In the Center Ring (Part 18)

We continue with the early circus history of Hanna-Barbera studios, and its classic roster of “funny animal” characters, mostly during the early 1960’s. Central focus today is on elements of The Quick Draw McGraw Show, plus visits from the later installments of Snagglepuss and Loopy De Loop.

Beginning with Western sheriff Quick Draw McGraw, we open with Bronco Bustin’ Boobs (2/8/60). This is perhaps a cheat for inclusion on this trail, as the tent show featured is Mild Bill’s Wild West Show rather than a nominal circus – but we’ve had one Wild West Show in Warner Brothers’ A Horse Fly Fleas, and another was suggested for inclusion by a blogger on a later post. Plus, the plot of this episode makes an interesting comparison against Ruff abd Reddy’s “Scary Tale on a Canyon Trail”, previously reviewed. Quick Draw is called in by Mild Bill (a Milquetoast-voiced midget version of Buffalo Bill Cody) to assist in obtaining for him a new star attraction for the show. Quick Draw assumes Bill wants him to assume the role of star performer himself, and ad-libs an audition, performing bird calls, then flipping his revolver up into the air and catching it in his holster (where it fires off, charring Quick Draw’s foot). But Mild Bill is after a bigger, smaller attraction – one of those rare midget horses of the kins encountered by Ruff and Reddy (located in the same location as in the prior episode – Little Horse Canyon). The subject horse, the only occupant of the canyon, is easily located by Quick Draw from his jeep. As Baba takes the wheel, Quick Draw braces his feet in the back seat, and tosses a lasso over the horse’s neck. He tells Baba to slam on the brakes, but as the wheels stop, Quick Draw and the entire vehicle body separate from the chassis, and keep right on traveling with the horse – until they collide headfirst with a rock. Quick Draw takes off after the midget stallion on foot, takes a flying leap, and plops his ten gallon hat over the horse. Quick Draw places the hat on his head – a mistake, as the tapping hoofs of the horse inside give Quick Draw a terrific headache. The horse takes off with Quick Draw’s hat, but Quick Draw catches up again, pouncing on the hat brim, then removing the hat to jump onto the little horse’s back, intent on bronco busting the stallion. Quick Draw does pretty well, staying upon the horse’s back, and performing tricks like balancing upon one hand bareback – until the horse pulls the same stunt as Pee Wee in Ruff and Reddy, ducking into a small cave, and plowing Quick Draw into the stone canyon wall above.

Quick Draw calls in reinforcements – in the form of his “trusty”” bloodhound Snuffles. The one-track-mind hound, who will do anything for a dog biscuit (particularly Gro-Pup T-Bone Dog Biscuits, an actual product produced by – who else – Kellogg’s, in the only product placement which intruded into the footage of the actual featured cartoons), is offered a dog biscuit, responding to its flavor in his usual trademark moans of ecstasy, self-embraces, leap into the air, then float back to the ground in slow motion like a feather with a sign of “Ahhhhh”. Snuffles is promised a second dog biscuit if he retrieves the horse. Inside of a few moments Snuffles has disappeared into the rocky tunnel, reappearing carrying the wild horse. Quick Draw directs Baba to give Snuffles another biscuit, but Baba informs him that they only brought one biscuit, and left the box at home. Growling at the thought he has been double-crossed, Snuffles grabs back the horse, stuffing him deep into the canyon cave. Quick Draw strikes a deal, promising Snuffles the whole box when they return to town, in return for the horse. Sniffles agrees, and quickly has the horse in hand again. The scene fades in on the evening’s performance of the Wild West Show, with Quick Draw, Baba, and Snuffles in the grandstand. Mild Bill emerges into the arena, riding the midget horse. Snuffles taps Quick Draw on the shoulder, reminding him of the promised reward. Quick Draw hands the box of dog biscuits to Snuffles, who reaches his paw inside – only to find the box is completely empty. Another double-cross is more than Snuffles can stand, and he appears in the arena, yanking the horse out from under Mild Bill, and disappearing with him for parts unknown. In the tradition that the show must go on, Quick Daw proposes a solution. Within a few minutes, Mild Bill appears to have his midget mount again, riding at full gallop around the arena. Quick Draw prepares to take his leave, but he and Mild Bill secretly converse, Mild Bill wishing Quick Draw luck in locating the missing stallion. So who is Wild Bill riding? Baba Looey, in a midget horse suit, stuck with the role until the real midget horse is returned – and wishing Quick Draw will return in a hurry, as Baba is already pooped. (H-B was not above frequent recycling of endings, as this identical fake-horse gag would also appear in the setting of rodeos in Snooper and Blabber’s “Bronco Bluster”, and Loopy De Loop’s “Horse Shoo”.)

Elephant Boy Oh Boy (2/22/60) finds the lawless lifestyle of the old West interrupted by the arrival of the circus (or, as referred to here, the “traveling show”). Hold-up men drop bank loot on the teller’s window and vanish toward the circus grounds, and even the teller exits, leaving the money unattended and in plain sight. Two gunslingers appear to gun each other down in cold blood, but when the call of the traveling show’s arrival echoes in their ears, they instantly revive, rising from the ground to vamoose to the performance. Even Quick Draw and Baba Looey take a well-needed rest from their lawman duties for a day of frivolity. Baba Looey suggests Quick Draw try his famous draw at the shooting gallery booth. Rather than use one of the provided rifles, Quick Draw whips out his own trusty six-shooter, giving it a fancy spin around his trigger finger (make that hoof). As the gun spins to a stop, it systematically falls apart, barrel dropping, cylinder falling out, and handle dismantling. Quick Draw presumes that his fast draw “unwound” the weapon. Baba suggests dart throwing instead. Assured that his sharpshooter aim will win a doll for sure, Quick Draw launches three darts – right into the bulb-nose of the booth’s proprietor. “Look, friend. If I give ya a doll, will you go away?”, the man asks.

Quick Draw ignores a sign reading “Don’t Feed the Animals”, and offers an elephant a peanut. He soon discovers why the elephant is named “Ol’ Vacuum”, as the beast’s truck sucks away not only the offered peanut, but the remainder of the peanuts in Quick Draw’s bag, and the bag too. Then, Quick Draw himself is suctioned over to the elephant, who gives him an affectionate smooch with his trunk serving as lips. Baba and Quick Draw finally leave the circus, walking across the prairie, and Quick Draw wonders if the old tales are true about an elephant never forgetting a favor. The answer to his question arrives with a loud trumpet fanfare from a huge gray trunk. Ol’ Vacuum has escaped from the show, and is approaching to meet Quick Draw at full gallop. “Hold on, thar”, yells Quick Draw, causing Vacuum to slam on the brakes, but too late. The elephant slides into Quick Draw, compressing his extended arm until it looks “all curly-qued”, as Quick Draw puts it. Vacuum grabs hold of Quick Draw’s wrist with his trunk, tugging until the arm becomes straight again, with a wrenching sound. “Oooh, that smarts”, utters Quick Draw. Our hero orders the elephant to “Git” back to the show, but soon Vacuum is following Quick Draw once again, miraculously ducking behind cactus less than a quarter of his width for cover. Vacuum finally plants another kiss on Quick Draw, then sits up on his hind legs and begs like a dog. Quick Draw takes advantage of the situation, commanding Vacuum to roll over and play dead, while he and Baba attempt a speedy getaway. Quick Draw attempts to cross a chasm, across which a single taut rope is suspended. The elephant tries his hand – er, feet – at tightrope walking, too, and we get a variant on the Junyer Bear routine from “Bear Feat”, as the rope stretches to place both Quick Draw and Vacuum on the canyon floor. This time, Quick Draw gets the idea that if he steps off the rope, Vacuum will be launched for a trip into outer space. He does so, and Vacuum shoots into the sky, disappearing from sight. But not for long, as, a few seconds later, Vacuum makes re-entry. Baba, standing with Quick Draw in the canyon below, decides to bid a quick, fond “Adios”, and runs for it. Quick Draw decides to join him, but is too late to avoid the blow of Vacuum’s landing atop him. As Vacuum rises, Quick Draw is observable as a wafer-thin image plastered to Vacuum’s belly, and directs Baba, “Don’t just stand there – peel me off.” The film ends with Quick Draw resigned to his fate, which is “bigger than both of us”, as he saddles up Vacuum as his new steed to ride on heroically, off into the sunset, for the iris out.

Second element of The Quick Draw McGraw Show, saluting the detective show genre, was Snooper (usually referred to as “Super Snooper”) and Blabber, a cat and mouse pair of private eyes. As was also the case for Augie Doggie, prolific Michael Maltese wrote the scripts for the entire series. While Snooper was known as the world’s greatest private eye, and always demanded “phenomenal nominal fees”, his fortunes seem to have risen and fallen in the course of the series. At first, he could afford sporty-looking prowl cars (often disposable after frequent crashes), helicopters, and occasional other snooping paraphernalia, plus acquire an office girl named Hazel, heard on radio calls but never seen (a tribute to the unseen Mary Tyler Moore in “Richard Diamond, Private Eye”). In later episodes, the finance company would repossess most of such items (reducing him in one episode to traveling to the scene of crime by tandem bicycle), and Snoop and Blab would finish out their career during an undercover investigation in prison, with a real sentence to last 20 years (though their later cameo appearances in “Yogi’s Treasure Hunt” and “Super Secret Secret Squirrel” would suggest their sentence was commuted for good behavior).

A whopping four episodes of the series dealt with circuses of one kind or another. Maltese had a passion for scripts dealing with fleas (beginning with his scripts for Walter Lantz on Flea For Two and for Chuck Jones on To Itch His Own), and would include several such stories in Snooper’s arsenal, two of which fit our circus theme. The Flea and Me (11/3/59), finds our private eyes answering a distress call from a flea circus manager (Karl Von Scratchem Back), who reports that his star performer Rudolf has flown the coop. Rudolf is depicted on a poster as a needle-nosed bug wearing a formal top hat and tuxedo. Offered $5,000 for return of the flea, Snooper promises results “if we have to shave every dog in town.” First logical stop – the city dog pound. But all the dogs are scratching, so how to pick out Rudolf? Easy for Snooper, who shouts out an introduction for the performing flea like a ringmaster. Rudolf can’t resist revealing himself on the nose of one of the dogs to take a bow before his public – then, realizing he’s blown his cover, Rudolf high-tails it out the back door. In the park, Rudolf jumps upon a policeman, and hides out in his hat. After a few feeble attempts to explain to the officer their mission, Snooper orders an attack on the hat, and the two detectives jump the officer. When the hat proves empty, they remove from the cop everything else, leaving him shivering in his underwear behind a bush. But Rudolf is on the move again.

Snoop and Blab follow him to the zoo. There, Rudolf disappears into the fur of a monkey in a cage. The cat and mouse enter with a hair clipper and strip the monkey bare – but Rudolf is one leap ahead of them, and already heading for another cage – this time the lion. Snooper orders Blab to sneak inside the cage while the lion’s asleep and retrieve Rudolf. Without question or hesitation, Blabber follows orders, leaving even Snooper perplexed. “Fantastical. He does everything I say!” But Blabber gets trapped in the grip of one of the sleepy lion’s paws. At Snoop’s suggestion, Blabber sings the lion “Rock a Bye Baby”, in the most off-key fashion imaginable. As the lion dozes off, Snooper grabs Blabber’s hand and tries to pull him out. But the lion’s hold is so strong that Snooper is instead pulled into the cage by Blabber’s arm, as if it were a rubber band snapping back to original shape. Now both held in the lion’s paws, the only thing left to do is for Blabber to keep singing – all night – so that the lion doesn’t get any culinary ideas. Blabber nears exhaustion, but Snooper’s orders and the lion’s growls prompt him to keep singing. (Shades of “The Legend of Rockabye Point”.) Rudolf ends the film in the lion’s fur, putting on a pair of earmuffs so he can sleep through Blabber’s awful singing.

Not So Dummy (11/14/59) – Snooper (who answers the phone by not only advising of his detective status, but adding “We also make keys and restring tennis racquets”) is called to Gooney Island amusement park (another location that seems to double as a circus and sideshow) to investigate a case of “absconding with the funds” (which Snooper has to have the caller translate into plain English as “made off with the dough”). As our heroes pass through the park to reach the owner’s office, Blabber is distracted by the performance of Ventro the Ventriloquist in the side show. Ventro’s dummy, much in the tradition of Charlie McCarthy, asks Blabber “Were you in a fight, or is that your real face?” Blab cracks up, telling Snooper the dummy is a scream. Snooper replies, “I don’t wanna see no dummy. I got one for an assistant.” The park manager informs Snooper that money began disappearing from the park funds shortly after Ventro was hired, making the ventriloquist prime suspect. In hard-boiled private-eye fashion, Snooper begins investigation by kicking in the door of Ventro’s dressing room for a look-see around. Ventro is nowhere in sight, but the dummy is seated motionless upon a large trunk. Blabber is still cracking up about the dummy’s punch line, and repeats it to the dummy, while Snooper investigates further, opening a closet door. To their shock, standing inside the closet, motionless, is Ventro, who topples forward, landing face-first upon the floor. Blabber tries to ask if Ventro is dead, but can’t complete the sentence, merely fainting away from the shock. But Snooper, on closer examination of the “corpse”, makes a more-shocking discovery. Ventro himself is merely a dummy. “How can one dummy make another dummy talk?”, ponders Blab. Suddenly, Blabber finds a pistol pointed in his face. “When one of ‘em is Baby-Pants Binky!”, smiles the “dummy” – a live midget.

Baby Pants, still armed, attempts to make a getaway. Snooper pursues him to a tent, into which Baby Pants enters under the canvas. Snooper peers in through a hole in the canvas side. He hollers to Baby Pants that he hasn’t a chance and that he better play ball. “I’ll be glad to, pal”, says Baby Pants on the other side, in an arcade tent where baseballs are piled high to hit the “dodger” for a quarter. Snooper takes about two-dozen direct hits in rapid-fire succession, then comments to the camera that Baby Pants would be great in the Little League. Baby Pants leaps onto the roller coaster. Snooper follows in a second car. Baby Pants fires shots at Snooper, but Snooper stands tall on the front seat of his car, stating that, in detective fashion, he has to show Baby Pants how ridiculously brave he is. At the pinnacle of one of the coaster’s peaks, a wooden sign is erected over the track, which Snooper peers to read – “Please Remain Seated.” Snooper’s face crashes into the sign as his car passes through, and he is knocked off the coaster, into a free-fall toward the ground. “What a place to put a sign”, remarks Snooper. Below, the high-diving act of the Great Div-o is under way, the performer readying himself to jump off a platform, as Snooper whizzes right past him. Maltese remembers his Warner Brothers days, and the early high-diving gag of Elmer Fudd in “Stage Door Cartoon”, as Snooper approaches the intended target of Div-o’s act – an ordinary glass of water. Snooper plunges in, compactly packed into the confines of the drinking receptacle. “Leave us face it. I’m in a glass by myself”, moans Snooper. Meanwhile, Baby Pants returns to the dressing room to retrieve the stolen loot and scoot. He reacts to the view inside in total shock. Standing, and aiming a pistol at him, is none other than his dummy, Ventro! And talking, too! Entirely spooked, Baby Pants runs for the safety of police protection, hollering that he gives himself up. Back inside the dressing rom, the head of Ventro is removed, revealing Blabber inside the dummy, having saved the day with some quick thinking. Suddenly, another call for help draws Blab’s attention. He discovers Snooper, still inside the water glass. “You look terrible”, observes Blab, and asks, “Can I get you a glass of water or something?” All Snooper can say is for Blabber to “Dry up and get me outta here.”

Laughing Guess (2/6/60) would be a landmark in H-B history, introducing a new character who, despite only one appearance, would be remembered in 1963 to become a co-star of a series of his own – the un-laughing hyena, Hardy Har Har. In an unlikely assignment, Snooper and Blab are called to the Bringling Bruzz Circus, not to investigate a crime, but to see if they (for a fee of $10,000) can make Hardy, the circus’s new star attraction, laugh for tonight’s performance. Hardy, who never laughs, spends his time moping in his cage, moaning repeatedly, “Oh, dear. Oh my” (catch phrases he might have picked up from Zasu Pitts). No explanation is provided as to how Hardy got this way (Snooper refers to him as a “nonconformist”), nor as to why or how the circus acquired him in the first place, or gave him top billing – don’t they believe in inspecting the merchandise before purchasing? Snoop and Blab thus resort to various methods of attempting to induce giggles. They appear in vaudevillian outfits, with Blab instructed to “yukk it up” in reaction to the punch lines while Snooper tells the jokes. Regrettably, Blab can’t tell the punch lines from the straight ones, and breaks up with uncontrollable laughter when Snooper is only on the line, “Have you heard the one about the teacher?” The act abruptly ends with Snooper delivering a whack to Blab’s head with a cane. Next, a feather applied to Hardy’s foot by Blabber. Not so much as a sign of a tickle, as Hardy continues to moan without missing a beat. Unsure if the poor quality of feather is to blame, Blabber tickles Snoop’s foot. The slightest touch sends Snooper into a reactive jump, causing him to smack his head on the cross-beam of a telephone pole above. (In a clever aside, Blab begins to apologize, but Snooper interrupts: “Yeah, I know. ‘I’m sorry, Snoop.’ That’s all you ever say.” Blab replies, “I know. Gosh, I’m sorry I always say ‘I’m sorry, Snoop’.”)

On the theory that laughing is contagious, Snooper starts things off outside Hardy’s cage, uproariously laughing for no reason. Blab joins in. In reaction, Hardy inexplicably breaks down into tears and wails. Blabber does the same, claiming that crying is contagious too. Snooper insists that that’s ridiculous, but winds up sobbing the blues too. Things get desperate, as our detecting duo approach Hardy’s cage, encased inside a puppet theatre booth, to perform in costume a Punch and Judy show. Hardy’s moans reach a new level, his dialogue changing to “Holy mackerel! Oh, no, no. Oh, wow!” Having had enough, Hardy simply slips through the bars of his cage, attempting to walk out on the whole affair. Snooper pursues him with a joke book, guaranteeing it contains laughs galore he hasn’t even tried yet. In his haste, Snooper slips on a stray misplaced banana peel on the ground, falling flat on his face. The ends of Hardy’s lips begin an upwards curl, and before he knows it, Hardy breaks into hysterical laughter at the sight. But soon, he is his old moping self again. To earn the $10,000, Snooper is thus forced to repeat the same fall before the audience in the big top that evening, delivering big-time laughter from both Hardy and the crowd for the fade out. (Maltese was obviously remembering his Warner days, reworking the similar ending to Daffy Duck’s “Daffy Dilly”, where a millionaire is induced into laughter by Daffy accidentally taking a pie in the face, with Daffy reduced to repeating the stunt indefinitely to keep the millionaire happy. “It’s a living.”)

Flea For All (2/27/61) marks the final appearance of Toot Sweet (a French-accented flea who was deputized by Snooper in “Poodle Toodle-oo” and assisted in two of Snooper’s earlier cases. The crime this time is a jewel heist from Spiffany’s jewelers – where priceless diamonds take off by themselves with no visible bandit. In reality, they are being carried by fleas, trained for thievery by the proprietor of a local flea circus. Snooper and Blabber manage to follow the last diamond to his theatre, but are chased away in a hail of bullets. Snooper realizes this is a case for their old pal, Toot Sweet.

Next day, an Airmail letter arrives from France. Inside, Toot Sweet in the flesh. Snooper and Sweet devise a plan for the flea to audition for the flea circus and infiltrate its ranks. At the evening performance, Toot Sweet is announced to perform his reenactment of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Toot charges, leading on his troops – which consist of the other fleas, carrying the stolen diamonds. They make a getaway onto the back of a waiting shaggy dog outside. Snooper, dressed as a little old lady in the audience, attempts to make the arrest, but is ultimately saved in a game of who has the drop on whom by a pistol-packing Toot Sweet, returning from the dog taxi. As the case closes, Snooper and Blab bid a fond farewell to Toot Sweet, who mounts a miniature set of stairs as if about to board a plane – but they lead instead to an air-mail window envelope for which Snooper has graciously provided the stamps, and deposits in the mailbox. Blabber compliments Snooper’s generosity to the audience, pointing out that nothing’s too good for his friends.

Snagglepuss, the stage-struck lion with voice impersonating Bert Lahr, was for several years a recurring guest character in other H-B series, including Quick Draw McGraw, Snooper and Blabber, and Augie Doggie. He appeared in various designs and colors, and for a while the writers couldn’t make up their mind whether to call him Snagglepuss or Snaggletooth (including in one Snooper and Blabber episode set at a county fair, where he impersonates his own evil twin brother, using both names alternatively). The flippant feline finally acquired star billing when “The Yogi Bear Show” was spun-off from Huckleberry Hound, requiring the addition of two new series to round out the half-hour. (The second new series of the Yogi show was also given to another frequent recurring guest character – Yakky Doodle, who had previously appeared under differing names or no name at all in Yogi Bear, Augie Doggie, and Snooper and Blabber cartoons, and even had roots back to the days of Tom and Jerry as Little Quacker.) Surprisingly, Snagglepuss never seems to have been featured in a formal lion act for a circus (perhaps his lack of a mane, having been originally designed as a mountain lion, didn’t give him the look for “king of the beasts” material, though it never stopped Major Minor from hunting him like he was prey from the African veldt). Instead, if Snag was found behind bars, it was typically at a zoo. His only adventure under a big top was nominally at a carnival which seems to double as a circus, in Fight Fright (10/7/61). The film opens at another of those booths where customers are sold three baseballs to hit somebody with his head sticking through a hole in the canvas at the far end of the tent. Today, that someone whose head is target-for-tonight is Snagglepuss, who has been looking for any work to make ends meet. He has no idea what to expect, as he hears the booth’s proprietor calling for people to take three shots to “tame the lion’. A ball colliding squarely with Snag’s nose gives him the picture in a hurry. Snag decides this is the wrong type of employment for one of his caliber – a job where he is certain not to last until his 20-year retirement party and commemorative gold watch. He thus makes a hasty exit, looking around the grounds to see if there is some other more desirable position available.

Nearby, in a crowded main tent, a packed audience is booing for their money back, as the feature attraction, a championship fight between a human and a boxing kangaroo named K.O. Kangy, is on the verge of cancellation, due to the human champ running out on the bout. The proprietor/referee keeps the crowd pacified, by announcing he has found a substitute who is not afraid to face Kangy. He then exits the tent hastily, having in fact lined up no one, and searching desperately for a suitable substitute. Enter Snagglepuss stage left, announcing his seeking of a job. “I’m financially embarrassed – mortified, even”, states Snag. “How are you on boxing?”, asks the man. “Boxing what? Oranges? Kumquats?”, responds Snag. The man explains that Snag must fight “an Australian mouse”, which come pretty big (shades of Warner Brothers – Michael Maltese having again written the script), and offers $10 for the bout. Snagglepuss accepts – after all, how big can a mouse be? Besides, he insists he won’t chicken out. “I’m a lion. There are no feathers on me.”

Snagglepuss enters the ring, instantly getting knotted up in the railing topes (assuring the audience that the boxing commission shall hear of this). He lays eyes on his opponent with the expected shock – “This is a mouse?” Another old Warner routine is revisited from To Duck or Not To Duck, as the fighters receive instructions on the rules from the referee. Kangy (who again talks only in alien-style wobble-gobbles provided by Don Messick) pantomimes and demonstrates inquiries as to whether certain moves are permissible, by pinching Snag’s nose, then stomping on him until Snag is only visible from the neck up on a hole in the ring floor. Of course, these moves are deemed no-no’s by the referee – “Not cricket, you know.” Snagglepuss remarks from the hole that now he knows why Australia is referred to as “down under”. As the referee sends the fighters to their corners, Snag wonders if $10 will be enough for this job – he’ll need more, for bandages. The bell sounds, and Snagglepuss comes out in fighting pose, hooking, jabbing, looking for an opening – and gets belted right in the face. “Let’s try that again”, he says, repeating the action, but bringing both his gloves together before him like a closing door when he is about to receive the facial blow again. “I haven’t lost my old cunning”, boasts Snagglepuss, until Kangy knocks on his gloves as if upon a door. “Who’s there?”, responds gullible Snag, opening the gloves wide – and is belted in the kisser again. “That does it”, shouts Snag, stating that Kangy shall now sample his “propeller punch. Contact!” Snag’s hand begins to twirl around at the wrist like a propeller blade, speeding into a blur. Unfortunately, Snag can’t control it, and his hand lifts him high up to the tent ceiling. “Heavens to Wright Brothers. I’m aloft.” Suddenly, his wrist twists, redirecting him into a power dive, and drilling right through the ring floor. Snagglepuss decides to play it safe, and take the full count before proceeding.

Snagglepuss faces off against Kangy, toe to toe, demanding they separate the men from the boys, and have at it. Kangy starts hip-hopping up and down. Snagglepuss holds Kangy down by the shoulders, calling him a show off. Kangy holds down Snag’s shoulders, leaving the lion wondering who’s holding who. Kangy leans back upon his tail, lifting his feet into the air. Snagglepuss thinks Kangy wants to “sit this one out”, but instead receives a resounding kick in the belly. Snag rebounds off the ropes, receiving three more kicks and rebounds, then Kangy steps on Snag’s toes, holding him down so that the lion can be used as a punching bag. Snag collapses, although claiming that Kangy was barely saved by the bell. Snag borrows another Daffy Duck bit from “Porky and Daffy”, making an exit on an imaginary invisible bicycle. But Kangy catches up, and places Snag into a barrel-rill atop his feet, then launches Snag out of the ring. Snag rises with a bucket caught on his head, and another blow from Kangy compresses him into bucket shape. “Exit Snagglepuss the chicken-hearted, stage left.” The last scene finds Snag returned to the baseball booth, taking it upon the chin from repeated well-aimed pitches from the paying public. Still, Snagglepuss is content. “At least on this job, the rest of me is safe – unscratched, even.”

Loopy De Loop, star of Hanna and Barbera’s last series of theatrical shorts, would have one encounter with circus life. In Elephantastic (2/6/64), he turns up at the docks at the shipping end of an intended delivery by a big game hunter of a live elephant, to be shipped to the Ringading Brothers Circus.

Unfortunately, the steamship on which the pachyderm is to be loaded is already inhabited by a ship’s mouse who is something of a rat – the recurring guest character Bigelow, a “little tough guy” rodent, voiced by Doug Young in pure Jimmy Cagney impression. Bigelow could be seen in many early H-B series, including Augie Doggie, Snagglepuss, and even in a prior Loopy cartoon to which this present episode is something of a follow-up, “Zoo Is Company” (in which he appeared in an earlier all-white design). Bigelow doesn’t take to the idea of sharing deck space with the elephant – and just in general enjoys the unique powers that a mouse has of frightening the daylights out of the mammoth creatures. Bigelow immediately engages in a campaign to induce the elephant into a panicked exit from the ship, uttering numerous “Boo”s at his giant adversary, assuming poses of a prize fighter, and repeating his catch-phrase of “You’re gonna get it, and get it good.” The elephant, with the nervous personality of Wally Gator, stampedes down the gangplank, flattening the hunter who tries to dissuade him from being afraid. The hunter rises, as flat as a cardboard cutout, and utters a disoriented remark in which he calls for his mother to place a saddle on the stove so they can ride the range together. Enter Loopy, looking for work, and carrying a business card reading, “Have Peanuts, Will Travel”. Loopy guarantees delivery of the elephant to the circus, and the happy hunter turns over his pith helmet to Loopy, gleefully returning to the jungle.

Loopy ties a strap around the elephant’s waist, and mans a construction crane to hoist the elephant upwards to be placed on the ship’s deck. Halfway through the process, the elephant comes face to face with Bigelow again, who is standing on the end of one of the ship’s booms. “Let the little elephant go”, demands Loopy. Bigelow provides what is asked, by unknotting the rope holding up the metal hook of the crane. The elephant falls, yelling in panic for someone to catch him. Foolish Loopy races underneath to assume a catching position, but looks like a glued-on stencil on the elephant’s rear when the creature stands after landing on the dock. When Loopy pops back to normal, Bigelow appears on the dock to utter more “Boo”s. Writer “Mike” Maltese again repeats the old “Acrobatty Bunny’ gag of having the elephant take up Loopy in his trunk, using the wolf as a stick to bash upon the ground again and again to scare away the unwanted rodent.

Loopy’s next plan is an elaborate one. Construct a king-size elevated ramp, facing the direction of the ship. Equip the elephant with four roller skates. Then launch Loopy and the elephant down the ramp at the ship – and straight up the gangplank in a burst of speed to get past Bigelow. But the mouse, still on the dock, has other ideas, and, demonstrating Herculean strength, takes hold of the ship’s hawser rope, tugs on it, and simply pulls the whole ship away, out of position from the ramp, so that Loopy and his charge zoom helplessly into the bay. Well, if speed won’t do it, get to the root of the problem. Using a swinging watch, Loopy administers hypnosis to the elephant, making him repeat over and over that he is not afraid of the little mouse. The elephant pounds his chest and emits a Tarzan yell. Bigelow saunters up, complaining about the noise, and demands the elephant put up his dukes. The full weight of the elephant’s trunk comes smashing down upon him – repeatedly. Bigelow is visibly dazed, but keeps up his tough guy front with repeated threats that the elephant is really gonna get it, although they begin to sound slightly weaker and less convincing, with the last threat uttered while Bigelow is beating a full retreat toward one of the ship’s portholes. He leaps inside, and the still-brave elephant attempts to follow, but gets stuck with only his head inside an interior cabin. The hypnosis wears off, and the elephant asks where he is and what happened. Bigelow announces that the ship isn’t big enough for the both of them, and takes hold of the elephant’s trunk, which he stretches far beyond its intended length, dragging it with him all over the ship, out of one ventilator funnel and into another, in and out of multiple portholes, and down the gangplank, to Loopy. “Where is the elephant, you little monster?” demands Loopy. “I don’t know, but here’s his trunk”, replies Bigelow, placing the stretched-to-the-limit trunk into Loopy’s hands.

Loopy quickly realizes what is coming, and shouts “Help!”, as he runs the maze which Bigelow has set for him, finally colliding head-on with the elephant, knocking him out of the porthole, and both of them into a heap among cargo on the dock. Finally, Loopy resorts to setting the old-fashioned mousetrap outside Bigelow’s mousehole on the ship. Bigelow sets off the trap with the use of a matchstick on the trigger, then hollers out to the docks the yells of a faked death-scene. Convinced that the elephant’s source of fear is now out of the picture, Loopy coaxes the elephant on deck. Out pops Bigelow with more surprise Boo’s. The elephant climbs to the top of the highest mast, and Bigelow shakes it to get him down. “I feel faint”, moans the elephant, and drops from the mast. Loopy and Bigelow are standing directly below, and Bigelow, surprised by this turn of events, shouts, “Every man, wolf, and mouse for himself!” They exit the frame just as the elephant crashes through the deck, then is heard to plummet through a lower deck, and finally the ship’s hull. The ship drops to the bottom in a matter of seconds. The final scene finds Bigelow seated atop one of the inverted feet of the elephant, who floats upside down in the ocean water, with Loopy also seated on the elephant’s belly, carrying a set of long oars. “All right”, shouts Bigelow through a small megaphone. “Let’s keep ths big balloon moving. Stroke, stroke, stroke!” Loopy obediently rows, as the three set off on what is destined to be a long, long voyage.

No video… sorry about that. Still more Hanna-Barbera, next week.