ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

History of Hanna-Barbera Part 6: The Jetsons & Wally Gator

Updated on August 21, 2015

Following the debut of the Flintstones on ABC in 1960, a wave of prime-time animated series flooded the airwaves for the next several years. NBC had The Bullwinkle Show and The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, CBS aired The Alvin Show, and ABC played Calvin & the Colonel and Beany & Cecil. ABC also contracted Hanna-Barbera to produce three additional prime-time series. As previously discussed, Top Cat premiered in 1961 to a lukewarm reaction, but they already had their next series lined up, which would be their attempt to catch lightning in a bottle a second time.

The Jetsons

Airdates
Channel
Studio
September 23, 1962 - March 17, 1963
ABC
Hanna-Barbera

Jumping away from the Stone Age to the futuristic year of 2062, The Jetsons focuses on a family living in the sky utopia of Orbit City. It’s a perfect future with skies filled with flying cars, interplanetary space travel, and instant food machines. But at its heart, it still has shades of the world we know buried deep within it.

George Jetson (voiced by comedy actor George O’Hanlon) is the father, a family man employed by Spacely’s Sprockets who always seems to mess up despite his good intentions.

His wife Jane (Penny Singleton) tries her best to protect the family and isn’t afraid to stand up to George’s boss Mr. Spaceley. She loves technology, but also appreciates the historical arts.

Their daughter Judy (Janet Waldo) has the personality of a typical modern teenage girl, but with an obsession for futuristic technology (which, ironically, makes her even more like a modern teenage girl today).

There’s also their son Elroy (Daws Butler), a well-mannered six year old boy genius.

Astro is the family dog, very much a pre-cursor to Hanna-Barbera’s later Scooby-Doo character in his speech patterns (both were voiced by Don Messick).

Besides the core family, one rerecurring character was Rosie the Robot (Jean Vander Pyl) is the Jetson’s rental maid; Interestingly, in the original run of the show, she only appeared in two episodes. Despite this, she's since become more associated with the family than any other side character.

George’s boss Cosmo Spacely (Mel Blanc) is a greedy short-statured man with a huge temper, even more harsh on George than Mr. Slate was on Fred Flintstone in that he doesn’t just fire George occasionally, he does it at least once per episode.

The Jetsons was partly based on the comic strip Blondie
The Jetsons was partly based on the comic strip Blondie

The show does undeniably draw many parallels between it and the Flintstones, but it’s also heavily inspired by the comic strip Blondie. Interestingly, Judy and her counterpart, Blondie herself, both share the same actress, Penny Singleton, who played Blondie in a series of 28 films between 1938 and 1950.

The Jetsons premiered September 23, 1962, airing Sunday nights at 7:30PM opposite Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and the final season of Dennis the Menace. In an interesting bit of trivia, The Jetsons was actually the very first program on ABC to ever premiere in color. During the 1962-1963 season, ABC experimented with color broadcasting with three animated series: The Flintstones (which was entering its third season), Beany & Cecil (which had been a mid-season show earlier that year), and The Jetsons (debuting in color). ABC wouldn't fully transition to color until the early 70's, well after its competitors NBC and CBS.

The Jetsons made a decent effort to emulate the success of The Flintstones, but ultimately wasn't able to survive in prime-time
The Jetsons made a decent effort to emulate the success of The Flintstones, but ultimately wasn't able to survive in prime-time

Being based on the ratings-winning formula that the Flintstones, there was an expectation that the Jetsons would do well for Hanna-Barbera and ABC. However, the opposite happened; The Jetsons bombed in the ratings. There’s a few possible reasons, most evident is how it was put up against Walt Disney (which also caused the cancellation of Dennis the Menace). Some have speculated that it may be because the popular sitcoms of the 60’s tended to have some sort of unusual main character (like Mr. Ed the Talking Horse or Jeannie the Genie), while George Jetson was more or less a 1950’s sitcom dad transplanted into the future. Others have pointed that many Americans were becoming pessimistic about the notion of looking to the future, as the Cold War dragged on with no end in sight and worries about nuclear war continued to heighten (the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred only a few months after the Jetsons ended); Audiences just weren’t looking for a family from a perfect future when in reality the future looked bleak.

The Jetsons received their own theatrical movie in 1990
The Jetsons received their own theatrical movie in 1990

Whatever the reason, the Jetsons only lasted a single season of 24 episodes in prime-time. For the next two decades, it became a long-standing Saturday morning staple, bouncing around between all three of the major networks: ABC (1963-1964), CBS (1964-1965, 1969-1971), and especially NBC (1965-1967, 1971-1976, 1979-1981, 1982-1983). In 1985, the show was finally revived with full force, gaining a whopping 51 new episodes in syndication. They even got their own movie in 1990.

The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series

Airdates
Channel
Studio
September 3, 1962 - August 26, 1963
Syndication
Hanna-Barbera

That same season, over in syndication, Hanna-Barbera decided to do something slightly different with 1962’s batch of funny animal characters. Previously (with Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw, and Yogi Bear), the package shows they put together consisted of a star character along with two back-up shorts, all presented as a uniform half-hour of entertainment with bumpers showing the characters of the individual segments interacting among one another. However, there was still a market they hadn’t yet tapped where the majority of TV animation during the early 60’s (prior to the rise of Saturday mornings) was going to: Local children’s shows.

Wally Gator, Lippy the Lion, and Touche Turtle gathered around Portland television entertainer Ramblin' Rod Anders
Wally Gator, Lippy the Lion, and Touche Turtle gathered around Portland television entertainer Ramblin' Rod Anders

These local shows, such as Portland, Oregon’s “Popeye's Pier 12” (hosted by Ramblin' Rod Anders), would usually feature a local entertainer hosting a show in front of an audience of children, with the real highlight of the show being short (4-7 minute) cartoons. It was common for these cartoons to feature a serialized story across an entire week (such as Crusader Rabbit and Clutch Cargo), but there were also gag cartoons (such as Tom Terrific and the made-for-TV Popeye shorts), not unlike Hanna-Barbera’s typical output. Stations were usually more willing to give airtime for cartoons on local children’s shows rather than individual half-hours, so Hanna-Barbera decided to produce a product that could be presented as both.

Marketed as “The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series”, this was actually a collection of three individual segments: Wally Gator, Touche Turtle & Dum Dum, and Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har. Stations would be given the option to air the 5-minute segments together (often being called just “Wally Gator” as he was the character H-B was pushing most) or split as part of their local children’s programs.

Wally Gator

The first segment follows the escapades of Wally Gator, a cajin alligator who longs to escape the zoo he’s trapped in. The zookeeper, Mr. Twiddle, tries his best to stop Wally from escaping. Wally almost always does escape, but finds himself in trouble in the city, such as running from a hunter or being mistaken for an escaped convict. The few times Wally decides to stay in the zoo, trouble still comes to him, like when a stork accidentally delivers a baby gorilla to him which he’s forced to take care of.

For Wally Gator, Daws Butler once again draws from his impersonation talents, using a voice emulating comedian Ed Wynn. As per the usual pairing of Butler and Messick, Don Messick voices Mr. Twiddle.

Touché Turtle & Dum Dum

Touché Turtle, despite his unintimidating appearance, is a swashbuckling hero in 17th century France (an alternate 17th century with modern technology), who, proclaiming his catchphrase “Touché away!”, makes it his mission in life to save anyone in distress. He is aided by his friend, a large friendly dog named Dum Dum, and together they fight dragons, outlaws, and even robots.

Touché Turtle is voiced by voice actor Bill Thompson, who is most well-known for his work in Disney films like Smee in Peter Pan and the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Dum Dum is Alan Reed, the voice of Fred Flintstone.

Ricochet Rabbit, who would later star in his own cartoon, first appeared in Touché Turtle
Ricochet Rabbit, who would later star in his own cartoon, first appeared in Touché Turtle

Like with the early appearances of Snagglepuss and Yakky Doodle in episodes of the Quick Draw McGraw Show, Touché Turtle introduces a rabbit named Ricochet in the episode “Rapid Rabbit”. Ricochet Rabbit would later go on to star in his own series of shorts in the Magilla Gorilla Show.

Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har

The last segment of the trio follows the adventures of a lion and a hyena, the former bursting with optimism, and the later, in a rather ironic twist, outright pessimistic. In each episode, Lippy comes up with a new get-rich-quick scheme and drags Hardy in, often resulting in Hardy taking the bulk of the (usually physical) punishment when the scheme inevitably backfires.

Lippy is voiced by Daws Butler, while Hardy Har Har is voiced by Mel Blanc, the latter doing the same voice he did as a postman on the Burns & Allen radio program.

Milt Moss hosted a local New York program titled "Cartoon Zoo", which presented the three cartoons under the context of a zookeeper conversing with the characters
Milt Moss hosted a local New York program titled "Cartoon Zoo", which presented the three cartoons under the context of a zookeeper conversing with the characters

These three segments, whether together or apart, were rather popular for the local children’s shows they played during. New York’s WPIX actually ended up doing both, creating an entire local program called “Cartoon Zoo”, where a zookeeper (played by Milt Moss, who would gain some minor fame in the early 70’s for reciting the infamous phrase “I can’t believe I ate that whole thing” in an Alka-Seltzer commercial) showed cartoons while conversing with life-size cutouts of Wally Gator, Touché Turtle, and Lippy the Lion stuck in cages.

The Hanna-Barbera New Cartoon Series ultimately ran for only one season, generating 52 episodes for each of the segments which were spread across nearly a year. Following the ends of both this and The Jetsons, things were rather quiet for Hanna-Barbera; The fall 1963 season, where at least one new Hanna-Barbera series had premiered every year since 1957, didn't bring with it a new offering. But this was not a sign of decline in the studio, far from it, as Hanna-Barbera would soon debut one of their most ambitious productions that would also herald the direction the studio would go throughout the remainder of the 1960’s.


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)