EDITOR’S NOTE: Once again, I’m making an attempt to start a new series of posts here on Cartoon Research. With Devon Baxter going bi-monthly (meaning he will post his breakdowns and other assorted research every other month), I’m going to try to fill Wednesdays with a variety of rare and obscure cartoons that aren’t already on You Tube or anywhere else (they obviously will be after each week’s post – but here is where they will originate). Mark Kausler is an animator you are all familiar with – and is also a cartoon film collector extraordinaire and this column plans to take advantage of his generous offer to dig through his vault and (to paraphrase Star Trek) “to explore strange new cartoons, to seek out new work by old animators, to boldly go where no cartoon historians have gone before!”. This week a lost TV cartoon, next week an obscure Fleischer… the good, the bad and the ugly. Hard to say where we will go from here. But we’ll give this a four week trial run and we’ll see if it makes any sense to go on. Hope you like it. – Jerry Beck
THIS WEEK: Rory Raccoon in “Numbskull & Crossbones
The 1964 CBS Post Cereals Saturday morning series Linus The Lionhearted created quite a stir during its lifetime on network TV. It was not widely syndicated in later years, but fondly remembered by those who grew up watching it. The Ed Graham studio employed a lot of our favorite talent, as artists, animators and voices.
Previously here on Cartoon Research, Mark Kausler has written about the Graham Studio here, Mike Kazaleh has posted about the studios TV spots here, and Greg Ehrbar wrote about their soundtracks here.
The series was never officially put out on video, in any format. Finding bootleg collections are possible, but literally collecting every episode has become a life-long chore for some. 16mm is the only collecting format that might yield a complete set – if you have patience and detective skills to track them all down.
Mark Kausler recently acquired one of that series lost cartoons, Numbskulls and Crossbones, one of the Rory Raccoon segments. Rory, like the rest of the cast of Linus, was a mascot for a long-departed Post cereal Sugar Spangled Flakes. Mike Kazaleh told me, “it seems like half of the “Rory” cartoons went missing when the show went into syndication”.
Kausler concurred, “For some reason the Rory Raccoon episodes were not included very often in the syndicated Linus programs. The Lovable Truly cartoons seem to have been favored over the Raccoon, maybe because there were more Lovable Truly episodes produced than Rory. My theory is that Post cereals thought of Rory as appealing to the Appalachian demographic, and that his countrified antics wouldn’t appeal to the city kids.
“I like Rory’s cartoons not so much because of him, but for the Crow, voiced by Jesse White, and the Racclown. I’m not sure who did his voice, but I loved the Racclown’s tendency to laugh at his own jokes, while all the other characters groaned. The Racclown had a peculiar, snorting laugh that sounded a bit like a braying donkey. The striped jokester shares annoying laughter with Screwy Squirrel, another member of the cartoon rodent family who was his own best audience. To me, that’s funny stuff.”
Kausler added, “Here’s a list of the “missing” Rory Raccoon cartoons: Bye, Bye Bad Bird (1964), Rory Takes A Vacation (1964), Make Someone Happy (1964), Beautiful Baby Contest (1965), Some Total (1965), Rory Goes Skiing (1965). I recently found a Linus show which had This Means Total War, a Rory cartoon from 1965, which also was missing until that show turned up.” We’ve posted that to You Tube for posterity.
Analyzing the animation, Kazaleh has concluded that Numbskulls and Crossbones was animated by Ken Hultgren. However, Mark Kausler adds, “Ken Hultgren’s animation style is undetectable to me – except for his realistic animal stuff like in Bambi or The Man From Button Willow.”
As for the voice track, Bob McFadden and Paul Frees are talking. Kazaleh says, “Strangely, this is the only one with Frees doing the voice of Cousin Zeke, the Clown. McFadden normally did it. Maybe it’s because they are talking offscreen for most of the cartoon, and this made it easier to tell them apart.”
More from Mike Kazaleh: “After looking at a document that I ripped from Paul Spector’s tribute site to his dad (excerpt above; Irv Spector was the series “Supervising Director”), there are a couple of bits of information we can glean. The storyboard artist is listed as “Art” who I believe may be Art Diamond. The Layout man is credited as “Jacobs” which in all likelyhood is Raymond Jacobs. The director credit is blank. It may be that Ken Hultgren directed the cartoon as well as animated it.
“Hultgren is identified as a director on another Rory cartoon with a close production number (this one is listed as RR-18) One other note about the Spector document… since the director credit was blank and layout was filled in, it is safe to assume that this picture went to layout before a director was assigned.
“Also they would have recorded the voices before the layouts were started. Meaning that Ken or whomever else directed it would have not done much directing work, as the staging and voice editing were already done. That would have left filling out the details on the exposure sheets.”
So without further ado, we present this weeks find from Kausler’s closet – Numbskulls and Crossbones:
I’ve always wondered why “Linus the Lionhearted” had such a poor reputation among critics. It was never lauded as an excellent show, and yet when I was young I couldn’t get enough of it. The show was especially clever with its use of interstitials, which were used to tell a story that was, if anything, more compelling than the ones in the short cartoons. I never minded the fact that every one of the lead characters represented a different Post cereal, but apparently the cereal tie-in was what doomed the show to relative obscurity. Critics clobbered it for being a ploy to sell cereal, when in fact it had some clever stuff going for it.
I had nearly forgotten about Rory Raccoon. But I liked all of the segments of the Linus show. My favorites were Sugar Bear, Lovable Truly, and Linus himself.
This series deserves a DVD release.
Thanks for sharing this now-obscure cartoon!
I decided to contact Post regarding who owns the cartoon now. It’s almost always unclear who owns really obscure cartoons
Kausler sharing the wealth from his vast collection sounds like a winner to me! Keep ’em comin’ (and don’t worry, folks…like Jerry says, I’ll be back!)
I, of course, have to echo the need for a DVD release of this entire series!! Or,m at the very least, more entire half hours or hours put up in high quality on You Tube for as long as they will last!! Thank you, Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler, for sharing this good stuff with us and, yes, Jerry, this will be the ultimate run of columns for this site since there are so many obscure and just plain non-existent cartoons, meaning that there are cartoons that have mysteriously gone missing and should be seen again…and I can only imagine how much there is in those Fleischer vaults. I wish I could find a “LINUS THE LION-HEARTED” set on Ebay someplace, but I came away with nothing when I last checked.
When you say that the RORY RACOON episodes are “hard to find”, do you mean that, if the series were restored from existing masters, the RORY cartoons would not be among even those?
By the way, didn’t Bob McFadden do some voices for Bob Clampett’s “BEANY AND CECIL SHOW” or “MATTY MATTEL’S FUNDAY FUNNIES WITH BEANY AND CECIL”? I’m thinking of Staring Herring, one of the wildly strange critters under the sea in the “MONSTROUS MONSTER” episode (“Look into my eyeeees, Cecil!).
Again, I look forward to more from this column.
The rights owners most likely have the original negatives to all those “lost” Rory cartoons – but where are those negatives? Are they in the vaults at General Mills? At the moment no one knows for sure.
Technically it was Post Cereals through “General Foods”, not the other company!
I, for one, was a GIANT fan….and found it very “adult” in humor (even tho I was a “tot!”) I’ll NEVER forget how pissed i was that they pre-empted THAT show for JFK’s death….or SOME never-ending funeral. The audacity!!
I have repeated this story in several “Linus” posts..TV Station WJAN-TV. 17 in Canton, Ohio ran Linus The Lionhearted fron 1970-73 on a costumed kids show called “Milton The Milkman” which generally aired from 4-5 in the afternoon. The prints used were terrible looking as I remember. I think there were a few Rorys in the package but am not sure..
I won’t pretend I’m a Rory or Linus fan, but I’m mos-def on board for a Kausler’s Closet column!
Zeke sounds a bit like Paul Frees, yah?
Maybe the actor Rory Calhoun threatened to sue the producers over the use of the “Rory Raccoon” character is perhaps when new cartoons were made in 1965 for the show’s second season on CBS that there were no new Rory Raccoon cartoons.
I always welcome a look at rare cartoons in Mark Kausler’s vaults! Some funny bits in this cartoon. My favorite joke is probably “He said JOLLY Rogers” (the skull starts smiling) “That’s better!”
Also, I find it interesting that Bob McFadden did voices on “Rory”. My understanding is that McFadden was based out in the East Coast, having done a ton of voices for Terrytoons. Did “Linus” utilize voice actors from both East and West coasts, or did they make an exception with McFadden?
McFadden and Gerry Matthews (Sugar Bear) were both East Coast. So they either recorded them separately and then mixed, or brought some of the West Coast folks out. (Probably the former, but definitely pretty unusual for a cartoon series at the time.)
Irv Spector’s East Coast roots — his final efforts at Paramount featured McFaddden’s voice work — might explain why he was hired on for a West Coast-produced show.
Rory sounded like Peter Lorre while the general’s Richard Haydn (AKA Caterpillar from Disney’s 1951 classic “Alice in Wonderland”).
Thank you for that list of “lost” Rory cartoons. At last I know it’s Rory Goes Skiing I’m looking for. Even as a kid, I found it strange it had the same beats, the same dialogue, as a story I’d read in a Dell Alvin comic. (Example: Rory and Crow ski into a cave. They ski out and remark how much safer they feel in the light, not noticing that a bear has hitched a ride on their skis. Alvin and Simon did the exact same thing.) It might seem like plagiarism, but now I’m wondering if the two stories had the same writer.
My theory is that Post Cereals thought…[Rory’s] countrified antics wouldn’t appeal to the city kids.
I don’t know about that – Didn’t seem to be an issue with the likes of Deputy Dawg or Huckleberry Hound.
Anyone else notice a striking similarity between Captain Kidnap and another cartoon pirate, Jean LaFoote of Jay Ward’s Cap’n Crunch commercials?
There are two scenarios as to where the “original” material might be, possibly three.
(1) is obviously General Mills. General Mills, unlike many firms, has not been taken over since the 1960s, and thus is less likely to have had its corporate archives messed up. A parallel in radio would be Johnson Wax, another long-standing firm, and one that had a great number of the “Fibber McGee and Molly” shows in its archives, since it was the sponsor.
(2) would be the advertising agency for General Mills, whoever it was. This is less promising, since few of the agencies have remained completely intact since the 1960s; many have been subject to mergers. However, a number of agencies did have material. Some of the Jack Benny radio shows were in the files of the agency handling American Tobacco.
(3) is a lot more abstruse — trying to find the executive at either General Mills or the agency that would have been directly tied to the show. I recently saw at a flea market in New York a copy of a Deputy Dawg pilot show, and I was told by the seller that he got it from a CBS executive (CBS, of course, being the owner of Terrytoons at the time). It is not impossible that one or more films could have been kept as souvenirs by these individuals, though you’d have to figure out who it was, possibly from Advertising Age or the like.
No, no, not General Mills- General FOODS – as in General Foods Corporation, one of whose divisions was Post Cereals.
As of 2018, GFC has long been mest with/transmogrified into two concerns – KraftHeinz and Mondelez.
Post was offspun from these two firms’ direct predecessor Kraft Foods, fused with Ralcorp, expelled from Ralcorp, became an
independent firm, fused with MOM (Malt O Meal) Brands to become Post Consumer Brands, LLC.
That having been explained, where might the “original” material be? Your guess is as good as mine.
Raccoons aren’t rodents.
I faintly recall that the Linus balloon remained in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade long after the show — and even Crispy Critters — had vanished from my neck of the woods (Silicon Valley). My memory is that the hosts made no mention of his show or cereal. He was, as far as the parade was concerned, just a funny lion.
In recent years the balloons seem to have shorter lifespans. Even perennials like Snoopy and Mickey Mouse are regularly reworked.
I just posted one of the “missing” Rory Raccoon cartoons, Bye, Bye, Bad Bird, to You Tube:
What a surprise to hear Johnathan Winters playing a crow!
@Wil Hewson. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Quite right on all scores. Post has gone through changes, so their archives are probably a mess. If they still exist.
I’ve had this cartoon, particularly the likeably annoying Zeke the Racclown, stuck in my head for decades, and couldn’t find so much as a reference to it online – nice when it drops unbidden into my lap like this.
Another bit of memory flotsam I have regarding this show was seeing at least one Lovable Truly cartoon when he’d been redesigned (here and on the cereal boxes) as a goofier, bulb-nosed version. Before either of them, however, Alpha-Bits had a postman mascot who was a caricature of his voice talent, fat abrasive comic Jack E. Leonard. That would have made some interesting cartoons.
Rory Raccoon in Bye, Bye, Bad Bird https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6AXsmgnV3s
Just noticed this tonight!
At least it’s a good haul for now!
The background music in the Graham cartoons (and Bob Clampett’s as well) has always been a curiosity, to me anyway. Hoyt Curtin is credited in the Linus show’s end titles, and probably wrote the theme song, but most of the background scores sure don’t sound like him.
The “Rory Raccoon” theme, which I remembered immediately on hearing it again (memory being the strange thing it is,) and a lot of the other underscore sounds like leftovers from the newsreel era or network radio days.
Anyone know where Graham sourced his music? Gordon Zahler, perhaps?