Friday, July 24, 2009

Hokey Wolf in “Chock Full Chuck Wagon” (1961)

Hokey Wolf would probably not be pleased that he is largely unremembered today… though he’d probably find a way to turn that to his advantage in some sort of scam or con-game.

Hokey, a Phil Silvers-inspired, smooth-talking wolf, tricked, conned, and mooched his way through the final season and a half of Hanna-Barbera’s THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW – replacing the very popular Yogi Bear, who had spun off into his own TV series.
With his worshipful sidekick, Ding-a-Ling Fox in tow, Hokey did his best to meet the needs of the pair – primarily food and shelter – all the while avoiding anything resembling work.

Hokey Wolf cartoons (usually written by Warren Foster or Tony Benedict) were always enjoyable, but it occurs to me that he may have been overshadowed by the better known (…by virtue of a prime time TV slot and years of Sat AM repeats), “similarly Silvers-spawned” Top Cat – also produced by H-B for the 1961-1962 television season.

ndeed, Hokey Wolf was the only component character of the “Big-Three H-B Funny Animal Shows” of the time (HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, QUICK DRAW McGRAW, and YOGI BEAR) to not be granted at least a one-shot comic book from Dell or Gold Key Comics – back when Augie Doggie, Yakky Doodle, and even Mr. and Mrs. J. Evil Scientist (Guest starring creations of writer Michael Maltese, used in Snooper and Blabber and Snagglepuss cartoons!) received individual titles.

(Though comics-wise, Hokey and Ding DID appear as back-up guests in the regular Huckleberry Hound comic book and the three issue “catch-all” title Hanna-Barbera Bandwagon. Hokey also had one unusual and memorable team-up with Yogi Bear in Gold Key’s YOGI BEAR # 10 1962).

So it is that we celebrate Hokey Wolf at TIAH Blog with a favorite of mine: “Chock Full Chuck Wagon”, which pits Hokey against a “Yosemite Sam-like” western cook.

I love the bit where Hokey works a “trade” with the cook, as a “perfect-for-the-scene” piece of Hoyt Curtin stock music punctuates the unfolding of Wolf overmatching Man. Watch for this at about 3:28 in the cartoon.

Also great is Hokey’s sudden deadpan declaration of the exact point where he is “out of range” of the cook’s bullets at 1:14 (“This is far enough!”) – and his “callback” to it at 2:50.

A total side note: Excepts from this particular cartoon have been
regularly used as “between-show-bumpers” by cable TV's Boomerang, so Hokey can take at least THAT little bit of notoriety with him to the “Home for Weary Cartoon Wolves” – where he’ll probably end up “owning the place” inside of two hours!

Hey, he just made ME write more about him than anyone has for over four decades…
He’s just THAT GOOD!
Enjoy Doug Young as Ding-a-Ling and the befuddled chuck wagon master and the great Daws Butler (…about whom was said that he didn’t actually try to impersonate Phil Silvers – but, instead, did “what you expected Phil Silvers would SOUND LIKE”)
as Hokey Wolf.
           …And, c’mon WB, let’s get Hokey Wolf and Seasons 2-4 of THE HUCKLEBERRY HOUND SHOW to DVD!


Chris Barat said...


Not only was Hokey uncomfortably close to Top Cat, he was also within spitting distance of Yogi Bear insofar as mooching was concerned. No wonder it was so hard for him to stand out.

Speaking of out of date references: "Punkin Vines" = "Duncan Hines", a real person who did restaurant reviews back in the 30s, 40s, and 50s before his legacy shrank to the name on a line of cake mixes.


Joe Torcivia said...


You know… As many times as I’ve seen this cartoon over the years, “Punkin Vines” was a joke I never really got (In fact, I was never completely certain WHAT he was saying there!) – but just shrugged it off, and moved on! Another mystery solved! Thank you for that!

BTW, that’s one thing I’ve always loved about the early H-B cartoons. As with Looney Tunes, they were not strictly written just for kids! References like this continue to prove that!

Perhaps Hokey’s similarity to Yogi might have been because he REPLACED Yogi in the Huckleberry Hound line up. Something different… but not TOO different! Perhaps, if Yogi and Boo-Boo didn’t “ground themselves” in Jellystone Park early on – you could probably have done MOST Hokey scripts as Yogi scripts.

In fact, that’s why the comic book story I cite, in YOGI BEAR # 10, was such a standout. It highlighted the similarities in the pair – and thrust them into a “Let’s-Make-The-Best-Of-It” situation. Something that would never have occurred in the animation of the time!

It was fun mentally “hearing” Daws Butler’s dialogue (as the two go back and forth at each other), while reading that story!


Rodan said...

I always liked the Hokey Wolf cartoons. I enjoyed the one you offer here Joe. I must concur that the only thing that hurt Hokey was his similarity to other HB creations.

As enjoyable for me as all the HB works are, even today, they have always been repetitive with thier creativity.


Joe Torcivia said...


It could be that, once they found something that worked, they stuck with it. Consider just how many times they did the “Lovable Wise Guy Animal Confounds Long-Suffering Human Authority Figure” bit.

Lovable, wise guy animal Yogi Bear confounds long-suffering Ranger Smith.

Lovable, wise guy animal Top Cat confounds long-suffering Officer Dibble.

Lovable, wise guy animal Wally Gator confounds long-suffering Zoo Keeper Mr. Twiddle.

Lovable, wise guy animal Magilla Gorilla confounds long-suffering Mr. Peebles.

Lovable, wise guy animal Breezly Bruin confounds long-suffering Colonel Fuzzby.

There must be some I’ve forgotten… But, we loved it every time!

And, yes… Long Live Hokey and Ding!


ramapith said...

Lovable, wise guy animal Squiddly Diddly confounds long-suffering Chief Winchley.

Lovable, wise guy animal Crazy Claws confounds long-suffering Ranger Rangerfield.

Lovable, wise guy animal Screwball Squirrel confounds long-suffering Park Attendant Dweeble.

Lovability may have been in the eye of the beholder by the 1990s...