While most people fondly remember the animated Beany and Cecil and Casper, few people remember that both series got their TV start on MATTY'S FUNDAY FUNNIES.
MATTY'S FUNDAY FUNNIES began it's run on October 11, 1959. It was originally seen Sunday afternoons at 5:00/4:00C on ABC-TV and featured the Paramount Famous Studios cartoons.
See the opening and closing to Matty's Funday Funnies
Bob Clampett was a veteran animation director who worked in Warner Brothers "Termite Terrace" making animation history with the early Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig cartoons. He left Warners in 1947 and had worked on several projects including an uncompleted animated version of Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars and a stop motion animation test film of Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy dummy. He eventually developed the Beany and Cecil puppet characters and sold a series to Paramount's KTLA-TV. The series originated from KTLA's studios in Hollywood and began airing February 28, 1949. The show earned Clampett three Emmy Awards and a following of fans which included Groucho Marx, Jimmy Stewart and Albert Einstein! The success of Time For Beany was due to the talents of Clampett and the cast and crew which he put together. Stan Freberg, Daws Butler (later the voice of practically every early Hanna-Barbera character), and Bill Scott (best known as the voice of Bullwinkle and Dudley Do-Right) were just a few of the people responsible for putting out the fifteen minute, five day a week, fifty two weeks per year Time For Beany series.
In addition to Time For Beany Clampett did other early puppet shows for TV including Thunder Bolt the Wonder Colt and Buffalo Billy (both characters would later turn up in the animated Beany and Cecil series).
Click below to see Thunder Bolt the Wonder Colt
Towards the middle 1950's it was evident to Clampett that animation was going to be the dominant force on TV, displacing his puppets and the other live action kids fare. Animation was showing up all over TV. Walt Disney had just started his Disneyland and Mickey Mouse franchises on ABC-TV and cartoons were a dominant part of both shows. Harvey Publishing Company, the publishers of comic books featuring Casper the Friendly Ghost and the other Famous Studio characters, had purchased the rights to the old Paramount Famous Studios cartoons in 1958 and repackaged them with new opening titles. Paramount's NOVELTOONS became Harvey's HARVEYTOONS. Harvey then sold the TV rights to ABC-TV.
Associated Artists Productions (AAP), headed by Elliot Hyman, had purchased all the pre-1948 Warner Brothers films, including the cartoons, along with Paramount's Max Fleischer produced Popeye cartoons and was making a killing packaging them for local stations. Clampett had helped AAP catalog the Warner cartoons after their purchase, and AAP remembered Clampett when it was time for new animation. AAP flew Clampett to New York and he and Elliot Hyman's son, Fred, went to meet with ABC-TV in hopes of selling them some fresh animation. They were greeted by a puzzled programmer who had an office full of Casper films. It turns out that after ABC had purchased the rights to the Harvey owned cartoons, they sat on them, not knowing what to do with them.
ABC wasn't interested in new animation, they didn't even know what to do with the animation they already had. Hyman and AAP, in the meantime, were still interested in new cartoons by Clampett. They planned to syndicate the new fare if a network couldn't be lined up. Clampett's wife Sody suggested that he animate Beany and Cecil, seeing as the characters had been so successful and were still well loved by fans. My original source stated that Clampett's pilot film for the animated series was Beany and Cecil Meet Billy the Squid, but I received e-mail from Robert Story which corrected this. Mr. Story wrote " ...The pilot for the series was an eight-minute Beany & Cecil film entitled, "Beanyland," which had in it a few unfavorable Disney references which had to be cleared by Disney legal before it could be aired as a segment of the ABC series. One line which seemed to irritate the Disney execs, was, "this place (Beanyland) wasn't built for a mouse, it was built by a mouse." I met Bob Clampett when I was eighteen, got a "gig" to do some writing for the live puppet show, then after a couple years in the USN went to work for Clampett on the series." Thank you, Mr. Story, for correcting this, and for your contributions towards one of the best animated series in television history!
After Clampett made the pilot, he and Hyman took it to a meeting in Florida with the AAP salesmen. Everyone in attendance raved about it. Shortly after that meeting, AAP was purchased lock, stock and barrel by United Artists. United Artists summoned Clampett to New York to offer him a contract for Beany and Cecil. Unfortunately they wanted the titles and story lines for all 104 proposed cartoons before they would finalize the contract. Clampett found this out on a Thursday, and U.A. requested that they have this by early the following week. To save the deal, Clampett wrote all 104 titles, storylines and created all the new characters in one weekend. His wife Sody feverishly typed it all up and it arrived in New York on time.
The initial Beany and Cecil cartoons were released by United Artists theatrically in foreign markets, including Canada and Australia. In 1959, while Clampett was making the theatrical films for U.A., he heard from a gag writer that Mattel was looking for a new animated show. Clampett again contacted the Hyman's and they all flew out to the toy factory to meet with the Mattel people and their ad agency. They showed them the initial Beany and Cecil films, but Mattel didn't buy them. It seems ABC had convinced them to use the old Casper films which ABC already had broadcast rights to (the same films Clampett and Hyman had seen sitting in a programmers office a year earlier). They premiered as Matty's Funday Funnies on ABC in October of 1959. The show was hosted by cartoon characters Matty Mattel and Sisterbelle, who introduced each cartoon adventure. The cartoons most frequently seen were Casper, Little Audrey, Herman and Catnip, Baby Huey and Buzzy the Crow. The show proved so successful for the sponsor that, in 1960, it was moved into primetime on Friday nights opposite Dan Raven on NBC and Rawhide on CBS. On Fridays, it aired one hour before ABC's other animated primetime success, The Flintstones. MATTY'S FUNDAY FUNNIES was moved to Saturday nights in October of 1961, airing at 7:00/6:00C.
Beany and Cecil eventually made it to TV in January 1962. By then Mattel had tired of the old Casper films and were looking for new Matty's Funnies. They remembered Clampett and contracted with him for Matty's Funnies with Beany and Cecil.
See the opening and closing to Matty's Funnies with Brany and Cecil
|Casper: Mae Questel, Norma McMillan, Gwen Davies, Cecil Roy
|Narrator (Casper): Frank Gallup
|Little Audrey: Mae Questel
|Herman the Mouse: Arnold Stang
|Katnip the Cat: Sid Raymond
|Baby Huey: Sid Raymond
|Buzzy the Crow: Jackson Beck
|Beany Boy: Jim MacGeorge
|Cecil, the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent: Irv Shoemaker
|Captain Huffenpuff: Jim MacGeorge
|Dishonest John: Irv Shoemaker
Updated January 2, 2018