August 3, 2017 posted by

A Foray into Foray – and “Scrappy’s Expedition” (1934)

Thunderbean News:

After spending the last four days in New York at the Animation Block Party, its nice to be getting back into the swing of things here. Its a somewhat mixed week at Thunderbean, but as things are coming together and discs are going out, Im feeling like the piles of everything to do are getting straighter and more focused. Having some help here this week is making things whirl a little more as well. Theres another box of stuff to transfer here, and Im looking forward to cracking it open soon to see what this stuff is looking like. Stay tuned.

Masters are done now on Mid Century Modern 1 and 2 on Blu-ray. They’ll be moving forward as soon as possible here along with some of the other sets. Fleischer Rarities has all the films either cleaned up or in progress now, so were excited to see that one coming together as well. The pre-orders for Hollywood Rarities are all dubbed and going out, and the title will be on Amazon soon as I mentioned last week.

A little foray into Foray:

Of course, the news of June’s passing this past week was sad, but I just keep thinking of all the fun things she left here for everyone. There are just a *few* voice folks that show up in basically every studios voice work at some point. I thought it might be fun to show June Foray appearances less seen than the performances we all know.

One of my favorites is likely one of her very first: Oswald the Rabbit in his last starring cartoon appearance: Lantz’s Egg Cracker Suite. Company.. HALT!

Watch June win an Annie on a episode of The Duck Factory:

June does quite a few voices in the clearly low-budget Christmas Is, a special produced by the Lutheran Church. See if you can recognize some of the other usual suspects here (no fair cheating and looking at the end credits).

I’m sure many of you have heard this, but I really love these outtakes from a 1963 Rocky and Bullwinkle episode. This gives you a pretty good idea of how the recording sessions on this particular show. Hearing June laugh and say “I dont think I can do it again!” is precious. Theres some really off-color stuff in this recording as well.

This one features a full episode and outtakes at the end.

Many years back, my small studio did the animation for several CD-Rom games featuring the Jay Ward characters. One, Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Know-It-All Quiz Game, featured Junes voice of course as Rocky in the handful of times he spoke and maybe Natasha too – I honestly don’t remember if she was speaking in the game! I’ll try to haul out some of my old archive discs this next week to see.

Jerry Beck, Mark Evanier and several other west coast friends are preparing a memorial celebration for June on September 19th at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Jerry and Mark will announce further details about this event on Facebook and here on Cartoon Research in weeks to come. Stay tooned!

And a cartoon!

Scrappy’s Expedition (1934) was one of the first Columbia/ Mintz Scrappy’s I ever saw. The happy exuberance of this little picture makes it still a lot of fun to view today, although many of the Hollywood caricatures are pretty unrecognizable by the general population these days. Of course, Scrappy runs the show, helming a ship that takes off from New York (very familiar to many of the principal players on the Mintz cartoons from this period).

The change of guard from Dick Huemer to Sid Marcus as main director of the series correlates with the production code being enforced. One has to wonder had the production code not kicked in if the Scrappy series would have gone in the more streamlined direction it did or if it would have remained a little quirkier. At any rate, this is a solid if not minor effort in the series. While Scrappy and Oopy’s personalities are not highlighted much beyond their smiling or fear, their hearts are in the right place.

Walter Winchell and Ed Wynn are centerpiece, as is beloved radio and record star Kate Smith. Her girth is centerpiece in the story, sadly, but I really like the animation cycle on her way to save to the day. Sadly, her weight is often the punchline of various jokes in comedic radio programs throughout the 30s and 40s.

Smith’s fame grew throughout the later 20s (she began her recording career in 1926) and her wonderful, expressive voice isnt heard enough these days. Here is a 1927 recording, A Little Smile, A Little Kiss, on Columbia. Her rendition of God Bless America was heard many times at the opening of her show.

Here she is singing it in a not-great print of This is the Army (1943):

and.. singing it again in 1976:

Here is the cartoon – have a good week everyone!


  • Egg Cracker Suite was June Foray’s first ever animated work as a a voice over artist and a start of a fabulous career in animation that spanned over 70 years. June Foray also appeared in the 1946 live action Short The Lonesome Stranger starring Manuel Vierra’s Musical Pets “Tippy and Covina” as the voice of Little Orphan Fanny. I believe that The Lonesome Stranger was originall released by Paramount but redistributed for television for U.M.&M Television Corparation.

    June Foray’s Lady Make Believe is now out on ITunes along with Famoose Moose’s Greatest Hits…And Misses with Bill Broughton and Bill Scott.

  • ‘Scrappy’s Expedition’: MAN! The rat’s farewell to his family! Tear yer’ heart out! I just love how this sequence goes on and on with the best acting in the picture, bringing in a slight gag only at the very last minute. This may be a lighthearted cartoon starring human characters of no emotional depth… but those rats! Those rats have feelings! Okay. I also love the fact that team Scrappy felt compelled to repeat the fat man trio joke AGAIN after all the great rat stuff just in case you missed the gag the first time they held it too long BEFORE all the rat stuff!

    • I have random vivid memories of Scrappy and Krazy Kat because Captain Satellite (KTVU 2 Oakland) ran old Columbia toons through my boomer childhood. And I can tell you somebody clipped the payoff of the rat joke: Upon reaching the South Pole, we see the rat go ashore to be welcomed by his eskimo wife and kids. That stuck because it was among the first “naughty” gags I got. The Kate Smith gag also rung a bell; it was weird to realize she was the same Kate Smith who turned up on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and “Laugh In”.

      Jimmy Durante is pretty good in HOLLYWOOD PARTY; sadly the movie as a whole is a fabled fiasco, wasting an army of stars. It’s got Mickey Mouse introducing a near-Silly Symphony (in color!); Laurel and Hardy sparring with Mexican Spitfire Lupe Velez; a sexy opening title song in Busby Berkeley style; and you STILL want your money back.

  • Oh man, Steve, I was not aware of the outtakes that you linked to here, regarding “THE BULLWINKLE SHOW”. They were utterly hilarious, even in some of the wrong ways (the discussion over the word “juggernaut”), and I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I really don’t understand why Bill Conrad had to recite his dialogue so high. I often thought that the strain on his voice was what was making him so often trip over his dialogue. Actually, I often wish that someone had outtakes from those many FRACTURED FAIRY TALES where June often sat center stage. Remember the RED RIDING HOOD parody in which Red owned a little fur shop in the Holly Woods? There is an exchange between Red and a customer, and June had to do that dialogue all by herself, so amazing, and I know it was done live because you could hear her take a breath in between one character and another, and that happened only once.

    As the exchange sped up to its humorous climax, June did it all in one breath! In fact, that whole cast was so versatile, that I’m sure there are other outtakes where we could hear bits of dialogue that was eventually excised for whatever reason, but the actors switched between characters with rapid percision! Thank you for sharing that…Oh, and in the CHRISTMAS IS special, a fun little thing actually, I recognized only one other voice, that of Don Messick as the barking dog and, I believe, as Joseph. June was the occasional little boy, both in the classroom sequence and in the dream, as a little boy was asking questions of his father…Yes, Kate Smith was one of those personalities who often was caricatured for her physicality, similar to Jimmy Durante who often was seen in caricature as someone with an unspeakably large nose.

    Nowadays, I doubt that current generations even know who Jimmy Durante or Kate Smith were. Well, pick up a copy of “HOLLYWOOD PARTY”, and you’ll get a taste of what Jimmy Durante was all about, and you linked to a few segments of Kate Smith and what she was famous for, that singing voice. And I’ll say this again, too: We need the ultimate SCRAPPY collection on DVD and blu-ray, preferably in a combo pack, right? Yes, yes, I know, like Hennery Hawk always says, “Everybody wants somethin’!!” And he’s so right!

  • June Foray used to talk about how, during recording sessions for Bullwinkle, they wasted far too much time and tape goofing around to make Bill Conrad crack up, a task at which they were very accomplished. On the other hand, she said they never succeeded in making Hans Conried (who provided the voice for Snidely Whiplash) break up when he was working and in character. Like a lot of stage-trained actors, Conried had disciplined himself never to do that.

  • Here’s a link to a complete episode of “The Monkees” with Hans Conried. There are outtakes at the end of the episode (at approx.23:15 into the clip) showing The Monkees goofing around with Hans patiently waiting in character. He shows his frustration at the end of the clip. He was a complete pro.

  • A few thoughts on the Scrappy cartoon:

    (1) Note the use of the NBC Chimes at the end. Ironically, the oldest existing version of the three-note NBC chime is tied to Walter Winchell, on a 1931 recording of “The Lucky Strike Hour.” Prior to 1931, NBC used tones of varying lengths, including a four-tone one very similar to the one shown here.

    (2) It may be just me, but if that’s meant to be Winchell at the microphone, it’s not terribly recognizable, either in caricature or voice. Cp. with the version seen a few years later in Freleng’s “Coo-Coo Nut Grove,” or the version of Winchell heard at the start of Freleng’s “Herr Meets Hare.”

    (3) Ed Wynn’s run as “The Fire Chief” on The Texaco Star Theatre was still ongoing as of the date of the cartoon, though the ratings were dropping, and Wynn would leave the show in 1935.

    (4) To a certain extent, the cartoon is ripped from the headlines, as Admiral Richard Byrd went on his second expedition to the Antarctic in 1934, at the time this cartoon was released.

    (5) I’m not sure who the musicians on the gangplank were, but Eddie Cantor, of course, is instantly recognizable.

    • A couple of other Winchell spoofs in WB cartoons: in “Porky’s Movie Mystery,””Walter Windshield” narrates. And “The Unmentionables” (which spoofed the Winchell-narrated “Untouchables”) featured a Winchell imitation by Ralph James (later the voice of Orson on “Mork & Mindy”).

  • Hadn’t thought of “Duck Factory” for a while. It was interesting but flawed: Over the show’s short run characters and relationships didn’t so much evolve as reboot every few episodes. Perhaps the biggest annoyance for this site’s readers was the Tiny Sitcom Workplace syndrome: the idea that maybe half a dozen people were producing a half-hour network cartoon show all by themselves, and producing commercials as well.

    On the other hand, we did get to see Don Messick as a regular character and a pre-everything Jim Carrey.

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