In honor of National Gorilla Suit Day (have YOU made your plans yet?), we salute the recording debut of the gorilla who’s mighty nice, along with his co-stars.
Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s
MAGILLA GORILLA AND HIS PALS
Original TV Cast
Golden Records LP-120 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono / 1964)
Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Writer/Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Musical Direction: Hoyt Curtin. Running Time: 27 minutes.
Voices: Allan Melvin (Magilla Gorilla, Punkin’ Puss); Mel Blanc (Droop-A-Long); Howard Morris (Mush Mouse); Don Messick (Ricochet Rabbit).
Songs: “Magilla For Sale (Theme)”: “Ricochet Rabbit”, “Droop-A-Long Coyote”, “Mush Mouse,” “Punkin’ Puss” by Hoyt Curtin, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
For those of us who grew up with the gnawing uncertainty of whether the latest cartoon-related vinyl records were voiced by the original cast or not, this album seemed to float down to us on a Heavenly beam of light.
It opens with “Magilla for Sale”, one of TV’s best remembered themes—from the soundtrack! A fan familiar with Golden’s on-again, off-again way of using genuine cartoon material or studio sound-alikes might stare with wonder as the actual Hanna-Barbera theme comes from Golden grooves. This is the only Golden Record with an actual Hanna-Barbera soundtrack theme.
The other music on the album is from the TV soundtrack, too—not in a dialogue or singing sense, but in the musical accompaniment itself. Like Golden’s “Songs of The Flintstones” LP, the music tracks from the album songs served double duty as background music on the Magilla, Ricochet and Mush Mouse cartoons, then appeared countless times in additional H-B shows.
This record has a very unique format. After the theme, Magilla sings a longer version of it himself, then does a short monologue. He introduces Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-A-Long, who chat briefly in the form of more jokes, then each sing songs about themselves in first person. Magilla introduces Mush Mouse and Punkin’ Puss, who do the same.
Here’s where it gets odd: On side two, Ricochet and Droop-A-Long return, banter a bit and then sing each other’s song in the third person. Mush Mouse and Punkin’ Puss follow suit. The album closes with all the characters gathering to celebrate, followed by a reprise of Magilla singing his theme and the soundtrack theme.
Hanna and Barbera, informally called “Bill” and “Joe”, as on other Golden Records, are given writing credit, though Hoyt Curtin certainly supplied the music. It may very well be that the duo really did knock out a script, since they seemed very “hands-on” with The Magilla Gorilla Show project, as evidenced by the “Birth of a Star” promo film. With their new Cahuenga Blvd. studio freshly built, Hanna and Barbera might well have been counting on the success of the Magilla and Peter Potamus series and their deal with Ideal Toys.
It can be speculated that a studio writer might have drafted the dialogue, which is largely a gaggle of jokes that date back to the Ancient Druids. Maybe this was Charles Shows’ entré into writing for Hanna-Barbera Records, since his HBR scripts also contain character monologues peppered with passages from The Book of Youngman.
What the hey? It’s a whole album of Melvin, Blanc, Messick and Morris (what a great law firm that would be!) voicing their own characters. This is one solid Golden Record.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
Magilla, Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-A-Long Coyote
These excerpts include some some of Magilla’s host duties, banter between Ricochet and Droop-A-Long, some prehistoric jokes and each character singing about himself.