February 22, 2020


(NBC, December 14, 1957-April 2, 1960,
September 29, 1962-September 26, 1964)

H-B Enterprises, Screen Gems

Daws Butler – Reddy, Pinky, Scary Harry Safari, Captain Greedy, Killer, various
Don Messick – Ruff, Narrator, Professor Gizmo, Salt Water Daffy, Diller, Wooly, Ubble-ubble, various
Jimmy Blaine – Host (1957-60)
Rufus Rose – Rhubarb the Parrot (1957-60)
Bobby “Nick” Nicholson – Jose the Toucan (1957-60)
“Captain Bob” Cottle – Host (1962-64)

            By the 1950s, theatrical shorts were falling out of favor and were no longer profitable. The various movie studios began closing their animation divisions in favor of packaging their back catalogue for airing on the growing medium of television. Casualties of these cuts were William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, who found themselves out of a job after 18 years at MGM Studios. They decided to keep their partnership going by creating their own studio, H-B Enterprises (later known as Hanna-Barbera Productions), and work on breaking into the growing TV market.

Ruff, Reddy and a couple of their supporting characters.

Taking a cue from their tenure on Tom and Jerry cartoons, Hanna and Barbera created another contrasting pair of characters: Ruff, a resourceful cat, and Reddy, a good-natured but dimwitted dog who often became enraged at bullies. However, unlike Tom and Jerry, these stereotypical rivals were instead portrayed as friends and could speak. Knowing one of the factors for the decline of theatrical cartoon shorts was their hefty production price tag—upwards of $30,000 or more per short—Hanna and Barbera looked into more economical ways to produce a cartoon. They devised a method of limited animation that would convey key poses that created the illusion of movement, as well as a lot of medium and close shots to avoid having to render an entire figure. Some of these poses could also be reused and recycled into future entries, like how they stood or walked. Ruff was given a bowtie and Reddy a collar to separate their heads from their bodies so that animators would only have to animated their heads instead of the full body. These methods would reduce the number of drawings needed per cartoon, as well as the amount of ink and painting required.

Host Jimmy Blaine with Jose and Rhubarb.

            Around the same time, NBC was looking to compete with the success CBS had found by airing their acquired library of Terrytoons cartoons in Mighty Mouse Playhouse and The Heckle and Jeckle Cartoon Show. NBC had purchased a number of theatrical shorts from Columbia Pictures; unfortunately, Columbia’s library lacked a suitable leading feature to market such a venture around. Columbia’s television division, Screen Gems, was one of the groups Hanna and Barbera pitched their idea to and the only one receptive to it. Screen Gems proposed to NBC to use Ruff and Reddy as a wraparound segment for the old theatrical shorts. NBC agreed, but they weren’t sure they could market a program entirely composed of cartoons. They added a live-action host, Jimmy Blaine, and his two puppet sidekicks, Rhubarb the Parrot (Rufus Rose) and Jose the Toucan (Nick Nicholson), to perform skits between segments. The other animated features shown were Fox and Crow and Lil Abner.

Storyboard for misadventures with Pee-Wee the tiny horse.

            The Ruff and Reddy Show debuted on NBC on December 14, 1957, becoming not only Hanna-Barbera’s first production, but the first cartoon made explicitly for Saturday morning broadcast. Hanna and Barbera’s techniques managed to get their price per show down to around $2800 (the most NBC was willing to pay), further helped by using only Daws Butler and Don Messick in every role on the program (actors were paid by the session at the time). With limited movement, the writing and music had to compensate for any shortcomings in the animation in order to keep audiences entertained. Hanna wrote the theme song, with musical director Hoyt Curtin composing the music. Despite the fact that most programs were being produced and broadcast in black and white, Hanna and Barbera had an inkling that color was the future and made Ruff and Reddy in full color (in which was broadcast by 1959).

Fending off aliens.

The series was written by Barbera, Charles Shows, Frank Baron and Homer Brightman as an ongoing serial broken up into three (occasionally four) chapters per episode running under four minutes, each; similar to the first animated TV series, Crusader Rabbit (copying established shows would become another Hanna-Barbera trademark over the years). Ruff (Messick) and Reddy (Butler, using a southern drawl) could be abducted by aliens, fall into trouble with one of Professor Gizmo’s (Messick) inventions, end up chased by hunter Harry Safari (Butler), fall to the mercy of twin outlaws Killer (Butler) and Diller (Messick), encounter prehistoric creatures or be stranded at sea at the mercy of pirates Captain Greedy (Butler) and Saltwater Daffy (a play on saltwater taffy, voiced by Messick).

Ruff and Reddy serving as pitchmen for picture tubes.

Despite an intensive marketing campaign advertising the new show, Ruff and Reddy didn’t perform so well in its opening weeks; due in large part to the show being preempted by various NBC affiliates in many markets in favor of local programming. However, once the show was aired unobstructed, it became a massive success for the network and H-B Enterprises. So much so, that NBC quickly signed Hanna and Barbera to a five-year contract to produce and develop additional programs, launching the almost five-decade career of the studio. Ruff and Reddy itself ran for 3 seasons before it was cancelled in 1960.

Ad for Ruff and Reddy starring "Captain Bob".

The show would return to the network in reruns in 1962, sans the theatrical shorts and hosted by “Captain Bob” Cottle: a local children’s show host out of Boston. Unlike the skits and songs of the original run, “Captain Bob” essentially turned the program into a duplicate of his other show, The Nature World of Captain Bob (which he hosted concurrently). He would go on adventures with his own group of puppets to protect the environment, or to teach kids how to draw. The new Ruff and Reddy would prove a hit for the network, often beating CBS’ Captain Kangaroo in the ratings and earning praise from critics and parents alike. Despite that, however, the show ended its run in 1964 while “Captain Bob” continued to host his own show. Ruff and Reddy would next appear with an assortment of characters in 1972’s Yogi’s Ark Lark, part of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie. Ruff appeared by himself for the first time in an episode of Yogi’s Treasure Hunt as a newspaper vendor.

Cover to #8 of the Dell comic series.

Dell Comics published a Ruff and Reddy comic from 1958-62. The first three issues were printed as part of their Four Color series, with the actual series beginning from #4. The duo returned to comics in 2017 as part of DC Comics’ reimagining of Hanna-Barbera properties. They appeared in a back-up feature of Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1 where they were 1950s stand-up comedians-turned-TV Stars. It was followed-up by the six-issue The Ruff & Reddy Show by Howard Chaykin and Marc Rey, which followed the pair trying to reclaim their fame after their show was cancelled. There were also two books published: Go to A Party as part of Whitman’s Tell-A-Tale series in 1958, and a Little Golden Book was released in 1959. Watkins Strathmore published a coloring book in 1960.

Ruff and Reddy and Their Friends album cover, featuring some of their foes and friends.

1958 also saw the release of a spelling card game, and a record, Adventures in Space, containing the audio recording of the first story arc with narration taking the place of the animated action. It was released by Colpix Records. Little Golden Records also released two more LPs featuring the characters: And Professor Gizmo featuring Gilbert Mack and The Sandpipers and And Their Friends featuring Jimmy Carroll and his orchestra. Transogram released the board game Spills and Thrills of the Circus in 1962 that saw Ruff and Reddy and their friends in an adventure in a circus setting, as well as an erasable coloring set. In 1990, the computer game Ruff and Reddy in the Space Adventure was released, developed by PAL Developments and published by Hi-Tec Software Ltd. Also available at one point were a set of finger puppets and plush dolls.

Reddy and Ruff selling cereal.

Episodes of the series were released on the Animal Follies volume of the Hanna-Barbera Presents Personal Favorites series on VHS in 1988 and LaserDisc in 1989. “Planet Pirates” was announced to be one of the included episodes of The Best of Warner Bros.: Hanna-Barbera 25 Cartoon Collection DVD set in 2013, but was one of several not actually included in the set. A complete series collection has yet to see release.

Season 1:
“Planet Pirates / Night Flight Fright / The Whama Bama Gamma’ Gun” (12/14/57) – Ruff and Reddy are abducted by aliens. / Ruff and Reddy take over the UFO. / Reddy gets rid of the aliens but finds the ship is heading towards a planet.

“The Mastermind of Muni-Mula / The Mad Monster of Muni-Mula / Hocus Pocus Focus” (12/21/57) – The Mastermind of the alien planet wants to make robotic duplicates of Ruff and Reddy. / Reddy tries to stop the robots from being made and ends up brainwashed. / Ruff tries to rescue Reddy while avoiding being captured by him.

“Muni-Mula Mix-Up / Creepy Creature Feature / The Creepy Creature” (12/28/57) – Reddy’s mind returns just in time for them to be captured again. / Mastermind is revealed to be an enslaved Gizmo. / The Creepy Creature is set after Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo.

“Surprise in the Skies / Crowds in the Clouds / Reddy’s Rocket Rescue” (1/4/58) – Ruff and Gizmo are forced to flee the planet without Reddy. / Gizmo and Ruff go back for Reddy, who has acquired a flying helmet. / Gizmo manages to rescue Reddy and destroy the Muni-Mula force.

“Rocket Ranger Danger / Pinky the Pint Sized Pachyderm / Last Trip of a Ghost Ship” (1/11/58) – Gizmo’s ship is hit by a meteor and crashes on Earth. / Ruff and Reddy are tasked with helping a baby elephant get to Africa. / Ruff, Reddy and Pinky set sail on a ghost ship.

“The Irate Pirate / Dynamite Fright / Marooned in Typhoon Lagoon” (1/18/58) – A pirate forces Ruff, Reddy and Pinky to be his crew. / Ruff, Reddy and Pinky escape and end up stranded at sea. / Ruff, Reddy and Pinky end up on an island where Ruff finds himself captured.

“Scarey Harry Safari / Jungle Jitters / Bungle in the Jungle” (1/25/58) – Hunter Harry Scary uses Ruff as bait to lure out a lion. / Ruff rescues the lion. / The lion rescues Reddy from Harry and they all escape.

“Miles of Crocodiles / A Creep in the Deep / Hot Shot’s Plot” (2/1/58) – Ruff, Reddy and Pinky end up surrounded by crocodiles during their escape. / Reddy rescues the others but remains trapped himself. / Ruff and Reddy have to rescue Pinky from Harry who took him in order to trap his mother.

“The Gloom of Doom / The Trapped Trap the Trapper / Westward Ho Ho Ho” (2/8/58) – Harry comes out on top and traps everyone. / Harry turns out to be out of ammo and Ruff and Reddy begin their trek back home. / Ruff and Reddy win a free vacation that takes them to a ghost town.

“A Slight Fright on a Moonlight Night / Asleep While a Creep Steals Sheep / Copped by a Copter” (2/15/58) – Mobsters chase Ruff and Reddy from the ghost town. / Reddy helps a sheepdog save his sheep from some rustlers. / Reddy is taken with the sheep to the rustlers’ hideout in the ghost town via helicopter.

“The Two Terrible Twins from Texas / Killer and Diller in a Chiller of a Thriller / A Friend to the End” (2/22/58) – Reddy is discovered and captured. / Reddy is dumped into a speeding mine cart. / Ruff and the sheepdog rescue Reddy and then the sheep.

“Heels on Wheels / The Whirly-Bird Catches the Worms / The Boss of Double-Cross” (3/1/58) – Ruff, Reddy and the sheepdog chase the rustlers. / Ruff, Reddy and the sheepdog commandeer the rustlers’ helicopter and give chase. / The rustlers manage to escape.

“Ship-Shape Sheep / Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ / Hot Lead for a Hot-Head” (3/8/58) – The rustlers return and capture Reddy and the sheepdog. / Ruff ends up captured and is forced to duel Reddy. / Ruff and Reddy trick and defeat the rustlers.

“The Treasure of Dubloon / Blunder Down Under / The Metal Monster Mystery” (3/15/58) – A seal follows Ruff and Reddy home. / Ruff and Reddy try to capture the seal for a reward. / Gizmo recruits Ruff and Reddy for his treasure hunt in the Blue Lagoon.

“The Late, Late Pieces of Eight / The Goon of Doubloon Lagoon / Two Dubs in a Sub” (3/22/58) – An enemy submarine closes in as Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo dive for treasure. / The trio are captured by the submarine and taken to a secret grotto. / The seal arrives to free the trio.

“Big Deal with a Small Seal / A Real Keen Submarine / No Hope for a Dope on a Periscope” (3/29/58) – The seal defeats Captain Greedy and Saltwater Daffy. / Greedy and Daffy get the upper hand, but the seal creates a distraction. / The seal saves Reddy from drowning only to end up captured by Daffy.

“Rescue in the Deep Blue / A Whale of a Tale of a Tail of a Whale / Welcome Guest in a Treasure Chest / Pot Shot Puts Hot Shot on a Hot Spot” (4/5/58) – The seal and Reddy escape but end up chased by a shark. / Reddy and the seal hitch a ride on a whale. / The seal joins Ruff on Gizmo’s sub to prepare a surprise for Greedy. / Greedy and Daffy get the treasure ship, but the weight of the gold causes them to sink.

Season 2:
“Egg Yeggs / The Dummy Mummy” (12/13/58) – Ruff and Reddy help Gizmo protect his Chickasaurus egg from thieves. / Killer and Diller disguise themselves as mummies to steal the egg.

“The Chickenhearted Chickosaurus Chase / The Chickasaurus Crack-Up / The Slick Chickasaurus Chick Trick” (12/20/58) – Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo chase after the egg after it falls out of the theives’ truck. / The egg falls down a cliff and begins to hatch. / The egg only partially hatches when Killer and Diller return for it.

“The Chicken-Hearted Chickasaurus / Chickasaurus Choo Choo! / Rumble in the Jungle” (12/27/58) – Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo end up entangled with the fleeing Chickasaurus. / Killer and Diller chase the Chickasaurus in their helicopter. / Ruff and Reddy end up in the jungle with a T-Rex.

“The Sorehead Tyrranosaurus / Two Eyes Spy on the Guys / Double-Trouble with Ubble-Ubble / A Chick in Need is a Chick Indeed” (1/3/59) – Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo hide in a cave where something else dwells. / Caveboy Ubble-Ubble rescues the trio from the T-Rex before Killer and Diller kidnap him. / Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo end up confronted by a saber-toothed tiger. / Ubble-Ubble ends up in a Chickasaurus nest.

“Quick Trick Saves a Slick Chick / Scary Tale on the Canyon Trail / Borrowed Burro in a Burrow” (1/10/59) – The thieves are defeated and Gizmo adopts Ubble-Ubble. / Harry overhears about a pint-sized pony at the Grand Canyon. / Harry sends Reddy away on an out-of-control donkey.

“Pint Size Surprise for the Guys / Reddy and Me and Pee-Wee Makes Three / Hoss Thief Grief” (1/17/59) – Ruff and Reddy track down the donkey to discover he has found the small pony. / Pee-Wee the pony leads Harry on a merry chase. / Harry manages to lasso Pee-Wee, but the horse isn’t going quietly.

“Tricked and Trapped by a Tricky Trapper / Harry Safari and the Phoney Pony / Frantic Antics of Poco Loco” (1/24/59) – Pee-Wee escapes Harry and hides in Reddy’s hat. / The donkey rescues the others from gunpoint. / Pee-Wee’s mother alerts his friends that he’s been captured.

“Nag in a Bag / Bungled Bundle of Boodle / Chump’s Jumps Bring Bumps Lumps” (1/31/59) – Ruff and Reddy chase after Harry and Pee-Wee. / Harry plans to make Pee-Wee an attraction in his carnival. / Pee-Wee is forced to perform while waiting for his rescue.

“Show-Biz-Wiz / These Three Set Pee-Wee Free / Fantastic Phantom” (2/7/59) – Ruff, Reddy and the donkey infiltrate the carnival. / Ruff and Reddy rescue Pee-Wee disguised as clowns. / Ruff and Reddy subdue a burglar that turns out to be a leprechaun.

“Long Gone Leprechaun / The Goon of Glocca Morra / Bungle in Banshee Castle” (2/14/59) – The leprechaun makes off with Reddy’s gold watch. / The leprechaun tells them that an evil being has kidnapped their princess and taken their gold. / Ruff and Reddy head to Ireland to help.

“Afloat in a Moat with no Boat / Too Soon the Goon / Smitten by a Kitten / Mr. Small Meets Mr. Tall in the Hall—That is All” (2/21/59) – Ruff and Reddy have to find a way inside the castle. / Ruff disappears and Reddy is shrunken by the leprechaun to get inside. / Reddy ends up chased by the Goon’s cat. / Reddy has to get past the cat to rescue Ruff from a cell.

“Going-Going Goon / A Scarey Chase Thu a Spooky Place with a Goony-Face / Big Bang Boom in a Real Small Room” (2/28/59) – Reddy is intercepted by the Goon. / Reddy manages to free Ruff and they run away. / The Goon plans to blast Ruff out of a turret with a cannon.

“Gold Room Doom / Three See the Wee Princess Free / Missile Fizzle” (3/7/59) – Ruff and Reddy search for the princess. / Ruff and Reddy free the princess and shrink the Goon to become a toy for his cat. / Reddy accidentally launches Gizmo’s moon rocket early.

“Missing Missile Mystery / Never Land in Never-Neverland / Polar Bear Scare” (3/14/59) – The rocket returns to Earth way off course. / Greedy and Daffy track down the rocket’s capsule. / Reddy tries to save a Viking boy from a polar bear.

“A Liking for a Striking Viking / Bear Hunting is for the Birds / Beep-Beep from the Deep-Deep” (3/21/59) – Ruff, Reddy, Gizmo and Olaf the Viking find the capsule, but Olaf wants to fight the bear. / Olaf uses his pet falcon to chase the bear away. / Ruff, Gizmo and Olaf search for food as Greedy and Daffy arrive.

“Two Friends in a Submarine / Muscle Man Meets Missile Man / Bull Fight Fright” (3/28/59) – Greedy and Daffy take Ruff and Gizmo hostage. / Greedy forces Gizmo to lead them to the capsule. / Olaf attacks Greedy and Daffy while his falcon alerts Reddy.

“Reddy Clobbers Robbers / Machine Gun Fun / Bad Guys Meet the Good Guys” (4/4/59) – Reddy clobbers Daffy and accidentally clobbers Gizmo as well. / Olaf tries to take Greedy’s gun but it goes haywire. / Olaf calls on a horde of Vikings to deal with Greedy.

Season 3:
“Dizzy Deputies / Later Later, Alligator / Gator Caper” (12/19/59) – Swamp pirate Jean La Fitt spoils Ruff and Reddy’s fishing trip. / Ruff and Reddy are deputized by Sheriff Cotton E. Pickens and end up chased by an alligator. / The alligator becomes friends with Ruff.

“Chip off the Old Chopper / La Fitt to Be Tied / Hide and Go Seek on Okeechonokee Creek” (12/26/59) – Ruff names the alligator Chopper and lets him join their crew. / The crew almost nabs La Fitt but he manages to escape. / Ruff, Reddy and the Sheriff search for La Fitt’s hideout.

“Boom Boom Doom / Spellbound Fool in a Round Whirlpool / Fast Chase Through a Spooky Place” (1/2/60) – La Fitt attacks the crew with his cannons. / La Fitt creates a whirlpool to stop his pursuers. / The crew resumes the search for La Fitt’s hideout.

“Looks Like the End for a Cotton Picking Friend / No Laff on Half of a Raft / Gator Thrills and Whooshmobiles / Trapped and Snapped Sap” (1/9/60) – The Sheriff nearly meets his demise. / Chopper destroys the raft the crew is riding on. / Ruff turns Chopper into a new transport. / Chopper helps trap La Fitt.

“Spooky Meeting at Spooky Rock / Dig the Bigger Digger / The Secret Bizz of Professor Gizz” (1/16/60) – Ruff and Reddy head to Spooky Rock to meet Gizmo. / Gizmo shows off his mobile borer that he plans to use to gather data. / Killer and Diller spot Gizmo using his device.

“Test Hop Flip Flop / Sticks and Stones and Aching Bones / Gun, Gun Who’s Got the Gun?” (1/23/60) – Killer and Diller plan to steal the borer to find a lost mine. / Killer and Diller steal the borer and kidnap Gizmo. / Ruff and Reddy get the drop on Killer and Diller.

“Big Papoose on the Loose / Mine, Mine All Mine Gold Mine / Gold Data in the Substrata” (1/30/60) – A bump in the road frees Killer and Diller. / Killer and Diller escape by jumping off a bridge into a river. / All the players discover different entrances to a mine.

“The Ghost with the Most / In the Soup with a Supernatural Snoop / Sneaky Knaves in the Caves / Tailspin Twins” (2/6/60) – Ruff, Reddy and Gizmo encounter a ghost in the mine named Schultz. / Killer and Diller force their gold to be transported in the borer. / Schultz rescues his friends while having fun with Killer and Diller. / Schultz lets the thieves take what gold they can carry, knowing it will disappear once they leave the mine.

“Sky High Fly Guys / A Tisket, a Tasket, Who Lost Their Basket? / Three’s a Crowd in a Cloud” (2/13/60) – Ruff and Reddy hide from a carnival cop in a hot-air balloon, which then takes off. / Ruff and Reddy try to deal with being airborne. / Ruff and Reddy have to protect their balloon from a giant vulture.

“Fine Feathered Birds of a Feather / A Bird in Hand is a Handy Bird / No Laffy Daffy” (2/20/60) – Ruff and Reddy land on an island where they hear a mysterious call for help. / They find Swedish sailor Skipper Kipper and his parrot Squawky held by Greedy and Daffy for a treasure map. / Daffy discovers Ruff and Reddy.

“Tiff on a Skiff / Sub a Dub Dub / Squawky no Talky” (2/27/60) – Ruff and Reddy help Kipper and Squawky escape. / They steal Greedy’s sub to make their getaway. / Greedy reclaims his sub and threatens Squawky’s life for the map.

“Big Break Tweaks Big Sneak / Off on a Toot with the Loot to Boot / Thanks a Lot for X Marks the Spot / Tail of a Sail in a Whale” (3/5/60) – Squawky manages to get the upper hand on Daffy. / Greedy and Daffy pretend to leave the island as Kipper reveals the map to Ruff and Reddy. / Greedy and Daffy return to claim the treasure. / Greedy and Daffy make off with the treasure, which ends up getting swallowed by a whale.

“Misguided Missile / Triple Trouble Trip / Around the Moon in Eighty Ways” (3/12/60) – Ruff and Reddy answer an ad promising adventure and they end up tricked into a rocket ship. / Ruff and Reddy are instructed to gather information about the moon as they orbit it. / A mistake sends the rocket off course.

“Button, Button, Who Pushed the Button? / No Traces of Aces of Spaces / Lilipunies Meet Mooney Goonies” (3/19/60) – The rocket crashes on a mysterious planet. / Ruff and Reddy are captured by the tiny Lilipunies. / Ruff and Reddy try to talk their way out of captivity.

“Little Guys are a Big Surprise / Two is Company—A Million is a Little Crowded / Big Bop for a Big Flop” (3/26/60) – The Lilipunies are menaced by a giant creature called the Blop. / Reddy decides to defend the Lilipunies. / Reddy fights off the Blop, who ends up capturing Ruff.

“Things Get Rough For Ruff—Sure ‘Nuff / Whap—Caught in a Trap by a Sap / Spin, Spin a Web to Catch a Blop In / Have Blop, Will Travel” (4/2/60) – Reddy searches for Ruff. / The Lilipunies construct a spider web to help Reddy capture the Blop. / Ruff and Reddy retreat to their rocket. / The Blop steals their rocket, but the Lilipunies offer Ruff and Reddy another transport to Earth.

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