MARK KAUSLER
July 18, 2016 posted by

Mark Kausler on Ed Graham Jr.’s “Linus The Lionhearted”

Ed Graham worked at the Young & Rubicam agency in New York in 1957. He was the account man on the Piels Bros. Beer commercials, working with Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding as Bert and Harry Piel. Ed made two short live action films with Bob Elliot called “Test Dive Buddies” and “Kid Gloves” in 1959 and 1960. Working with the team of Bob and Ray probably inspired his love of “improv” comedians doing voice tracks for animated cartoons. When Graham began working with the Post Cereals account, he produced spots featuring Sheldon Leonard as a prototype Linus and Gerry Matthews and Ruth Buzzi as Sugar Bear and Granny Goodwitch in Sugar Crisp commercials.

Graham brought about a small miracle by getting General Foods (makers of Post Cereals), to fund a TV series featuring characters promoting cereal products and featured in entertaining stories for a family audience. The good side of this idea was that the cartoons could be made with a higher production budget, the bad side was that by 1969, the FCC decided that they would no longer allow a show that featured the same characters in the advertising and entertainment portions. This put a stop to Linus and his friends–but there were good stories to look back on.


THE COMEDY OF LINUS

A film frame from "Shadow Thief"

A film frame from “Shadow Thief”

Ed Graham conducted the dialog recording sessions for the “Linus” show as his private province. None of the storyboard, layout or animation artists were invited to sit-in or take part in the sessions. Graham used comedians he liked for the main voices–Carl Reiner did Billy Bird and Sasha the Grouse as well as Dinny the kangaroo. Reiner could make Billy sound high pitched and teasing, while Sasha was in a lower register and continually kvetching and expressing disdain for all the animals in the Jungle. He could also be an evil trickster. In one of my favorite Linus cartoons: “Shadow Thief”, Sasha resents Billy Bird casting his shadow over the earth-bound carcass of the Grouse. With a powerful vacuum cleaner, a mysterious unseen character sucks up all of the animals’ shadows and forms them into one gigantic shadow that darkens the entire jungle. Linus reveals that it’s Sasha who stole all the shadows and orders the reluctant grouse to cut all the animal shadow shapes out of the composite shadow and return them. Billy points out that the Grouse took suspicion off himself by vacuuming his own shadow.

This episode has a strong visual gag at the finish that ties in to the “dee-lish-ious” animal shapes in Linus’s cereal, Post Crispy Critters. Because of the way the tracks were recorded and the improv attitude that Graham and his head writer Bill Schnurr encouraged, good beginnings and second acts were too often followed by weak conclusions.

Two frames fro "Truly Chewy"

Two frames fro “Truly Chewy”

“Truly Chewy” is an example of a cartoon with a weak ending, but a funny premise. A thief named “Chewy Louie” steals an ocean liner, complete with passengers. Louie is addicted to bubble gum and keeps leaving sticky clues around as he robs a bank and steals a painting to decorate his stolen ocean liner. Lovable Truly the POSTman (Post Alpha-Bits) tries to give a special delivery letter to the detective Frank Cuddleback all through the picture. The letter reveals that Chewy Louie is the master thief. Lovable also has a letter for Chewy, which he forms into a paper airplane. Lovable directs the paper airplane letter toward the giant bubble gum bubble that Louie blew to facilitate his escape (like most cartoon characters, Louie exhales helium). In the last 15 seconds of the cartoon, the letter pops Louie’s bubble, he crashed to the ground, and is instantly tied up by Frank Cuddleback–in a very overworked layout, the camera pans left to reveal the stolen ocean liner, and a passenger says, “We’re home for dinner now!” This ending feels pushed and doesn’t capitalize on the absurdity of Chewy Louie being able to hide the stolen ship from the law.

The So-Hi (Post Sugar Rice Krinkles) cartoon: “The Cat Who Looked At A Queen” has a more successful ending typical of Graham’s improv approach. Paul Frees does the voice of So-Hi’s cat, who gets an “overpowering urge to look at a Queen”. So-Hi takes the cat to the palace where the Mandarin cat keeps shocking the Queen by ogling her inappropriately. Fredrieka Weber, as the voice of the Queen, does some very funny raspy screams whenever she gets too much of the cat’s prying eyes. So-Hi comes up with a scheme, he pretends to see a mouse in the palace to justify the cat’s unwelcome presence. The cat doesn’t try very hard to catch the rodent, and the Queen remarks to him, “Less looking, more mousing”.

"Cat Who Looked At A Queen"

“The Cat Who Looked At A Queen”

In a risque scene, the cat shows up in bed with the Queen and comments: “You even snore beautiful”. The cat eventually catches a real mouse and holds it up for the Queen to see. She screams and exits fast as the mouse remarks: “Not much of a look”. “Moral of story, honorable children friends”: Better to Be Looked Over, than Over-Looked. As the curtains close over So-Hi’s little stage we hear the cat saying: “Now I got overpowering urge to look at a KING.” The little asides in the So-Hi cartoons behind the curtains didn’t need to be lip-synced to the characters, and were often the funniest part of the story. They feel improvised.

The comedy in ‘Linus’ owed a lot to Tex Avery and his discovery of “Heckler” characters. Daffy Duck’s harassment of Porky Pig in Porky’s Duck Hunt started a trend. It changed cartoon humor from musical gags and melodramatic plots to broad slapstick. Linus’s jungle and his show were filled with hecklers. Ed Graham voiced the Mockingbird that followed Linus, Sugar Bear and Billy Bird around and annoyed them by imitating their voices. Graham was good at imitating Sheldon Leonard’s way of breaking up words: “dee-lic-ee-ous”, “croc-od-dil-ee”, etc.

Sugar Bear in "Room For One More"

Sugar Bear in “Room For One More”

Sugar Bear was a heckler par excellence, but he was a very cool heckler. If Granny Goodwitch had something he wanted, there was nothing she could do, no magic spell could she cast, to keep him out of her hair. In “Room For One More”, the first Sugar Bear cartoon, Granny tries to keep the pesky bear from moving in to her rental room that she keeps to rent to humans only. Sugar Bear has one basic facial expression, a deadpan bemused half-smile, eyebrows tilted down over half-closed eyes. He usually is strumming his Banjo and singing a lot of old Bing Crosby hits like “Pennies From Heaven”, and “Old Man Mose Done Kicked the Bucket”.

To discourage Sugar Bear from wanting to live in her rental room, Granny conjures up a tiger, an elephant and tries to enclose the persistent bear inside a brick wall, all to no avail. Granny is kind of insane in her early appearances, as she casts each spell she cackles like a banshee, loud and long with a well-animated laugh cycle. Sugar Bear drives her so crazy that she blows her house up with TNT as a last attempt to get rid of him. “Room For One More” has a strong finish, as Granny’s house is destroyed, she rents a room in Sugar Bear’s treehouse. He says to her: “Glad to have you aboard roomie, just wanted to remind you about paying your rent promptly”, as Granny throws a pillow at him, and he slyly winks to the audience.

"So-Hi and The Bamboo Stalk"

“So-Hi and The Bamboo Stalk”

This cartoon capitalizes and expands upon the Sugar Crisp commercials that Ed Graham produced, pitting Granny’s magic against Sugar Bear’s outrageous persistence. Later on Graham introduced Mervyn the Magician (a very evil, but inept wizard) and Benjie Wolf, who stuttered so badly he couldn’t get to the end of a line without correcting himself. This proved to be more confusing and annoying than amusing.

Ed Graham loved to tell the story (in TV Guide) of Jonathan Winters’ improvised lines as the Giant in “So-Hi and the Bamboo Stalk”. The Giant swats his foot with a big club in a vain attempt to kill So-Hi, and hops around the Castle painfully exclaiming in Asian agony: “Jumping Buddha”, “Twisted Sneaker” and other oaths. This sounded so funny in the recording room that Graham said he expanded the Giant’s foot scene to three minutes–but–when you look at the cartoon, the sequence only runs fifteen seconds and the music and effects tracks nearly drown out Winters’ dialog. It seems like the film editor didn’t share Graham’s love for the improv session.

"Rory's Circus Act"

“Rory’s Circus Act”

Another character built by the sounds it made was “Zeke the Racclown” featured in the Rory Raccoon cartoons–Rory’s cereal was Post Toasties. In “Rory’s Circus Act” (1964), Rory wants to perform in the Bungling Bros. Circus. He meets Zeke, a veteran clown and a seedy old joker. Zeke has a snorty laugh a bit like a donkey bray that is accented by a funny twist of his head. A good quality of the Ed Graham cartoons is the that the character drawings look funny and appealing and the animation is a step above most early 1960s TV stuff. “Rory’s Circus Act” has a lot of fully animated scenes of Rory being smacked around the Circus tent by a strong man who sounds like Frank Fontaine and a disgruntled seal. Rory’s stint with the Linus show was short-lived, despite the good vocal performances of Bob McFadden as Rory and Jesse White as C. Claudius Crow. Rory’s segment was replaced by Sugar Bear early in the ‘64 season. There are 7 orphaned Rory Raccoon cartoons that were not syndicated.

"My Fuzzy Fugitive"

“My Fuzzy Fugitive”

“My Fuzzy Fugitive”, with Lovable Truly, was a rare cartoon for the TV era, it’s a chase picture that has some handsome looking 6 drawing pan cycles on ones of Lawrence the dog being pursued by Richard Harry Nearly, silent movie star and part-time dog catcher, at the beginning. Lawrence is resourceful, disguising himself as a man (like Gene Deitch’s “A Tale of A Dog”), and running into an unfinished skyscraper as Lovable and R.H. Nearly trade the pursued pooch back and forth. Richard Nearly falls into a chute in the Post Office and winds up in a sack full of dead letters. Lawrence gives Lovable mucho tongue slurps as the Postman tells hem: “If you wanna lick something, I’ll get you some stamps!”.

“The Jester Who Took Himself Seriously”

“The Jester Who Took Himself Seriously”

“The Jester Who Took Himself Seriously” is a So-Hi cartoon that features a Jester who can actually throw pies at himself, and who falls in love with a gloomy Princess, voiced by Fredrieka Weber. The Jester sobers up under the Princess’s influence and becomes so morose that the King fires him. But he regains his position when he gets fed up with the gloomy Princess and substitutes her face for his in the pie-throwing routine. Under the falling curtain at the end of the cartoon, the Jester remarks: “That no Lady, that ALMOST my wife!” This line has an old-jokey, improvised feel to it.


STUDIO LIFE

linus-bird170What kind of a place was Ed Graham’s studio to work for? Bob Kurtz, who did storyboards and designed incidental characters for the Linus show in the 1964 season, enjoyed it at first. He worked with his friends Corny Cole and Bob Dranko, layout artists, who also worked at Warners and Jay Ward. Corny liked to joke around and put Bob’s name in his background layouts, as in “The Flying Dogcatcher”, where he lettered: “Let KURTZ put you in the driver’s seat” on a fence in one scene. The studio was in an office building on Laurel Canyon, just north of the freeway, and later housed Format Films. Bob was friends with Frank Braxton, a pioneer black animator who loved to play “Black Orpheus” on the guitar. He also knew John Freeman, Dale Case and Alan Zaslove, all animators who worked on Linus. Bob remembers Warner Bros. legendary animator Manny Gould by his “big smile” and free-lancer Gerard Baldwin by his laugh, “the loudest laugh in the business”. But Bob didn’t have quite such a good time getting along with the parsimonious production manager on Linus, who was probably Lew Irwin. He was stingy with supplies, reluctantly handing out pencils one at a time, to the staff. Bob once was pressured into boarding an episode of the show over a weekend. When Bob turned in his bill for the extra work, the Manager accused Kurtz of being “greedy”, and informed him that the extra hours were to be considered part of his salary. In other words, uncompensated overtime, which has become standard procedure in the business today, but in 1964, was not. Bob carried his grievance to Ed Graham, but Ed made light of the whole thing and refused to pay–Bob quit the studio, enraged at his treatment. It wasn’t an easy decision, as Bob had been ill, and his family needed his salary. I admire his fierce aversion to free overtime!

ed-graham-labelGerard Baldwin worked on the animation side of Ed Graham’s studio. He picked up entire segments of Linus and So-Hi and animated two wraparound introductory sequences free-lance. He did his own layouts, and all his own extremes and inbetweens, working out of his home. Gerard’s animation style was unmistakable–unique hand gestures both in and out of silhouette, beautifully drawn (he also animated the comic villain Snideley Whiplash for Jay Ward, who also had some terrific hand gestures), and a mouth system that worked very smoothly. The acting he used involved a lot of sheepish and devilish grins, so Gerard’s characters showed a lot of teeth. The mouth covered a wide range of space inside the head, consonant sounds were usually back in the cheeks and most of the vowel sounds and “oo” mouths were nearly outside the head mass. Most of the actions Gerard planned were based on two extremes, like the elephant baseball pitcher in the Linus cartoon “What’s On Third”. From an anticipation pose, the elephant snaps in one inbetween to the pitch pose and holds. For a screwball pitch, Gerard popped to a drawing of the elephant’s trunk arranged like a curl and the ball animated in a curly pattern with dry brush blur. It worked very well, with great economy. Gerard had to be economical, he did a 5 minute segment in a week, all the drawings! Gerard did an episode for a flat fee price of five thousand dollars. His “Sunken Treasure” Linus and Sugar Bear wraparounds are very good to look at. He drew sunken ships and kelp handsomely stylized, and a whale with a body shaped like a parallelogram. This was the episode where the lion and bear find a chest of gold undersea and throw it back because the chest contained no chocolate chip cookies!

crispy-critters-boxGerard Baldwin’s cousin, George Cannata, Jr., designed all the main characters in the Linus show and drew some of the storyboards Gerard worked from. Sadly, George Cannata Jr. had a very low opinion of animation and was really a fine arts painter at heart. He was married three times and had children to support, so he had to crank out a lot of storyboards, designs and layouts. Toward the end of his life, George was living in a small apartment in New York City, surrounded by his paintings and drinking heavily. He had a sad life making cartoons to keep children happy. Gerard didn’t really mix in to the Ed Graham studio life too much because he worked at home, but he knew and liked the directors Gerry Geronimi and Rudy Zamora. Rudy’s mother was Pancho Villa’s nurse! Gerard made an independent cartoon of his own in an African style called “The Caterpillar and the Wild Animals”. He had high hopes for an Academy nomination, but a similar film called “Anansi and the Spider” was in competition the same year. The two “African” designed films cancelled each other out, and Gerard’s Academy hopes were dashed.

Funny-is-funny-posterEd Graham made two cartoons independently (both released by Universal): in 1965 he made The Shooting of Dan McGrew, with Walter Brennan reading Robert W. Service’s poem. Old hand George Gordon directed, and Manny Gould and Amby Paliwoda did much of the animation, which used more drawings than most of the Linus cartoons. George Shearing did the music. Bob Dranko did the layouts. In 1966, Ed Graham did another indie cartoon called Funny Is Funny. It featured two cartoon dogs named Brutus and Brownie, voiced by Carl Reiner and Ed Graham. It featured Brutus demonstrating what makes him laugh to the hapless Brownie. Pies in the face and cannon gags dominated, and the animation was again handled primarily by Manny Gould and Amby Paliwoda. George Cannata, Jr. designed the characters for both of Graham’s cartoons, released by Universal. Funny Is Funny is a humorous commentary on the “heckler” comedy that Graham employed so abundantly in the Linus the Lionhearted show, the two dogs were poking fun at the whole idea of animated slapstick.

After his two shorts, Ed Graham stepped away from animation for 14 years until he became the voice casting director for the I Go Pogo stop-motion feature, produced in 1980 and directed by Marc Paul Chnoy. Graham used many of his favorite comedians from the Linus days, Jonathan Winters, Ruth Buzzi and Bob McFadden. He also cast Vincent Price as Deacon Mushrat, Arnold Stang as Churchy La Femme the turtle (sounding like Nertle the Twertle in Pinocchio in Outer Space) and Skip Hinnant (previously “Fritz The Cat”) as Pogo. The animation was cheaply produced in the “Flexi-Form” process, Clay animation to most people. After seeing the beautiful animation that Walt Kelly put into his last film, We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us, “I Go Pogo” is quite a visual disappointment. Although the voice casting is the outstanding part of the project, there is a bit of improv comedy in it, and the lion’s share of the budget.

The approach to character voices that Ed Graham pioneered reached a high point in 1992, when John Musker and Ron Clements let the mind of Robin Williams loose on the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin. Robin Williams built the character’s personality through his improv skills. One of Williams’s idols was Jonathan Winters, Ed Graham’s favorite performer.


COLLECTOR NOTES

critter-cardsIf you want to see 39 episodes of the “Linus the Lionhearted” show, they are available through the Internet in two editions. “The Sixties Guy” on Ebay, sells a Linus set as a Buy It Now. It has the entire series in color on 10 discs, the last two discs are in black and white, and contain a few complete network copies of the show, complete with the Post Cereal “commoicials”. The Sixties Guy has also included the very first Post Crispy Critters commercial featuring Linus. If you want just the 39 color syndicated episodes of Linus without any bonus features, “World’s Best Comics” at 2608 Watt Ave., Sacramento CA 95821, also has it in an 8 DVD set. I haven’t seen it so I can’t vouch for the quality, you can find them on an Internet search.

There were more than 39 episodes of Linus in 1965 and ‘65, but not all of them made it into the syndicated run. The Wraparound episodes, “Joke Day” (1964) and “Cool Cousin” (1965), the Linus episodes, “Swami Bird” (1964) and “Leaping Lizard” (1965), the Rory Raccoon episodes, “Rory Takes A Vacation” (1964), “Make Someone Happy” (1964), “Beautiful Baby Contest” (1965), “This Means Total War” (1965), “Some Total” (1965), “Rory Goes Skiing” (1965), “Numbskull and Crossbones” (1965) and one So-Hi episode, “The Walrus and the Carpenter” (1965) did not make it to the syndicated package. By the way, if you buy The Sixties Guy’s DVD set, you will find the Rory Raccoon cartoon “Rory Takes A Vacation” in black and white on Vol. 10. Tell him you heard about it on Cartoon Research!

42 Comments

  • Mark, do you know anything about “The Kertencalls,” a series of five-minute cartoons developed by Elliott-Goulding-Graham for NBC in early 1957?

    • I’ve never heard of the Kertencalls, or seen one. Have you seen those live-action shorts with Bob Elliott that Ed Graham made?

    • Mark, no, I haven’t.
      The Kertencalls may never have reached the animation stage. Production of the series was announced in Variety but that’s all I’ve seen about it.

  • I thought I knew every cereal on the planet – but Heart of Oats? Drawing a blank, but then there was a lot of oat-based competition.

    I didn’t watch the Linus show, wasn’t funny, yet somehow I remember that it always ended with all the characters crying because they had to leave. I’d like to see Louis C.K. do that.

  • George Cannata Jr. was my drawing teacher at the art students league of NYC from about 2008 to 2010. A truly wonderful guy whom I got to know very well, he gave me many of his old animation layouts when he retired. He was very modest about his own career in animation, but loved to talk about his friends like Al Eugster, Rudy Zamora, Freddy Crippen and others. I remember he didn’t really like straight jokey cartooning (he loved “sophisticated” stuff like Saul Steinberg), but I used to make him laugh by drawing little Terrytoon cats and mice in the corner of my figure drawings before he’d critique them. A truly wonderful guy who I miss terribly…. thanks for remembering him, Mark. I’m working on a lengthy profile of him and his father for Cartoon Research, his father was also an outstanding and stylish artist….

  • Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, then a top comedy act appearing frequently on Ed Sullivan’s and other variety shows, were also in the voice cast of “Linus,” though I’m not sure in which episodes or roles. Jonathan Winters, Sterling Holloway and other guest voices were probably among those listed in the original credits as “Bashful Bigshots.”
    The title song was performed by a chorus led by Johnny Mann, and which included Thurl Ravenscroft. I can’t help wondering what Kellogg’s and their agency thought when they heard Tony the Tiger’s unmistakable voice shout “He’s the sweetest!” in reference to Post’s cereal mascot!
    The “the” in reference to “Sasha the Grouse” was unnecessary, and kind of kills the joke. “Sasha Grouse” was as far as I know intended to be a pun on “such a grouse” or “…grouch.”

    • It’s interesting that Sterling Holloway is listed as part of the cast in some reference books, but when you listen to the tracks, he just isn’t there! I don’t remember Stiller and Meara at all, were they a bit like Nichols and May?

    • I watched a few Stiller and Meara videos on You Tube today, they were a lot like Nichols and May, but a little more confrontational. I liked how Anne Meara was a lot taller than Jerry Stiller. They are Ben Stiller’s parents! Can anyone tell me a Linus cartoon in which they did voices?

  • Thanks for posting this….btw Rory Raccoon owes his name to none other than Rory Calhoun….! And I think you didn’t menion thay Johnny Mann Singers and Hoyt Curtin did mjusic for this…and a sad closing song!

    • That’s a good point about the music for Linus, Scarras. Although Hoyt Curtin is credited, there is a lot of stock needle drops used in many of the episodes. I like the ending song, but didn’t comment on it because it’s already been included in other articles on the series. I sing that song to myself every once in awhile.

    • Mark, very good point. One of the Rory’s I’ve seen on YouTube ten yhears ago, Rest Cured (a very LIGHT version of Chuick Jones’s The Hypo-Chondri-Cat in a way) used a Ren and Stimpy cue from later, KPM’s “Merry as a Grig” (Van Phillips). in its entirety, and I remember another cue at the start from Ronald Hanmer (sic) from JW Music

  • Mark Kausler is always amazing and his insights and memories about animation are always appreciated and enjoyed! He continues to impress me with the depth of his knowledge and his willingness to share it. I hope that Mark will continue to contribute so that this type of obscure material will be available not only for current animation fans but future researchers as well. Thank you, Mark!

    This column is filled with so much information I never knew about Linus and his friends! I bet most readers were totally unaware of this information as well. I grew up watching this show on Saturday morning and sometimes, when the cereals I really liked were unavailable, eating the cereal it was promoting. This column makes me want to sample a few episodes again but watch them with an enhanced understanding.

    • Thank you, Jim. Just the writing and research I had to do for this one column and the time it took to do it, make me respect your dedication to writing about cartoons even more! I just can’t do this type of thing as often as you and all the regulars around here do. I interviewed Bob Kurtz and Gerard Baldwin for this article and I should say here how grateful I am for their time and generosity with memories that now go back 52 years. The industry has profoundly changed since those days, not too much for the better, I’m afraid, although more people are employed worldwide, it’s shameful how badly many of them are treated.

    • It’s a vicious cycle, Mark.

  • Truly one of my top 5 tv-toons. Even as tots, we knew how above-level the humor was.

  • This is a terrific post, Mark. I wonder if the episodes that did not end up in the syndicated package are still around to be viewed somewhere; in otehr words, if the series was ever fully restored, with commercials, could we also get the missing episodes? I wonder why they were discontinued in syndication. I’m always interested to read about how the animators saw themselves and their colleagues, especially after reading Thad Komorowski’s article on the ANIMATION SCOOP website on the day-to-day goings on within the ranks of SpumCo, the studio that gave us “REN AND STIMPY”. Like that show, “LINUS THE LION-HEARTED” also used sampled music throughout, but mostly the kind of atmospheric music that you’d regularly hear in early TV cartoons like “THE MR. MAGOO SHOW” and “CRUSADER RABBIT” and even the earliest Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but I like the rhythm of the dialogue throughout, even if it disturbed the payoff gag in some of the cartoons. It would certainly be fantastic if this series ever came to DVD in a fully restored fashion, but I’ll look up the sets that Mark suggests.

  • Thank you for posting these – what a trip down Memory Lane and I STILL wish they would make Rice Krinkles again!!

    • I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt the current owners of Post to look into something like that again if they wanted to (for me, I’d love to see Post Toasties on the shelf too).

  • I remember watching Linus the Lionhearted with Lovable Truly the Alpha Bits postman and Sugar Bear but I hardly recall the So-Hi segments or the Rory the Racoon segments. Linus was so popular that he had his own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Both Johnny Mann (of the Johnny Mann Singers fame) and Hoyt Curtin (who did the scoring of many of the Hanna-Barbera animated series) did the musical score for Linus the Lionhearted.

    I wonder if Paul Frees was one of the credited “Bashful Bigshots” who starred on Linus the Lionhearted along with Fredrieka Weber (Snorks and the 1980’s revival of The Jetsons) and I wonder who were the other “Bashful Bigshots” celebrities who starred in Linus the Lionhearted?

  • Wonderful post Mark, really enjoyed reading it. LINUS THE LIONHEARTED was one of my favorite shows as a kid when they were brand new. Never missed a broadcast. Mattel Toys also made a Linus talking doll, he is part of my toy collection sitting on the shelf looking down as I write this post. One of my cherished items.
    Very funny cartoons with a terrific classic cartoony look.

  • Terrific post, Mark! Thanks for your in-depth look at “Linus”!

  • I remember Linus in first run. and also in syndication during the early 1970s on WJAN-TV 17 Canton, Ohio and the weekday aftrrnoon Milton The Milkman Show. Being that the station wasnt exactly well funded, The Linus prints they showed were in horrible shape at the time.

  • Great article on a very fondly remembered show – (even though I always hated cereal and still do). I got to quiz Bob Givens about LINUS once but he did not recall much. In the evergreen world of animation it was relatively short lived. I believe he said he worked in house, doing layout.

    I loved Graham’s casting of the brilliant Jesse White as the crow in the Rory Racoon episodes. No one sounds more like a crow then Jesse White. (Sorry Dom DeLuise!)

  • I remember watching LINUS when I was a kid, even though we were strictly a Kellogg’s household.

    Steve Stanchfield mentioned a couple of months ago his unsuccessful efforts to track down LINUS. Apparently no one’s certain who owns what rights, or where it is, or if they’d even be willing to license it. He said one person told him they’d be unable to license anything that would now be considered racist.

    • It’s a shame (especially for So-Hi).

      I would’ve figured the current owners of Post (Post Holdings, Inc.) would have owned the show in the end.

      Reminded I have a few episodes in 16mm form in my collection, one is a color syndie print while another is a B&W, possibly network print as it has the Post ads spliced in.

  • Anyone have names for the stock music cues used in Linus?

  • Thanks for another article with a lion-heart, of which we boast!

  • Graham went the whole 9 yards in making Sugar Bear a Bing Crosby type. His personality is much like Crosby’s “Road” movie characters.

  • Thanks, Mark, for your splendid article – and cheers! I remember seeing these Ed Graham shows when they were first broadcast and found them both a tad odd and fun. As with some other lesser known TV cartoons ( “Q.T Hush”) they demonstrated an individual style and humor quite different from anything from H-B, Jay Ward Productions and Total TV at the time.

  • I love Mark’s description of Gerard Baldwin’s distinctive animation. After watching a recent broadcast of “Magoo’s Christmas Carol”, I wrote a fan letter to Mr. Baldwin. I hope he got it. I’m sure I met him once via Sam Cornell when I was working with him in Los Angeles circa 1991 or 1992. I am ashamed to say that at the time I had him completely mixed up with Gerald Ray, and I confused him by saying how much I enjoyed his TV Popeye’s! Mark, I wonder what you know about Mr. Baldwin’s work compared to that of Jim Hiltz with whom he is credited on “Fractured Flickers”. Mr. Hiltz ended up moving to Montreal, Canada and working for Gerald Potterton, and other studios there. Getting back to Gerard Baldwin, I found his stint at Hanna Barbera animating a couple of Yogi Bear cartoons in the late ’50’s or early ’60’s to be fascinating. In your article I loved seeing mention of Manny Gould, one of my favourite animators.

  • Excellent article, Mark. I can so relate to your comment about how time-consuming exacting research can be, and how little you actually do of it (although I secretly wish you could!!). I recall watching the LINUS show as a twelve year old in Australia in 1965…I haven’t seen it since, although I’ll be sourcing the 39 available based on your recommendation. But I have no memory from my childhood days of whether the American cereals were mentioned at all in the stories…obviously we didn’t ever get the accompanying US commercials here, because local advertising, acting unions and local cereal makers (Kellogg was our major American brand here) only allowed for local commercial production. Ten years later when I was in the business, 1973-76 Hanna-Barbera had set up a local wing here, and I got to do some impressions of voices like Fred and Barney for Pebbles cereal and so on. Thanks again for a fine piece, and we hope to catch up in LA next year.

    • Thanks for our comment, Keith. The cereals were never mentioned in the entertainment portions of Linus, but some subtle references to the commercials crept in, as in the conclusion of “The Shadow Thief”. In the main titles of the program, Linus is run down by a lot of jungle animals like in the “Crispy Critters” ads. You can probably see some of the commercials on You Tube. If you see the cartoons, let me know if you hear Stiller and Meara, and what you think of Gerry Matthews’ s impression of Bing Crosby.

  • I’ve just been checking on Ebay, and I can find no trace of either “The Sixties Guy:, nor of any DVD editions (on the dark-gray market, natch!) of “Linus the Lionhearted:”. There is a push doll, a hand puppet, a board game, and a coloring book–but that’s about it!

    I remember most of the elements of the series–in some respects, better than the products advertised. I remember “Rice Krinkles” from when we lived in Chicago (up to 2/14/60)–but it never showed up in the small-town grocery where we did our shopping. Nor do I remember seeing it at all out here in California.

    • Hi James,
      The Sixties Guy seems to have vanished from Ebay for the time being. Here’s a link to the 8 disc set: http://www.matsune.com/wbc/worldsbestweb/cartoonvidlist2.htm , over at World’s Best Comics. Just scroll down the list to find the Linus DVDs.

    • Wouldn’t suprirse me if distribution of Rice Krinkles was that limited to certain markets, or only regional. The way they advertise these on national TV, you’d think kids were asking their parents constantly for these in small town that didn’t get the stuff, enough for the local grocer to keep pushing for it from whoever they have to deal with to get these cereals, but I suppose rural America was out int he dark in that respect.

    • There was also a “Linus the Lionhearted” LP record, probably offered as a premium by Post; which includes songs performed by all the cast voices, plus the theme song. I found my copy for less than a dollar at Goodwill; I still see others occasionally, and it shows up (suitably overpriced) on Ebay and other online sites. I’m sure Greg Ehrbar did a column here on this album a while back.

  • In the full episode clip, the drippy “love theme” music at 00:04:56 is unmistakably the same canned track Bob & Ray used as their theme for their outrageously dull “One Fella’s Family” skits.

    Too bad the character designer had such a miserable life… His designs are very good – simple and unmistakable at the same time. I always read Linus’ mane as a sort of heart shape -a very clever motif.

  • The Ed Graham approach was more “hip”, and a welcomed revamp of the Post characters, particularly Sugar Bear. Linus was new in the group, and took center stage largely due to the clever writing and the personality conveyed in the voice of Sheldon Leonard. It was a natural to carry these wonderful characters over to their own cartoons, which had great stories. And the production value for television was tops!

  • I remember Frosted Rice Krinkles; they had a slightly vanilla-flavored sugar coating. I don’t think they were ever a particularly big seller. As best as I can recall, they came in a somewhat odd package; a box much smaller than Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, and with the labeling printed on an outer waxed-paper wrapper; I think if you peeled that away, the box inside was plain white. Maybe the small package caused people (especially moms) to consider it to be expensive or not as good a value compared to other cereals. (Remember those enormous plastic bags of plain puffed rice and wheat?) I’ve heard the product was almost continued as “Pebbles” cereal, tied in of course with the Flintstones, but a last-minute marketing change split the product into “Fruity” and “Cocoa Pebbles” instead of the plain frosted cereal.

  • Thanks for a great article, Mark! I have fond memories of Linus and your article made me want to eat a bowl of Post Alpha Bits cereal. I just did a search of it and, unfortunately, Lovable Truly apparently no longer appears on the boxes.

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