“The Huckleberry Hound Show” was William Hanna and Joseph Barbera’s second made-for-TV series (“The Ruff and Reddy Show”, NBC-TV 1957-60 was their first.) The series premiered in 1958 and starred a dim-witted, good-natured hound dog with a Southern drawl. The show took television audiences by storm. Sponsored nationally by Kellogg’s Cereals, the show was the first fully animated series made strictly for television, in contrast to those hosted by live performers or ones with a cinematic history.
With a limited budget of about $2,800 per television episode, Hanna and Barbera invented a technique called “limited animation.” This process, used in their first series, greatly reduced the number of drawings needed to complete a single cartoon, and the technique would carry them to the top of the ratings chart for the next three decades.
Syndicated in the fall of 1958, and airing most frequently on Thursday afternoons, “Huckleberry Hound” was about an honest, hard-working dog who was trying out a variety of careers. In the premiere episode, “Wee Willie,” Police Patrolman Huckleberry is assigned the difficult task of returning a playful escaped gorilla to the zoo. Subsequent episodes involved his pursuing such occupations as mailman, truant officer, veterinarian, lion tamer, explorer, mounted police officer, firefighter, and once even dogcatcher.
The Huck, Yogi and Pixie & Dixie cartoons were also seen Saturday mornings over the CBS-TV network beginning October 1, 1960 as part of magician Mark Wilson’s “The Magic Land of Alakazam” series, sponsored by Kellogg’s. When the series moved to ABC-TV in 1962 the Hanna-Barbera cartoons were dropped.
Voiced by Daws Butler, Yogi resembled Art Carney’s Ed Norton, from “The Honeymooners” series, from his vocal attributes to his pork pie hat with the tilted brim. Yogi’s success on The Huckleberry Hound Show, which even rivaled that of its star, eventually led to his own series in early 1961 (click here to see separate entry). He was replaced by an even smarter animal, the conniving Hokey Wolf, whose gift for gab and deceit closely resembled comedian Phil Silver’s Sergeant Bilko.
Although children comprised the show’s largest audience, “The Huckleberry Hound Show” also became a favorite with many adults. In 1959 it was awarded an Emmy for Best Children’s Program. It was the only cartoon series ever to win such an honor, until the premiere six years later of Charles Schulz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The success of the series eventually led to a string of similarly animated types and brought in millions of dollars in sales revenue through products bearing the likenesses of the show’s characters.
Daws Butler & Don Messick– Huckleberry Hound: The Great Kellogg’s TV Show
Genre: Children’s, Stage & Screen
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