Animation Trails
March 18, 2020 posted by Charles Gardner

Beware the Leprechauns! (Part 2)

The glory days of theatrical animation were passing on, and several studios, to quote an oft-used Irish phrase, were “not long for this world.” But animators were finding “greener” pastures in the new medium of television. Two studios in particular – Hanna-Barbera and Paramount – would return to their recent past for character and plot inspiration, mining again into the realm of the leprechauns, and simultaneously testing how thinly a crock of gold could be spread into finished footage on a TV budget.

Leprechauns – drawn by Jim Tyer – from a Felix The Cat cartoon detailed below.

Gold Burglar (Hanna-Barbera (H-B Enterprises), Ruff and Reddy, 1958-59 season) begins a 13-chapter story centering on the wee folk. A newspaper headline announces that a gold burglar is still at large, and has baffled police. While Ruff fails to see the importance of this story to them, Reddy boards up windows in a panic, believing the burglar may soon be after a solid gold watch (that doesn’t work) inherited from Reddy’s granddaddy. “That clock’s a clinker”, Ruff insists. Yet, late at night, the sleeping duo are aroused to hear something watch-sized dropping in the living room. They investigate, and find the drawer where the watch was stored open. “My watch is gone”, moans Reddy. “Not gone, Reddy. Going!”, shouts Ruff, pointing to the floor. There we see the watch, appearing to have sprouted legs, running at full speed for an exit – as the narrator points out “The first time it’s run in 20 years.” Ruff brings a broom down on it, stopping it in its tracks. When the watch is lifted, a small leprechaun is found out cold underneath. As he revives, Reddy holds him for the police. He admits to being a leprechaun, but not a burglar. “Are you really from Ireland?” Ruff asks. “That I am” says the leprechaun – “And don’t be after askin’, ‘How are things in Glocca Morea’ – ‘cause they’re terrible, terrible, terrible.” The little man tells a woeful tale of the capture of the leprechaun princess by a monster known as the Goon of Glocca Morra, and held prisoner in Banshee Castle. While the leprechauns have given up their pots of gold to ransom her, the Goon merely takes their gold but increases his demands – forcing all the leprechauns to hunt out gold wherever they can find it, to keep the Goon from bringing harm to the princess. And the worst is that no one will offer the leprechauns help, because they’re all too scared of the Goon. Braggart Reddy, nicknaming himself “One Punch Reddy”, claims he doesn’t know the meaning of fear (taking heart in the fact that he and Ruff are nowhere hear Ireland to offer any actual help). But the leprechaun takes their mockful assertions of assistful intent as if words of gold – and with a magical incantation, transports them soaring through the skies for a “free one-way trip to Ireland”.

Upon arrival, the leprechaun refuses to take a proactive role in entering the castle, afraid that if the Goon spotted one of his kind invading his domain, he’d bring harm to the princess. Instead, Reddy tries to gain entrance by a rope lasso hooked to the point of a turret roof. But a large arm wielding a broadsword slices away at the rope, dunking a water-logged Reddy into the moat. The leprechaun suggests a makeshift catapult of a giant rubber band strung between two tree branches. Reddy plays the bean in the beanshooter, but is too plump and smashes into the castle wall without gaining sufficient altitude. A substitution of smaller Ruff as the catapult jockey produces a bulls-eye shot into a tower window. But all that follows is silence, with no signal of success. The leprechaun finally hits upon the idea of Reddy using a secret leprechaun entrance to get inside – the only problem being Reddy’s size. No “big” problem for the little man, who utters the words, “With a jig-a-jig-jig and a slap o’ me knee, you’ll be shrinkin’, me boy, ‘til you’re little as me”. Reddy assumes leprechaun proportions, and reacts by walking up to the wee man beneath a mushroom, and threatening, “How would you like a fat lip?”

Reddy eventually gets inside the castle, finding Ruff locked in a cell. Some sequences will bring back memories of one of H-B’s last theatrical projects – Tom and Jerry’s “Robin Hoodwinked” (1958), with a diminutive Reddy using his ingenuity to steal a key twice his size out from under the nose of the Goon and a large pet cat. Ruff is freed, but the Goon gives chase. Ruff and Reddy split up on the castle wall, and Ruff hides inside a small turret room. The goon lines up a cannon to blast the room to pieces – and to make matters worse, Reddy is hiding in the mouth of the cannon. Reddy plays a game of blowing out the cannon fuses, but is caught in the act. However, the distraction gives Ruff time to flip the cannon barrel over, launching the cannonball back at the Goon. While our heroes take the opportunity to search the Goon’s treasure room, the Goon is only momentarily stunned by the blast, and corners them. Ruff is locked in a wall oven, and the Goon tosses a dagger at Reddy, which lodges in the floor inches from its target. Resourceful Reddy bends the dagger blade backward, and places a large gold coin on the dagger handle. A la David vs. Goliath, Reddy launches a direct hit of the coin right between the Goon’s eyes, causing him to collapse on the floor. But the Goon’s large Irish hat is still moving – and out of it pops the hidden leprechaun princess. As soon as she is free, the leprechaun who brought the boys there materializes in the castle, graciously bows to the princess, and says he’ll take over from here. While Reddy is restored by the princess to his original size, the leprechaun repeats the shrinking incantation at the Goon, with one change of lyric – “‘til you’re littler than me.” The huge Goon shrinks to pint size, and runs away a coward, uttering Irish epithets in unintelligible chipmunk speed. To speed his exit, his own cat doesn’t recognize him, and pursues the Goon the same way he pursued Reddy for another full-speed chase as the scene irises out.

Sure’n an article on leprechauns wouldn’t be complete without at least a tip o’ the cap to Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People (6/26/59). While mostly a live-action feature, there are some scenes involving the banshees and/or the midnight coach that seem to utilize a wee bit of drawing for effects and highlights. And the venerable Ub Iwerks, now in charge of “special processes”, would outdo himself in not only realizing on film banshees and ghostly flying coaches, but an underground kingdom of leprechauns dancing fevered jigs amidst giant harps and golden treasures, and parading their stable of galloping Lilliputian horses to the tune of Darby’s fiddle. And just for good measure, the film introduces us to a youthful, singing Sean Connery! The feature would not only provide indelible visual memories in its several theatrical reissues, but inspiration to later Disney animators for direct references and lampoons in subsequent productions to come, to be discussed in later installments of this series.

Paramount, the studio that nearly invented the cartoon leprechaun, was in its waning days, having lost all its star characters in the Harvey comics deal for purposes of theatrical animation. But it was finding new outlets to augment its income in churning out tons of footage for various television series at bargain basement prices. Among its earliest television efforts were the entire “Felix the Cat” television series of 1959-61, produced by Fleischer veteran and Famous Studios alumnus Joe Oriolo. These films were decidedly “on the cheap” and use every trick in the book to cut corners. Filmed as two part “cliffhangers”, the episodes gave every excuse to reuse extensive sequences twice in overly-long “recaps”. Most “action” scenes are endless repeating cycles – and even these are few and far between.

Directing continuity is awkward and inconsistent to the point of appearing amateurish, and visibly rushed. Several three-part story arcs, such as that described below, give additional chances to reuse shots between multiple cartoons. And the series makes heavy use of Jim Tyer animation – a man whose reputation for speed of pen and erratic ramshackle movement could churn out reams of drawings in record time without need for being too careful, at affordable prices. Seeking plot inspiration for a mass production of seemingly hundreds of these Felix cartoons, the Paramount boys inevitably turned to their old standby Irish settings, at least with a few fresh ideas to take them out of the formulaic rut of their previous quartet of theatrical cartoons.

In The Leprechaun, Detective Felix receives a visit at his office from a small green stranger. Instead of entering in the usual way, a trap door appears in Felix’s floor, then vanishes once admitting its user into the room. The visitor identifies himself as a leprechaun king, and tells a tale of “worra worra worra” of leprechaun abductions at the Fairy Ring, by the Professor and Rock Bottom. They charge in using nets, spring snare traps, bear traps, and fly paper, to capture 15 leprechauns, leaving a ransom note demanding “15 pots of gold – Make it snappy!” Felix takes the case to find the hostages. As the king leaves the way he came, the door again disappears. “Why, there’s no trap door here”, remarks Felix. The king reappears with the door momentarily, to respond, “There is when y’ need one!”

At the Fairy Ring, Felix searches for a clue. He finds one fast enough, as he falls into the Professor’s latest trap – a lobster pot. Rock Bottom hears the trap snap, and carries Felix into their hideout, where the missing leprechauns are tied up in a corner. The Professor considers Felix no threat so long as he’s caught in the pot, and leaves him there while Rock alerts the boss of more leprechauns in the glen for the taking. Felix asks the leprechauns how to get free, and they suggest a special high and low whistle for the chief leprechaun. Hearing same, the chief again appears through a magical trap door. Taking charge of the situation, he uses his Irish pipe like a blowtorch, and cuts the top off Felix’s trap to free him. The other leprechauns state, “Now Felix can free us, as only a human can do that.” (Yeah, but isn’t Felix a feline?) Felix unties them, then races out toward the Fairy Ring. In a cheap repeat of all the capture shots we saw in the first half of the episode, the remainder of the leprechauns are captured. But Felix arrives in the nick of time, and unties them. The other freed leprechauns appear on the scene with the chief, and now amassed, the chief orders they give their former captors a “shillelagh shellacking”. All pull out their walking sticks, and hurl them in a non-ending barrage against the Professor and Rock for an all-out “Donnybrook”, chasing them over the farthest hills, as Felix, wearing a leprechaun hat and holding two large shamrocks, gives his trademark laugh.

The Leprechauns’ Gold picks up right where the last chapter left off. In appreciation for saving their gold, the leprechauns present Felix with a pot of it, then engage in the task of hiding their own. Though no one ever established in the last film that the leprechaun fortune was above ground, they proceed en masse to bury their pots in the glen. Rock Bottom, however, has returned to the glen, and eyes them through a telescope. He then rushes back to the hideout to tell the Professor – so winded when he arrives that the Professor has to remind him to breathe in order to talk. Rock tells the news, and the Professor (qualifying for the Guinness Book of Records for world’s fastest invention manufacture) displays his latest device – a gold magnet, consisting of a red horseshoe magnet attached to a gun in place of its barrel. One pull of the trigger, and Rock’s belt buckle is pulled away. A second shot extracts his gold tooth. (Very interesting phenomena, considering that gold has no magnetic properties. In fact, the Internet recommends testing gold with a magnet to see that it doesn’t stick – if it does, it’s fake!) Anyway, the leprechauns must be using a cheap alloy, because without having to reduce himself to heavy manual labor, the Professor merely aims his new device at the surface of the glen, and pulls pot after pot right out of the ground.

The leprechaun king has accompanied Felix home. But both are summoned by a hoarde of leprechauns in the magic trap door, telling them of the robbery. Felix returns with them through the trap door, choosing for unknown reasons to take along his pot of gold. Back at the scene of the crime, he and the leprechauns observe the culprits from under a mushroom, then hide as they approach. Plot point becomes a little muddy here, as the Professor’s magnet pulls Felix and his pot out of the ground so that they meet face to face. Did Felix do this intentionally? Couldn’t he have just leaped out from under the mushroom instead of putting his pot at risk? Or was he just too stupid to leave the pot at home? Rock Bottom pulls a hollow tree stump out of the ground (a Herculean task in and of itself), and slams it over Felix, trapping him inside, then hurls the trunk and Felix into the river, while he and the Professor cart their pots on a dolly back to the hideout. One and one-half million dollars (in 1960 rates of exchange). As Rock observes, “Not bad for an hour’s work.” Meanwhile, Felix floats toward a waterfall, but is caught by the feet by leprechauns on an overhanging tree limb, and freed. Inside the tree, they hold council. The leprechauns tell him of a second kind of gold, known as “fairy gold’, which looks like the real thing, but vanishes. “And we can get tons of it”, they observe. Felix has them engage in another mass burial of pots in the glen, with the substitute fools’ bait. Rock of course falls for the ploy hook, line, and sinker, saying, “That’s a nice habit”, and gets the Professor for another haul. While the crooks are out, the leprechauns and Felix come in, and make off with the dolly full of gold. As the villains complete stacking another pile of gold on a second dolly (presumably finding fake gold to be all the more magnetic), the king appears under a mushroom, and tells them that its fairy gold – nothin’ but nothin’. Now you see it, now you don’t – and the entire stack, pots and all, vanishes. Time and budget not permitting, we never see what the leprechauns did with the real gold to prevent further excavations. We are simply left with the flabbergasted crooks, and another Felix signature laugh.

The Capturing of the Leprechaun King may have been produced a bit apart from the other two episodes, as the writers appear to have suffered from a lapse of memory – and assume we have, too). Felix is back in his office, in the identical pose he started the first cartoon in – only this time, instead of reading an unidentified bewspaper or pamphlet, he’s reading Felix the Cat comics in a free plug. The magic trap door appears again, with a messenger leprechaun inviting Felix to tea with the king, now named King Barney, at the fairy ring. When Felix arrives, the King appears together with an already-set tea service under a giant toadstool. “You’re King Barney?”, says a terribly forgetful Felix. (Well, he was at least 41 years old when this picture was made – maybe an early case of Alzheimer’s was setting in.) The king states he’s worried that something might be happening soon, as the Professor and Rock have taken up new residence in nearby Kerry Castle. There, the Professor, instead of inventing, pours over old volumes of leprechaun law books – and finds a “loophole” – a forgotten leprechaun law that states if a leprechaun king is captured, he must grant his captor or captors three wishes each. (Why do leprechauns write these terrible laws anyway?) Rock reacts, “With three wishes each, we can own the world!” The two go to work with an odd weapon – a fishing pole, with line divided in three at its end, to which are tied three large corks. How would they know in advance they’d encounter two leprechauns playing checkers on a tortoise’s chest. The leprechauns duck inside the armholes of the shell with the turtle, and Rock flings the line, plugging up the head and arm holes with the corks. (As Babs Bunny might have said, “How convenient!”) Of course, Felix makes his move, grabbing the line and cutting it, then unplugging the corks.

Rock casts the line again, and handily winds it around Felix to hogtie him. After the usual repetitious plot exposition to let Felix in on the villain’s plans for the start of chapter 2, Rock put Felix “into orbit” with a mighty cast of the line. Felix sails over King Barney, who grabs a microphone from under his toadstool and puts out an “all points bulletin” for the other leprechauns to save Felix at all costs. The leprechauns try to position a safety net under the descending Felix – but Felix keeps hitting with such impact that he bounces up into the stratosphere again. Meanwhile, the Professor and Rock spot Barney looking skyward – and drop a net over him, claiming their three wishes each. Barney reluctantly promises to grant them all. Rock wishes for a yacht. The Professor tops him with an ocean liner. Rock adds a plane, and a million bucks in gold. The Professor wishes bigger again, getting five million in gold. But along comes Felix, finally on the ground. Fed up with Felix’s meddling, the Professor uses his third wish for something that may prove fatal – “Felix! I wish you were out of this world!” But Rock chimes in, “I double that wish.” For once, Rock has wished too big, and his double wish seems to count for both of them, as King Barney cheers, “Hooray! You’ve made a fourth wish. And because of that, you lose all your wishes. It’s the leprechaun law!” (See, Professor. You should have read the asterisk and footnote in that old law book.) The wealth disappears, and we suddenly are at the final shot, with the Professor and Rock in a cell and wearing prison stripes, while jailer Felix laughs outside, holding the key.

Paramount’s other early television outlet was a revival of their “Popeye” series by King Features, where Paramount gained the lion’s share of production duties on another massive body of television productions – this time splitting production duties with Jack Kinney, Gene Deitch, Larry Harmon, Format Films, and Halas and Bachelor. With this many diverse hands, production quality of course varied all over the map. But Paramount, while rigid in movement and posing, generally produced a superior product in terms of storylines and neatness of drawing. I don’t think Jim Tyer got to animate a single frame, all episodes being nominally credited to Paramount’s A-list director Seymour Kneitel. But even Kneitel had his off days, as evidenced below.

The Leprechaun is a decidedly disappointing outing, lacking in anything more than going through the motions. Perhaps the only distinctive point about it was an unusual move in which, perhaps reflecting Kneitel’s personal opinion that the Paramount background department was no longer capable of convincingly pulling off a lush background of emerald green to present an enchanted forest, the film opts to substitute in all woodland settings photographic shots of real forests, embellished with a drawn tree or prop here and there. Despite the now stilted and minimal character animation, the idea actually presents a few striking shots, with Popeye appearing to walk through surfaces of thick green undergrowth rather than the usual bare solid colors.

The Sea Hag and her vulture are afoot, sailing to Ireland on a whim to capture a leprechaun and make him reveal his crock of gold. Lighthouse keeper Popeye abandons his post (so, Popeye, who keeps the other ships off the rocks while you’re out on a wild goose chase to Ireland?) and follows the Hag’s ship to see what’s up. In Ireland, a chief leprechaun reminds the others that their gold must only be used for the poor, and that they are honor bound not to reveal its whereabouts. (Isn’t the mythos a bit messed up since “The Wee Men”? I thought they were honor bound to reveal the treasure if they got caught!) In another part of the woods, skulking Popeye overhears the Hag’s plans and attempts to interfere, but is bopped on the head with a log by the Hag’s vulture. A young leprechaun passes by and revives Popeye with a dose of shamrock juice. (Considering this works on Popeye, are shamrocks of the same genus as spinach?) Popeye thanks the leprechaun, but never issues him so much as a word of warning of the Hag’s plan. (Don’t you even know a leprechaun when you see one?) Further down the trail, the Hag poses as a destitute old lady, and the leprechaun tries to cheer her up with a gold coin. Convinced she’s found the real McCoy, the Hag invites the leprechaun to a hovel, and pours him a cup of tea laced with truth serum – then asks the crucial question as to the crock’s location. The crock is stolen, and the young leprechaun banished from the ranks until the pot is returned.

Popeye, who still hasn’t accomplished a thing with his own investigation, happens by again and is finally filled in on events by the sad ex-leprechaun. He races (not on screen, of course – running would cost too much animation budget) to the docks, where the Hag and her vulture are loading a large chest on board ship. Popeye creeps up behind the vulture and returns the favor from before, bopping the vulture unconscious. He yanks the chest away from the Sea Hag, and turns to return it – but the Hag hits him with am “evil eye whammy”, visualized as a yellow lightning bolt from her eyes. Popeye is frozen in his tracks. “Oh, my gawsh. I forgot about her evil eye whammy”, he states. (After all these years, Popeye, and you just turn your back to her? You’re really slipping!) Popeye of course retains just enough strength to eat his spinach, sock the lightning bolt, and reverse it back on the Hag to knock her unconscious. Does Popeye clap her in irons? No! He just returns the chest, leaving her free to spread havoc another day! Popeye is appointed an honorary leprechaun, with a green outfit just his size, and sings, “A friend I am told is worth more than pure gold, says Popeye the leprechaun!” With all the plot holes big enough to drive a Mack truck through in this script, it’s a wonder Popeye didn’t end the short with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new freeway.

Huck of the Irish (Hanna-Barbera, Huckleberry Hound, 12/4/61) finds our hero as ace photographer for Strife Magazine, on a mission in Ireland to be the first to photograph a leprechaun. Always one to have no clue upon being faced with the obvious, Huck observes a little man in green, sitting on a pot of gold, and concludes he’s just one of the locals – the perfect one to ask if he’s seen a leprechaun anywhere about. Huck introduce himself with greetings of, “Top o’ the mornin’, y’all, begorrah, begosh, and Erin Go Bragh”, then tells the audience, “That’s Irish talk for howdy. You got to know all the gimmicks in this business.” The little man says he can’t be sure if he’s seen a leprechaun without a description. Huck gives him a perfect description of the self same little man from a travel brochure, adding that they’re also known to be “plum full of devilishness.” “A prankster, eh? Like so, maybe?”, reacts the leprechaun, pulling Huck’s hat down over his eyes. “I guess everyone round here likes to joke it up a might”, Huck responds. When he gets the hat off, the leprechaun gives him a hotfoot. Huck finally sees the leprechaun disappear and reappear atop his pot of gold, and wises up to the situation. Hearing that Huck wants his photo, the leprechaun states that he can’t resist a good chase, and if Huck can catch him, he’ll get the photograph. The leprechaun ducks into a cave. Before Huck can enter, a door drops from the ceiling, which Huck narrowly misses. “I’m too smart to fall for that old slammin’ into the door routine”, Huck states. Suddenly the door swings opens from the inside, now miraculously hinged on the right, smashing into Huck and causing Huck’s head to pop right through the door’s wooden face. The leprechaun nonchalantly asks a favor, indicating he’s a “shutter bug” himself, and asks Huck to pose for the cover of the trade magazine, “The Leprechaun Ledger”. Of course, he has Huck back up for the shot – right into an open well. “He’s a real practical joker – he practically kills me!” states Huck.

More chasing ensues, with the leprechaun having Huck follow him off a cliff edge into thin air, allowing the leprechaun to display “the advantages” of being himself by defying gravity while Huck falls. The leprechaun hides on a high ledge, and Huck tries to lasso him Western-style from below. But Huck only lassos the Blarney Stone, pulling it down into the canyon atop himself. The impact, however, cracks the rock ledge on which the leprechaun is standing above, and he falls in a heap into the canyon too. (How come he didn’t just defy gravity again?) The leprechaun is a man of his word, and poses for a series of photos, including with his shillelagh, wearing a new green ensemble, and sitting atop his pot of gold. With more repeats of his Irish phrases for “so long”, Huck returns to the magazine.

Emerging from the darkroom, Huck shows his photographs to the editor. “Oh oh, I was afraid of this”, the editor replies, as he looks at three photos, absolutely blank. “A leprechaun just doesn’t register on film. But, nice try anyway, Huck.” Huck confides to the audience, “I haven’t the nerve to tell him I forgot to take the cover off the lens when I took the pictures!”

Sham-rocked (Hanna-Barbera, Lippy the Lion and Hardy Har Har, 6/24/63) – Lippy and Hardy are bound for Ireland with a makeshift dirigible, fastened above a bicycle-built-for-two with a propeller hooked to its pedal mechanism. The balloon is marked, “Ireland or Bust” – and bust it does, depositing the duo in a rough landing on the Emerald Isle. No sooner can they say “leprechaun” than they see one, with a pot of gold yet. He ducks into a hollow tree with the pot. Uttering the magic words “Blarney Killarney Alakazam”, the leprechaun performs a quick change, transforming himself into an old cobbler, and the pot into a cobbler’s bench. Lippy pokes his head in and asks if the leprechaun came this way, and the old cobbler gives a confused response, pointing in two directions at once. Lippy leaves Hardy as sentry at the front door, while he checks around the back. The leprechaun performs another quick change, and transforms himself into a duplicate of Lippy, who gives Hardy a barrel to smash down on the leprechaun when he comes around the tree. Of course, Hardy whomps it down on the real Lippy. The fake Lippy tells Hardy to get under the barrel too and hold the leprechaun – then pushes both of them off a cliff. As an angry Lippy rises from the splinters, Hardy reacts, “Oh dear. Oh, utter confusion!” The leprechaun returns to cobbler disguise as Lippy checks inside the tree again, and gives Lippy another set of misdirections. “Never mind!”, shouts Lippy. Another utterance of the magic words, and the leprechaun transforms into Hardy’s double, carrying the pot of gold. Lippy, on seeing the pot, yells, “We’re rich!” “You mean, I’m rich”, replies the fake Hardy. “Finders keepers, you know”, and ducks back into the tree. Becoming the cobbler again, the leprechaun points Lippy to the real Hardy outside. When Hardy “won’t talk” as to what he did with the pot, Lippy gives chase with intent to strangle – but the leprechaun decides to break up the party. Reappearing as himself, he tells them, “Sure I was just havin’ me little joke”, and hands over to them the pot – but with a lid on it. The duo heads for home, with a happy Lippy remarking at what a practical joker the leprechaun was. But the joke’s not over ‘til the last laugh – as the pot now contains nothing but a hearty helping of Irish stew. Lippy’s laughter turns to weeping for the iris out.

This coloring book has nothing to do with the Sinbad cartoon – but the pirate IS wearing a green shirt.

Irish Stew (Hanna-Barbera, Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, 1/8/66), a “work for hire” episode produced for American-International, picking up the pieces for the failed Sam Singer studios, really presents nothing new or clever. Sinbad Jr. and Salty the parrot voyage to Ireland, and fins a leprechaun in a bottle cast into the ocean. He tells of an ogre after their gold, who cast him away when he wouldn’t tell the location. Sinbad decides to confront the ogre, but finds out it’s really his old nemesis Blubbo. (How convenient for the animators, who don’t have to come up with a new character design.) Blubbo challenges Sinbad to a fair fight, provided he takes his magic belt off. Sucker! – Blubbo of course conks Sinbad with a club. Sinbad and Salty are tied to a tree, while Blubbo leaves with a leprechaun on a leash to lead to the gold, and Sinbad’s belt in his hip pocket. The original leprechaun Sinbad rescued arrives with reinforcements. Piled atop each other’s shoulders in totem pole fashion, the leprechaun and his friends retrieve the belt from Blubbo’s pocket, and make the ring toss of a lifetime – launching the belt at Sinbad so that it not only passes over his broad shoulders and down behind the ropes with which he is tied, but wraps neatly around his waist for Salty to pull. Someone describe for me the physics behind the miraculous trajectory of that shot. From there on, it’s a routine day for Sinbad – catching a cannonball fired by Blubbo and tossing it back into his gut, and socking him over the rainbow – where Blubbo apparently doesn’t find a pot of gold – only lumps. Salty dances an Irish jig for the fade out.

Other titles missing in action and unavailable for review include Laurel and Hardy’s “Leaping Leprechaun” (Hanna-Barbera/Wolper), for which only an IMDB description has been located, referring to the boys finding a leprechaun while tending to their garden, who has escaped from a circus and is seeking shelter. The boys of course only see him as a pot of gold, and the results are probably highly predictable. Another missing title include Bozo the Clown’s “Real Gone Leprechaun” from Larry Harmon productions, shifting all attention from Bozo to a leprechaun friend (my distant memories of this title seem to recall the leprechaun also being named Paddy, and running a merry chase for Big Shorty and Short Biggy). The leprechaun’s curtain line when asked how he subdued his pursuers was “With a bit o’ luck, and a four leaf clover!”

Next time: two theatrical studios revive their images of Erin at nearly the end of their big-screen careers. And television receives an inexhaustible mascot, and new blood from production for the small screen from the biggest animation house of all.


  • Two more Felix/KIng Barney/Professor/Rock Bottom shorts were made!

    BARNEY, KING OF THE LEPRECHAUNS, a story about a goiden harp with King Barney’s head on it, which when played find the closest gold object, has Felix and Barney playing the aforementioned harp, in King Barney’s house, with Felix putting a gold coin of Barney’s under his foot, for king of the leprechauns to demonstrate, which plays a cute little tune, and when whistles as Barney’s head, with an animated lighting bolt shooting right to his foot and fnding it. (Felix has a funny grin when playing this..). Meanhile, Rock Bottom and the Professor are on top of the house, listening with a stethoscope, and the dash down and disguise themselves as mushrooms while King Barney goes out into the forest to demonstrate more of the gift..the harp’s played again, and then the head points and shoots “lightinging ” to a nearby cliff (above them), and, incredibly, a gold rope emerges!

    Meanwhile, the still disguised crooks look as the Professor comments on the tune’s feeling, then they wait till Barney;s gone and they ambush Felix Thye then toss him in a tre, all (literally) tied up, and confiscate the harp, but the leprechauns, King Barney included, come to his rescue (using giant garden tongs or whatever those are), trying not to injure our herom but trying to free him, and they eventuallky fo. Felix whispered in KB;s ear, a plan, of digsuing a rope as a clone of the previously mentioned rope of gold, sticking it througha (real) pile of rocks.,as the crooks play the harp, King Barney’s head points, that wierd whistle is heard, and the lightning bolt points to the (faux) “gold” rope (glued)..which the crooks fall for, but after thgey take the bait, thew good guys have tied this rope to an airplane, (suddenly out of nowhere) and rock and the Professor take off for points unknown!

    The final story, LEPRECHAUN GOLD FROM RAINBOWS, has Rock Bottom crashing into the castle from esarlier episodes to tell The Professor about the legendary gold at the end of the rainbows, so, seeing some of the leprechauns playing the pipes, and stealing them,with some bag pipes, the crooks steal it while Felix is photographing King Barney in one of those holes from earlier, while other leprechauns spot the crooks and inform our heroes, who set off under a musghroom. They then take an improvised “subway”, on a mushroom, as Felix paddfes/steers, as the bagpipe music is heard. THey then come out to stop the crooks, who, of course, are a step ahead, capturing them in a crate, but they escape, and fake a big screen of a rainbow, use reocks and a play slide, and other devices. The dog and mad scientist, MEANWHILE, are back in the castle relazing whe Rock sees the rainbow , and says, “Hey, Professor”, and they take the bait..The prechauns roll the rocks down the chute and other sdrum drumns to create “authenic sounds” of a real “storm” to complete the image. Reprising a gag from the earlier “Rajah’s Elephants”, the gang use a beehive with bees in it, drop it in the castle, and so..”Bees Bees!”

    Both of these above feature classic Hal Seeger-Winston Sharples stock tracks (the recurring track from Popeye’s Child Sock-o-logy (1953) is used for the photo shoot scene in the last one – (were those hard and bagpipe tunes also archival pieces or Sharples originals?) and fun gags, the LGfR mushroom-subway being a chilkdhood-teenage watcher favorite of mine. Jim Tyer CLEARLY is at work in all these.

    • So the Felix Leprechaun trilogy is actually a pentalogy! Well spotted, SJC!

    • You brought back some long-distant memories with these timely discoveries. I remember isolated shots from these now that I probably saw in the days when the series was playing on the same UHF station that was broadcasting “On TV”(was that Channel 52?) I saw stray references to your titles on some half-hearted attempts at filmographies for Felix, but no episodes anywhere. As I know the attempted filmographies have had to largely invent titles for the respective episodes (which were originally identified only by number), I’ve viewed their information with a grain of salt as to possible duplications (one list once identified four titles that amounted to “Felix and the bad genie” – which is actually only one episode). My question is where did you find these episodes for recent review? And do you know anything of the whereabouts of one I remember that no one seems to have included on a filmography, which I would call, “The Golf Tournament”, with the Professor and Rock vs. Felix and “Flim Flam” (a flamingo, taking to golf as if croquet in “Alice in Wonderland”), and an exploding golf ball (the X ball) for a finale?

    • Charles Gardner:
      I used TVTROPES.Org and other resources..yeah, alternating titles for the Dinah the Dinosaur one ("OPERATION FELIX", "DINAH THE DINOSAUR", or, as the TVTROPES call it, "DO IT YOURSELF MONSTER BOOK"..)YouTube has the first Genie one, FELIX THE CAT FIUNDS A GENIE and FELIX BOTTLES THE GENIE. The GEN.CLANG-SECRET ROCKET FORMULA one, one of Clang the Squid's teleporter ones, is called THE BAD GENIE…and I totally agree on the Flim FLam "Alice" Flamingo one..generic title ADVENTURES OF… that you cited.

  • There are a lot of things wrong with Darby O’Gill’s fiddling, mainly that he’s much too stiff. (It doesn’t help that his violin lacks a chinrest.) He needs to bring his left elbow around and arch his fingers more, and keep the bow parallel to the bridge. But, given that Albert Sharpe was in his sixties and had probably never picked up a violin before, he doesn’t do a half bad job of faking it. It’s interesting that he holds his left hand in third position, as some Celtic fiddlers really do; Appalachian and Bluegrass fiddling is all in first position.

    I’m sorry you weren’t able to include a link to that Lippy/Hardy cartoon; these have become much too obscure. (The opening theme really freaked me out as a small boy; the final image of the gorilla dangling the heroes like a yo-yo over a river full for snapping crocodiles was like a vision of Hell.) Several years ago I made a concerted effort to hunt down LL&HHH cartoons online, but only managed to find one. The “most lovable, laughable loonies by far” are wandering through the desert when they meet a despondent man in a fez holding a bomb with a lit fuse, wanting to end it all because the Sultan has stolen his precious Ruby. (We find out later that Ruby is his girlfriend.) Lippy promises to rescue the precious Ruby, and they do; but what struck me was that among all the old-fashioned Middle Eastern cliches was an actual SUICIDE BOMBER….

    As for why the leprechauns are subject to such weird, capricious and unfair laws: being Irish, they probably blame them on Cromwell and William III!

    • Are you aware that the complete manifest of Lippy and Hardy cartoons is now available on DVD from Warner Archive? (Also Wally Gator in a separate box. Sorry, no Touche.) The prints are a bit choppy, sometimes cobbled together from multiple sources in different conditions or degrees of image cropping, but they’re all there.
      As for internet access, you haven’t checked out the free, no bugs site, “ItSaturday” – a veritable treasure trove of obscure (and a few well known) TV animation. It isn’t easy to imbed their titles, in part because of their long chronological indexes to access them, which is why they never show in these articles. But they’re my go-to site for research on either the Lippy or Touche cartoons (of which they have all of them) as well as a good alternative site on the complete Huckleberry Hound, a large number of H-B Sinbads (mostly in B&W – that’s where I found “Irish Stew”), and some Laurel & Hardy. They also have about the first quarter of the Dick Tracy episodes. Now, if someone could only provide easy access to the Super Snoopers and the Bozos.

    • As I said, my Lippy/Hardy search was made several years ago, and that one cartoon was all I could find at the time. Thanks for the updated information.

    • Charles, thanks for the info..I’d love to check that channel, too, as I’m always looking for such old tv channels. BTW – BIG problem with a lot of the Trans-Lux/Parmount Felix’s is that later ones are usually foreign-dubbed – and BUTCHERED HEAVILY!

      BTW I just checked, and Felix isn’t on there (just that Film Roman 1990s version).

  • Other TV cartoons involving leprechauns:
    -“Do You Want to Know a Secret?” (King Features, 1965), an episode of THE BEATLES, in which John, Paul, George and Ringo travel to Ireland and meet a female leprechaun.
    -“The Magic Shelilagh” (Hanna-Barbera, 1968), an episode of the live action/animated THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN, in which Huck, Tom and Becky help some leprechauns to protect their shelilagh, which a gypsy (Injun Joe in disguise) wants to steal.
    -“The Wee Greenie Goofie” (Hanna-Barbera, 1968), an episode of CATTANOOGA CATS in which the Cattanooga Cats travel to Ireland and meet Kitty Jo’s Uncle Timothy, who is having troubles with a leprechaun at his home.

  • HB’s “New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” opened with a leprechaun episode, in which Injun Joe (Ted Cassidy) became a gypsy.

  • ‘POUR’ QUOI?: You wrote that the Professor, having taken up residence in Kerry Castle, “pours over old volumes of leprechaun law books,” but that’s a terrible thing to do to any book. You PORE over a book, but you POUR milk over your Lucky Charms, the frosted oat cereal with sweet surprises!

  • I actually enjoy the Popeye cartoon. It starts off with a great mysterious score and The Sea Hag is at her worst.

  • In “A Message to Marcia” (Beverly Hills Productions, The Adventures of Spunky and Tadpole, 25/10/58 — Art Moore, dir.), a leprechaun with the fine old Irish name of Luigi shows up out of nowhere to help out our heroes before disappearing completely. A more detailed description of this, or any other Spunky and Tadpole cartoon, is beyond my powers to provide.

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