ANIMATION SPIN
October 28, 2014 posted by

Halloween Magic! Hanna-Barbera’s “Winsome Witch”

Check out Jean Vander Pyl’s well-earned lead role as a helpful, huggable harpy in this HBR album based on The Atom Ant Secret Squirrel Show segment.

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Hanna-Barbara Presents
WINSOME WITCH in “It’s Magic”

Hanna-Barbera Records Cartoon Series HLP-2042 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono / 1965)

Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Producer/Writer/Director: Charles Shows. Music: Hoyt Curtin, Ted Nichols. Song Arrangements: Al Capps, Larry Goldberg. Editor: Larry Cowan. Engineer: Richard Olsen. Mastering: Dave Diller, Joe Leahy. Hand Lettering: Robert Schaefer. Cover Art: Fernando Montealegre. Running Time: 29 minutes.

Voices: Jean Vander Pyl (Winnie Witch); Daws Butler (Opening Narrator, Sheriff, Schoolboy, Townsperson, Killer Miller, Cactus); Dick Beals (Elmer, Other Schoolchildren).
Songs: “Winsome Witch,” “Nobody Loves A Witch,” “Winnie’s Magic Broom,” “Abrakadabra” by Lynn Bryson and Charles & Peggy Shows.

Winnie The Winsome Witch, as established at the start of this album, has a Casper-like dilemma (and a Casper-like name). Winnie is looking for acceptance on days other than Halloween. So she takes her broom to the wild western town of Gunsmoke, Arizona and gets a job as the schoolmarm. After taming the classroom with her magic—not to mention her gentle but firm charm—she does the same with the leader of an outlaw gang.

winsom-250This album is one of six Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Series albums released to tie into the segments from Hanna-Barbera’s latest Saturday morning offerings, The Secret Squirrel Show and The Atom Ant Show: Secret Squirrel, Atom Ant, Precious Pupp and Granny Sweet, The Hillbilly Bears, Squiddly Diddly and Winsome Witch.

All six cartoons were enjoyable and might have enjoyed longevity—beyond syndication in the Banana Splits & Friends package—had changing TV cartoon tastes not dictated otherwise and (though Secret Squirrel was later revived in 1993).

The five HBR LP story records (Squiddly Diddly’s disc was a song album) were probably recorded before the cartoons themselves were finished—if Winnie’s magic words on this disc are any clue. She does not use the “Bibbidi-Bobbidi”-ish words she spoke constantly on the cartoons: “Ippity-Pippity-Pow!” However, the “Jet Screamer effect” is still there.

The Hanna-Barbera Singers’ tunes are a bit unique among HBR records. The opening song has a casual, easy listening vibe; what my siblings and I called “cocktail lounge music.” Skewed to younger listeners, the songs resemble those on HBR’s “Golden Cartoons in Songs” volumes, as well as the “Pebbles” song on the earlier “Hansel and Gretel” album.

Having a 12-inch album cover with art that matched actual title art of the cartoons was overwhelmingly exciting. (I would hold up the album cover as the title came on the TV screen.) The album art details differ slightly from the broadcast version (the background in particular).

GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Excerpt from “Winsome Witch in ‘It’s Magic’”
Spoiler alert! This is the final story segment on the album, so if you’re planning to get a copy from eBay, this will give away the ending! Will everything turn out fine for Winnie and the town? And… what about Naomi?

7 Comments

  • Winsome Witch was actually a segment from “The Secret Squirrel Show”, along with Squiddly Diddly (trust me, I was there) while Atom Ant played host to The Hillbilly Bears and Precious Pupp.

    I believe this is the very first female title character to be featured in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series. Granny Sweet was sort of a title character, too, but she always played a secondary role to Precious Pupp. And Maw Rugg was definitely secondary to the antics of Paw Rugg.

    Jean Van der Pyl certainly earned her place as a Hanna-Barbera star. Not only Wilma Flintstone, but Rosey the Robot, both Mrs. Slate and Mrs. Spacely, most of the female voices on “Top Cat”, Magilla Gorilla’s friend Ogee and the aforementioned Maw Rugg–the list goes on and on. It’s very fitting that she should get to “star” in one of these albums. (Of course, she also starred in “Wilma Flintstone tells the story of Bambi”).

    The western setting seems an odd choice for this album, but part of the charm of the HBR records is their unpredictability…or perhaps I should say their unpredictable predictability, because once the setting is established, it becomes evident where every plot turn is headed. So the question becomes not so much what happens next, as what clever sound effects and gags are going to punctuate the next development? For example, once Winnie becomes the schoolmarm, it’s evident she’s going to have to use her magic to control the unruly kids. Once the bad guy Killer Miller comes to town, it’s clear that the Sheriff is going to chicken out and appoint Winnie to take his place. And so forth.

    I enjoy the western background music that is used, because it goes far to establish the setting. The script manages to spoof the western genre as well as getting in a few sly digs at the teaching profession. (Yeah, teachers will work for practically nothing and risk their lives daily, part of the job description.)

    One of the major pluses to the songs that are included (there is nothing in the songs that deals with the western setting, however)–is that Winsome Witch finally gets her own theme song, more than those few bars that introduced each cartoon. The songs are clever and witty, and they add to the fun. Her theme song serves as a good introduction to the character.

    I get the impression that this script was done in a hurry, because the title “It’s Magic” could be about anything involving Winsome Witch. Maybe the script writers decided “let’s put her in a western” and that was it. There is one plot hole at the end, however–Winnie’s entire purpose in going out west was to find a new place to settle and a new job, other than just being a witch. Now that she has found new friends and could probably have a job for life if she wanted it, she suddenly goes back home as if it’s very urgent. It’s somewhat appropriate to end the story that way, but the script never justifies it. Winnie could have said something like, “Now that I’ve found myself a place to settle down, I miss my old house and my old friends.” Oh, well–it’s a minor quibble. The album is a lot of fun, any way you look at it.

    Thanks again for keeping up with the posts on the HBR records!

  • Oops! Got my H-B segments confused! Thanks for keeping me honest, Frederick.

  • Greg, is that a “Love of Chair” (from “The Electric Company”) reference at the end of the article? 😉

    • Lord knows I was impressed!

    • Hey, you guyyyyyyyys! You are correct!
      “Can a boy from a small chair in a big room find happiness as a standout at a sit-in?”

      Created by Paul Dooley, it’s television’s funniest TV series-within-a-series.

      http://www.movieweb.com/dvd/DVbDpdchy5UFef/love-of-chair

  • Looks like this (and an Atom Ant one done at the same time) didn’t rely on any specific story to spoof..

  • Hoyt Curtin’s cues from this early to mid-Sixties period are an absolute delight. He defined Cartoon Music as much if not more so than Carl Stalling did 20-30 years before.

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