE AND JECKLE CARTOON SHOW
(CBS, October 14, 1956-September 24, 1960, September 25, 1965-September 3, 1966
NBC, September 6, 1969-September 4, 1971)

Terrytoons, CBS Television

            Heckle and Jeckle (Sid Raymond, Ned Sparks, Dayton Allen and Roy Halee) were a pair of mischievous talking magpies created by Paul Terry. Initially, the pair began as a married couple meant to be antagonists for his farmer Al Falfa character in the 1946 theatrical short The Talking Magpies. However, as the birds became a hit with audiences, the pair left Al Falfa behind to become the stars of their own shorts. They were retooled from a married couple into a pair of best friends, named “Jeckle” after Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and “Heckle” based on their frequent method of antagonization. While the pair were often indistinguishable on sight and rarely called each other by name, they became identifiable when Heckle was given a Brooklyn accent and Jeckle an English one.

The mischievous magpies.

            Heckle and Jeckle would appear in numerous shorts over the next 20 years; being the most popular Terrytoon series next to Mighty Mouse. The shorts would find the pair either messing with someone for fun (typically one of two dogs, Dimwit and Clancy) or serving as comedic heroes helping someone and giving a villain his comeuppance. They were also self-aware, knowing full-well they were cartoon characters which allowed them to pull off impossible feats.

Theatrical advertisement for the Terrytoon library.

In 1955, Terry retired and sold his studio and characters to CBS. CBS began airing Heckle and Jeckle shorts on television in 1956 as part of CBS Cartoon Theater, hosted by Dick Van Dyke. A month after the show’s cancellation, Heckle and Jeckle were spun off into The Heckle and Jeckle Cartoon Show, which aired three Heckle and Jeckle shorts with another starring a different Terrytoon character. The show aired until 1960 before returning to the network on Saturday morning for a year in 1965. It would return one more time on NBC from 1969-71.

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