March 29, 2020

DAVID SCHRAMM DEAD AT 73



You can read the full story here.


He played Bellerophon in an episode of Hercules: The Animated Series.



March 28, 2020

SHENANIGANS


SHENANIGANS
(ABC, September 26, 1964-March 20, September 25-December 18, 1965)

Heatter-Quigley Productions, Four Star Television




MAIN CAST:
Stubby Kaye – The Mayor
Kenny Williams – Kenny the Cop/Announcer


            Shenanigans was a Saturday morning game show developed by the Milton Bradley Company for Heatter-Quigley Productions.

High shot of the contestant moving up the game board.


            The show was similar to Heatter-Quigley’s earlier Video Village Junior in that it was like a living board game. Two children contestants moved around a giant game board by a number of spaces (1-4) determined by a set of flashing lights stopped when two other children, known as “The Pressers”, pressed a button. The children then had to either answer a question correctly or successfully perform a stunt to earn “Shenaniganzas”; in-game money used to exchange for prizes in the Top Value Stamps Catalog. “Shenaniganzas” would also be awarded whenever a contestant landed on specific spots on the board. Other spots included “Lose a Turn”, “Free Turn”, or “Go to the Dog House”, which acted like a time-out jail for a contestant until they pressed an unmarked button that played a specifically requested sound.

Kenny the Cop puts a contestant in the dog house.

Many of the stunts were inspired by Milton Bradley’s games, such as having to play Operation on a life-sized dummy. To determine which kid started the game, the two of them played a game of Time Bomb (essentially “Hot Potato” with a toy bomb). There was also an assortment of carnival games, such as a test of strength, balloon popping, and a haunted house where a mystery prize could be retrieved from the “Shenanighoul” that lived inside. The first one across the finish line or farthest ahead when time ran out won the game. The runner-up got whatever “Shenaniganzas” they accumulated and an assortment of consolation prizes like fishing rods or bikes, as well as a copy of the Shenanigans board game. The winner also won the board game and a slightly better assortment of prizes, such as a record player. The Pressers were also given an assortment of Milton Bradley games for their participation.

Confronting the Shenanighoul for a prize.

            Shenanigans originally aired locally on New York City’s WPIX in 1952, with Bob Quigley serving as the host. It only lasted 6 months. For the retooled ABC version, Stubby Kaye was enlisted as “The Mayor of Shenanigans” and also sang the theme song. Kenny Williams served as the announcer and Kenny the Cop, similar to the roles he performed on Video Village. Along with standard commercial breaks, a loud Morse code-like signal would tell Williams to head over to a wall of Milton Bradley games and do an in-show commercial for one of them. Kaye and Williams would also perform various goofy comedy routines to open and close out each episode.

The Shenanigans board game.

            Shenanigans debuted on September 26, 1964, and was well-received. It took a hiatus for the summer and returned the following September. Unfortunately, the ratings declined substantially and the show as cancelled in December of 1965.



EPISODE GUIDE:
N/A

March 26, 2020

FRED "CURLY" NEAL DEAD AT 77



You can read the full story here.

He was a professional basketball player and played 22 seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters from 1963-85 as the team’s featured ballhandler. His name and likeness were used in the Hanna-Barbera Productions cartoons Harlem Globetrotters, The New Scooby-Doo Movies and The Super Globetrotters; although his voice was done by professional actor Stu Gilliam. He also appeared with the rest of his team in the live-action Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine. 

March 21, 2020

KING LEONARDO AND HIS SHORT SUBJECTS


KING LEONARDO AND HIS SHORT SUBJECTS
(NBC, October 15, 1960-September 28, 1963)

Total TeleVision productions, Leonardo Television Productions




MAIN CAST:
Jackson Beck – King Leonardo, Biggy Rat, Professor Messer
Allen Swift – Odie Colognie, Itchy Brother, Duke, Earl, Tooter Turtle, Narrator (The King and Odie)
Sandy Becker – Mr. Wizard
Kenny Delmar – The Hunter, Narrator (The Hunter)
Ben Stone – The Fox, Officer Flim Flanigan
Norman Rose – Mr. Mad, Narrator (several episodes of The King and Odie)
George S. Irving – Narrator (Twinkles), various male characters
Delo States – Various female and children characters


            For the average viewer, the shows made by Jay Ward Productions and Total TeleVision productions were almost interchangeable. Considering how much the two studios had in common behind the scenes, it’s no wonder why.



            To make Rocky and His Friends, Jay Ward Productions entered into a deal with advertising firm Dancer Fitzgerald Sample (DFS) that landed them sponsorship by one of their biggest clients, General Mills. General Mills was eager to create something to challenge the shows rival Kellogg’s was sponsoring from Hanna-Barbera. The financing/marketing company behind Jay Ward Productions, Producers Associates for Television (PAT), convinced General Mills to invest in the creation of a Mexican animation studio with the promise that they could get a tax break and use it for cheaply made animated commercials. That studio became Val-Mar Productions, later renamed Gamma Productions.

Itchy Brother model sheet.

            Gordon Johnson of DFS was the firm’s direct contact with Jay Ward and his crew. DFS, General Mills and the network often had issues with the content of Ward’s scripts, and Ward had issues with the quality of work being turned out by the raw talent in Mexico. Because of this, work on Rocky and His Friends often slowed, and even stopped. Since so much money was invested into Val-Mar—some of it Johnson’s own—Johnson decided that Val-Mar needed another series to work on; one that he could have more control over.

Odie Colognie character art.

            Johnson proposed the idea to W. Watts “Buck” Biggers, a trusted colleague and friend whom Johnson knew had the necessary contacts to make something like that happen. Biggers brought in his friend and colleague Chester “Chet” Stover and began doing research on the animation field and coming up with concepts involving animal characters that haven’t already been done by other studios. They formed Total TeleVision, which would offer “Total Concept,” “Total Entertainment” and “Total Flexibility.” As Biggers and Stover would continue their full-tine jobs at DFS initially, they brought in Biggers’ friend Treadwell D. Covington to manage the day-to-day operations of TTV, and eventually recruited Joe Harris to help refine Stover’s character designs and serve as a storyboard artist.


            The first concept they came up with was King Leonardo and His Short Subjects; so named because each episode would be comprised of several story segments less than 5-minutes in length, and also because most of the characters were based on small (read: short) animals. The primary segment was The King and Odie, which featured the titular King Leonardo (named for Leonardo da Vinci and modeled after Eugene Pallette, voiced by Jackson Beck), a lion, and his faithful companion, Odie O. Colognie (modeled after Ronald Colman, voiced by Allen Swift), a skunk. Leonardo was the inept ruler of the fictional jungle kingdom of Bongo Congo, whose main export was bongo drums (a popular instrument at the time). Odie was really the brains behind everything and helped keep the country running. Constantly vying for the throne was Leonardo’s dimwitted beatnik brother Itchy (also Swift, modeled after “Slapsie” Maxie Rosenbloom), who was jealous of Leonardo’s power. Aiding him was Biggy Rat (modeled after Edward G. Robinson, also Beck), a high-level criminal who planned and executed Itchy’s coup attempts. Occasionally, they would be helped by an evil German inventor named Professor Messer (Beck). Swift also served as the segment’s narrator, except for a few done by Norman Rose.

Itchy, Biggy and Professor Messer.

            The King and Odie largely drew on Biggers and Stover’s experience in advertising. The jungle setting came from the affectionate term for the advertising business, as well as their realization that so few cartoon animals actually lived in their traditional environments. Leonardo and Odie were also patterned after a typical CEO and his “right-hand man”. Johnson and Biggers presented the show idea to General Mills with Biggers providing character voices and pointing to Harris’ storyboards. General Mills green-lit the series, but had some concerns whether they could come up with enough stories. Biggers and Stover abated those fears by presenting them with enough material for 52 episodes.


            One of the accompanying short subjects was The Hunter. The Hunter (Kenny Delmar, using a voice similar to his Senator Claghorn character) was a dog detective that worked for a human cop, Officer Flim Flanigan (Ben Stone). They were always hot on the trail of a fox thief named, surprisingly, The Fox (also Stone). The stories usually involved The Fox stealing some kind of outlandish thing—such as the Brooklyn Bridge—and being pursued by The Hunter and Officer Flanigan, often being caught only through dumb luck. The Hunter often announced his presence by blowing a horn and came prepared with a business card marked “Have nose, will hunt.” Delmar also served as the segment’s narrator.


            The next subject was Tooter Turtle. The titular turtle (Swift, using a stereotypical dumb guy voice) was a daydreamer who happened to be friends with an actual wizard, Mr. Wizard the Lizard (Sandy Becker, using a faux German accent). Tooter often asked Mr. Wizard to magic him into a new occupation or role in life as he was never satisfied with his own. Mr. Wizard would grant his request, only for Tooter to experience some kind of disaster in the new scenario that would make him appreciate his original lot in life and request to return to it. Tooter was originally going to be named Toonerville, but changed it to avoid potential problems with a comic strip called Toonerville Folks.


            The other short subject was a bit of an oddity. At the time, General Mills was producing a cereal called Twinkles, which featured a pink elephant mascot with the same name. They had asked that the character be included in his own adventures in the program, which would also serve as an additional means to advertise the cereal. The Twinkles segments were the shortest of all, barely running over a minute long, and played on both King Leonardo and Rocky and His Friends until Ward’s objections saw it air as part of King Leonardo exclusively. As the boxes were often advertised as “storybooks” and featured adventures of Twinkles and his animal friends on a book-like back panel, the episodes were told through continuous narration by George S. Irving as if reading a story to the audience. The animation style was also different from the others, being even more limited in their movements. Although TTV handled the pre-production and storyboard work on the segment, they weren’t directly involved in the final product as General Mills farmed it out from there. Twinkles could fly by twirling his tail and magically reshaped his trunk into an item needed to get him and his friends out of any trouble.

Tooter Turtles protecting the highways.

            King Leonardo and His Short Subjects debuted on NBC on October 15, 1960. It was only the second colorized production on the network’s Saturday morning schedule. Each episode was comprised of a two-part The King and Odie story that played at the beginning and end, as kind of an enticement to keep people around for the entire show. The Hunter, Tooter Turtle and Twinkles segments comprised the rest of the half hour, with selected theatrical shorts from the Columbia Pictures library used to fill in any remaining time caused by any production delays (which were previously used in broadcasts of Hanna-Barbera’s The Ruff and Reddy Show). The first few episodes were animated at TV Spots before shifting entirely to Gamma for the remainder of the run. TTV didn’t have as much of an issue with Gamma’s output as Ward had, and whatever issues they did come across were quickly fixed by Harris. The series’ music was conducted and orchestrated by Jack Pleis.

The Hunter is on the case.

Biggers and Stover handled the scripting duties. They wanted to appeal to the kid demographic that General Mills was targeting while also making their show accessible and enjoyable to older siblings and parents. They reasoned that since most households only had a single television, they had to keep the older family members entertained so that they wouldn’t take it away from the younger kids and watch something else. However, they were careful to avoid the topical references that Ward employed so as not to alienate the younger audience and keep the stories as timeless as possible. Catch phrases were a big thing for them, as they felt children liked repetition. One such phrase was Leonardo’s nonsensical “That’s the most unheard of thing I’ve ever heard of.” They also employed shorter multi-part stories as compared to Rocky and His Friends, which employed weeks-long story arcs, so that the network had more flexibility in airing the show.

Officer Flim Flannigan congratulates The Hunter in capturing The Fox.

While Harris was in charge of art direction, Covington was in charge of casting and audio recording. In casting the roles, TTV had specific ideas as to what many of their characters would sound like; typically, a specific well-known actor. Covington, with his connections through his advertising projects, went and found the actors that could best impersonate the voices they were thinking of. Part of this practice was as a way to lure in adult viewers by using voices that they would recognize from films they’ve seen. When discussing The Hunter character, Covington decided he would try and reach out to Delmar himself instead of relying on an impersonator as other studios, such as Warner Bros. with their Foghorn Leghorn (Mel Blanc) character, had done. Irving and Delo States were utilized to round out the cast with the remaining male and female/children character voices as needed.


King Leonardo ran for a single season, but stayed on the network until 1963. However, the show continued to live on in other formats. TTV—renamed Leonardo Productions after the main character—launched their next program on CBS, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, which featured all-new segments of The King and Odie and The Hunter. The King and Odie gained two new foes in Mr. Mad (Rose), a mad scientist. The following year, TTV’s Underdog adopted repeats of The Hunter while Tennessee aired reruns of Tooter Turtle to take its place. In rerun syndication, King Leonardo was often broken up by components and combined with reruns of Ward’s shows. The King and Odie aired as part of The Rocky Show and Dudley Do-Right and Friends. Tooter Turtle and The Hunter were packaged as a part of The Dudley Do-Right Show. Twinkles initially aired with The King and Odie reruns, even after General Mills had eliminated his character from the cereal, but were discontinued in the early 1970s in accordance with new FCC rules against cartoons advertising directly to children.

One of the album releases showcasing all of the series' characters.

King Leonardo was heavily merchandised through PAT, which Johnson had quietly taken a controlling stake in. Along with things like cut-out masks on General Mills cereal boxes, there was a Halloween costume from Collegeville, jigsaw puzzles by Jaymar, a board game from Milton Bradley,  a slide tray puzzle by Roalex, a coloring book by Whitman, a book from Top Top Tales, an art set, a record published by Golden Records, and a plush doll. Dell Comics published stories based on the show in Four Color #1242 & 1278, as well as in 5-issues of a King Leonardo series. Twinkles also had his own share of merchandise with a record also from Golden Records and as a box top mail-in cereal premium, a frame puzzle and coloring book from Whitman, a board game from Milton Bradley, a coin bank, a book from Top Top Tales, and a glitter craft set. The complete series has yet to be released to DVD. The Tennessee Tuxedo and Underdog collections do feature various segments, although not necessarily the same ones that aired alongside each show.



EPISODE GUIDE:
(Note: Twinkles segments are omitted for the moment until information about their placement can be determined.)
“Riches to Rags / Two Gun Turtle / Brookloined Bridge / Nose for the Noose” (10/15/60) – Itchy plans to take the throne while convincing Leonardo to go out and reconnect with his people. / Tooter wants to become a cowboy and finds himself as a sheriff facing off against Black Bark. / The Fox steals the Brooklyn Bridge. / Odie and Leonardo expose that Itchy and Biggy have been posing as them.

“Drumming up the Bongos / Tailspin Tooter or Plane Failure / Counterfeit Wants / How High is Up?” (10/22/60) – Biggy messes with the drum shipments causing a surplus of drums in the country. / Tooter becomes a WWI fighter pilot who runs afoul of the Black Baron. / The Fox makes phony wanted posters featuring innocent people. / Leonardo loses his hair when escaping his and Odie’s death trap, causing confusion when he confronts his look-alike brother on the throne.

“Royal Amnesia / Sea Hunt / Haunted Hunter / Loon from the Moon” (10/29/60) – Biggy and Itchy sabotage Bongo Congo’s space launch by forcing Leonardo to pilot the shuttle himself. / “Sea Hunter” Tooter is called upon to rescue a woman’s brother from the bottom of the ocean. / The Fox tries to clear out City Hall so that he can look for a buried treasure. / Leonardo survives the shuttle crush, but has amnesia and believes he’s from the moon.

“Royal Bongo War Chant / Highway Petrol or Road Blockhead / Fort Knox Fox / Showdown at Dhyber Pass” (11/5/60) – Biggy and Itchy convince Leonardo to go to war with neighboring country Koko Loco. / Tooter is a highway petrol man on the hunt for a criminal. / The Fox disguises himself as a general and robs Fort Knox. / Leonardo manages to defeat Koko Loco’s forces through dumb luck and deception.

“Duel to the Dearth / Knight of the Square Table or The Joust and the Unjoust / Stealing a March / Ringside Riot” (11/12/60) – Leonardo accepts Itchy’s invitation to fight after they spread rumors that he’s a coward. / Tooter becomes a knight of the Square Table and has to prove himself in a series of chivalrous contests. / The Fox steals the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. / Itchy brings in a massive ringer to fight Leonardo, and Odie takes steps to help Leonardo win.

“Bringing in Biggy / Mish-Mash-Mush or Panting for Gold / Horn-a-Plenty / Confound It! Confusion”(11/19/60) – Reminiscing about childhood leads to Itchy’s latest scheme to help stop Leonardo’s “bad” language for rights to the throne. / Tooter discovers the life of a prospector isn’t all that easy. / The Fox steals The Hunter’s horn. / Biggy and Itchy try to get Leonardo to say “Confound it!” so that he gives up his right to the throne.

“Paris Pursuit / The Unteachables or The Lawless Years / Concrete Crook / The Awful Tower” (11/26/60) – Leonardo and Odie decide to go on vacation and Biggy and Itchy get themselves hired as their yacht’s crew. / Tooter becomes an FBI agent and finds himself a target for crime. / The Fox steals cement trucks to make ice cream. / Leonardo and Odie give chase in Paris after Biggy tries to kill Leonardo with an arrow.

“Beatnik Boom / Kink of Swat or Babe Rube / Subtracted Submarine / Call Out the Kids” (12/3/60) – To keep themselves from having to work, Biggy and Itchy turns everyone in the country into beatniks. / Tooter wants to be a baseball player and ends up sending himself into orbit during the big game. / The Hunter ends up booking a vacation on the submarine The Fox stole. / Realizing their parents won’t have money for their toys, the kingdom’s kids trick their parents to stop being beatniks and get back to work.

“Trial of the Traitors / One Trillion B. C. or Dinosaur Dope / Risky Ransom / Battle-Slip” (12/10/60) – Leonardo and Odie finally put Biggy and Itchy on trial for treason. / Tooter becomes a caveman and almost gets eaten by a T-Rex. / The Fox kidnaps The Hunter’s annoying nephew. / Biggy and Itchy are found guilty and banished, only to return with a battleship and declare war.

“Heroes are Made ... With Salami / Olimping Champion or Weak-Greek / Unfaithful Old Failthful / The Big Freeze” (12/17/60) – Biggy and Itchy get an exploding sandwich from Professor Messer for Leonardo. / Tooter wants to go back and compete in the original Olympics. / The Fox steals all the world’s reservoirs in order to sell hot water at high prices. / Messer creates an ice cube ray that Biggy and Itchy use to freeze Leonardo and Odie and send them floating down the river.

“The Legend of Leonardo the Neat / Stuper Man or Muscle Bounder / The Armored Car Coup / Home Neat Home” (12/24/60) – Itchy believes there’s a treasure under the castle, so he and Biggy trash it so Leonardo no longer wants to live there and puts it up for sale. / Working out inspires Tooter to become a superhero. / The Hunter’s vacation is interrupted to find The Fox and stolen armored cars. / When Leonardo comes back for his storybook, Itchy and Biggy lock him in the dungeon and proceed to dig for the treasure.

“Sticky Stuff / Buffaloed Bill or Custard's Last Stand / Telephone Poltergeist / Am I Glue” (12/31/60) – Leonardo sends Odie and detective Charlie Chin to get Itchy to stop rotting his family tree, while Itchy and Biggy plot to use Messer’s new glue on Leonardo. / Tooter leads a cavalry unit and ends up running afoul of some Indians. / The Fox steals all the telephone poles to make cheap log cabins. / Itchy plans to glue Leonardo to the palace wall and declare him missing so that he can take the throne.

“Double Trouble / Moon Goon or Space Head / Sheepish Shamus / Switcheroo Ruler” (1/7/61) – Messer creates robotic duplicates of Leonardo and Odie. / Tooter lands on the moon and encounters a monster. / The Fox steals and shrinks all the sheep to sell them to people who need to count them to sleep. / The robots take Leonardo and Odie’s places, allowing the villains to move into the castle.

“Perfume Panic / Robin Hoodwinked or Thimple Thief / Ruster Hustler / Style Awhile” (1/14/61) – The public rebels against the royal perfume Odie creates. / Playing Robin Hood turns out to be harder than Tooter believed. / The Fox steals all the buffalo. / Biggy and Itchy take over the perfume business and use the money to take over the bongo business.

“No Bong Bongos / Steamboat Stupe or Captains Outrageous / The Case of the Missing Muenster / The Ad Game” (1/21/61) – Itchy and Biggy sabotage the bongo production enough that no one wants bongos from the country anymore. / Tooter’s desire to be a steamboat captain puts him in a race with Big Blackie Bart. / The Fox steals all the cheese to sell as moon souvenirs. / While Itchy makes a killing with his bongos, Odie sets up an advertising campaign to get Bongo Congo’s back on the market.

“De-Based Ball / Souse Painter or Brush-Boob / The Great Train Robbery / Bats in the Ballpark” (1/28/61) – Everyone turns out for the big game between the Bongo Bruins and the Koko Cards. / Tooter becomes a house decorator and ends up with more paint on himself than on the walls. / The Fox steals a train. / Biggy and Itchy try to fix the game with a jumping ball from Messer.

“Long Lost Lennie / Railroad Engineer or Stupefied Jones / Florida Fraud / Ghosts Guests” (2/4/61) – Leonardo inherits a silver-rich town that is apparently haunted. / Mr. Wizard actually supports Tooter’s desire to be a train engineer, which still ends up in disaster. / The Fox fakes an alien invasion so that he can steal Florida. / Biggy and Itchy disguise themselves as ghosts to try and scare Leonardo and Odie away.

“Fatal Fever / Quarterback Hack or Pigskinned / The Great Plane Robbery / Pulling the Mane Switch” (2/11/61) – Odie goes on vacation, leaving Leonardo susceptible to Itchy and Biggy’s schemes. / Tooter becomes a football player. / The Fox steals a plane and convinces The Hunter to use it to hunt ducks on his vacation. / Itchy takes Leonardo to get his mane cut and a call goes out for Odie to return and find the king.

“Dim Gem / Drafthead or Overwhere? / Girl Friday / The Clanking Castle Caper” (2/18/61) – Leonardo and Odie take the royal gems to London to get polished and Itchy steals them. / Tooter survives just fine in the army—until it’s time for actual combat. / The Fox takes a job as The Hunter’s secretary. / Odie lures Itchy into a beatnik coffee shop to get the gems back.

“The King and Me / Lumber-Quack or Topped / Stamp Stickup / The Loves of Mynetta Lion” (2/25/61) – Leonardo heads to Hollywood to make a movie. / Tooter discovers he doesn’t quite have the muscle for lumberjacking. / The Fox steals all the stamps in the world for his cut-rate post office. / Leonardo meets a beautiful starlet in Hollywood.

“The Sport of Kings / Jerky Jockey or KenduckyDerby / Statue of Liberty Play / Black is White” (3/4/61) – To get anyone to race him and his excellent horse, Leonardo puts the kingdom up as a prize. / Tooter’s jockey career ends in quicksand. / The Fox steals the Statue of Liberty. / Itchy switches horses with Leonardo and races to victory on his horse.

“True Blue Blues / Fired Fireman or Hook and Batter / Frankfurter Fix / My Dog Has Fleas” (3/11/61) – Odie decides to get Leonardo a dog to cheer him up, so Itchy decides to disguise himself as one. / Tooter finds being a fireman too hot to handle. / The Fox steals all of the hot dogs. / Itchy waits for his opportunity to steal the kingdom’s gold when fleas lead to his getting a bath.

“Lead Foot Leonardo / Sky Diver or Jump, Jerk, Jump ...! / The Case of the Missing Mowers / The Rat Race” (3/18/61) – Leonardo is gifted a go-cart and declares go-carting a national pastime. / Tooter goes skydiving. / The Fox steals lawn mowers to make go-carts. / Biggy and Itchy cheat to make Leonardo lose the big go-cart race.

“The Obey Ball / Tuesday Turtle or Private Pie / Fancy Fencing / Out of the Depths” (3/25/61) – Biggy and Itchy use a ball that follows their commands to get Obie fired while he and Leonardo play catch. / Tooter becomes a detective on the search for a pie thief. / While The Hunter learns how to fence, The Fox sells old jail cells as fences. / Itchy takes Obie’s place and gives Leonardo cement shoes so that he can sink him into the river.

“The Loco Play / Snafu Safari or Trackdown Tooter / Raquet Racket / Romeo and Joliet” (4/1/61) – Leonardo puts on a play for King Loco, but Biggy and Itchy plot to kidnap the star. / Tooter gets too much hassle from being a hunter. / The Fox steals all of the country’s tennis racquets. / Biggy and Itchy hold the play’s star for ransom.

“If at First You Don't Succeed / Anti-Arctic or North Pole Nuisance / Seeing Stars / Try, Try Again” (4/8/61) – To get Bongo Congo more publicity, Leonardo tries to accomplish some outlandish stunts. / Tooter becomes an arctic explorer. / The Fox steals a giant telescope to charge people in New Jersey to look at New York. / Leonardo and Odie climb the wrong mountain to beat Itchy and Biggy to a cash prize.

ROMAN ARAMBULA DEAD AT 83




You can read the announcement here.


He got his start in animation at Gamma Productions, working on the various Jay Ward Productions and Total TeleVision productions series that originated from there. Later, he provided layouts for Scooby Doo, Where Are You!, Josie and the Pussycats, Help!...It’s the Hair Bear Bunch!, The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, The Roman Holidays, Jeannie and Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch. He did storyboards for Little Shop, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, The Addams Family (1992), Droopy: Master Detective, Madeline, Taz-Mania, Pinky and the Brain, The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries and 101 Dalmatians: The Series. He also provided art for six issues of Marvel Comics’ Laff-a-Lympics comic series.

March 18, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: CASEY KASEM


CASEY KASEM
(April 27, 1932-June 15, 2014)


Notable Roles: Robin/Dick Grayson, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers, Alexander Cabot III, Bluestreak, Cliffjumper


Born Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem, he was inspired by the radio show Make Believe Ballroom to pursue a career in radio. His first job was covering sports at Northwestern High School in Detroit before voicing children characters on radio shows run by Wayne State University. In 1952, he was drafted into the Army and sent to Korea where he worked as a DJ/announcer on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. Following the war, Kasem returned to Michigan where he began his professional radio career; eventually winding up in California. While at KEWB in Oakland, Kasem served as both the music director and on-air personality. Inspired by a magazine he found in the trash, he created a show that mixed biographical tidbits about the artists and songs he played. Kasem’s career took off in 1963, starring in several low-budget movies and radio dramas, as well as hosting “dance hops” on local television. Those televised appearances attracted Dick Clark, who hired him as co-host of Shebang in 1964, which led to his appearing on other programs. Kasem’s vocal talents ended up driving him towards voice acting, which began with voicing Robin the Boy Wonder for Filmation’s The Adventures of Batman animated series. His breakout, and most well-known role was that of Shaggy Rogers in Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! for Hanna-Barbera. He would reprise the role across several series and made-for-TV movies, briefly quitting the role in a dispute over Shaggy being featured in a Burger King commercial (Kasem was vegan and requested Shaggy be at least vegetarian), up until his eventual retirement from voice acting. Kasem also reprised the role of Robin for Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends franchise. In 1970, Kasem, Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and Ron Jacobs launched the weekly 3-hour radio program American Top 40. The show would count down the week’s 40 biggest hits—according to the Billboard Hot 100 weekly chart—in ascending order to the most popular song. Like his earlier radio show, Kasem included biographical information, trivia, flashbacks, long-distance dedication segments and often used the answer to a trivia question he posed as a hook to keep people tuned in over a commercial break. He would play himself hosting the countdown in a voice cameo role in the 1984 film Ghostbusters. In 1983, Kasem helped found the American Video Awards in the hopes that it would become the Oscars of music videos; but the show only lasted until 1987 (MTV would launch their own awards show in 1984, which is still going as of this writing). In 1988, Kasem left American Top 40 over a contract dispute with ABC Radio Network and started Casey’s Top 40 with Westwood One, as well as Casey’s Hot 20 and Casey’s Countdown. The shows were essentially the same despite their varying lengths, except he used the Radio & Records’ chart. However, when Top 40 was cancelled in 1995, he regained the rights in 1997 and relaunched the program the following year with Premiere Radio Networks, along with two spin-offs both named American Top 20 (one of them eventually being cut down to 10). Along with further television guest-starring roles and various commercials, Kasaem starred as Mark in Battle of the Planets and played several roles in Transformers; eventually leaving the latter when he felt it contained offensive caricatures of Arab countries. From 1989-98, he hosted Nick at Nite’s New Year’s Eve countdown of the top reruns of the year. Kasem retired from Top 40 in 2004, with Ryan Seacrest taking over the show, and in 2009, Premiere ended its partnership with Kasem, cancelling American Top 20 and Top 10. 2009 also found him retiring from regular voice acting; however, he did reprise the role of Shaggy for “The Official BBC Children in Need Medley” uncredited, and Shaggy’s father, Colton Rogers, in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, also uncredited. In 2013, Kasem was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which left him unable to speak in his final months. He died in 2014. In 1981, Kasem was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1985, he was inducted into the Nation Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992. He also received the Radio Hall of Fame’s first lifetime achievement award in 1997. In 2003, he was awarded the Radio Icon award at the Radio Music Awards.


Saturday Credits:
American Bandstand
The Batman/Superman Hour
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!
Sesame Street
Josie and the Pussycats
Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space
The New Scooby-Doo Movies
Super Friends
Hong Kong Phooey
Emergency +4
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour
Dynomutt Dog Wonder
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March 14, 2020

THE NEW CASPER CARTOON SHOW


THE NEW CASPER CARTOON SHOW
(ABC, October 5-December 28, 1963)

Harvey Films, Famous Studios




MAIN CAST:


For the history of Casper, check out the post here.


             Casper the Friendly Ghost had been appearing in theatrical shorts produced by Paramount PicturesFamous Studios for seven years when Harvey Comics founder Alfred Harvey acquired the rights to produce comics based on the concept. His series began with #7, picking up from where the previous publisher, St. John Publications, left off. 

The first issue of the Harvey Comics series.


Initially, the Harvey Comics followed the theatrical shorts closely. Determining that to be very limiting due to their formulaic nature—Casper scared off potential friends because he was a ghost until he did something for them—the comics branched out and did their own thing beginning with Casper, The Friendly Ghost #20 (1953). Casper became a bit more well-adjusted and now lived in an Enchanted Forest where he had a plethora of friends (although the running gag of new beings he encountered being frightened by his lack of corporeal state was still used from time to time). Among them was Wendy, a good little witch, Nightmare, a talking ghost horse, the mischievous Spooky, who wore a derby and enjoyed scaring people, and Spooky’s girlfriend, Poil. Several of these characters appeared in the shorts at the same time, which was no surprise since the comics were written and drawn by members of Famous Studios. Casper also interacted with and befriended various other Harvey characters, including Hot Stuff, the little devil, and wealthy urchin Richie Rich.

Casper with Wendy, The Ghostly Trio, Nightmare and Spooky.

Casper was always depicted as residing in haunted houses with a group of indistinguishable ghosts who, unlike him, enjoyed scaring and often picked on Casper for his friendly ways. Harvey decided to take three of those ghosts and give them their own defining traits, eventually creating The Ghostly Trio. They were Fatso, the overweight and gluttonous (ghosts could eat in early stories) leader of the group due to his being marginally the smartest of the group and the toughest; Fusso, an average-looking ghost with extreme fussiness and attention to detail; and Lazo, the tallest, laziest and dumbest. It should be noted that only Fatso’s name remained consistent in their appearances, as sometimes the other two could have different names such as Eeko and Stretcho (which would become one of the official names circa the 1995 film).

Production cels of Wendy with her magically cursed dancing shoes.

In 1959, Harvey purchased the character outright along with several other Famous properties; giving him access to all the theatrical shorts produced after 1950 (the pre-1950 library had already been acquired by U.M. &M TV Corporation in 1956). Harvey put the shorts on television in the compilation series Matty’s Funday Funnies, which was sponsored by Mattel and presented by their mascots, Matty Mattel and Sister Belle. The original Paramount Noveltoons banner was changed to Harveytoons to reflect their new ownership. The series ran from October 11, 1959 until December 30, 1961 on ABC. Afterward, it entered syndication as Casper and Company without Mattel’s involvement. With the shorts doing well, Harvey decided to invest in some new material created specifically for television.

Casper and Wendy with The Evil Witch.

The New Casper Cartoon Show debuted on ABC on October 5, 1963. The series was comprised of classic Casper shorts with 26 new ones created by Famous Studios. However, unlike the Famous shorts, the new Paramount shorts followed the format of the Harvey Comics in everything from the setting to the supporting characters. Norma MacMillan voiced Casper, Wendy and all of the female characters, while Bradley Bolke voiced the Ghostly Trio, Spooky and all of the male characters. The music was by Winston Sharples. Many of the same crew who worked on the original theatrical shorts also worked on the television shorts. The series marked the final solo directorial work of prolific Famous Studios director Seymour Kneitel, who died of a heart attack in 1964.

Casper with his woodland friends.

Each episode was comprised of two Casper shorts, with one of the theatrical ones in between; typically, from the Modern Madcaps series. These new shorts were directly adapted from the Harvey Comics condensed to fit into a 5-minute runtime (an unusual reversal as the comics were usually inspired by the shorts). Although only 26 new Casper shorts were produced and aired entirely in their first season, ABC kept the program on their schedule until the end of 1969. The series entered into syndication, running either under its original New title, as Casper, or as The Casper Show.

The Ghostly Trio spooking.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment began releasing various segments onto VHS in 1992 in their own collections and with the theatrical shorts. The only segment not to see release was “The Bored Billionaire”, likely due to an instance of cigar smoking in the short. In 2011, Shout! Factory released Casper the Friendly Ghosts: The Complete Collection (1945-1963) onto DVD. The set contained every Casper short made until 1963, including the 26 for the show (although they weren’t presented as broadcast and lacked their opening and closing segments). Bonus features included commentary and interviews by Bolke, Edmee Reit (widow of Casper co-creator Seymour Reit), Alison Arngrim (daughter of MacMillan), and Mark Arnold (editor of The Harveyville Fun Times), as well as a gallery of comic book covers.



EPISODE GUIDE (new segments only):
“The Greedy Giants / Red Robbing Hood” (10/5/63) – Casper decides to help the Weeping Willow stop being teased by the other trees. / Casper helps vigilante Red Robbing Hood get his throne back from his evil cousin.

“The Lonesome Giant / A Visit From Mars” (10/12/63) – Casper tries to help a giant become friends with the forest animals. / A little Martian boy runs away to Earth and the Martians are convinced his “borrowed” saucer was stolen by humans.

“Bedtime Trouble / The Bored Billionaire” (10/19/63) – While The Ghostly Trio keeps him up, Casper tries to help an insomniac bear get some sleep with the help of the Sandman. / Casper saves a billionaire from a witch.

“City Snicker / Cold Wave” (10/26/63) – Casper wants to protect his visiting cousin Spooky from the strange noises in the night. / Casper has to stop an evil scientist from blocking the sun’s light from reaching Earth.

“Growing Up / Kings of Toyland” (11/2/63) – The Ghostly Trio give Casper a growth potion. / Casper settles a war between two kings.

“Little Lost Ghost / Mother Goose Land” (11/9/63) – Casper helps a little ghost find his mother. / Casper and Wendy have to save Mother Goose Land from the Ghostly Trio.

“The Professor’s Problem / Small Spooks” (11/16/63) – Casper helps another ghost turn a castle into a nursery. / The Ghostly Trio trick Casper into getting them shrinking pills so that they can scare all of the insects.

“Super Spooks / The Absent-Minded Robot” (11/23/63) – Casper recruits his muscular look-alike cousin to scare the Ghostly Trio out of bullying. / Casper tries to help a misfit robot make new friends in the forest.

“The Enchanted Horse / The Enchanted Prince” (11/30/63) – An evil magician gives Nightmare an apple that turns her into his slave. / Wendy helps Casper free a prince from an evil spell.

“The Heart of Gold / The Magic Touch” (12/7/63) – Casper helps Midas find a heart of gold to help free him from the golden touch. / Casper helps the Great Foozini perform his magic act.

“The Timid Knight / The Wandering Ghost” (12/14/63) – Casper helps a cowardly knight find courage to rescue the princess from a dragon. / Casper rescues a boatful of pilgrims from a sea monster.

“The Witching Hour / Twin Trouble” (12/21/63) – Casper has to help Wendy retrieve all of her furniture after a hex causes them to run away. / Wendy’s aunts and The Ghostly Trio create evil duplicates of Wendy and Casper to cause trouble.

“Weather or Not / Wendy’s Wish” (12/28/63) – The Ghostly Trio want to go scaring and send Casper out to check the weather. / Casper tries to fulfill Wendy’s wish for dancing shoes, but ends up giving her a cursed pair.