Snagglepuss exiting, stage left.


Original medium: Television animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1959
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The Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio was founded on the principle of mass-production. It started out mass-producing TV animation footage, churning out …

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… hours of the stuff at a hitherto unheard-of pace, for the voracious appetite of the new medium; and by the time Snagglepuss came along, was starting to mass-produce characters as well. Both he and Yakky Doodle, who became stars in the back segments of The Yogi Bear Show, were introduced as supporting characters on Quick Draw McGraw, so they'd be ready to plug in next time the studio had a show to fill.

Snag started out as one of Quick Draw's own antagonists, a sheep-stealing mountain lion, in an episode that first aired in 1959. Later, he appeared with Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy and with Snooper & Blabber, who starred in Quick Draw's back segments. By the time Yogi (who had started out backing up Huckleberry Hound) got his own show (it debuted on January 30, 1961), he was fully developed and ready for stardom.

(Purists, by the way, point out that those pre-series appearances were actually made by a pink mountain lion named Snaggletooth, but the differences in design, if not character, are subtle, and this may be an Egghead/Elmer question.)

He was a pink lion, quite friendly and civilized, but sometimes mistaken for a wild beast (a problem he shared with Loopy de Loop, a wolf). The person most often doing the mistaking was Major Minor, a big game hunter with a big motive — if he doesn't bag Snagglepuss, he's liable to be thrown out of The Adventure Club. The Major (not related to Major Minor who gave Klondike Kat his orders, by the way) wasn't in all of Snag's 32 episodes, but enough to make him a major antagonist.

Snagglepuss's voice was patterned after that of actor Bert Lahr (who is famous for playing another lion, the cowardly one in the 1939 production of The Wizard of Oz), and was provided by Daws Butler (an old hand at mimicking real actors for cartoon characters — his Peter Potamus sounded like Joe E. Brown, and his Wally Gator like Ed Wynn). Butler was so good at the Lahr imitation that when the character was used as a spokestoon for Kellogg Cereals, Lahr sued, and the commercials had to give Butler a credit line so nobody would think it was Lahr plugging the cereal .Major Minor was played by Don Messick (Atom Ant, Ricochet Rabbit, Kaboobie the Camel).

The character's best-remembered catch-phrase ("Heavens to Murgatroyd") was also from Lahr, who used it in Meet the People (1944), where he played a supporting role under stars Dick Powell and Lucille Ball. His other catch-phrase ("Exit, stage left") was from a common stage direction, not so specific a source.

Snag appeared on his share of lunch boxes, T-shirts and the like. Gold Key published a comic book version of him for four issues in 1962-63, and starred him in the occasional back-up story elsewhere in its extensive Hanna-Barbera line. But he never became one of the studio's major cash cows.

Yogi's show ran its course after a couple of seasons, and for years Snag was seen only in reruns. He turned up in 1973 on Yogi's Gang (along with Magilla Gorilla, Squiddly Diddly, Secret Squirrel and more), in 1978 on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics (as did Hong Kong Phooey, Grape Ape, Captain Caveman, Pixie & Dixie and many others), and in 1985 on Yogi's Treasure Hunt (together with Top Cat, Dastardly & Muttley and more). But his gigs in those ensemble shows eventually petered out, and he faded from view.


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Text ©2003-05 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.