Animation Cel-ebration
April 16, 2024 posted by Michael Lyons

Remembering “Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics”

September has always heralded the somber end of summer and the inevitable start of the school year. For several generations however, the sad farewell to vacation days and re-emergence of three ring binders came with only one glimmer of light: the beginning of a new Season of Saturday Morning TV.

Forty-Six years ago, Saturday Morning Cartoons were in the midst of their own “Golden Age” and one show was about to emerge that would represent the pinnacle of this era: Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics.

From Hanna-Barbara, the Studio synonymous with Saturday morning, Laff-A-Lympics, which debuted on September 10th, 1977 on ABC was something that had never been done before: a two-hour (!) show that featured some of Hanna-Barbera’s most famous cartoon stars.

The show itself was made up four parts, each about a half hour long: the mysteries of Scooby-Doo, Dynomutt, a bionic super dog of sorts and Captain Caveman, the world’s first super hero.

But the focal point of the show was Laff-A-Lympics. Inspired by both the popularity of the 1976 Olympics and the success of ABC’s special “Batle of the Network Stars,” Hanna-Barbara pitted a number of characters its studio had created against each other in Olympic-like feats of strength.

There was the “Yogi Yahooes,” led by Captain Yogi Bear, a team made up of most of HB’s earliest TV stars, such as Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw and Wally Gator, just to name a few.

“The Scooby-Doobies,” were led by Captain Scooby-Doo and the team was made up of more “recent” stars (in ’70’s terms) such as Shaggy, Speed Buggy and Hong Kong Phooey.

Then, there were the villainous “Really Rottens,” which were made up of a series of Hanna Barbera “bad guys.” The Captain was Mumbley, the snickering dog who was actually a “good guy” just one season before in his own show, in which he played a detective.

Mumbley was actually forced into the “dark side,” due to a rights issue. The HB studio originally wanted Dick Datstardly and Mutley, from “Wacky Races,” but the rights issue prevented that (the same happened when members of “Josie and the Pussycats” were supposed to join the “Scooby-Doobies”).

Members of the Really Rottens were actually made up of villains, the majority of whom were created specifically for “Laff-A-Lympics,” such as The Dread Baron, Fondoo the Magician and The Dalton Brothers.

The plot of each Laff-A-Lympics episode was simple: the three ‘toon teams would compete, the Really Rottens would cheat, and eventually get caught (usually called out by announcers Mildew Wolf and Snagglepuss, who would add his trademark, “Heavens to Murgatroyd” catch phrase).

Laff-A-Lympics was extremely popular with audiences at the time. Kids loved watching the “mash-up” of several decades of HB characters interacting. In many ways, it’s really the first example of what today is called a “shared universe.”

There was a smattering of Laff-A-Lympics merchandise available at the time and one of the most popular was a series of well-crafted and witty comic books. Ironically, these were published by Marvel, King of the “shared universe.”

Today, a majority of the Laff-A-Lympics episodes are available on DVD, providing the perfect way for the ’70’s kids generation to flashback to the magic of yesteryear’s September Saturdays and take some of the sting out of that end of summer sadness.


  • This was one of my favorite shows at the time when I was a kid. Watching it after growing up, there’s really no logical, objective way I could defend it, but I kind of enjoyed it just the same. Regardless of whether the rules or scoring didn’t make sense (which happened in quite a few episodes) or the quality of the animation (which varied between a cut above the HB standard of the era to going-through-the-motions bare-bones competence), I still find a certain joy in watching these characters interact and listening to the excellent voice work, and the show was capable of clever gags fairly often.

  • The Dalton brothers had appeared in a group shot in the cartoon “Sheriff Huckleberry” and Dinky Dalton was the villain who faced off against Huckleberry Hound. Dinky and the other Daltons were redesigned for Laff-a-Lympics and also appeared later in the TV movie “The Good, the Bad, and Huckleberry Hound.”

    The comic book incarnation of the Laff-a-Lympics provided a similar concept but worked it out far differently. The various characters did all appear together but the format allowed for more character development. It wasn’t bound to the TV formula of the athletic events, which in most cases took a back seat to some unusual and quite fascinating adventures. In one book, the Dread Baron and Mumbley met and interacted with Dastardly and Muttley–if memory serves, they were introduced as brothers or cousins. The Dread Baron and Mumbley appeared again in the TV movie “Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose.”

    I totally agree that it was a delight to find a crew of beloved characters all interacting together in one cartoon series. Equally fascinating is to look at some of the characters who were considered to be used in the show but then for one reason or another were discarded. One team that never made the Final Cut was to have been called the Dabba Doozies and would have featured the teen versions of Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm. But at least the Flintstones did have a presence in the aired show, with Fred and Barney appearing occasionally as guest judges.

    • I don’t think there was actually a discarded team called the Dabba Doozies. You might be thinking that from seeing fan art that’s been online for a while now. In addition to the Dastardly and Muttley/Josie and the Pussycats rights issues, HB intended on using Jeannie and Babu from their earlier series. The characters even made it into the model pack but the Jeannie character was owned by Sony, and she was cut at the last minute.

      • Yes, there were no Dabba Doozies. If you look at that team, the Smurfs were included and the Smurfs had not appeared in the HB world until after Laff-A -Lympics was completed.

  • This was past my Saturday morning cartoon days, fortunately. It reminds me of “Yogi’s Ark” several years earlier, as well as the Warner Bros. cartoon specials of the ’70s. The takeaway was how unkind Xerography, and less precise models and animation extremes, were to classic characters; the Xeroxed pencil line giving them a frayed appearance as opposed to the slickness of hand-inking. And of course it didn’t help that Daws Butler and Mel Blanc were finally beginning to sound tired.

    • At least, it was better than “Yogi’s Gang”.

      • Disagree with you there –
        And that’s not to take anything away from Laff-A-Lympics, which I also like.

        Yogi’s Galaxy Goofups was the 1970’s one that I’ve had trouble watching.

        • At least in Laff-a-Lympics” Yogi and friends felt more in-character than in the prior series.

  • The freshly-minted roster of villains for the Really Rottens confused me when LAL originally aired –It seemed to me H-B already had a stock company of bad guys and nemeses: The Hooded Claw, Captain Skyhook, Fibber Fox, Mr. Evictus, just to name a few. And Mr. and Mrs. Creepley were obviously modeled on the Gruesomes, who were bizarre but not antagonistic. Furthermore, Mildew Wolf, who originally was a scoundrel, should have been included on the team instead of being cast as a co-announcer.

  • In a couple of episodes Mumbly was referred to as “Muttley” Hong Kong Phooey (with Spot) was meant to be a referee but was put on the SCOOBIES team after the PUSSYCATS characters got the boot and replaced with Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. This also led to another change. Really Rotten DAISY MAYHEM, a spoof of DAISY MAE from Al Capp’s LI’L ABNER comic strip, had blonde hair, but had to be switched to burnette so she wouldn’t look like Taffy Dare from THE TEEN ANGELS.
    Ironically, this had Daisy looking like an animated version of Daisy Mae’s rival from the comic strip, MOONBEAM McSWINE.

    • Also, ironically, H-B would end up getting the license to another “Lil’ Abner” character, a Schmoo, a couple years later.

    • I remember when Mumbly was referred to as Muttley, and it bothered me! I wonder why it was done.

  • I always wondered why this show went with a bunch of “new” or “barely known” baddies for the Really Rottens team. I know why they couldn’t use Dick Dastardly & the real Muttley. So why couldn’t they have employed Bigelo Mouse (who talked like Cagney), Fibber Fox, Alfy Gator, Powerful Pierre (Huckleberry Hound’s nemesis in several shorts), Major Minor, and other fun fiends? The weakest part of Laff-a-Lympics was that “rogues gallery”, most of whom no one ever heard of or saw again.

  • It may not exactly be Laff-a-Lympics, but this particular Hanna-Barbera tribute blogger manages to keep alive the general concept of bringing together many of the greater Funtastic-type characters (even if but in fanfic and vignette) through the device of what I call “Character Convocations,” timed in some measure around especially interesting festivals around the country (examples furnished on request). With interactions imagined not just among the several characters, but also in walkabout with festival visitors (including the core parade of said festival); the two premier musical bands, The Banana Splits and the Cattanooga Cats, also pull off appearances.

    In like spirit, I’ve worked up a concept imagining Peter Potamus leading a collation of secondary Golden Age characters (including the Three Wolves) going around the country as a travelling SCUBA dive party fond of 1960’s-design gear (as in the two-hose air lines and glass oval masks) and sharing a fondness for the diving experience.

  • I will go buy this DVD set! We have a niece & a nephew who are living with me & I want the kids to watch cartoons THAT are for kids, NOT ADULTS! These cartoons look fun! They said the 60″s & 80’s cartoons are Really GREAT cartoons to watch because there is NO Adult Activity or words! They would get in trouble if they did that!

  • OMG! This made me smile so much when I noticed the article!! I absolutely LOOOOOVED this show as a kid. Ironically, I can’t stand watching real sports, including the olympics. But I was so in love with this show! I remember finally getting a VCR and trying to record it every Sunday when it was on and then shortly later I lost the tape and it was off the air.

    I got 2 volumes of the DVD purely by chance when I noticed them in a Wal-mart, but they had I think a total of only 6 episodes on them and I remember a lot more than that.

    I SOOOOOO want this to be released again! I don’t care if it is a MOD DVD or Blu Ray, I just want a cleaned up, complete version of this. The nostalgia for this show for me is incredibly immense!!

  • I’m still wondering if Tinker and Shaggy were related and why wasn’t Hong Kong Phooey on the Yogi Yahooees and Mumbly was Muttleys cousin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *