Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Penguin, The Walrus & The Joker

In keeping with the upcoming Halloween Holiday spirit, this time it's the adventures of the Penguin, the Walrus, and the Joker- but with a twist -bup suppa buppa buppa buppa suppa...

In 1963 interestingly enough Total Television, an unofficial 'subsidiary' of General Mills- GM, you know makers of 'Total' breakfast cereal -already known for their "King Leonardo" (Da Vinci reference) and 'toon "Superpup" clone "Underdog" cartoons starring 'Jor-El's' lover Wally Cox as humble and lovable 'Shoe-Shine Boy', and known to earlier viewers even as 'Mr. Peepers' in the Golden Age Of TV and more recently (we're talkin' '63 here) better known as Proctor & Gamble's salesman for "Salvo - The Fortified Detergent!" -also came up with the more cerebral and consequently 'educational' "Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales" about the misadventures of the "small penguin, who tries but can't succeed-o," Tennessee, voiced by Don Adams, soon to be known worldwide as Agent 86 in the Man From U.N.C.L.E./James Bond spy spoof Get Smart, and his friend Chumly Walrus voiced by Bradley Bolke.


An elementary penguin not singing Hare Krishna.

In and among the promos for other cartoon frolics, puppet shows- remember Fireball XL5 was on NBC that season -and the endless adverts for toys- "Hey kids, tell Mom and Dad!" -and of course the never-ending cereal ads brought to you by the grain futures sector of the economy, Tennessee & Chumly actually left an impression on me and it wasn't just mindless entertainment for the kiddies- I was a 6 year old then -as it was partially a response to FCC honcho Newton Minnow's comment that TV was/is a "vast wasteland", and it was one of the first successful integrations of information and entertainment for young minds that excelled where similar fare as 'The Funny Company' didn't.

"The Funny Company" bankrolled by Mattel, "...and TOYS!", was very educational but not very funny, a guaranteed 5 minute video sleeping pill for all but the most nerdiest of kids -and seemed more akin to the brief segments of "The Big World Of Little Adam" NASA training films fest that were run by Sandy Becker on his show after January 1, 1964 WNEW NYC show as well as WNET right and up to when they still had the old Owl logo, shortly just before Apollo 8.

Psssst...saw almost every episode of "Little Adam", shhhh- just don't tell anybody!

The makers of the "Funny Company" redeemed themselves shortly thereafter with "The Adventures Of Roger Ramjet"- seldom seen but great fun in the tradition of "Rocky and Bullwinkle", whereas "Little Adam" is largely forgotten and much less ever seen today.

The blend of both entertaining and informative is equally balanced- with the writing and the voice characterization -and important in Tennessee Tuxedo and is one of the many reasons it is so fondly remembered.

Without recounting or rehashing the episodes as I'm certain that there are much more precise and concise sources on the 'net from which to find out further about this wonderful series, I'll just go into one particular episode- #27 " The Treasure Of Jack The Joker".

Originally aired on Saturday, October 10, 1964, 9:30 am EST.
Now please remember Dear Reader that I haven't actually seen this since maybe 1966, and several zillion brain cells ago- R.I.P. -so recollection of this is particularly hazy or shadowy, but I remember that 'punch line' ending, "Ha, Ha, Ha-- Jack The Joker!" when the walrus and the carpenter- oops -penguin, find instead of a treasure inside the chest this taunting note.

Taunting note? Taunting...note...hmmm...the George Reeves, I think I've got it!
Detective Comics #27 was the first appearance of The Batman- and this was Episode #27 of "Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales"- Holy Bat-Clues old chums, Chumlys, & 'chumettes'!

So what you say, big deal, I'm not impressed, etc., etc.,

Okay then, consider this:

Lawrence Samuel "Larry" Storch (born January 8, 1923) is a US actor best known for his comic television roles, including voice-over work for top cartoon shows, including Mr. Goldberg, er, uh- Whoopee -on Tennessee Tuxedo and his Tales, and of course Corporal Agarn on F Troop.

Waaay before Mark Hamill, he was also the first actor to voice Batman's arch-enemy, "Doctor Scholl" ("The Joker" in one of his many disguises...)

Yes it's true- It was in the Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder segments produced by Filmation animation in the late 1960s.

Larry continued his association with Filmation as a voice-over actor in other series the company produced- and more importantly was one of the original GHOSTBUSTERS in his zoot-suit, along with pal Forrest Tucker and Bob Burns in one of the few live-action shows for Filmation a decade before Bill Murray, Dan Aycroyd, and Harold Ramis.
(an old comic store just off of Canal Street)

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