Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yogi Bear in “Slap Happy Birthday” (to me!)

It occurs to me that there aren’t very many short cartoons with a birthday theme, but let’s celebrate my own birthday – today, January 24 – with one of the few I can recall… Yogi Bear in “Slap Happy Birthday” (1961). Back when I was knee-high to a pic-a-nic basket.

This is one with its full credits sequence left intact, has a redesigned “title card pose and logo” for Yogi (differing from the original one pictured above) – and opens with my favorite rendition of the Yogi Bear theme song. An earlier version of this same theme comes equipped with lyrics:
“Who keeps cool when things are hot? Who does? Yogi Bear!...”

That one’s nice, but I prefer this lively instrumental version better. And it was the one used most often.

Notice that the cartoon occurs in fall – and there are fall-like backgrounds to complement the script. Notice, too, the odd type of running done by Ranger Smith as the cartoon winds to a close. He’s not “leaning into the run” as he should. More of a fast foot-shuffling, as he remains up straight! …
Oh, those wacky Hanna-Barbera guys, the things they could do!

This is from the later period when Yogi’s cartoons became less “slapstick-y funny” and more personality oriented. In fact, there are some Yogi cartoons that, with careful planning, could have actually become half-hour shows a la Top Cat.

Installments like this one, Gleesome Threesome (Yogi and Boo-Boo follow Ranger Smith on his Florida vacation) and A Bear Pair (Contest winners Yogi and Boo-Boo win a trip to Paris, where they are mistaken for ambassadors) would fall into this category. Even the football cartoon Rah Rah Bear, which you can see HERE would qualify. It would have been interesting to see what a half-hour Yogi would have been like…

But, for now, let’s join the great Daws Butler as Yogi, Don Messick as Boo Boo and Ranger Smith, and writer Warren Foster as they celebrate “Mister Ranger’s” birthday… and mine!

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