L-r: Mildew, Bristle, Lambsy.


Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1969
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From the very beginning, animated cartoons have explored every possible variation on the basic predator/prey relationship — in most cases, more than once. A particularly repetitive producer …

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… was Hanna-Barbera, which "borrowed" situations from TV shows, comic strips, other cartoon studios, and even themselves. "It's the Wolf", a minor and short-lived series that started in 1969, was reminiscent of Yakky Doodle (1960) — the title character of which was, himself, strongly derivative of an occasional supporting character from the producers' own Tom & Jerry, from the 1940s and '50s, when they were working as directors at MGM.

Yakky, who starred in a segment on the old Yogi Bear show, was young, helpless member of a prey species (in his case, a duck), repeatedly menaced by a predator, who survives mainly through the help of a big, strong protector. The main difference between his basic set-up and that of "It's the Wolf" was that in the latter, the predator was the title character. Mildew Wolf was the star, and his intended meal was an adorable young lamb named Lambsy Divey. Lambsy's helpful friend was a sheepdog named Bristle Hound. Mildew's voice was done by Paul Lynde (Templeton in Charlotte's Web), Lambsy's by Daws Butler (practically everybody from Huckleberry Hound to Chilly Willy) and Bristle's by Allan Melvin (Magilla Gorilla).

Lambsy's name came from a 1944 popular song, "Mairzy Doats", which slightly mispronounced the dietary habits of various barnyard creatures. That particular line meant "Lambs eat ivy". By the time the cartoon aired, few if any of its young viewers knew about the song. Today, the reference is virtually incomprehensible.

"It's the Wolf" was one of the back segments in Hanna-Barbera's hour-long Cattanooga Cats show, which debuted September 6, 1969. The following year, it and another segment, Motormouse & Autocat, were split off to make a separate half-hour show, with the cat and mouse team in the lead. That arrangement also lasted one season.

In 1977, Mildew became an announcer on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics. After that, he joined Lambsy and Bristle in oblivion.


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Text ©2005 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.