ANIMATION SPIN
April 21, 2020 posted by Greg Ehrbar

Warner Brothers’ Sylvester and Tweety on Records

Sylvester and Tweety first teamed in 1947’s Oscar-winning Tweetie Pie, then on records in 1950, where June Foray voiced Granny five years before she took over the role in films.

Warner Bros. / Merrie Melodies
TWEETY PIE

Featuring Mel Blanc
Capitol Records Children’s Series J-3261 (Mono) (12” 33 1/3 RPM)
LP Reissue (1974): Capitol (Wonderland/Ziv) L-6958 (Only Tweety Pie and Hippety Hopper plus Teena, The Laughing Hyena and How the Fire Engine Got Its Siren) (26 minutes)

LP Released in 1963. Producer: Alan W. Livingston. Writers: Warren Foster, Tedd Pierce, Michael Maltese. Music: Billy May, Dave Cavanaugh, Van Alexander. Running Time: 25 minutes.

Voices: Mel Blanc (Tweety, Sylvester, Hippety Hopper, Sylvester Jr.); June Foray (Granny); Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd/Narrator); Tom Reddy (Narrator).

In the late fifties and early sixties, record companies went in search of ways to reassemble previous materials in new packages. 78 and 45 RPM records had roughly seven to eight minutes of running time, so the challenge was in combining them for the longer format 33 1/3 RPM 12-inch discs, which could hold upwards of fifty minutes if desired.

The average running time for children’s LP records varied, but for most major labels like RCA, Capitol and Columbia who had children’s divisions, between 25 to 35 minutes seemed fine. In this way, an album could combine four to six single 78 or 45 RPM singles in one disc.

When Capitol Records moved into 12-inch discs in the early sixties, the licensed cartoon material often spilled over on to both sides of the record, though an occasional Bozo the Clown classic might be presented on side two of a Warner or Disney title. When Ziv International and Wonderland Records (formerly Golden) reissued a selection of Capitol children’s titles in the mid-seventies, license fees must have dictated the reduction of the more prominent properties.

Three of the four Tweety and Sylvester stories have their roots in Warner Brothers cartoons and were written by the same staff. These are the four stories on the 1963 Capitol album (only the first two are on the 1974 reissue):

TWEETY PIE
From Capitol Records single CAS-3074 (1950)
Tune: “I’m a Tweet Little Bird in a Gilded Cage”

This story shares the same title (with corrected spelling) as the Oscar-winning 1947 short Tweetie Pie, in which Tweety is first paired with Sylvester, who was called Thomas. It includes the signature electric fan gag from the short. The little tune Tweety sings has the same lyrics as the one heard in 1950’s All a Bir-r-r-d, but with a different melody. [https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6l2z3c ]. However, in the original Tweetie Pie film, our little feathered pal sings a variation on the Mother Goose rhyme, “I Love Little Pussy.” This record marks June Foray’s debut as Granny, a role that Bea Benederet continued to voice in theatrical cartoons until 1955.


SYLVESTER AND HIPPETY HOPPER
From Capitol Records single CAS-3147 (1952)
Based on the 1950 short, Pop ‘im, Pop!
Tune: “I’m Hippety Hopper”

Despite the title, this is not based on the cartoon Hippety Hopper, which did not co-star Sylvester Jr. Instead, the recording takes its cue from the plot of Pop ‘im, Pop, right down to the boastful father claiming to have defeated a giant mouse right before the entrance of the kangaroo. Hippety does not speak in the story, but does sing (courtesy of Mel Blanc in an Aussie accent).


TWEET, TWEET TWEETY
From Capitol Records single CAS-3118 (1953)
Tune: “I Don’t Know What the Puddy Tat Would Want with Me”

Although this story has the same title as the 1950 short, Tweet Tweet Tweety, it owes more to 1952’s A Bird in a Guilty Cage, with the signature game of “sandwich” that is featured on the cover art. The conclusion, in which a closet full of various odds and ends falls on Sylvester, was a famous recurring gag on the long-running radio sitcom, Fibber McGee and Molly.


PIED PIPER PUSSYCAT
From Capitol Records single CAS-3188 (1954)
Tune: “The Pied Piper’s Pipe”

Sylvester and his son, called “Teeny” here, decide to borrow a page from the epic poem and drive the mice away with the Pied Piper’s pipe—which they do—so apparently that’s the end of the mice, at least for this odd little tale. It has no real gags, just a basic storyline. The piper idea would reach the screen in 1961 when Friz Freleng directed the unrelated The Pied Piper of Guadelupe.


The following two releases were never released on LP records:

SNOWBOUND TWEETY
Capitol Records Children’s Series CAS-3169 (1953)
Writers: Warren Foster, Tedd Pierce. Music: Billy May
Tunes: “The Puddy Tat is My Very Best Friend,” “We Can Be Friends.”
Sylvester and Tweety are both friendly pets of Granny in this story. Before Granny can drive through the snow to meet them at her cabin, Sylvester realizes there is no food and turns on Tweety and decides to fool him into being his dinner.


TWEETY’S PUDDY TAT TROUBLE
Capitol Records Children’s Series Record Reader DBX-3102 (1951)
Writers: Warren Foster, Tedd Pierce. Music: Billy May.

This is the only record reader in the Tweety and Sylvester Capitol canon. It’s a two-disc set that reads along with the story. It’s to the writers’ credit—and the other creative staff—that they could take such inherently visual, almost mute cartoons and make them work in audio form.

In 1960, Mel Blanc recorded a Christmas single for Warner Bros. Records with two holiday songs: “Tweety’s Twistmas Twouble” and “I Keep Hearing Those Bells”. It was written by Mel Blanc with Alan Livingston, who produced all the Capitol children’s records (and was married to Oscar-nominated actor Nancy Olson, who was in Sunset Boulevard, Pollyanna and The Absent-Minded Professor).

My colleague James Parten covers the early recording career of Tweety in this installment of Cartoon Research.

12 Comments

  • Didn’t Tweety record a Christmas album with Conway Twitty in the eighties? I seem to remember seeing it advertised on TV. Or did I dream that?

    • Conway Twitty owned a park called Twitty City, with a character called “Twitty Bird,” featured in the album “Merry Twismas.”

    • I found the “Merry Twismas” album cover online. “Twitty Bird” has the same design, colour and, apparently, speech impediment as Tweety. You’d think Mel Blanc and Warners would have sued the rhinestone-studded pants off of Conway.

  • There was a Sylvester / Junior/ Hippety Hopper cartoon with a Pied Piper pipe – Too Hop to Handle (1956).

    • Ah! Very good. Thank you for your expertise!

  • There was a DVD that was all Tweety and Sylvester cartoons I used to have. If you ever want t get really irritated, try watching six of these in a row. (They are okay, but please, in small doses!)

  • You missed one. Besides the musical numbers discussed in James Parten’s article, there was also “Tweety’s Good Deed” (Capitol CASF-3212), the only such release in the “Learning is Fun” series. It’s unfortunately disappointing, being a moralistic tale designed to teach the kiddies to do good deeds for others, and thus lacks the zing of an actual Looney Tune. It’s more like the public service announcement Mel did as Tweety on the dangers of hot water around the home late in his career. The record finally saw LP coverage during the Wonderland/Ziv period on the new compilation, “Baby Snooks and Friends” (:8084).

    • Thanks, Charles! Forgot that one. That’s the album Jim Backus used to sell on TV.

  • The melody in the verse of “I Keep Hearing Those Bells” seems to have been lifted from the 1958 novelty instrumental “Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu” by Dickie Doo and the Don’ts.

  • If anybody finds these records, please upload them to YouTube.

  • “Snowbound Twetty” is an adaptation of the 1953 short “Snow Business” sans the sub-plot of a hunger stricken mouse tries to eat Sylvester and the last scene where Granny ends up picking up just birdseed by mistaken and Sylvester ends up eating it.

  • I believe Conway Twitty recorded for Warner Bros. Records, so there must’ve been no legal conflict with him using the lookalike “Twitty Bird” on his album covers and record labels.

Leave a Reply

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