Can you imagine being a kid 100 years ago, when there were no cartoons? Even as an adult, I love watching them. I have kids now, and it’s so much fun to watch the same silly cartoons I watched, and hear their laughter.
Unlike today, when kids can watch cartoons 24/7, I had to wait until Saturday morning to get my animated fill. I even set my alarm so I wouldn’t miss them. The biggest cartoon studio was Hanna-Barbera, who had a string of hits in the 60s and 70s, with titles like Josie and the Pussycats (I loved Melody and her goofy giggle. I think she was my first crush.) and Jonny Quest, which had a suspenseful “James Bond” edge that no other (at that time) cartoon had. Hong Kong Phooey, Speed Buggy and Jabberjaw were just plain weird. A crime fighting karate dog (voiced by Scatman Crothers), stuttering cars and talking sharks put a smile on my face just thinking about them. And I haven’t even gotten to their most popular cartoons!
Who doesn’t love Yogi, Boo Boo, Ranger Smith and Cindy Bear? Yogi and Boo Boo steal the show (no pun intended). Their escapades through Jellystone Park were always fun to watch. Almost makes you want to pack a pic-a-nic basket and head for the woods. Well, almost. This was one of Hanna-Barbera’s first cartoon hits. Yogi was originally a character on The Huckleberry Hound Show, but became so popular that he got his own show. It only ran for two years in 1961-1962, but that is all it took for this clever bear to cement his name in the cartoon world. Fun fact: Yogi Bear was modeled after Art Carney’s Ed Norton character on The Honeymooners.
This cartoon originally aired on Sunday nights in 1962 and 1963, before moving to Saturday mornings for years of re-runs. Set in the year 2062, The Jetsons follows George Jetson and his space-age family (His boy Elroy. Daughter Judy. Jane his wife.) And don’t forget Astro the dog, whose speech patterns may have been an inspiration for Scooby Doo’s. Other characters frequently seen are Rosie their robot maid and Mr. Spacely, George’s bad-tempered boss (voiced by the famous Mel Blanc.) I enjoyed watching the intro for this cartoon more than the show itself. A lost art, these jingles were great. If I say “Meet George Jetson,” can you say it without singing it?
Like The Jetsons, The Flintstones was also a prime time cartoon, until its years of syndication (which continue today.) In fact, The Flintstones was the first prime time TV cartoon. It aired on ABC from 1960 to 1966. Like The Jetsons, The Flintstones were styled after the popular Honeymooners TV show. Set in the town of Bedrock, a caveman world blended with futuristic inventions (a camera whose insides are a bird etching the picture on a stone tablet, or a woolly mammoth being used as a vacuum cleaner.) Its main characters were Fred Flintstone, his wife Wilma, his best buddy Barney Rubble and Barney’s wife Betty. Fred and Wilma had Pebbles, a baby girl, during the show, and Barney and Betty adopted a son, Bamm-Bamm. And we can’t forget Dino, Fred’s pet dinosaur. Many famous celebrities allowed their likenesses and voices in the series, including Gary Granite (Cary Grant), Rock Quarry/Hudstone (Rock Hudson), Alvin Brickrock (Alfred Hitchcock), Leonard Bernstone (Leonard Bernstein), Clark Gravel (Clark Gable), Walter Concrete (Walter Cronkite) and Jay Bondrock (James Bond). The first two years, the show was co-sponsored by Winston Cigarettes. Fred and Wilma appeared in several black and white television commercials (appearing at the end of the episode) pitching the cigarettes as they smoked. Naughty, naughty! Can you image Homer and Marge doing that?
A combination of great characters (Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne and Velma), cool music and fun storylines made Scooby Doo an instant hit with kids and adults. First shown on CBS in 1969, over 250 episodes and movies have been made since, and continue even now. Through the years, voices and animation styles have changed. The recent films are long removed from the original storylines. I would love to see a movie done more true to the original Scooby Doo, Where Are You? series. The show also added and subtracted new characters like Scooby-Dum and Scrappy Doo (both of which were annoying to me.) I believe when people think fondly of the show, they think of the first 49 episodes, which ran between 1969 and 1973. The mysteries were a little darker and funnier (I know there is not such a word.). Scooby and Shaggy stole the show, and any food they could find along the way. Their interactions were priceless. Somehow these two chickens were always in the middle of solving the mysteries that constantly found the gang. Words and phrases like zoinks, jinkies, I smell a mystery and I’ve lost my glasses, all make us smile and think fondly about this cartoon. Interesting fact about this program; two of the voice actors have continued their roles throughout the series and all its changes. Frank Welker has been the constant voice of Fred Jones, except for the films (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and the A Pup Named Scooby-Doo series. That’s 40 years of Freddie. The voice of Shaggy has mainly been Casey Kasem (founder of American Top 40) since day one. The voice of Scooby was Don Messick until his death in 1997; nearly 30 years. Mr. Messick also voiced other notable Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, Ranger Smith and Boo Boo Bear, Muttley, Bamm-Bamm Rubble, Astro, Dr. Benton Quest, and Papa Smurf. Scooby, Scooby Doo!
Check out these fun Hanna-Barbera Halloween Costumes from SpookShop.com