July 21, 2017 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #322

Going to the Dogs. From the Asbury Park Press newspaper May 15th, 1994 in a series of columns by Mark Voger, voice over artist Don Messick shared the following:

“Boo-Boo (in Yogi Bear) they wanted a kind of naive friendly little guy who was a contrast to the big sort of clown. Yogi bluffing his way through Jellystone Park. So as Daws would say Boo Boo was Yogi’s conscience. Boo Boo would child Yogi: You better not do that. Mr Ranger wouldn’t like it.”

“In the beginning, Joe Barbera wanted kind of a nasally voice for Boo-Boo so some of the earlier episodes have that. I didn’t like the voice that way. So, gradually, as the series went on, I eased out of the stuffed-up-nose into more of a back-of-the-throat.

“Astro preceded Scooby Doo. I had to come up with what I call growl talk. The words were there. Joe liked things starting with R’s for the dogs especially. He got that from watching Soupy Sales. Sales had an offscreen dog. All you would see was the paw and he talked with R-talk. So, Joe decided that Astro should have that kind of attitude. Rello, Rorge! I ruv roo, Rorge.

“But then along came Scooby Doo, my favorite voice. So then when we were doing the later Jetsons episodes, I had to pitch Astro a little bit higher. Because Scooby had the growl talk though his was more of a barrel-chested thing.

“In the earliest Jonny Quests, they used a recorded real-dog bark which to me sounded tinny and less like a real dog than I could have done. But I did the whimpering and the panting. Then later, we reprised the series. We did thirteen more episodes to add to the original twenty-six to make a better syndication package. This time, I did all the barking for Bandit which was more of a high-pitched bark. But Bandit didn’t talk. He was not a talking dog because the Jonny Quest series was one in which only the humans talked. Sort of like real life – most of the time.”

Jessie and the Weeze. The Bluth Brothers Studio in Hollywood was made up of Don Bluth’s brothers, Toby and Brad. They had worked for Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, Richard Williams, Sid and Marty Kroft, Ralph Bakshi, Paramount and Disney. Brad was an accomplished sculptor. Toby did animation and beautiful painted backgrounds.

Most animation fans are aware of them trying to launch a project called Silent Night with the Family Von Mouse. However, they also worked on another project in 1981 that never got made: Jessie and the Weeze. Jessie is a California boy who is a master of skateboarding who runs afoul of Rim Rat Weeze with jaundiced beady eyes, green skin, gnarled tail and consumed by greed. The story included a death-defying stunt, a million dollar insurance policy and a buxom girl named Lorelei. There was also a weak but noble fly named Stinky. It was being pitched as a film, book and merchandising deal. Pre-production art and character maquettes had been completed.

Lugosi the Volcano. Actor Bela Lugosi did some posing in his original Dracula cape as Chernabog for animator Bill Tytla the first week of November 1939. Tytla later found the pictures taken from those session unusable for his purpose so he had animator Wilfred Jackson strip to the waist and pose following Tytlas directions. However, for publicity reasons, it was promoted that Lugosi was the model and that little anecdote has appeared for decades.

From Modern Screen magazine February 1940:

Vesatile Bela. When Bela Lugosi had a call from the Walt Disney studios the other day, he proceeded over there considerably perplexed about what kind of role the cartoonist had dreamed up for him. The actor was met by Disney and Leopold Stokowski. Mr. Stokowski will direct his orchestra in music symbolizing the eruption of a volcano, Disney explained, and will you please interpret the volcano?

Lugosi admitted it was something of a shock to be called on for anything of this nature, but, being of the old school, he launched into the assignment. So successful was his interpretation that moving pictures were taken of him. These will later be used as models by the Disney artists when drawing the erupting volcano for the animated cartoon. “Guess I’m one actor”, said Lugosi, “who doesn’t have to worry about being typed.”

I am sure Lugosi’s confusion came from being told he was the top of a mountain in Fantasia (1940) and perhaps Tytla encouraging him to make strong dramatic movements like an erupting volcano.

The Simpsons. In the October 10-23, 2016 issue of TV Guide magazine Yeardley Smith who provides the voice for Lisa in The Simpsons said, “We re-up your faith in humanity. While everything from the political scene to the weather changes drastically, we are a constant. We are a reminder that, no matter how crazy things get, love will last, family endure, values matter. We are frozen in time. Homer will always be a slob and a jackass, and Marge will always forgive him. Bart will forever be a brat. And Lisa will never feel like she truly fits in. But they support each other. They hang in, no what what.”

Misty Copeland. Also in the October 10-23, 2016 issue of TV Guide magazine, Misty Copeland, the first African-American woman to be a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, commented on playing a version of herself in an episode entitled The Dance Problem on the PBS animated series Peg + Cat. “No dancers looked like me when I was growing up. To have a brown ballerina representing the dance world in a cartoon series kids love is an incredibly cool thing. All children need that.”

Animal Antics. In the early days of production for The Lion King (1994), Disney animators were often visited by Wild Kingdom’s Jim Fowler who treated artists to an exotic collection of lions, warthogs and meerkats. Observing the animals anatomy and behavior taught the animators how to better bring these creatures to life with their pencils. “We practically lived at the Los Angeles Zoo for several months,” said co-director Rob Minkoff in 1994.

Video Blowout. In 1994, writer Rob Hiaasen of The Baltimore Sun newspaper revealed that nearly fifty-five percent of all U.S. homes with a videocassette recorder had at least one Disney video. Of those forty million households, twenty-five million had more than one. One of the reasons cited was that children liked to watch the Disney videos over and over until they wore them out.


  • I have to admit that I liked the early Booboo Bear. We first got to know him as a reluctant accomplice to whatever stunning stunts that Yogi Bear was going to pull, whether it was stealing a picnic basket from Jellystone Park or attempting to lift a freshly baked pie from a suburbanite’s window; did we care about the inconsistancy of the two bears in one cartoon living in Jellystone Park and the other one being free tramps on the road? No, we just loved the antics of these two, almost similar to Tex Avery’s George and Junior, only there was no violence of one to the other. The situations were hilarious, and I so wish that Warner Brothers would release the remainder of the series! Sorry, folks, but I just had to add that comment. Those of you who have VOL. 1 of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW know what I mean, here, and you’re enjoying those cartoons for exactly the same reason.

  • I remember the first time I heard Don Messick’s Astro voice on the first run of The Jetsons. In my opinion I didn’t like it at all because he sounded immature and at times the character acted like a crybaby. Fast forward to 1982 when Space Ace and the Space Mutts appeared on Space Stars – Astro sounded more mature. And it was the same style of Astro’s that was reused on the revival of The Jetsons in 1984. I recall with Messick that they used a real dog as the original voice of Bandit and he filled in doing Bandiit’s whimpers. It wasn’t until the mid 1980s when the New Adventures of Jonny Quest premiered and Don Messick took over doing all of Bandit’s voice work (barks,growls,whines,yelps etc) – which he made Bandit sound better than the original version.

    Also on Scooby and Scrappy Doo – Don Messick took over for Lenny Weinrib (his costar for Space Ace and the Space Mutts) as the voice of Scrappy Doo.

  • Shouldn’t it be “Boo Boo would chide Yogi” rather than “child”?

  • I WANT that hopping Astro toy!!! Big vintage H-B toy collector here!, Altough , I do usually preffer the crappier looking ones and that is actually a pretty acurate looking Astro, as compared to my bowling pin set that has a yellow Huck and a red Yogi.

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