This week, we take a Spin with groovy Granny Sweet and her Muttley/Mumbly-voiced dog, Precious, on a stellar example of Hanna-Barbera vinyl virtuosity.
PRECIOUS PUPP AND GRANNY SWEET in “HOT ROD GRANNY”
Hanna-Barbera Records Cartoon Series HLP-2045 (12” 33 1/3 RPM / Mono / 1965)
Released in 1965. Executive Producers: William Hanna, Joseph Barbera. Producer/Writer/Director: Charles Shows. Music: Hoyt Curtin, Ted Nichols. Song Arrangements: Al Capps, Stan Farber. Editor: Milton Krear. Engineer: Richard Olsen. Mastering: Dave Diller, Joe Leahy. Hand Lettering: Robert Schaefer. Cover Art: Rene Garcia. Running Time: 30 minutes.
Voices: Janet Waldo (Granny Sweet); Don Messick (Opening Narrator, Precious, Race Announcer #1, Slapsy, Policeman); Allan Melvin (TV Announcer, Race Announcer #2, Muscles).
Songs: “Granny Sweet,” “Queen of the Drag,” “Hot Rod” (listed on cover as “Hot Road”), “Precious Pupp” by Stan Farber and Charles & Peggy Shows.
With a few exceptions, the Precious Pupp segments—part of Hanna-Barbera’s 1965 NBC Saturday Morning Atom Ant Show (coming soon to Warner Archive DVD)—used a familiar “while the pet owner’s away” formula. It was a short cartoon staple: Minnie Mouse has to go out, so she warns Figaro to stay out of trouble, etc. In most “Precious” cartoons, Granny is enjoying a favorite activity or going somewhere, enabling Precious to cause comic chaos.
But their best cartoons were the ones in which Granny had a more active role and Precious was her protector and/or assistant. The episode “Queen of the Road” (10/23/65) was the perfect storm of the classic H-B gag format Granny/Precious dynamic vs. the sneaky adversary—in this case, racing rival Lead Foot Bohannon (Henry Corden), an antecedent of Dick Dastardly:
Precious is a very funny character. With his delightfully unpretty design and, of course, Don Messick’s all-purpose voice, he is arguably the best combination of both. Granny is the less flashy of the two, but Janet Waldo not only makes the most of it, but also is almost undetectable in the characterization (as a kid, I did not know it was her until I saw the credit on the album cover).
The HBR Cartoon Series album “Hot Rod Granny” bears only a passing resemblance to the “Queen of the Road” cartoon. Granny (whose name appears on the album cover, but not on the cartoon title cards) has no adversary in the album version of the race, though writer Charles Shows did toss in a quick mention of Lead Foot). On Side One, Granny enters a local drag race to pay the mortgage, upon which she has not made a payment in almost two years (where can we find this mortgage company?) An eight-barrel carburetor is also mentioned in the cartoon and on the record.
That’s where the similarities end. The race take up most of Side One—and, forgive the pun, drags on a little too long. After the race, we discover that there’s been a robbery nearby. The two stories combine beautifully on Side Two: Villains Slapsy and Muscles, disguised as old ladies, drop in for tea at Granny’s to steal her big cash win. You can guess what Precious fun comes next.
It’s one of the best in the HBR vinyl library. Even the songs, which are sometimes conspicuous by their stylistic distance from the narrative, are ideal for the “little old lady from Pasadena” theme. Groovy as can be, they’re again the same vocalists behind The Impossibles and The Way-Outs. One of the songs, “Queen of the Drag”, is even worked into the story as a tune, heard on Granny’s TV as she tunes in on The Yogi Bear Show.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Precious Pupp Takes a Bite Out of Crime” Excerpt & “Precious Pupp” Song
Some of the comedy scenes on Hanna-Barbera Records were good enough to stand on their own, like this one. The acting, timing, editing and music are expertly blended and exemplify the strong audio that often carried the limited animation.
PRECIOUS PUPP PRESENTS BRAHM’S LULLABY
The Hanna-Barbera Singers
Hanna-Barbera Records Cartoon Series C-105 (Mono / 1965)
The six Hanna-Barbera Cartoon Series albums based on the six cartoons that made up the Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel shows were not condensed into 45 RPM records as the earlier albums were. Instead, the characters appeared on song records, “presenting” children’s songs that were largely public domain. Most of these songs were included on Volume Three and Four of the Golden Cartoons in Song LP’s, but there were a few extra tunes that never made it to any album. The H-B Singers, augmented by Ricki Page, offer a simple, superb rendition of the lullaby.
PRECIOUS PUPP PRESENTS THE LORD’S PRAYER
The Hanna-Barbera Singers
Hanna-Barbera Records Cartoon Series C-104 (Mono / 1965)
Few mainstream cartoons have struck such a pious pose as Granny and Precious on this 45 RPM single. It’s worth noting that this 1935 musicalized version of “The Lord’s Prayer”–recorded by hundreds of artists from Barbra Streisand to The Beach Boys—was composed by Albert Hay Malotte (1895-1964), who also scored many classic Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphony cartoons, including Lonesome Ghosts, Brave Little Tailor, and The Ugly Duckling.