Animation History
March 20, 2013 posted by Jerry Beck

The Adventures of Lariat Sam (1962)

From the files of forgotten cartoon characters, The Adventures of Lariat Sam – the official follow up to Gene Deitch’s pioneering TV cartoon Tom Terrific (1957). Like TT, Lariat Sam was a serialized cartoon produced exclusively for CBS’ Captain Kangaroo show. Each of its 13 episodes consisted five “chapters” to tell its story.

After exhausting 26 adventures of Tom Terrific over five years, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) asked for a fresh cartoon from CBS’s in-house cartoon studio Terrytoons. This one would be produced in color (though the Captain Kangaroo show itself would be broadcast in black & white until 1966), and Keeshan himself would have a role in developing the stories. To this end, Keeshan enlisted his writer (and future game show host) Gene Wood to produce and co-write with Terrytoons head writer Tom Morrison. Bob Kuwahara, Dave Tendlar, Art Bartsch, Connie Rasinski would share directing duties. Dayton Allen provides all the voices (Gene Wood sings the theme song).

lariat_sam_color_bk

One thing Keeshan insited upon, was that the cartoon be non-violent. Lariat Sam intentionally didn’t wear guns – preferring to use his magical lariat to round up the baddies. Model Sheets from the original production are below. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

lariat_sam1 lariat_sam2 lariat_sam3 lariat_sam4
lariat_sam5 lariat_sam6 lariat_sam7

Lariat_Sam550

Lariat_Sam(Back)550

The show doesn’t get the love that Tom Terrific does – and for good reason. Tom Terrific had innovative graphics, Jim Tyer animation, and clever plots (Jules Feffier was among the writers). Lariat Sam, however, has its charms. John Zago’s backgrounds are graphically interesting and Dayton Allen is having fun with the voices. But otherwise the show is a bit dull. Although compared to the theatrical Terrytoons of the same year – it might be one of the last good things the studio produced (admittedly Bakshi’s Mighty Heroes was a final shot in the arm). Here’s a compilation of all five chapters of a typical Lariat Sam adventure – keep in mind this was primarily aimed at pre-schoolers:

16 Comments

  • Yow! I remember Lariat Sam! Though why I was aware of what Captain Kangaroo was showing when I was at least ten, I’m not so sure. Thanks for this post, Mr. B., as it clears up some confusion. Lariat Sam and the Belgian comics series Lucky Luke were mooshing together in my memory, and I wasn’t sure after all these years just what the Captain was running. This clears it up.

  • Being 59, I well remember “the swap!” He was fun, but never compared to the creativity and charisma of TT!!

  • As a member of the target demo when Lariat Sam came out, I never could get into it due to its slow pacing and gentle nature compared even to other Terrytoons of the same time period, like Deputy Dawg (I suppose the serialized nature of the stories contributed to the slow pace, but serialization didn’t hurt Rocky & Bullwinkle, due to the more aggressive gags).

    Watching the video to refresh my memory, I will admit the writing and animation in ‘Sam’ does at least have enough self-awareness to put it way above Terrytoons’ child-focused theatrical effort of the following year, Luno the Flying Horse..

  • Gene Wood (also a noted comedian who once partnered in a nightclub act with Bill Dana) sings a terrific theme song in “Lariat Sam,” one of the catchiest done for any cartoon series. Perhaps the slow pacing seems slower in 2013 than it did in the early 1960s, when this project first hit the air. Another factor causing Sam to compare unfavorably with Tom Terrific (other than the absence of Tyer, Deitch and Feiffer) is Bob Keeshan’s insistence on eliminating all violence. Once the central source of conflict in a western arena is gone, something else must replace it and that something had better be able to help drive the series.

  • I,too,remember both TT and LS very well,though it’s been years since i’ve seen LS.Thanks for the post Jerry! Personally,I prefer TT,for the reasons you mentioned,but still great memories! The VHS transfer was crystal clear!

  • LOVED Lariat Sam, and Tippy Toes! Thanks for a chance to see them again.

  • …And Dayton Allen would go on to provide almost exactly the same voices for the STUFFY DERMA cartoons in “THE MILTON THE MONSTER SHOW”. Great stuff, Jerry!

  • This cartoon was decent. I mean, the writting was good enough, but could be a slight bit better.

    Was Jon Stone still working on “Captain Kangaroo” at this time? Maybe he could’ve point his finger as a writter for this cartoon.

  • This guy always reminded me a lot of the Belgium comic Lucky Luke. But then again, anything Western themed was really popular back in the day.

  • So who actually created the animation and character art for Lariat Sam? I would love to know. Was it Gene Deitch?

    • Gene Deitch was long gone from Terrytoons when Lariat Sam was created. Gene Wood and Tom Morrison are the creators.

  • I watched Captain Kangaroo in those days, and I remember these cartoons, but only vaguely, because I didn’t care for them. I had enjoyed Tom Terrific, but Lariat Sam I mostly ignored, although I remember my younger brother liked it. I think the attempt to be “non-violent” may have actually backfired: guns and exotic weapons were strictly items of fantasy for urban children of the 1950s, but a lariat, a simple rope, was not. If children were inspired to make lariats and “lasso” other people because of this cartoon, they would be engaging in acts of violence more real than pointing toy guns and saying “bang bang”, would they not?

  • Aimed at Pre-schoolers? Well this manage to hold your attention and get intresting in the story, while most of the modern pre-schooler animation don’t. do that, if anything they make you feel dumber after watching. Not sure if I should name any example.

  • Loved Captain K. and all of the cartoons. I was too young for Tom Terrific, but was 4 when the Lariat Sam cartoons ran originally and I gobbled them up. Has anyone ever pointed out that the voice of Tippy Toes was either the wonderful Shep Menkin? Or, was someone doing a darned good imitation of his voice?

  • I’ve been watching some of the LS shows on YouTube, and there are some clever bits:

    Prof. Apogee sets his robot to catch Bushwack, and Bushwack says, “I loved you in the Wizard of Oz.”

    Badlands Meeney is posing as a fellow scientist.
    Badlands: I forgot my screwdriver! Could you go and get it?
    Prof: Where’d you leave it?
    Badlands: Cleveland.
    Prof: Cleveland! Great President.

  • He could turn his lariat into all sorts of things needed and he appeared in CAPTIAN KANGAROO

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