Animation History
March 20, 2013 posted by

The Adventures of Lariat Sam (1962)

From the files of forgotten cartoon characters, The Adventures of Lariat Sam – the official follow up to Gene Deitch’s pioneering TV cartoon Tom Terrific (1957). Like TT, Lariat Sam was a serialized cartoon produced exclusively for CBS’ Captain Kangaroo show. Each of its 13 episodes consisted five “chapters” to tell its story.

After exhausting 26 adventures of Tom Terrific over five years, Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) asked for a fresh cartoon from CBS’s in-house cartoon studio Terrytoons. This one would be produced in color (though the Captain Kangaroo show itself would be broadcast in black & white until 1966), and Keeshan himself would have a role in developing the stories. To this end, Keeshan enlisted his writer (and future game show host) Gene Wood to produce and co-write with Terrytoons head writer Tom Morrison. Bob Kuwahara, Dave Tendlar, Art Bartsch, Connie Rasinski would share directing duties. Dayton Allen provides all the voices (Gene Wood sings the theme song).


One thing Keeshan insited upon, was that the cartoon be non-violent. Lariat Sam intentionally didn’t wear guns – preferring to use his magical lariat to round up the baddies. Model Sheets from the original production are below. Click the thumbnails to enlarge.

lariat_sam1 lariat_sam2 lariat_sam3 lariat_sam4
lariat_sam5 lariat_sam6 lariat_sam7

Lariat_Sam550 Lariat_Sam(Back)550

The show doesn’t get the love that Tom Terrific does – and for good reason. Tom Terrific had innovative graphics, Jim Tyer animation, and clever plots (Jules Feffier was among the writers). Lariat Sam, however, has its charms. John Zago’s backgrounds are graphically interesting and Dayton Allen is having fun with the voices. But otherwise the show is a bit dull. Although compared to the theatrical Terrytoons of the same year – it might be one of the last good things the studio produced (admittedly Bakshi’s Mighty Heroes was a final shot in the arm). Here’s a compilation of all five chapters of a typical Lariat Sam adventure – keep in mind this was primarily aimed at pre-schoolers:


  • Yow! I remember Lariat Sam! Though why I was aware of what Captain Kangaroo was showing when I was at least ten, I’m not so sure. Thanks for this post, Mr. B., as it clears up some confusion. Lariat Sam and the Belgian comics series Lucky Luke were mooshing together in my memory, and I wasn’t sure after all these years just what the Captain was running. This clears it up.

  • Being 59, I well remember “the swap!” He was fun, but never compared to the creativity and charisma of TT!!

  • As a member of the target demo when Lariat Sam came out, I never could get into it due to its slow pacing and gentle nature compared even to other Terrytoons of the same time period, like Deputy Dawg (I suppose the serialized nature of the stories contributed to the slow pace, but serialization didn’t hurt Rocky & Bullwinkle, due to the more aggressive gags).

    Watching the video to refresh my memory, I will admit the writing and animation in ‘Sam’ does at least have enough self-awareness to put it way above Terrytoons’ child-focused theatrical effort of the following year, Luno the Flying Horse..

  • Gene Wood (also a noted comedian who once partnered in a nightclub act with Bill Dana) sings a terrific theme song in “Lariat Sam,” one of the catchiest done for any cartoon series. Perhaps the slow pacing seems slower in 2013 than it did in the early 1960s, when this project first hit the air. Another factor causing Sam to compare unfavorably with Tom Terrific (other than the absence of Tyer, Deitch and Feiffer) is Bob Keeshan’s insistence on eliminating all violence. Once the central source of conflict in a western arena is gone, something else must replace it and that something had better be able to help drive the series.

  • I,too,remember both TT and LS very well,though it’s been years since i’ve seen LS.Thanks for the post Jerry! Personally,I prefer TT,for the reasons you mentioned,but still great memories! The VHS transfer was crystal clear!

  • LOVED Lariat Sam, and Tippy Toes! Thanks for a chance to see them again.

  • …And Dayton Allen would go on to provide almost exactly the same voices for the STUFFY DERMA cartoons in “THE MILTON THE MONSTER SHOW”. Great stuff, Jerry!

  • This cartoon was decent. I mean, the writting was good enough, but could be a slight bit better.

    Was Jon Stone still working on “Captain Kangaroo” at this time? Maybe he could’ve point his finger as a writter for this cartoon.

  • This guy always reminded me a lot of the Belgium comic Lucky Luke. But then again, anything Western themed was really popular back in the day.

  • So who actually created the animation and character art for Lariat Sam? I would love to know. Was it Gene Deitch?

    • Gene Deitch was long gone from Terrytoons when Lariat Sam was created. Gene Wood and Tom Morrison are the creators.

  • I watched Captain Kangaroo in those days, and I remember these cartoons, but only vaguely, because I didn’t care for them. I had enjoyed Tom Terrific, but Lariat Sam I mostly ignored, although I remember my younger brother liked it. I think the attempt to be “non-violent” may have actually backfired: guns and exotic weapons were strictly items of fantasy for urban children of the 1950s, but a lariat, a simple rope, was not. If children were inspired to make lariats and “lasso” other people because of this cartoon, they would be engaging in acts of violence more real than pointing toy guns and saying “bang bang”, would they not?

  • Aimed at Pre-schoolers? Well this manage to hold your attention and get intresting in the story, while most of the modern pre-schooler animation don’t. do that, if anything they make you feel dumber after watching. Not sure if I should name any example.

    • The “aimed at preschoolers” charge may have been originally made by George W. Woolery in his otherwise excellent 1983 book CHILDREN’S TELEVISION: THE FIRST THIRTY-FIVE YEARS (Part 1:Animated Cartoon Series). Despite the fact that it was originally featured on CAPTAIN KANGAROO, the humor in LARIAT SAM is comparable in its own way to Jay Ward or the early Hanna-Barbera. Unlike Dudley Do-Right or Quickdraw McGraw , Lariat Sam is the straight man reacting to the crazy schemes of the villains (Badlands Meeney and Bushwack) and his overly fastidious horse-sidekick (Tippytoes). The voices were all expertly done by the great Dayton Allen who even gets to say his signature “Why not?” line.This deserves an official DVD release.

  • Loved Captain K. and all of the cartoons. I was too young for Tom Terrific, but was 4 when the Lariat Sam cartoons ran originally and I gobbled them up. Has anyone ever pointed out that the voice of Tippy Toes was either the wonderful Shep Menkin? Or, was someone doing a darned good imitation of his voice?

    • Van Jealous, Steve Allen Show regular Dayton Allen did every voice for Lariat Sam, including a great impression of British comic actor Richard Haydn for Tippy Toes. Haydn’s dulcet tones also inspired the voice of inept inventor Clyde Crashcup (The Alvin Show), this time done by Shep Menken.
      Dayton Allen, who also did all the Deputy Dawg voices, was a fine impressionist whose “Groucho” turned up in Heckle & Jeckle shorts on occasion.

  • I’ve been watching some of the LS shows on YouTube, and there are some clever bits:

    Prof. Apogee sets his robot to catch Bushwack, and Bushwack says, “I loved you in the Wizard of Oz.”

    Badlands Meeney is posing as a fellow scientist.
    Badlands: I forgot my screwdriver! Could you go and get it?
    Prof: Where’d you leave it?
    Badlands: Cleveland.
    Prof: Cleveland! Great President.

  • He could turn his lariat into all sorts of things needed and he appeared in CAPTIAN KANGAROO

  • I am SO excited to find this post! As a horse-crazy girl (still am), a cartoon horse named Tippy Toes has remained in my memory to this day (I am now 57!). As an adult, now and then I have brought up the name to my horse friends, trying to remember what cartoon he was from. I thought that maybe Tippy Toes was Dudley Do-Right’s horse – but no one seemed to think so, nor did they remember Tippy Toes. Finally, I chose the right google phrase “cartoon horse named Tippy Toes” and found this – the missing piece of the puzzle! I certainly was a watcher of Captain Kangaroo. Was Lariat Sam only shown in 1962? That would mean I remember Tippy Toes since I was 3! Thank you so much for this information – it’s wonderful!

  • Is this for sale on DVD?

    • It does not appear to be commercially available, but there are currently four episodes on youtube

  • I respectfully disagree. There is a lot of humor in these stories. I enjoy ‘Lariat Sam’ slightly more than ‘Tom Terrific’.

  • upon reflection, could Disney’s Tex Tinstar be considered a sendup of Lariat Sam?

  • I liked this cartoon as a child. Too bad it was only on Video Cassette. Does anyone know if Lariat Sam ever made it to DVD/Blu-Ray? I checked online and nothing. Good show, but needs to be available in modern formats for all to enjoy.

  • Tippy Toes sounds like Clyde Crashcup.

    • Nick Petro, he sure does. Both voices were inspired b English comic Richard Haydn. Dayton Allen imitated Haydn for Tippy Toes and Shep Menken imitated Haydn for Clyde.

  • Im wondering if Dayton Allen also did the voice-over for the Chips Ahoy Cookie-Man commercials? In one spot, his voice has some elements of Badlands Meeny in it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *