The Ruff & Reddy Show is a Hanna-Barbera animated series starring Ruff, a straight and smart cat voiced by Don Messick, and Reddy, a dumb and stupid dog voiced by Daws Butler. First broadcast in December 1957 on NBC, it was the first television show produced by Hanna-Barbera and presented by Screen Gems, the television arm of Columbia Pictures (now Sony Pictures Television).
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera entered the television field fresh from serving as the heads of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation department, which shut down in June 1957. Unlike its successor The Huckleberry Hound Show, Ruff and Reddy featured a live action host, Jimmy Blaine (an announcer at WNBC Radio, New York), and various theatrical cartoons from Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems library including The Fox and the Crow and Li’l Abner filling up the rest of the half-hour.
Messick’s “Ruff” voice characterization was very similar to the one he would later use for Pixie the mouse. Butler used his tried-and-true southern drawl for “Reddy”, a voice that would later become mainly identified with Huckleberry Hound. A supporting character in some episodes was the tiny-sized Professor Gizmo (also voiced by Don Messick). Villains Ruff and Reddy faced included “Scary” Harry Safari (Daws Butler, a characterization similar to Beany and Cecil’s Dishonest John), Captain Greedy and Salt Water Daffy (Daws Butler and Don Messick) and western outlaws Killer and Diller (Daws Butler and Don Messick).
The show’s episodes borrowed from the serialized storytelling format of such shows as Crusader Rabbit by making extensive use of cliffhanger storylines. Don Messick was narrator. The episodes were not much longer than four minutes, including an opening song and much repetition of preceding events. There were 13 episodes in each of the 7 stories of the serials. The show was only a moderate success, since it was harder for children to grasp the cliffhangers in the series.
Ruff and Reddy was originally broadcast in black and white until fall 1958, when it went to color, although all of the animated episodes were filmed in color from the start. Actor/singer and Storyteller Jimmy Blaine served as the series’ first emcee, with Puppeteers Rufus Rose and Bobby Nicholson providing comedic relief as Rhubarb the Parrot and Jose the Toucan.
NBC initially cancelled the show at the end of the 1959-1960 season, later reviving it in the spring of 1962 (although the Ruff and Reddy segments were repeats) with Captain Bob Cottle as the second and last live-action host. When NBC finally cancelled the series in September 1964, Screen Gems syndicated the cartoons to local TV stations. Warner Bros. Television now owns the distribution rights to the series.
Voices by Gilbert Mack.
Jimmy Carroll and orchestra.
Distributed by Screen Gems Inc.
Hanna Barbera Productions 1959.