Sunday cartoon flashback: Hoppity Hooper

posted at 10:26 am on May 25, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

After Jay Ward gave us Rocky and Bullwinkle, he created a trippy cartoon about a frog, a fox, and a bear called Hoppity Hooper. It almost never airs any more, and for that matter neither does the original Rocky and Bullwinkle,, but Hoppity Hooper had the same satiric and even cynical edge that Ward used in his more successful creation. In this pilot episode, Hoppity meets Uncle Waldo, a con man who eventually convinces Hoppity that he’s his long lost uncle. Fillmore is Waldo’s none-too-bright sidekick, and they find themselves a get-rich-quick scheme …. and a whole lot of trouble:

Cartoon enthusiasts might recognize two voices. The great Hans Conried played Uncle Waldo, while Paul Frees provided the narration, just as he did for Bullwinkle and the holiday cartoon Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

As I recall, Hoppity Hooper‘s plots got more and more unusual, which probably didn’t lend itself to the elementary school set and likely led to its retirement to cartoon oblivion. Even when I was a kid, this played on our local UHF channel rather than the more established TV stations in Los Angeles. For those who remember Hoppity, this YouTube discovery will be a pleasant flashback.

Update: How trippy did it get? Check out this spoof of The Twilight Zone and see for yourself. Frees does his best Rod Serling in this one.

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Never heard of it. Guess I’ll check it out.

thekingtut on May 25, 2008 at 10:39 AM

Wow. On a hunch I checked out YouTube for Deputy Dawg. They have that too–not nearly on the same level, but once you start reliving your childhood…

daledamos on May 25, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Wow – blast from the past. I forgot all about this. Thanks el – capitan.

moc23 on May 25, 2008 at 10:48 AM

Wow. On a hunch I checked out YouTube for Deputy Dawg. They have that too–not nearly on the same level, but once you start reliving your childhood…

daledamos on May 25, 2008 at 10:47 AM

They used to show this program called “The Banana Splits” (some guys dressed as stuffed animals playing in a band, and the opening/ending credits would show them going down those massive slides) anyway, they would show different cartoons such as Hoppity Hooper and Deputy Dog.

Wow, how long ago was that? Back in the late ’70′s?

kiakjones on May 25, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Why is the bear wearing a Confederate uniform?

mpbk on May 25, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Ouch! Memory sleeper cells woken up.

In other entertainment news today, Dick Martin passed away. The world’s a little less funny.

Shy Guy on May 25, 2008 at 10:54 AM

Why is the bear wearing a Confederate uniform?

mpbk on May 25, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Southpaw?

Shy Guy on May 25, 2008 at 10:57 AM

Wow, blast from the past. I loved these cartoons!

Wyznowski on May 25, 2008 at 11:06 AM

Hans Conreid is the voice of the wolf character, and he was the host of the truly craziest and funniest show of that entire early 60′s era, “Fractured Flickers”, which was a voice-over satire of old silent movies.
I still remember ‘Dinky Dunston, Boy Cheerleader’ for Lon Chaney’s 1920′s classic, Hunchback of Notre Dame”. It was insane! When he oured the hot oil on the angry villagers below, he was jumping up and down and yelling “Give me an “N” (for Notre Dame).

Of course, you’re forgetting the 1950′s black and white ur-show for Jay Ward, “Crusader Rabbit”.

Confession: of course, I’m an old fart, and even got to be a member of the Peanut Gallery in the old Howdy-Doody show on a trip to Manhattan when I was 6, since my uncle was the music director.
I had – show-biz connections…

TexasJew on May 25, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Ahhh, the good old days. Saturday morning in front of the tube watchin toons and eating cocoa krispies. Not a care in the world.

scalleywag on May 25, 2008 at 11:21 AM

Course it was tough on us back then, without the remote and all. Hell, we didn’t get COLOR tv till around the time the Flying Nun came out.

scalleywag on May 25, 2008 at 11:24 AM

that sure brings back some memories

jpsc1 on May 25, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Hell, we didn’t get COLOR tv till around the time the Flying Nun came out.

scalleywag on May 25, 2008 at 11:24 AM

And then nuns are black and white and shades of gray anyway.

Shy Guy on May 25, 2008 at 11:28 AM

Ah, the golden age of animation. So long ago…

MadisonConservative on May 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Shy Guy on May 25, 2008 at 11:28 AM

hahaha…I used to watch it religiously.

scalleywag on May 25, 2008 at 11:31 AM

That was pretty good Ed, thanks, I needed a lift.

2theright on May 25, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Uncle Waldo! …stolen recall when name identity was usurped by Where’s Waldo. Great to place credit for recall back to the original genius, Ed!

Jay Ward belongs to beloved Americana entertainment artists and political cartoonists who provided FAMILY time @ TV, parents laughing with children following the wise-up humor in a G rated format before instigated ratings facilitated the “variety” that we’re stuck with today. Besides healthy entertainment, these cartoons stimulated the kids’ thought process involving discrimination between what is right and wrong, and being careful not to get tricked into the grey that becomes black area. Today’s “educational” cartoons stunt the mind into arbitrary socialism, gay rights, and/or cruel violence.

maverick muse on May 25, 2008 at 11:45 AM

Referencing by name recognition, the official White House website has the following on Fillmore, “uninspiring”.

Millard Fillmore

In his rise from a log cabin to wealth and the White House, Millard Fillmore demonstrated that through methodical industry and some competence an uninspiring man could make the American dream come true.

maverick muse on May 25, 2008 at 11:55 AM

Paul Frees was a certified voice genius. He was the voice of Disney’s Ludwig von Drake, as well as Boris Badenov, Inspector Fenwick in “Dudley Do-Right”, Thing in the great Fantastic Four 1967 cartoon series, and even did the voices of George Harrison and John Lennon in the cartoon version of the Beatles. In commericals, he was the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Toucan Sam, and was the Little Green Sprout who talked to the Jolly Green Giant.

Del Dolemonte on May 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM

ED, Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I used to watch this with my son, when he was a wee lad, and I had HAIR…

pueblo1032 on May 25, 2008 at 12:18 PM

The voice of Windrip is none other than Walter Matthau

Beto Ochoa on May 25, 2008 at 12:34 PM

OK, here’s one that just got stuck in the recallable memory slot for the past 30 years, as far as “Hoppity” political humor — They did one Jack in the Beanstalk parody which had the stalk getting cut down while they were still in the clouds, forcing Hoppity to sent a paper airplane message down to Earth to “Plant more beans”. Unfortunately, the message goes off-target, lands in Washington and becomes the basis for the new Congressional Farm Bill.

(Jay Ward and Bill Scott, the series’ producers, were political opposites — Ward was a staunch Republican and Scott a Democrat. But they meshed perfectly, which is why the political satire in the Ward shows like “Hoppity” or “Rocky & Bullwinkle” skewered everyone.)

jon1979 on May 25, 2008 at 1:10 PM

“The Banana Splits” – we had that in Britain in the early 1980s. One banana, two bananas, three bananas, four / four bananas make a bunch, and so do many more. Flippin’ like a pancake, poppin’ like a cork, etc. Neither Hoppity Hopper nor Rocky & Bullwinkle mean anything at all in the UK. Rene Russo, hubba.

Apeking on May 25, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Even when I was a kid, this played on our local UHF channel rather than the more established TV stations in Los Angeles.

If I remember correctly, Hobo Kelly and The Pancake Man had a major battle over the rights. Their ugly actions so offended Jay Ward’s frail sensibilities that he took it to the UHF channels… although I always thought I watched it on KCOP/13… or was it Metromedia/11.

Life is So Grand!©

Shivas Irons on May 25, 2008 at 1:12 PM

OK, so why are you showing this again?

koolbrease on May 25, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Good show, but nothing topped Roger Ramjet for filling kids’ eager brains with adult humor.

Coronagold on May 25, 2008 at 1:25 PM

Wow…definetly “trippy”. I’ve never heard of this one before.

Although not a cartoon, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse was perhaps the trippiest Saturday morning fare for me.

JetBoy on May 25, 2008 at 1:59 PM

It almost never airs any more, and for that matter neither does the original Rocky and Bullwinkle,, but Hoppity Hooper had the same satiric and even cynical edge that Ward used in his more successful creation

Well, never heard of Hoppity Hooper, however I watch Rocky & Bullwinkle daily on Teletoon Retro. Canada wins AGAIN.

Krydor on May 25, 2008 at 2:14 PM

The narrator on Rocky and Bullwinkle was William Conrad.

JazzBass on May 25, 2008 at 2:33 PM

Always liked Rocky & Bullwinkle and it’s Jay Ward predecessor, ‘Crusader Rabbit’.

The great thing about Rocky & Bullwinkle is that it made drawn for kids and written for adults! A tradition carried on with ‘Animaniacs’ and ‘Pinky & The Brain’.

‘Hoppity Hooper’ was quite good. Very much like R&B with William Conrad (Radio’s ‘Matt Dillon’) doing the voice-over introductions.

Jack.

Jack Deth on May 25, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Wow…definetly “trippy”. I’ve never heard of this one before.
Although not a cartoon, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse was perhaps the trippiest Saturday morning fare for me.

JetBoy on May 25, 2008 at 1:59 PM

Then I suspect you never watched Lidsville!

Hades69 on May 25, 2008 at 2:53 PM

Canadian cartoons Rocky and Bullwinkle and Hoppity Hooper were the best evah!

Next to Ren and Stimpy. And Jazzy Man….. Jazzy

Kini on May 25, 2008 at 3:01 PM

The great thing about Rocky & Bullwinkle is that it made drawn for kids and written for adults!

Jack Deth

A similar sentiment was expressed by veteran Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones, who said they made Looney Toons for themselves, not for the kiddies.

Speaking of the passing of Dick Martin and the Banans Splits, said show was based on Laugh-In.

Del Dolemonte on May 25, 2008 at 3:05 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EICOsZ889M

Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-A-Long 01 Atchison Topeka & Sam Jose

(I just did a search for “Ricochet Rabbit” on YouTube i remember this one when I was a kid.. )

Chakra Hammer on May 25, 2008 at 3:20 PM

That Ricochet Rabbit was originally released in 1964(before I was even born..)

:)

Chakra Hammer on May 25, 2008 at 3:24 PM

I have one for you guys……… I pray one of you remembers this so I don’t feel so damn old. As atime filler between Sesame Street and a bunch of their other kids shows ABC used to show videos and short cartoons like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sn1UqbbbqQ Extra Points if you can name the Heavy Metal Legend on vocals for this song, it came out in 1974 and was featured on ABC in the late 70s and early 80′s.

Joey1974 on May 25, 2008 at 4:29 PM

Extra Points if you can name the Heavy Metal Legend on vocals for this song, it came out in 1974 and was featured on ABC in the late 70s and early 80’s.

Joey1974 on May 25, 2008 at 4:29 PM

I was born in ’74 I shouldn’t use that as an excuse for not knowing but i will..

:}

Chakra Hammer on May 25, 2008 at 4:57 PM

Fillmore has to be the worst bugler since Private Dobbs of F-Troop. I remember Waldo, after hearing enough of Fillmore’s bugling, would say, “Turn it off, Fillmore!”

Bigfoot on May 25, 2008 at 5:11 PM

Thats Ronnie James dio on vocals from Roger Glover’s(deep purple) cocept albim /rock opera butterfly ball

Joey1974 on May 25, 2008 at 5:25 PM

Thanks, Ed; these are pretty cool.

WasatchMan on May 25, 2008 at 5:44 PM

The voice of Fleegle on the Banana Splits was also the voice of Tigger, Gargamel and Dick Dastardly.

SnarkVader on May 25, 2008 at 6:20 PM

I remember watching these as a kid on Saturday mornings. Love that jazzy Hoppity Hooper opening!

JimC on May 25, 2008 at 10:19 PM

OHMIGOSH Cap….what memories you have stirred. I used to watch this and Rocky & Bullwinkle on “Bozo’s Circus” on WGN in Chicago! Now I wonder if YouTube has Garfield Goose and Friends?????

LL

Lady Logician on May 25, 2008 at 10:26 PM

Paul Frees was also famous for providing the voice of the “Ghost Host” at the Haunted mansion attraction in both Disneyland and Disney World.

Some people thought that the “Ghost Host” voice was that of Orson Wells which it was not. Paul Frees enjoyed imitating Orson Wells for fun however.

Captain Weenie on May 26, 2008 at 1:09 AM

I saw Jay Ward cartoons like Rocky & Bullwinkle when I was a kid. It’s tragic that Hanna-Barbera, by sharp contrast, produced a lot of crud that led to the dumbing-down of many cartoons produced in following years; theirs were some of the dumbest (Flintstones, Jetsons, Scooby-Doo, and especially the one based on the Smurfs: it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that Pierre Culliford/Peyo used a subtle Marxist theme when he first created those overrated “elves” in 1958, and the cartoon wasn’t all that different).

That’s the problem many entertainment venues in the US today suffer from: they undergo considerable political correctness, and end up being dumbed down after awhile. TV animation is no exception. It’s a shame thus, that if Jay Ward’s creations were to be produced again today, they’d probably be so watered down from the original concept and approach, you’d never be able to really appreciate them.

On a related note, I’ve recently been trying to take a look at Japanimation online, whether on Youtube or other video hosts. Like Jay Ward’s products, some of them have a lot more brains than the average Hanna-Barbera production too. I think Sandy Frank Entertainment missed a big chance to try and start up a better following for anime among grownups when they gratuitously edited Kyodu Ninja Tai Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets) to make it more kiddie fare when they bought the rights to broadcast it on American TV in 1978. I know that later on, they actually did restore some of the material they’d first edited out, but even so, I think a chance may have been missed to make animation more mainstream even among adults.

Avi Green on May 26, 2008 at 6:28 AM

Wow, how long ago was that? Back in the late ’70’s?

kiakjones on May 25, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Callow youth! I recall watching Howdy Doody (live) and remember the excitement I felt when I found out that Walt Disney was going to produce a show called “Mickey Mouse Club.” Also watched the first “Wonderful World of Disney” show.

Now I’m going to go put in my hearing aids and take about 47 pills so I can get to the couch for my nap.

Longhorn Six on May 26, 2008 at 9:37 AM

The regular networks never knew what to do with Hoppity Hooper or Bullwinkle or the earlier Crusader Rabbit because they looked like cartoons, but they were really for adults.

I always thought that my kids enjoyed them, but not nearly as much as I did: I’d often be laughing out loud at something the kids didn’t understand.

I sure wish some TV network these days could air something half as original and entertaining as these shows.

landlines on May 26, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Callow youth! I recall watching Howdy Doody (live) and remember the excitement I felt when I found out that Walt Disney was going to produce a show called “Mickey Mouse Club.” Also watched the first “Wonderful World of Disney” show.

Now I’m going to go put in my hearing aids and take about 47 pills so I can get to the couch for my nap.

Longhorn Six on May 26, 2008 at 9:37 AM

Ditto!!! All kids in the neighborhood flocked to the only house which had a TV to watch Howdy Doody right before dinner.

The TV was a (naturally black and white: this was the early 1950′s) model with a magnifying glass attachment hung in front of the tiny screen so (if you didn’t sit too far to the side) you could see the picture details from several feet away.

The transition from vacuum tubes to transistors to the beginning of integrated circuits happened during the years I went to college. I ended up in computers, and currently run my own company selling business software over the Internet. Talk about Twilight Zone!!! We lived it!

(got through my whole “memory lane” rant without using the word “whippersnapper”, too…)

landlines on May 26, 2008 at 11:06 AM

Great stuff…brings back memories.

UHF in LA … mother’s milk of my childhood.

sulla on May 26, 2008 at 2:00 PM

kiakjones on May 25, 2008 at 10:51 AM

FYI: The Banana Splits now airs on Boomer at Noon, (?) and 12:30pm ET weekdays (I think – double-check that). I DVR it just for the nostalgia. My husband never saw the show, (they didn’t air it in the Midwest apparently,) so I DVR’d it for him so he could get some of my pop culture references which seem weird to him.

foxforce91 on May 26, 2008 at 4:12 PM

Didja notice that the Mayor’s delivery – on the phone to Washington – is a dead-on homage to Bob Newhart?

Paul_in_NJ on May 28, 2008 at 10:12 PM