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
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: