Beany and Cecil (1962)
Beany and Cecil had its origins back in the late 1940s, when TV was still in its infancy. Bob Clampett had left Warner Bros. after a prolific stint there as a cartoon director and opened an independent cartoon studio where he had an eight-short subject committment with Republic Pictures (which distributed). He created Charlie Horse, a rube farm animal, but he appeared in the only cartoon Clampett would make (It's A Grand Old Nag) as Republic could not afford the Trucolor process.
Clampett then created a puppet show for Los Angeles TV station KTLA/channel 5 called Time for Beany. It was ostensibly a children's show but its writing and characters attracted adults as well as luminaries as Groucho Marx, Albert Einstein and Frank Zappa.
It revolved around the globe-trotting soldier of fortune Captain Horatio Huffenpuff (voice of Jim MacGeorge), his nephew Beany (voice of Daws Butler, later Walker Edminston) and Beany's pal Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent (voice of Stan Freberg). Their adventures turned into misadventures thanks to their nemesis, Dishonest John (voice of Stan Freberg). It went national and ran a good seven seasons.
In 1959, Clampett created his Snowball Productions cartoon studio, dusted off the Time For Beany characters and turned them into cartoons. The original pilot, "Beany & Cecil Meet Billy The Squid," was screened in Canadian theaters through United Artists. The other changes, besides the medium, were the voices. Cecil's and Dishonest John's voices in the puppet show had been replaced late in the series by Irv Shoemaker, and he reprised those roles here. Beany's voice was now Jim MacGeorge (Huffenpuff's voice). ABC snapped up the cartoon to be a regular prime time series under the title Matty's Funnies With Beany & Cecil (sponsored by Mattel toys, whose mascots were Matty, king of toys, and his panty-flashing sibling Sisterbelle), which replaced Matty's Funday Funnies. The episode "Beanyland" was pre-screened to ABC as the springboard, and the references to Disney made the network a little skittish. ABC had changes made without compromising the show's integrity. (An alternate version of this episode, Park at the Top of the Stars, appears in the second volume of the Beany & Cecil special edition.)
Clampett wrote the outlines of all 26 half hours, each comprising three cartoons, and supervised the storyboards. Like the puppet show, the cartoon was rich in puns (visual and verbal), wordplay, and pop culture references of the time. Some of the characters featured throughout included Little Ace From Outer Space, Beepin' Tom (a little alien who speaks in rebuses), the Wildman of Wildsville, Tearalong The Dotted Lion, Cecilia (Cecil's girlfriend), Baby Ruthy (Beany's girlfriend), the Boo Birds, the Schmoon Goon, Thunderbolt the Wonder Colt (a holdover from Time For Beany), Careless The Mexican Hairless, and more. It was truly a creator-driven cartoon.
It originally aired for six months on ABC prime time. It then found its way to repeats on Saturday morning in the fall of 1962. It ran Sunday mornings from 1963 to 1968, then went syndicated in select markets for eight years. It had popped up more recently on the Cartoon Network anthology series The Bob Clampett Show. DiC Animation would produce a remake of Beany and Cecil for ABC in 1988 under the helm of John Kricfalusi.
|Paul Frees||Various characters||1|
|Scatman Crothers||Wildman Of Wildsville||1|
|Season One||January 6, 1962||June 30, 1962||26|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
|Beany and Cecil, The Special Edition, Vol. 1||October 12, 1999||1|
|Beany and Cecil, The Special Edition, Vol. 2||September 8, 2009||1||purchase|