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November 19, 2014 posted by

DePatie-Freleng’s “Hoot Kloot”

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Continuing my series of posts on DePatie-Freleng’s later theatrical works – another one they did was “Hoot Kloot”, about a sheriff in the wild west.

Like many cartoon characters, Hoot Kloot is a parody of a pre-existing character. In this case, he was a parody of the sheriff character that appeared in a series of Dodge commercials, played by character actor Joe Higgins.

hoot-kloot_275In the cartoon, Hoot Kloot (voiced by Bob Holt) is a loud-mouthed sheriff based in Cactus Gulch, bumbling his way into capturing criminals. One can imagine this as a less-inspired version of DFE’s “Inspector” series, taking place in the West instead of France. Hoot Kloot never had a deputy, instead relying on his talking horse Fester (also Holt) as his assistant. Fester is clearly well-past his retirement age, and is always shown limping. That Fester can’t gallop like other horses is just one of many obstacle Hoot Kloot has to deal with in his 17 cartoons.

“Hoot Kloot” was originally conceived for television, planned as part of the Pink Panther Saturday Morning show. A pilot, Apache on the County Seat, was made as part of the proposal. Directed by Hawley Pratt, this rather funny cartoon features Sheriff Kloot going into the Indian territory to arrest Big Red for failing to show up in court for a parking fee. The animation, credited to Bob Richardson, Manny Gould, Warren Batchelder, and Don Williams, is very well done and lively.

The pilot didn’t sell to NBC, apparently because of the the depiction of Jewish people rather than the use of stereotypical Natives (the tribe Kloot comes across was celebrating Bar Mitzvah for the chief’s son). This didn’t stop DFE, however, and instead pitched it to United Artists as a theatrical series. UA bought it and ordered additional shorts for release in 1973 and 1974 season. “Apache” was released as the second short in the series.

kloot-crazylegs250Sadly, the rest of the series didn’t live up to the pilot. Much of the cartoons were tired, uninspired cartoons typical in the 1970s-era animation, even if it was slightly better than a typical Saturday Morning fare. Some of the cartoons featured Crazywolf, who, as his name implies, is a wolf outlaw with few screws loose in his brain. Larry D. Mann voiced him, except for one cartoon where Bob Holt fills in.

The worst of the cartoons were the handful that was subcontracted to Pegbar Production in Spain under the direction of Bob Balser, an American animator who worked for various European animation studios, involved in projects such as Yellow Submarine and “The Jackson 5ive” cartoons. DFE first used Balser’s studio to animate 20 minutes of an hour-long TV special called “Luvcast USA”, which aired as part of ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie series in 1973. DFE then sent the last of the Blue Racer and Hoot Kloot cartoons to Spain for production, with Art Leonardi being sent to supervise. Even with Leonardi as quality control, it didn’t do much for the quality of the Spanish animation. Consequently, United Artists told DFE to quit sending shorts to overseas studios, and the practice dropped, although DFE still toyed with overseas production on their later TV fares.

“Hoot Kloot” came and went in theaters, with 17 cartoons made. They were later rerun on TNT (and then Cartoon Network) as part of their Pink Panther block, so the cartoons did receive further exposure after its theatrical run. Not that there are much demand for this sheriff.

The entire series is currently available on Hulu.

1973
KLOOT’S KOUNTY – January 19 – Hawley Pratt
APACHE ON THE COUNTY SEAT – June 16 – Hawley Pratt
THE SHOE MUST GO ON – June 16 – Gerry Chiniquy
A SELF-WINDING SIDEWINDER – October 9 – Roy Morita
PAY YOUR BUFFALO BILL – October 9 – Gerry Chiniquy
STIRRUPS AND HICCUPS – October 15 – Gerry Chiniquy
TEN MILES TO THE GALLOP – October 15 – Arthur Leonardi

1974
PHONY EXPRESS – January 4 – Gerry Chiniquy
GIDDY UP WOE – January 9 – Sid Marcus
GOLD STRUCK – January 9 – Roy Morita
AS THE TUMBLEWEEDS TURNS – April 8 – Gerry Chiniquy
THE BADGE AND THE BEAUTIFUL – April 17 – Bob Balser
BIG BEEF AT THE O.K. CORRAL – April 17 – Bob Balser
BY HOOT OR BY CROOK – April 17 – Bob Balser
STRANGE ON THE RANGE – April 17 – Durward Bonaye
MESA TROUBLE – May 16 – Sid Marcus
SADDLE SOAP OPERA – May 16 – Gerry Chiniquy

Hoot Kloot cel set up from

Hoot Kloot cel set up from “Big Beef at the O.K. Corral” (click to enlarge)

5 Comments

  • Charles:
    Too bad the rest of the series wasn’t as good as the pilot! I especially like Fester the horse with his Walter Brennanish tones! This particular script was good,too! “A goldang antihorse bigot!” Never thought I ‘d ever see the likes of equestrian prejudice! Thanks for sharing!

  • Fester’s limp (and name) is probably a sort of combined pun on Marshall Dillon’s “Gunsmoke” deputies Chester (who limped) and Festus. (A Deputy-Freleng Production???)

  • does anybody out there have a copy of luvcast usa?….it’s the only saturday superstar movie i don’t have a copy of….

  • Having been to a Bar Mitzvah, I can understand the ‘war dance’ joke. Seems a petty reason to not commission a series.

    • First thing that historical fact brought to mind was the Indian Chief wearing a Sioux headdress and speaking Yiddish to young Bart and his parents during the raid on their wagon train in Mel Brooks’ movie “Blazing Saddles.” (Has anybody seen my @$$ recently? I laughed it off that evening and haven’t seen it since….)

      Too bad the universe was discombobulatin’ in those decades — so many Hollywood taboos were “laughed to atoms” (as Mark Twain may have said about various injustices and tyrannies) during repeated viewings of “BS” — For a while, the suits were less and less saying, “You can’t do THAT!” and “You can’t say THAT!” — BS shattered so many really stupid, unnecessary, oppressive, and un-ENTERTAINING “unwritten laws” of H’wood.

      All I’m sayin’ is, if Brooks’s Tribe had attacked Young Bart’s train before Hoot Kloot hobbled onto the scene, maybe we’d have several more really funny cartoons to take our minds offa Trump Jung Hoo and his counterpart in the big, white house.

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