ANIMATION SPIN
January 27, 2015 posted by

Hanna-Barbera’s “Magilla Gorilla” on the Record

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.

magilla_golden600

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.

magilla-wonder-bookIt 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.

BIG_Mr_Peebles_supports_Magilla_Gorilla_for_President_campaign_button-184x184Hanna 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.

14 Comments

  • Boy, poor Allan Melvin was really struggling with that Magilla theme. Glad I was not in that recording studio that afternoon. I’m sure it took him a lot more than one take because he obviously was not a singer. If the others were in the room, he probably took a lot of ribbing while trying to get through that. But thanks, Greg! Even I didn’t know that album existed. That’s one I must have missed as a kid.

  • I felt Magilla Gorilla was when Hanna Barbera jumped the shark.

    • Actually, I blame that darn parent code for the studio’s downfall. That was Kryptonite to animation.

  • As an additional note re Allan Melvin, this was not the first time that he made a children’s record. In my collection of such material on 78 rpm, I have a two-disc story that he recorded for MGM Records in the late 1940s. The original story set was called, “Irving the Unemployed Horse.” He may have done others, but at least there’s that one. The story was written by Richard Condon and, oddly, there is no music accompaniment whatsoever on the set! (This may be MGM getting their feet wet in the genre; the catalogue number suggests that this was MGM’s first release for children!)

    Although I was around at the time, enjoying Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, and Ruff & Reddy, I did not watch Magilla. So I was never familiar with the characters on that show. However, a decade or so ago, I did buy this Golden album for my collection of Mel Blanc’s records and also for the company info for the Mel Blanc discography.

    • Interesting! Richard Condon worked for the Disney studio in publicity and later became a bestselling author of such books as “The Manchurian Candidate.”

      Several children’s records have no musical background. Usually it’s because of low budgets, but in the case of “Irving” it could have been the musician’s strike…?

      Allan Melvin also appeared on Arthur Godrey’s Talent Scouts radio show, doing impressions, many of which became his cartoon voices.

  • Is Don Martin’s widow still threatening to sue anyone who celebrates National Gorilla Suit Day without her permission?

    • Jane Goodall, maybe.

  • Was “Makin’ with the Magilla” ever released as a record?

  • I wonder if Tex Avery or MGM ever heard Droop-A-Long coyote’s song on this record where he keeps referring to himself as “Droopy”?!

  • Interesting…all the original voices..NO Hanna-Barbera record release, guess this was still before the inauguration of HBR records (Magilla appeared in the 1963/64 TV season) and this record appeared first in 1964.

  • I did NOT threaten to sue any of the fans who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy celebrating Don’s funny National Gorilla Suit Day Holiday. Rather, I threatened to sue Mark Evanier for COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. He has deliberately distorted the truth about this matter. Mark has used and abused copyrighted art that I own–as Don’s heir and widow. All the lies, I believe, were at the behest of MAD and the gorilla marketing ploy Mark began was used to promote the 2007 Edition of the COMPLEATELY MAD DON MARTIN. It has a life of its own now. Don woiuld laugh about it !!! Mrs. Don Martin

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