Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Huck and Yogi Visited Elyria – June 1960

Another topic that I mention on this blog a lot is animated cartoons, especially my favorites as a kid: Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear.

Did you know that Daws Butler, the voice actor behind those two cartoon stars and many more, had relatives in Elyria that he used to visit? And that one of his visits made the pages of the Chronicle-Telegram?

Read all about it in the nice article by Bill Klucas below that appeared in that paper on June 23, 1960 – 56 years ago today. It gets a few things wrong (it mistakenly confuses the meaning of the word ‘animator’ with that of a voice performer) but is still fascinating.

Series Popular With Adults, Too
‘Voice' For Huckleberry Hound
Magnet To Elyria Kids In Visit

“Better than the aver-a-a-a-age type bear!”

The familiar Yogi Bear twang rolls off the lips of Daws Butler, now a resident of Beverly Hills, chief animator of America’s most popular adult cartoon show.

Butler, visiting relatives in Elyria, was entertaining every kid in the neighborhood who could walk or crawl, including one tot in a wheelchair.

A former vaudeville performer, commercial writer, and radio announcer, the Toledo-born star is the voice for Huckleberry Hound, Mr. Jinks and, of course, Yogi Bear.

Butler’s voice is not only familiar to millions as the characters in Huckleberry Hound, but it also entertains the numerous small-fry fans of Quick Draw McGraw, Tom and Jerry and Ruff and Ready.

While working for MGM on the Tom and Jerry cartoon series, producers Bill Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached him with the idea for the Ruff and Ready cartoon show. With the origination of the Huckleberry Hound series, he was hired for the animation.

His job does not stop with the animation of the cartoon, though. He helps edit the script and suggests new story angles to the writers.

Made Hit With Adults
Originally intended as a children’s cartoon series, Huckleberry Hound drew such an adult response that today much of the satire in the series is definitely planned. “It may be poking fun at some government official, popular world figure or just an incident which happened to one of the crew, but it is all in fun,” Butler said.

The 44 year-old father of four believes that Huckleberry and company may stick around for at least five years. “It could last as long as 10 years if fresh material is poured into the series.”

The series appeals to all ages. An island in the Pacific Ocean has been named after Huckleberry, Butler said. Recently the University of Seattle held a Huckleberry Hound Day and tapes of Huckleberry Hound stories were piped over loud speaker throughout the campus.

Children “Sophisticated”
The controversial point of excessive brutality in today’s children shows does not bother Butler. “Children today are more sophisticated. They realize that the characters in Huckleberry Hound are not real.”

The producers always keep a friendly battle going between the characters and despite the fact that Mr. Jinks may hit the two little “Meeses” with a broom, shove them off a cliff or drop them down an eavestrough, when the chips are down the cat will come to their aid. “If you are going to have a ‘heavy’ character in a series, it has to be a humorous type of ruffian.”

Butler’s biggest challenge, in his own opinion, is writing commercials. “It is a real challenge to tell a whole story in 20 seconds.” His commercial work includes the bouncing kangaroo in the Jif Peanut Butter Commercials.

The four Butler boys, David, 16; Donny, 13; Paul, 10; and Charles, 6, all have started in show business already. Charles recently completed the animation for a Disney produced feature, “The Little Fur Tree.”

Butler met his wife, Myrtis while in the Navy during World War II. A former North Carolina resident, Mrs. Butler was working for the special services bureau in Washington, C.C. when the couple met.

The Butler family was staying with Butler’s cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Don Kirkbride, 207 Princeton Ave.

I was hoping to contact Jane Kirkbride, the cute little girl in the photo clutching a Huckleberry Hound doll, but sadly, the longtime Elyria resident passed away in October 2008.

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