ANIMATION SPIN
June 27, 2017 posted by Greg Ehrbar

A Tribute to Bill Dana’s Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Records

In addition to classic comedy writing and performing, Bill Dana also left a legacy of cartoon magic with two albums he recorded for Hanna-Barbera’s short-lived label.

The Flintstones and Jose Jiminez in
THE TIME MACHINE

Hanna-Barbera Records Cartoon Series HLP-2052 (12 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)

Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Producer/Writer/Director: Charles Shows. Music: Hoyt Curtin, Ted Nichols. Editor: Dan Finnerty. Engineers: Richard Olsen, Bill Getty. Art Direction: Harvard Pennington. Hand Lettering: Robert Schaefer. Cover Art: Tony Sgroi, Fernando Arce. Running Time: 36 minutes

Voices: Bill Dana (Snoopy Jose); Henry Corden (Fred Flintstone, General Brass, Nero, Indian); Daws Butler (Barney Rubble, Dr. Werner Von Green, Marc Antony, Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin); Don Doolittle (Confucius, Opening Narrator).

Stories about time travel have a tendency to become trapped by the period of their origin. This album is a prime example, as perhaps the most dated of the entire Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Series. There is no attempt to disguise the year, rather, were told its 1966 several times during the adventure.

On this record, H.G. Wells gadget-style time machine is replaced by a NASA rocket ship at Cape Kennedy, which breaks exceeds the speed of light and breaks the time barrier (which also happened on a 1966 CBS sitcom called It’s About Time, which had some cool animated titles). There are also references to LBJ and TV commercials slogans, like “Put a Tiger in Your Tank”. Antony and Cleopatra are mistaken for Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (impressively impersonated with only two lines by the wondrous Janet Waldo) from the 1962 movie.

Those of us who continue to swoon over the comic tang of Hanna-Barbera Records are already familiar with such mid-sixties references. What makes the Jose Jiminez Time Machine album locked in its time is Jose Jiminez (which, for some reason, was spelled Jimenez almost everywhere else but on this album).

The story is better explained by others, so I’d rather Mark Evanier lead you to more info, including an interview with comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff. Jose was one of those comic characters–like Ed Grimley or The Church Lady and countless others that go back beyond Vaudeville, that take on a life of their own and become crowd pleasers, often to the point of eclipsing the performer inside them. Jose became problematic as a stereotype and Dana’s intention was always to entertain, not to hurt anyone, so he discontinued the character in 1970.

But four years earlier, Jose was still making appearances on sitcoms, variety shows and on stage. Dana also tried to make Jose into a cartoon character. Jim Korkis mentions one such attempt with Jack Kinney in one of his superb Animation Anecdotes posts.

In March of the same year that Hanna-Barbera released The Time Machine LP, Paramount released a Modern Madcap theatrical short called I Want My Mummy which may be the only time Jose was ever animated. Jerry Beck recalls:

Jose just didn’t cut it as an animated character. The Paramount short is pretty darn poor and hasn’t been seen since. It wasn’t even shown on Nickelodeon when they had the package of Paramount theatricals they used to run on Cartoon Kablooey and Weinerville, perhaps not wanting to take a chance that Jose might offend Hispanic people. It was co-written by Dana and cartoonist Howard Post, who was running the studio at the time. Post started production on the film but he was abruptly replaced by veteran animator Shamus Culhane. That might explain some of the film’s crudeness. Or maybe not. This was Culhane’s first credit for Paramount as a director–not a good start–in a job he’d hold for a year and a half before being replaced himself by Ralph Bakshi. That’s Bob McFadden doing all the other character voices.

One has to wonder where the Jose model sheets originated, since the Paramount and HBR designs are very close if not identical. Most likely the designs were Dana’s property as the owner of the character.

As Fred and Barney, Henry Corden and Daws Butler have been discussed on a Hanna-Barbera Spin about the very strange album Songs from Mary Poppins. Because of the numerous characters, the two great actors are given a chance to do a few other voices. Even in its day, the least dated jokes on the album seemed to be the funniest ones. One wonders whether Bill Dana added more than a few gags to this particular HBR script. Fred, Barney and Jose make quite an amusing comic trio with such sparkling repartee as this:

FRED: Barney, we’ve been in a lot of trouble in our day, but this time were in a real mess. Here we are thousands of miles above the earth, in a pilotless rocket driven by a nut from outer space.
BARNEY: It could be worse, Fred.
FRED: How could it possibly be worse, Barn?
BARNEY: Well, we could be up here without the rocket. (Hee-heee-heee-heee!)
FRED: Barney, how can you laugh at a time like this? We’re going thousands of miles an hour, and we don’t even know where we’re going!
BARNEY: I hadn’t thought of like that, Fred. Just where are we going, Jose?
JOSE: Where are we going? I dont even know where we’ve been!
FRED: You think this rocket is going back to Cape Kennedy, Jose?
JOSE: Oh, I hope so. I left my car double-parked.

In addition to Janet Waldo’s cameo performance, this album features one other actor who makes his sole Hanna-Barbera Records appearance, an actor named Don Doolittle, who plays Confucius. He was introduced in a looooooow budget 1962 sci-fi feature called Creation of the Humanoids, which has an interesting link to the HBR album. His film role as Dr. Raven, is only a few steps vocally from his Confucius voice for the album, and the narration that opens the Humanoids movie is identical in stentorian pomp to the opening of the Time Machine LP.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
The Flintstones and Jose Jiminez in The Time Machine

Like most HBR Cartoon Series records, the story divides into two segments: in which we meet Jose at Cape Kennedy, he pushes the little red button, meets Fred and Barney, and takes them with him; and then a series of historical adventures through time on side two.


THE NEW ALICE IN WONDERLAND or What’s Nice Kid Like You Doing in Place Like This?
From the Hanna-Barbera T.V. Special
Hanna-Barbera Records / Cartoon Series HLP- 2051 (12 Vinyl 33 rpm / Mono / 1966)

This is Bill Dana’s other project for Hanna-Barbera Records, and a personal favorite of your humble author. Through the magic of Facebook, at least Mr. Dana was able to know that he had just one more fan who loves his excellent Alice TV special and the record album.

We explored the album in detail in this previous Spin, which we hope youve enjoyed or will enjoy soon.

ALICE IN WONDERLAND, OR WHAT’S A NICE KID LIKE YOU DOING IN A PLACE LIKE THIS?
Capitol Custom Promotional Record / E.H. Morris & Company, Inc. (12 33 1/3 RPM One-Sided LP)
This is a very rare promo LP with the actual soundtrack songs from the special, which gave me the wonderful excuse to do yet another Spin about the special, which can be found here.

7 Comments

  • Bill Dana as Snoopy? The only Snoopy character that I heard of on any Hanna Barbera cartoon was from The Space Kidettes animated series from 1966. Snoopy who was voiced by Lucille Bliss and should not be confused with Snoopy the “World Famous Beagle” that appeared on the Peanuts comic strip. It would be funny if they had a comical Space adventure with Bill Dana’s Jose Jiminez character traveling to the future and meeting The Jetsons and the Space Kidettes.

    • ‘Twas a boo-boo.

  • Janet Waldo’s turn as Cleopatra on the “Time Machine” album has got to rank as one of her all-time best performances. She is amazingly sultry in just two lines of dialogue. I think she has one of the best gag lines on the album. Her delivery is perfect. This is, in fact, one of her best roles in the HBR albums, fleeting though it is.

    An aspect of the album that you did not address in the above article (spoiler alert, everyone!) is the ending. The first time I listened to this album–alas, many, many years after its initial release–I was so caught up in the story-line that I didn’t quite understand why Fred and Barney suddenly were not there at the end. I was stunned for a few minutes, trying to work it out. I had to listen to the last part over again before it really sank in that the whole adventure had been a dream.

    I think the ending is sort of forced and rushed after the story has taken its time in developing. It’s a bit jarring to say the least, and maybe not really fair to the listener who has devoted a half an hour to listening. Still, even given the wackiness of Jose’s character and the wackiness of “the Flintstones” the whole deal is so far-fetched that what else could it be but a dream in any context? Yet the ending as it stands doesn’t work for me.

    The album is highly reminiscent of the Flintstones episode “The Time Machine,” even to borrowing some of the encounters and gags. I feel the TV version had a better quality script. The album version seems as though it had been cobbled together at the last minute.

    It’s a shame in a way that the “Time Machine” album isn’t better than it is–although in terms of quality the “Alice” album makes up for it–and shows how good the HBR albums could be with better planning and less slapdash scripting. I have to give the “Time Machine” voice actors credit, however, for cleverly bringing to life a script that in many respects is not quite worthy of their talent.

  • I wonder how much work Shamus Culhane put into “I Want My Mummy” – it was probably too far gone for him to rescue it. He would do better with his “child” cartoons such as “My Daddy the Astronaut.”

  • “Terra Juana”?!?

  • I’m glad a whole new generation can enjoy Jose.
    He probably had the same demographic issue by the late 60s as a bunch of other older icons criticized by younger generations perhaps…

  • If there’s one thing I will say about Jose Jimenez, the caricature of him isn’t that bad at all. Perhaps it’s the face, but I sorta dig the way it’s drawn, and now they kept it consistent on the album and in the two cartoon appearances.

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