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History of Hanna-Barbera Part 3: 1959 - The Quick Draw McGraw Show & Loopy de Loop
September 19, 1959 - October 20, 1962
Following the success Hanna-Barbera had with Huckleberry Hound in 1958 (and Ruff & Reddy the year before that), naturally Screen Gems wanted them to follow up with a third series in 1959. The Huckleberry Hound format of a package show with three exclusive segments had worked fantastically, so that would be the format followed for their next series: The Quick Draw McGraw Show.
The Quick Draw McGraw Show debuted in syndication on September 19th, 1959. Just as with Huckleberry Hound, it was sponsored by Kellogg’s, with Quick Draw even appearing on boxes of Sugar Smacks for a few years. The series ran for three seasons with a total of 45 episodes.
Quick Draw McGraw
During the 1950's, westerns had been extremely popular. Gunsmoke was the #1 show on television, syndicated western films dominated weekend afternoons, and the cowboy motif was popular with kids. To headline their new show, Hanna-Barbera sought to parody this fad with their own western hero: Quick Draw McGraw.
Quick Draw is sheriff of a one-horse town (him being the horse, of course) somewhere out in the Wild West (possibly California, according to some shorts). Together with his young burro sidekick Baba Looey, they uphold the laws of the old west. Quick Draw, while good in his intentions, is never exactly the smartest character, often being outwitted by his opponents; for all intent and purposes, Quick Draw is treated as if he were a human character, with hand-like hooves to hold his guns and sometimes even being seen riding non-anthropomorphic horses.
In typical Hanna-Barbera pairing fashion, to go with Quick Draw's dim personality, Baba Looey is the voice of reason, trying to help Quick Draw to not make as many bad decisions (though often being unable to convince him). In some shorts, they would also be accompanied by Quick Draw's dog Snuffles, who'd only help them if Quick Draw had dog treats to give. All three of these character were voiced (though Snuffles didn’t technically talk) by Daws Butler, basing his performances of Quick Draw and Baba Looey on actors like Red Skelton and Desi Arnez respectively.
When up against the most dastardly of outlaws, Quick Draw would ditch his sheriff garb and don a mask and cape. Wielding a guitar and yelling his battle cry "OLAYYYEEE!" before bashing the guitar on outlaw noggins (and then "KABONG!" after), he would become the vigilante known as El Kabong. Just as westerns had been popular at the time, audiences had also been enjoying Disney's Zorro TV series which had just wrapped up its run on ABC when the Quick Draw McGraw Show was beginning.
According to Quick Draw McGraw writer Michael Maltese, who created the El Kabong persona in its first appearance (and previously worked on Warner Bros’ Road Runner shorts), the inspiration for El Kabong is actually closer drawn to Douglas Fairbanks Sr.'s portrayal of Zorro from The Mark of Zorro. With 10 of Quick Draw McGraw's 45 episodes being centered around the El Kabong persona, this was arguably the most popular and easily the most remembered part of Quick Draw McGraw.
Another notable thing is a character who first appeared in the sixth episode of the series “Lamb Chopped”, an orange furred mountain lion named Snaggletooth. This mountain lion would appear in a few more episodes of both Quick Draw McGraw and Augie Doggy & Doggie Daddy, before ultimately being recolored to pink fur. The newly renamed character, Snagglepuss, would be spun off into a segment of his own in 1961’s “The Yogi Bear Show”.
Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy
In 1942, Hanna and Barbera were in the second year of their Tom & Jerry series at MGM, which was gradually gaining more popularity with each installment. For their fifth installment, "Dog Trouble", they introduced a large dog named Spike who'd be an additional foil to the cat Tom. Spike would become a regular character in the Tom & Jerry shorts, appearing in 26 of the 114 shorts that Hanna and Barbera directed. They also introduced Spike's son Tyke in the 1949 short "Love That Pup". Eventually, they decided to give Spike and Tyke their own spin-off series of shorts separate from Tom and Jerry's antics.
Unfortunately, this spin-off series would be short-lived, resulting in only two shorts released in 1957: "Give and Tyke" and "Scat Cats". Just as production was wrapping on these shorts, the decision came down from MGM to close up the animation studio, laying off Hanna and Barbera, who would form their own studio by the end of that year.
Augie Dog and Doggie Daddy continues the use of this concept of a father/son dog duo. In each episode, Doggie Daddy (voiced by Doug Young doing an impression of the gravelly-voiced actor Jimmy Durante) tries his best to raise his young son Augie (voiced by Daws Butler), while Augie does his best to make his "dear old dad" proud. Sometimes he would succeed and make his dad proud, but other times the humor came from his dad's disappointment at the results.
One example is in the first episode, where Augie feels he's finally old enough to stop playing with toy foxes and catch a real fox. He eventually does catch a fox, but it's only because Augie said that he was trying to get the fox home "for dinner" (ending with Doggie begrudgingly serving the fox a plate of peas while his son gnaws at the fox's leg with his baby teeth).
Like with Snagglepuss (who also made some guest appearances in this segment), Augie Doggy and Doggie Daddy also gave a preview of a future Hanna-Barbera star. In the 20th episode, "Gone to the Ducks", a small duckling appears that's heavily based on Quacker, the duckling from Tom & Jerry. This duckling would come to be named Yakky Doodle, and appear alongside Snagglepuss in The Yogi Bear Show.
Snooper & Blabber
The last segment of The Quick Draw McGraw show was "Snooper & Blabber", Hanna-Barbera's first (but by far not the last) attempt at a detective cartoon. Though it wasn't so much about the mysteries, as certain later series they would make would be about, but rather the hijinks of the titular characters trying to accomplish the jobs they've taken up. The leader of the pair is Super Snooper, a cat, and his assistant is Blabber Mouse (both are voiced by Daws Butler).
Together, the duo try to catch bad guys (sometimes unsuccessfully), recover escaped animals (like Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle, who also made early appearances here), retrieve stolen jewels, babysit little kids, and sometimes even help fairy tale characters. The most frequent villains that the pair faces are the Evil Scientist family, consisting of "J.", his wife Goona, and their son Junior. These three characters all take inspiration from Charles Addams' "Addams Family" comics (which Hanna-Barbera would eventually go on to make two animated series based on).
Snooper's voice is based on Ed Gardner's Archie character from the 40's radio show "Duffy's Tavern", while his mannerisms (like the catchphrase "All we want are the facts") are taken from Jack Webb's Joe Friday character from the "Dragnet" radio show.
Loopy de Loop
November 5, 1959 - June 17, 1965
As an aside, it is perhaps worth mentioning another endeavor that Hanna-Barbera entered into around the same time as the Quick Draw McGraw Show.
Columbia Pictures had long been trying to make their mark in the theatrical animation business, ever since Charles Mintz joined Columbia in 1929. Their most fruitful efforts were alongside the UPA (United Productions of America) studio, who produced such hits as Gerald McBoing-Boing and the Mister Magoo series. However, in 1959, UPA split ways from Columbia, having their sights set on television. As Hanna-Barbera's distributor Screen Gems was owned by Columbia, they were approached about making a series of theatrical shorts in a similar vein to the trio of series they had already made into hits.
Enter Loopy de Loop, a French-Canadian wolf who's one goal in life is to clear the bad name that wolves have gained over the years through his charming nature and good deeds. In each short, he would assist a different person, despite the persecution he might face for simply being a wolf. Loopy's name is three puns in one: "Loopy" meaning crazy, "Loop" being similar to "loup", the french word for wolf, and "Loopy de Loop" altogether being an obvious take on the airplane maneuver "loop the loop". As with the majority of Hanna-Barbera's stars, he was voiced by Daws Butler.
The first short was released on November 5, 1959, and ran for several years until June of 1965, with 48 shorts total. Unfortunately, with the declining interest in theatrical animated shorts (Warner Bros was the only other major studio left by this point that was still turning out shorts on a consistent basis), Loopy de Loop never caught on and Columbia quietly ended both the series and their interest in short subjects. The shorts did end up on television in the late 60's, compiled into a series of 16 half-hour episodes.
The Quick Draw McGraw Show wasn’t quite as groundbreaking as Huckleberry Hound, but it was still extremely popular with audiences and further cemented Hanna-Barbera’s place as TV’s #1 animation studio as the world entered the 1960’s.
And in late 1960, Hanna-Barbera would once again take television by storm with their next series, which would truly become a page right out of history...
© 2015 Josh Measimer