On July 27th 1958 it was made official – Harvey Comics bought the post-1950 Paramount Pictures cartoons, the character copyrights and all merchandising rights. Paramount Pictures retained the theatrical rights to the cartoons (and to this day still house the original negatives in their vaults).The price was $1,700,000. The deal was made possible by an immediate 30-year deal with ABC to first broadcast the cartoons on network, and later syndicate the “Harveytoons” to local stations. One year later, in October 1959, Matty’s Funday Funnies would debut the Paramount cartoons to the television audience and immediate popularity.
Paramount’s in-house cartoon studio, run by Seymour Kneitel, would now continue on – sans its popular original star characters. The 1958-59 season would complete the cartoons contractually obligated to Harvey in the sales agreement – these include subjects in production since 1955 (see the model sheet below for Talking Horse Sense), and left-over Casper and Herman and Katnip entries. Three of the ten “Harvey” character films (including one Baby Huey and one Little Audrey) feature extreme use of stock footage. The other seven suffer from a painful attempt to conform to current limited animation standards – which Kneitel and crew were not used to doing.
Having sold away its well-known properties, the studio began to develop new ones. Starting this season, a new series (Modern Madcaps) would be added – the idea seemed to be that the kid-friendly material would remain in the Noveltoons, and the more adult-skewing material would end up as a Madcap. Note the storyboard (below) for Talking Horse Sense was initially developed as a Noveltoon.
In another move to reduce costs, Paramount signed a three year deal with Eastman Color for printing the cartoon release prints. This began with the final Noveltoon release this year, Out Of This Whirl (which is also the only cartoon in the Harveytoon package – possibly because it was delivered so late – to not have had its original titles altered, retaining its Paramount logo all these years). Paramount would return to Technicolor printing in late 1963.
Below (click to enlarge) a July 17th 1958 memo from Alfred Harvey to his partners about the company policy regarding the Paramount acquisition; and below that, the July 18th official Press Release announcing the sale of the 170 Paramount cartoons by Harvey to the ABC network.
Let’s take a closer look at the Paramount releases of the 1958-59 season.
Six (6) Noveltoon Cartoons
STORK RAVING MAD (10/3/58) Kneitel/Tafuri. A baby doesn’t want a stork to deliver him.
DAWG GAWN (12/12/58) (Little Audrey) Kneitel/Johnson. Limited animation really hurts this one. On her way to school, Audrey tries to protect her dog, Pal, from a dog catcher.
THE ANIMAL FAIR (1/30/59) Kneitel. A cheater that compiles animal spot gags from various earlier cartoons such as Fun At The Fair and Philharmaniacs.
HOUNDABOUT (4/10/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Julius the dog decides to be human for a while.
HUEY’S FATHER’S DAY (5/8/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Baby Huey attempts to do all of Papa’s chores for him on Father’s Day.
OUT OF THIS WHIRL (11/13/59) Kneitel/Johnson. A flying saucer lands in a housewife’s backyard and its martian inhabitant (Kosmo) is mistaken for her son. Paramount switches to Eastman color for the next two years; this is the last film delivered for the initial Harveytoon package.
Six (6) Modern Madcap Cartoons
RIGHT OFF THE BAT (11/7/58) Kneitel/Johnson. The “Redskins” baseball scout attempts to add a horse to the team.
FIT TO BE TOYED (2/6/59) Kneitel/Johnson. The president of a toy company (voiced by Jackson Beck) is sent to see a psychiatrist (voiced by Gilbert Mack) to find out why he still plays with toys.
LE PETITE PARADE (3/6/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Renoir is tired of parades leaving garbage in from of his house.
SPOOKING OF GHOSTS (6/12/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Mr. McGregor goes to the Wowie Real Estate Company to hire a ghost to haunt his house while he’s on vacation.
TALKING HORSE SENSE (9/11/59) Kneitel/Enders. Oscar Gullible meets Gabby the talking horse.
T.V. FUDDLEHEAD (10/16/59) Kneitel/Johnson. In this rip-off of Gene Deitch’s Terrytoon Topsy TV, Mr. Fuddlehead just can’t stop watching TV.
Four (4) Herman and Katnip Cartoons
OWLY TO BED (1/2/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Herman protects Hooty The Owl from Katnip.
FELINEOUS ASSAULT (2/20/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Katnip teaches little Kitnip how to catch mice.
FUN ON FURLOUGH (4/3/59) Kneitel/Endres. Herman makes Katnip think he’s in the Army again.
KATNIPS’S BIG DAY (10/30/59) Kneitel/Pattengill. Katnip is given a “This Is Your Life” TV tribute which features the final theatrical animation of Herman the Mouse, Buzzy the Crow and “Reuben, Dueben and Louie”, Herman’s nephews. Stock footage from A Bicep Built For Two, Cat-Choo, Mousetro Herman and Drinks On The Mouse.
Four (4) Casper Cartoons
DOING WHAT’S FRIGHT (1/16/59) Kneitel/Johnson. Casper tries to stop his cousin Spooky from doing his April Fool’s gags.
DOWN TO MIRTH (3/20/59) Kneitel/Tafuri. Casper tries to stop an evil professor who has built an anti-gravity machine.
NOT GHOULTY (6/5/59) Kneitel/Endres. A judge has stripped Casper of his ghostly powers. Stock footage reused from Casper Takes a Bow-Wow and Ghost Of The Town.
CASPER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY (7/32/59) Kneitel/Pattengill. Casper seeks friends to attend his birthday party. Stock footage from too many cartoons to count!
NEXT WEEK: A closer look at La Petite Parade.
(Thanks, Ken Layton)