ANIMATION SPIN
October 11, 2016 posted by

Sam Singer and Hanna-Barbera’s “Sinbad Jr.” on Records

A voyage aboard the animated vinyl seas with Sinbad, Salty the parrot sidekick, a pirate or two and an H-B story and layout artist who also has an acting role.

HBRSinbadJr-Front600

TREASURE ISLAND STARRING SINBAD, JR.
Presented By Hanna-Barbera
Hanna-Barbera Records Cartoon Series HLP-2042 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono / 1965)
45 RPM Condensed Version CS-7020 (1965) / Songs Version CS-7050 (1965)

Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Producer/Writer/Director: Charles Shows. Music: Hoyt Curtin, Ted Nichols. Song Arrangements: Al Capps, Stan Farber. Editor: Tony Milch. Engineer: Richard Olson. Mastering: Dave Diller, Joe Leahy. Hand Lettering: Robert Schaefer. Cover Art: Fernando Montealegre. Running Time: 35 minutes.

Voices: Tim Matheson (Sinbad, Jr.); Mel Blanc (Salty); Warren Tufts (Pegleg, Narrator); Ted Cassidy (Red Beard); Stan Farber, Al Capps, Ron Hicklin (The Hanna-Barbera Singers).
Songs: “Sinbad,” “Treasure Island,” “Red Beard,” “Jolly Roger” by Stan Farber and Charles & Peggy Shows.

sinbad-saltyOne of the few “serious” HBR Cartoon Series LPs, this one has several other elements that set it apart from its sister records. One is the rare vinyl presence of Ted Cassidy, whom Hanna-Barbera kept busy doing TV villain voices at the time, and story/layout artist and cartoonist Warren Tufts. Tufts is also the only person in the album series who worked on both an HBR LP cover and the record inside!

Tufts, whose voice is a cross between Hal Smith and Mike Road, dabbled in acting on and off camera, heard in many of Cambria’s New Three Stooges cartoons and in the lead role of Captain Fathom. The art (which Tufts created with Harvard Pennington, adds dimension to the look of Sinbad and Salty, but takes a few steps away from the typical H-B house style for Pegleg and especially Red Beard.

The album’s story has little at all to do with Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island except that Pegleg is a Ben Gunn-like character; there are pirates and an island with a treasure. Red Beard replaces Long John Silver and the island is named Skull. Unlike Jonny Quest in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Robin Hood Starring Top Cat, the story does not begin with a character reading the book that relates to their adventures.

Mel Blanc created a Porky/Bugs-ish sound for Salty, whose story purpose is to comment on the action and remind Sinbad to use his belt. Tim Matheson, who would have a very prominent TV and movie career as an teen (Yours, Mine and Ours) and an adult (Animal House, 1941), was directed to repeat his Jonny Quest voice, not even varying his voice much when he becomes stronger, as Bud Collyer did with Clark Kent/Superman and John Erwin did with Prince Adam/He-Man.

sinbad-jr-comicThe background music is also unusual for most HBR LPs, including the nautical themes that would be very familiar to fans of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the mid- to late ’60s. The songs also venture a bit from the usual HBR surf/garage pop into calypso and sea shanty.

Another unusual feature of the record is the copyright on the front cover: it’s not Hanna-Barbera Productions, but American International Pictures. The independent film and TV company, specializing in beach party/horror flicks, ventured into animation with such series as 1966’s Miami-dubbed Prince Planet (which boasted a theme song by Annette songwriters Guy Hemric and Gary Styner). There are cartoons in the syndicated series produced by Hanna-Barbera and also by Sam Singer Productions, with different voices and music. In both versions, Sinbad Jr. has a magic belt that gives him super strength. (In at least one book, Sinbad, Jr. is reported to have been inserted into Format Films’ The Alvin Show syndicated series package.)

The infamous Mr. Singer (whom Jerry Beck has dubbed “The Ed Wood of Animation”) previously produced such TV cartoon masterpieces as Bucky and Pepito, Paddy Pelican, Pow Wow The Indian Boy – and his best known series, Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. Singer’s studio commenced production on Sinbad Jr. for American International. When it became obvious he couldn’t handle the demands of the schedule (or, as some have surmised, he either squandered the budget or, more likely, delivered substandard product) Hanna Barbera were quickly handed the reigns. (This would not be Hanna Barbera’s only sub-contract work during the 1960s – Larry Harmon’s Laurel and Hardy was another). Don Yowp has more about Sinbad Jr. here.

Perhaps its erratic production history explains this album’s unique qualities — or simply adds to its mystery. We may never know, but the existing album is certainly a curious addition to HBR Records storied legacy.

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Sinbad Loses His Magic Belt”

The action-packed conclusion to the story finds Sinbad losing his belt to Red Beard and then of course, regaining it. In addition to the “Treasure Island” song that closes the album, the title song (which is different than the TV theme) is also included. Note that the lyric about making “the vilest villain cower” is identical to what Ted Cassidy talk-sings in H-B’s Atom Ant theme.

21 Comments

  • I assume, as you say above, this is the same Sam Singer who brought us The Adventures of Pow Wow (which was the first animated series that aired on Captain Kangaroo) the infamous Adventures of Paddy the Pelican (considered by many as one of the worst animated series ever aired on TV), Bucky and Pepito and Courageous Cat & Minute Mouse (with that one frog villain that sounded like Edward G. Robinson).

    And on the song A Pirate’s Life for Me, I wonder that this song is like the same titled song in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean or if it’s a totally different song ?

    • “A Pirate’s Life for Me” was an error and was removed — though quite often any number of very different songs can have the same title. Thanks for catching that!

    • Yes, the very same Sam Singer. When H-B took over, the series got quite the upgrade. And Sinbad was given some typical H-B villains to battle, such as Dr. Rotcoddam (“That’s ‘mad doctor’ spelled backward,” Sinbad helpfully told us) and his henchman Goots (“That’s ‘stooge’ spelled backward” – er, wouldn’t that be “Egoots”?), as well as the Bluto-seque Blubbo.

  • This is one of the rarest, hardest to find of the HBR albums–one of two which has, alas, eluded me all these years (the other that I don’t have is the Gene Kelly audio version of “Jack and the Beanstalk”).

    The presence of Mel Blanc on this album makes me wonder why he was unavailable to do the voice of Barney Rubble on so many of the Flintstones albums.

    Tim Matheson made another live-action appearance in an episode of “Rhoda” playing a government agent using Brenda’s apartment for a surveillance–and getting involved with Brenda at the same time.

    Recently, he lent his voice talents to “Spy Quest”, the Tom and Jerry movie in which the cat and mouse have an encounter with Jonny Quest and company. This time around, Matheson plays the part of the President of the United States–but it’s clearly an homage to his having done the voice of Jonny on the original series.

    Thanks for sharing this rare album!

    • I also should mention that Tim Matheson provided offscreen narration for the Irwin Kostal digital reissue of Fantasia in place of the onscreen Deems Taylor.

      The various reasons for the absence of original voices like Blanc or Reed were likely availability and higher fees based on what budget was alloted for each record.

    • Matheson co-starred with Kurt Russell in the 1976 series “The Quest” – so he was in two TV shows with “quest” in the title.

  • Hi, Greg! Re your comment about Mel Blanc’s availability, you can imagine the “fun” I had sorting all of that out when I was compiling the first Mel Blanc discography for THE WORLD OF YESTERDAY in 1978! It certainly didn’t help that on some of them, he made them but got no credit on the labels or covers! (At least, that’s my recollection at this late date!) Additionally, he made records as his Warner Brothers cartoon characters for Peter Pan records–but when Peter Pan put out Flintstones stories, Barney’s voice was always done by an imitator, or the Barney character wasn’t in the story at all! Wonder what was up with THAT, since he was obviously available for the WB stories!

  • Sinbad Jr. was already a puzzle before I read this; now there are more questions. Did the album mention American International anywhere? Was this part of HB subcontracting for AI, or did HB pay AI a licensing fee to make this part of their own line, or what? In whose vault do the cartoons now reside?

    And while Yowp did heavy digging into Sinbad Jr.’s earliest production and marketing, there was no trace of the character’s actual creator. Did somebody at AI create the concept and hire Singer? Was it created by Singer for AI, which then owned it? The concept does seem extremely basic: Kid with magic belt, parrot sidekick, no recurring characters or settings. One could imagine it coming out of an executive brainstorming session.

    Do remember this cropping up on UHF, tossed with other random syndicated cartoons into unhosted “Cartoon Time” half hours. The production backstory is more intriguing than the cartoons themselves.

    • I’m sure it is. I also wonder if that means Sinbad Jr.’s IP is owned at present by MGM (through the Orion Pictures library)? Pretty interesting if it is.

    • The Sinbad Jr. pilot was actually an episode of Bucky & Pepito. In it, all of the voices were provided by Dal McKennon (including Sinbad, who sounds like Archie.)

  • Greg, I was always given to understand that actor Tim O’Connor did the narration for the short-lived Kostal-conducted theatrical reissue of FANTASIA.

  • Do you know which Stooge cartoons Tufts’ voice can be heard?

    • There are over a hundred cartoons, and he’s heard in quite a few of them. I thought it was Hal Smith, but upon listening to this record, it’s more likely Tufts. If anyone can verify further, please do. A lack of screen credits means a lot of cross-examination of other cartoons and recordings.

  • I remember the Sam Singer “Sinbad, Jr.” cartoons running on KTTV (Chanel 11)–in 1963. This date is stuck in my memory because of where my family was living at the time.

    The Wikipedia listing or Saturday morning television schedules for 1964-65 lists “Sinbad, Jr. And His Magic Belt” as being part of the CBS schedule for that year. I don’t remember it running on KNXT (2), the CBS owned-and-operated station here in the Los Angeles area. I think somebody goofed!

    It’s easy to tell the difference between the Sam Singer episodes and the H-B ones. The Singer episodes have sound quality that suggests the lowest-fidelity recording ever found on a cartoon made for television. The opening theme is in six-eight time, with an accordion lead trying to impart a sea-chantey flavor to it. But it is so poorly-recorded that the lyrics cannot be easily discerned.
    The H-B episodes have a swinging big–band feel to them in their opening theme. And different animation on screen,too.

    • The H-B episodes certainly had that unmistakable Hoyt Curtin sound, and used many of the familiar Curtin dramatic/adventure cues. And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t make out much of the lyrics in the Singer theme (credited to one Johnny Holliday).

    • Decades ago — before Turner’s acquisition of the MGM library — Superstation WTBS used to air the Sinbad, Jr. package. The differences between the Singer-produced shorts and the HB-produced shorts were astounding; it was difficult to imagine that they had anything in common other than a sailor kid with a magic belt. It wasn’t just the poor, extremely limited animation and weak design — the dreadful, almost perfunctory music in the Singer shorts nailed their coffin shut. The HB shorts were no masterpieces, but they were brightly and competently produced, well voiced — and had that reliably catchy Hoyt Curtin musical touch.

      To this day I can still hum and sing part of Hoyt Curtin’s jazzily rousing Sinbad theme. [“Sinbad the Sailor! da-dah! A magic belt has he!”] The contribution of Hoyt Curtin’s infectious scores to the overall success of Hanna Barbera is immeasurable; I hope he was well compensated for his work.

    • He is the son of the legendary sailor & adventurer together with his loyal sidekick parrot battles the forces of evil save the world protect the innocent & keep the peace based from the popular Arabian Nights legend aired in syndication from 1965-66 TV series created by Sam Singer in reruns around the world. Thanks for the information.

  • I watch all the classic cartoons when I was six years old at the time in the Philippines since the 1960’s era my favorites like Popeye Casper Gumby Beany & Cecil Three Stooges Dick Tracy Mr.Magoo & Roger Ramjet as seen in The Uncle Bob Show/Cartoon Hour on RBS/GMA Network hosted by the late Robert L. Stewart American businessman TV host journalist & philanthropist owner of GMA Network who created DZBB AM in 1950 & Channel 7 since 1961 67 years ago in Philippine media history a true classic TV show from the Philippines. Thanks for the information.

    • My father was stationed in the Philippines in the mid-60s, and I remember the “Uncle Bob” show. The cartoons I recall being run on DZBB-7 were old Paul Terry silents syndicated by Commonwealth, and a series called “Tales of the Genie” which tfeatured old Van Beuren or Iwerks cartoons with new animated wrap-arounds (perhaps also syndicated by Commonwealth?).
      And NTA packages of Fleischer/Famous cartoons.

  • Classic Sinbad Jr cartoons soon to be aired on YouTube Dailymotion Netflix & Hulu coming soon in March 6 2017 on the Internet PC Ipad/IPod & other systems as soon as possible.

    I remember the classic cartoons based from the animated anthology story created by Paul Terry & UB Iwerks filmed in the tradition of Mother Goose & other fantastic tales released in the 1950’s era as seen in The Uncle Bob Show/Cartoon Hour on RBS/GMA Network afternoons at 3:00-5:30 pm a true classic TV series.

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