The 1964 cartoon campaign between one of Hanna-Barbera’s biggest TV stars and one of their newest characters inspired merchandise—and a 45 RPM Golden Record.
The Campaign Songs of Bill Hanna & Joe Barbera’s
MAGILLA GORILLA & YOGI BEAR
Golden Records FF-768 (7” 45 RPM / Mono)
Released in 1964. Executive Producer: Arthur Shimkin. Musical Direction: Jim Timmens. Running Time: 3 minutes.
Songs: “Magilla for President,” “Yogi for President” by Paul Parnes, William Hanna, Joseph Barbera.
In the 1960 Presidential campaign–the same year that Alvin the Chipmunk, JFK and Richard Nixon were in the running (though not necessarily in that order)–Hanna-Barbera arranged a rather extensive Presidential campaign for Emmy-winner Huckleberry Hound (Yowp covers that campaign here.
1964 found the country in a less hopeful mood for many reasons, so perhaps for some, Magilla and Yogi’s race for the White House—as well as any whimsical Presidential race–was a lighthearted breath of fresh air. Hanna-Barbera were gathering steam as a studio in ’64 with a new “ultra modern” studio on 3400 Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood (the building is now an LA Fitness, but at least it still exists for those of us starry-eyed boomers who used to think of it as second only to Sleeping Beauty Castle as a Southern California photo spot.
Both characters had public approval ratings well above 70%. Yogi had become a bonafide star, headlining his own—and H-B’s first—animated theatrical feature the same year, Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear!, The new Magilla Gorilla Show–as well as The Peter Potamus Show–was part of a lucrative partnership between the studio and Ideal Toys. The future looked big and bright for Bill, Joe and their still fledgling entertainment company.
Clearly Magilla was being marketed most aggressively as a new character in need of a following, so he’s always featured first in the various Presidential merchandise items created for the promotion. The Gold Key comic book could serve as the blueprint for the entire premise: Magilla is watching a political debate on TV in Mr. Peebles store window, Peebles suggests Magilla run for President simply to get rid of him. Yogi’s also watching the TV debate in Ranger Smith’s office. Smith comes to the same conclusion as Peebles.
Top Cat becomes Magilla’s campaign manager. Magilla, again as the new character needing more exposure, is given a half-page illustration leading a parade of Quick Draw McGraw, Baba Looey and T.C.’s gang out of his campaign headquarters. Yogi does not get an equivalent parade scene and gets a much smaller campaign following.
Wacky hijinks follow as T.C and Magilla engage in campaign events to drum up votes. Of course, it all goes comically wrong. Yogi, off to a slower start than Magilla, is assisted by Huck as campaign manager. Yogi and Magilla pratfall their way through the rest of the comic book, culminating in a very ‘60s finale: they both race to the moon. Through it all, the candidates remain amicable towards each other and show a mutual respect despite their rivalry.
Hanna-Barbera was still a year away from having their own record company. Golden Records was their Magilla licensee, having released the Magilla Gorilla and His Pals album — with the TV voice cast and Hoyt Curtin’s music — that year. But the 45 single–presumably due to budget and time–was done with a small orchestra and Golden’s New York house singers at the time (I’m guessing Frank Milano and Abbot Lutz). The front cover art displayed the same buttons used on the other H-B presidential merchandise.
GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
“Magilla for President” / “Yogi for President”
Jim Timmens’ usual mellow vibraphone Golden sound is slightly different here, since this is a campaign march of a sort. There is more brass than on other Golden Records of the day. Hanna and Barbera seem to have had a hand in the lyrics, as they are both credited along with New York composer Paul Parnes (who we discussed here.
So who is your choice? Cast your vote in the comments below… and in the meantime you can don a campaign button for your favorite, courtesy of our friends at Gold Key Comics: