ANIMATION SPIN
January 10, 2017 posted by

Yogi Bear Teaches Us “How to Be” on Records

Under the lengthy title “How to Be A Better-Than-The-Average Child Without Really Trying,” Golden’s faux Yogi offers musical tips on coping with our lives.

YogiSmarterLP-600

Hanna-Barbera’s
YOGI (The Better-Than-The-Average) BEAR:
“How To Be A Better-Than-The-Average Child Without Really Trying!”

Golden Records LP-90 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono)

Released in 1962. Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Script & Songs: Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Joan Lamport, Jackie Reinach. Arranger/Conductor: Jim Timmens. Running Time: 36 minutes.

Voices: Frank Milano (Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo, Ranger Smith); Dottie Evans (Cindy Bear); Mike Stewart (Soloist).
“How to Be” Songs: “Yogi Bear is Better/You Can Be a Better Child” (Based on the TV Theme); “Happy As a Clam,” “Everybody Makes Mistakes,” “Get Neat,” “Doodlin’ and Dawdlin’,” “Don’t Do Unto Others What You Don’t Want Done to You,” “Take a Little Care,” “A Little This, A Little That,” “So Many Rules!” “There’s a Reason for the Rules,” “Parents Are People, Too.”
TV Theme Songs: “Top Cat,” “Wally Gator,” “Dum Dum,” “Touché Turtle,” “Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har.”

Wally Gator Golden Record-400This LP is a complete concept album with ten extra minutes added after it’s done. All of side one and most of side two contains ten songs themed to “How to Be A Better-Than-The Average-Child Without Really Trying” (a twist on the then-recent Broadway hit, How to Suceed in Business Without Really Trying). The songs themselves are pleasant but could necessarily Yogi-specific; they could just as easily be performed by a generic chorus or another set of popular characters—just like the songs that Jack Mercer and Mae Questel recorded for Golden Records about health, safety, friendship and manners.

Popeye and Olive might seem a better fit for such songs than Yogi, as his main appeal (at least in his early cartoons) was as a nonconformist. Children’s records that taught pro-social lessons were common almost as long as records existed, though. Yogi was at his peak of popularity in the early ‘60s, so combining positive lessons with his persona must have appealed to parents, though kids would probably be most drawn to the themes on side two.

The “How to Be” songs come to a conclusion, with a finale reprise, when the albums still has about ten minutes left of playing time. It then shifts into theme songs from Hanna-Barbera cartoons, all recorded in New York by Golden artists, just like the Yogi songs. The main appeal of the themes is that they are each about two minutes long, allowing for verses and even complete refrains that were never used on the actual cartoons. The best one is probably “Top Cat” because Jim Timmens’ light jazz style is a nice setting for the music, even though it’s a far cry from Hoyt Curtin’s spectacular Hanna-Barbera “Jetson Jazz” arrangements. But even the “Touché Turtle” theme is fascinating because so little of it is part of the cartoon version, and all one can hear of “Lippy The Lion” in the cartoon is the very last line. At least these themes are given a permanent document in sound because of Golden.

Touche Turtle Golden RecordFrank Milano sang and/or narrated a number of Golden Records in the early ‘60s, voicing Golden’s faux Yogi, Boo-Boo and Ranger Smith on two albums. He also narrated the original “Poky Little Puppy” Little Golden book and record set and provided voices, animal noises and vocal effects for classic TV shows like Mister Peepers and Rootie Kazootie, as well as the voice of Mr. Wizard the Lizard on TTV’s Tooter the Turtle cartoons, Dottie Evans was a familiar, if often uncredited, studio singer who recorded two half-albums with Art Malvin (The Carol Burnett Show) and Robert Harter (The Daydreamer) as “The Tootlepipers,” which appeared on the flip sides of RCA’s Shirley Temple versions of Disney’s Bambi and Dumbo. She also was part of the Golden Singers in the Jim Timmens days and part of several ensembles for mostly budget-level records. One album worth looking into–if you enjoy vintage ‘50s/’60s sound records–is “When Christmas Comes To Our House,” which was released under several titles including “Christmas Holiday Time is For Children” on labels like Waldorf, Grand Award and Color Tone. She also did a series of Space Songs albums with children’s balladeer Tom Glazer.

Jackie (aka Jacqueline) Reinach, who worked with composer Joan Lamport on the script–and the songs that were not Hanna-Barbera themes–was a veteran of children’s television for decades until her passing in 2000. She worked with such legends as Fran Allison, Shari Lewis, wrote several albums for Golden (Show and Tell, Introduction to Music), but found her biggest success with public TV’s The Letter People puppet series and especially the multi-million-selling book series, “Sweet Pickles.”

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Introduction – “Yogi Bear is Better”
Hanna, Barbera and Curtin’s Yogi Bear Theme was adapted (by Jackie Reinach and Joan Lamport) into this song to set the stage for Golden’s album of “Good Do-Bee” songs for Yogi and friends.

BONUS! GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Golden Versions of Hanna-Barbera Themes
The light jazz touch of Jim Timmens is somewhat startling to those hearing these selections for the first time—with “Wally Gator” as a twist beat—but it works well for “Top Cat.” Note all the extra lyrics not heard in the cartoon versions.

8 Comments

  • Note on the record cover that this was the original Cindy Bear who was just as tall as Yogi, had a bizarre weird blue fur, wore some type of fedora, a tutu and had a parasol. This was two years before Cindy’s major makeover for Hey There Its Yogi Bear where they dumped the blue fur for a more natural light brown fur, and the fedora type hat in favor of a cute hair style, neck scarf and a flower for her hair, but they still kept the parasol and the tutu. And Julie Bennet as the voice of Cindy Bear.

    • I believe Julie was the voice of Cindy even during her “blue period.” I don’t know for sure but to me it sounds like Julie in those early cartoons–but not on this album, of course. Although Dottie Evans does do a nice job–to my ears, at least–of imitating Julie’s southern belle accent.

      I like the description of Cindy’s metamorphosis for the feature film–nicely written!

  • Interesting note about Jackie Reinach! I have very fond memories of both The Letter People and Sweet Pickles.

  • Once you get past the non-authentic voices, this album is really a great listen. Not only do you get Yogi, Boo Boo, Cindy, and the Ranger outside the limitations of a conventional plot, but the songs are charming and delightful. One of them in particular, “Parents are People Too”, is a twist on the conventional “Obey Your Parents” concept. This song reminds kids that their parents have feelings and need to be treated with consideration. Parents, in this instance, should be obeyed not because they’re smarter or have more authority, but simply because they need your cooperation to be effective parents.

    “Get Neat” on the other hand, is a little less effective because it starts with Boo Boo being sloppy and needing to be reminded about good grooming. This is out of character for Boo Boo, who never seems to have had that issue in the cartoons.

    It’s also nice to hear the Hanna-Barbera themes played at greater length than usual. I agree that the “Top Cat” theme is the best of these interpretations.

    This album is a delight for any H-B fan regardless of age.

  • The voice of Yogi on the record starts to sound more like an imitation of Jackie Mason than Yogi Bear.

  • It is interesting to note that Frank Milano is the voice of Mr. Wizard the Lizard. I had always thought that Sandy Becker did the job. Hearing Milano’s narration, here, I can hear him doing Mr. Wizard’s voice, but that leaves me to wonder whether Sandy Becker was indeed involved in voice work for Total Television at all; sure sounded like him. Listening to the extended themes here, you can almost hear what they were going for when the themes for the cartoons were finally heard, but of course, the themes could only be so long.

    • Sandy Becker was the Sargent in Total Television’s Go-Go Gophers cartoons – and it does sound like him as Mr. Wizard the Lizard… but I’m not an expert on this. Mark Arnold?

  • Too bad Jim Timmens didn’t join Terrytoons during Gene Deitch’s tenure, instead of after Phil Scheib’s retirement.

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