Tooter the Turtle, Mr. Wizard, The Hunter and Odie Colognie join King Leonardo and Twinkles for a 1961 Golden Records 45 RPM extended play parade.
TWINKLES, KING LEONARDO AND THEIR FRIENDS
Golden Records 3-On-1 Series EP-667 (7” 45 RPM EP / Mono)
Released in 1961. Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Writer: Paul Parnes. Running Time: 10 minutes.
“King Leonardo” Theme Song Voices: Jackson Beck (Leonardo); Kenny Delmar (The Hunter); Allen Swift (Odie Colognie, Tooter the Turtle); Ben Stone (The Fox); Sandy Becker (Mr. Wizard).
Golden Record Voices: Frank Milano (Odie Colognie, The Hunter, Tooter the Turtle, Mr. Wizard, The Fox, Itchy Brother); George S. Irving (“Twinkles” Story Teller).
Songs: “King Leonardo Theme” by Buck Biggers, Chet Stover, Treadwell Covington. “Odie Colognie,” “The Hunter,” “Tooter the Turtle,” “Mr. Wizard the Lizard,” “The Fox,” “Itchy Brother” by Paul Parnes.
One of the reasons the cartoons of Jay Ward and Total TeleVision were so frequently run on network and syndicated TV is that General Mills provided influential and financial support. They ran their commercials during the programs long into the 1970’s, even though the days of the show’s characters appearing on the General Mills cereal products and commercials were long past (Tim Hollis’ joyous book, Part of a Complete Breakfast provides the full-balanced, vitamin enriched, nutritious story).
General Mills’ Twinkles cereal box had an extra panel that opened up as a storybook about the friendly elephant and his animal friends. The stories were also presented on TV in very limited animation by Total TeleVision (more about that in Mark Arnold’s superb TTV book.
Golden put the single record versions of two of the Twinkles stories, “King Leonardo Theme” and the “Odie Colognie” song into general release on 78 and 45 RPM records in retail stores, but the songs about the other TTV characters are exclusive to this mail-order EP disc. It was the only means by which fans could enjoy the third Twinkles story, “The Musical Band.”
The musical style of Golden Records and of TTV cartoons always seemed to be complementary—to the point of some background music sounding as if it was produced through the Golden facilities, especially the Tooter the Turtle music. On this record, the music bed that would be heard behind some of the Tooter cartoons backs up Frank Milano singing for Tooter. If only the same mail order campaign could have been repeated, there might have been some Tennessee Tuxedo, Chumley, Mr. Whoopie, Klondike Kat and other TTV character songs, but it was not to be. There was an Underdog soundtrack 45 with the Thanksgiving episode, thankfully.
Frank Milano, a capable New York stage and radio actor, handles the character voices well, but of course it would have been nice to have the original cast on this record (who only appear in the theme song). He does a particularly good Mr. Wizard the Lizard, and according to imdb.com, he did voice him in an episode or two. Milano also specialized in animal sounds, doing off camera sounds for such TV series as Mister Peepers
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Twinkles, King Leonardo and Their Friends”
The first half of this extended play record squishes seven songs on one side (much as the H.R. Pufnstuf/Kellogg’s EP did almost a decade later). Some of the songs are less than a minute—or even 30 seconds! The second half contains the three “Twinkles” stories, narrated by one of TTV’s signature voices, George S. Irving.
Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s
SONGS OF YOGI BEAR
Golden Records LP-70 (12” 33 1/3 RPM LP / Mono)
Released in 1961. Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Writer: Paul Parnes, Sylvia Parnes, Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera. Running Time: 36 minutes.
Voices: Frank Milano (Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo, Ranger Smith, Snagglepuss, Major Minor, Super Snooper, Blabber Mouse, Yakky Doodle, Chopper, Fibber Fox, Kid Who Sounds Like Kukla); Cecil Roy (Cindy Bear).
Songs: “Yogi Bear Theme” by Hoyt Curtin, Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera; “Before Yogi,” “Yogi Bear, Casanova of the Cave Set,” “Cindy Bear, Cutie of the Cave Set,” “Snagglepuss March,” “Major Minor,” “Exit Stage Right,” “Snooper and Blabber,” “Little Feller,” “Like a Duck Takes to Water,” “Fibber Fox,” “Alfy Gator the Alligator,” “Yogi Bear Presents Cindy Bear,” “Introducing Loopy De Loop,” Loopy De Loop Meets Red Riding Hood” by Paul and Sylvia Parnes.
If you listened to Frank Milano voicing “Itchy Brother” on the recording above, it’s the cousin of his Yogi Bear impersonation. Golden must have seen him as an East Coast Daws Butler, and though that is an effrontery to suggest, Milano sure handles a lot of difficult imitations admirably, considering what had to have been a very short lead time. The high register of his voice makes characterizations like Fibber Box a good fit, but he struggles lower-pitch voices like Chopper, as well as the tricky voice of Yakky. With this in mind, it is difficult to imagine that Loopy DeLoop’s voice is that of Milano, rather than another actor who is not credited on the album.
His Yogi is a bit inconsistent, too, but that might be due to the fact that the album is a bit of a pastiche of Hanna-Barbera character songs designed to be released as Little Golden Records, meaning that he may have been voicing Yogi in different sessions. Most interesting is how several of the songs are introductory. When Yogi Bear got his own show and Huckleberry Hound’s show added Pixie and Dixie and Yakky Doodle, there was a Little Golden Record with Huck on the front cover, “Presenting” them—a bridging strategy not unlike Walt Disney’s use of Mickey Mouse’s name on the early Silly Symphony cartoons.
The odd thing about these “introductory” tracks is that the album mixes them up strangely. Cindy Bear sings about Yogi on Side One, yet he introduces her, as if for the first time, on Side Two. By the end of the album, the listener has heard Milano contort his vocal chords so much that it’s not immediately obvious that he is again playing Yogi, as he introduces Loopy DeLoop.
Golden made some use of their music library in songs such as “Snooper and Blabber,” which adds Milano’s voice to a Gilbert and Sullivan piece from an earlier Mitch Miller and the Sandpipers LP; and the Loopy DeLoop story, which uses “A Bicycle Built for Two” from Golden’s “Let’s Sing Together” album.
Cecil Roy, often the voice of Casper and other New York cartoon voices, is given a little groove time as Cindy, and does a creditable job, giving the character a different, much more extreme interpretation than that of Julie Bennett.
Golden got a lot of mileage out of these songs, not only on single records, but also for the 1964 compilation released to tie in with Hanna-Barbera’s first theatrical feature, Hey There It’s Yogi Bear.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
While lacking the punch, pizzazz and full orchestration of the soundtrack version of Yogi’s Theme (which was not available on records when this was released), Jim Timmens’ light jazz version is among the better covers of an H-B theme.
“Yogi Bear Theme”
“Casanova of the Cave Set”
“Cutie of the Cave Set”