Beany and Cecil: Cartoon Icons of American TV
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Beany and Cecil: Cartoon Icons of American TV

Beany and Cecil was an animated cartoon series created by director Clampett. Along with The Jetsons and The Flintstones it was one of the first three color television series on the ABC television network. It became one of the most popular cartoons of the era.

Beany and Cecil was an animated cartoon series created by director Bob Clampett who initially worked for Warner Brothers.

Credited with other TV classics such as The Daffy Doc, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, Corny Concerto, and Porky in Wackyland, Clampett had always been interested in puppetry, so on February 28, 1949, two years after leaving Warner Brothers, his “Time For Beany” television puppet show first appeared in Matty's Funday Funnies.

Originating from Paramount's KTLA-TV studios in Hollywood, CA, the characters introduced on the first telecast included Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent, Captain Horatio K. Huffenpuff (commander of the good ship "Leakin' Lena"), Huffenpuff's nephew Beany Boy, and the dastardly, Dishonest John.

The puppet show left the air in 1955 after six years,  but as the TV legend goes, “the popular characters just refused to die.”

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In 1959, Bob Clampett went on to develop Beany and Cecil as an animated version of the puppet show for Mattel (of Mattel, "Barbie Doll"  toy fame), the initial Beany and Cecil cartoons released theatrically in foreign markets by United Artists, including Canada and Australia.  Finally, in January of 1962, Mattel contracted Clampett to create Matty's Funday Funnies with Beany and Cecil for American viewers.

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Along with The Jetsons and The Flintstones, Beany and Cecil was one of the first three color television series on the ABC television network; the initial season, however, was originally shown in black and white as ABC was unable to telecast color programs until September 1962.  Then after three months in a prime time slot, the title was shortened to Beany and Cecil and moved from prime time to Saturday mornings on ABC-TV on January 5, 1963 where it ran until 1967.

Like most cartoons of the time, Beany and Cecil was made into a comic book by Dell Comics. Twelve issues were published, seven during the run of the puppet show and five in the early years of the cartoon. It also had its share of toys and other licensed products including a Little Golden Book, “Beany Goes to Sea” in 1963.

In 1988, the characters were revived for a new generation when Clampett's production company collaborated with DiC Enterprises (Captain Planet, Kissyfur) to produce new episodes for ABC.  Only eight episodes were made, and only five were actually aired.  Director John Kricfalusi (later famous as the creator of Ren & Stimpy) attributed the poor showing to interference from network officials who didn't understand the characters--or animation in general.

Main Characters

Beany Boy: A young, good-hearted and happy boy with a propeller beanie that allows him to fly (the "Beanycopter” became a popularly marketed novelty toy).  In most episodes, Beany is kidnapped by the villain, crying "Help, Cecil! Help!" to which Cecil replies, "I'm a-comin', Beany-boy!" as he races to the rescue. This has become something of a catchphrase.

Cecil (or "Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent"): A large green sea serpent with a slight lisp.  Though fiercely loyal to Beany, Cecil is not especially bright.  Cecil's trusting, good nature invariably results in him being taken advantage of by a lot the devious people, and he often ends up having to endure a lot of physical abuse--getting smashed flat, losing his head, being shattered to pieces, and even having his skin burned off!  An interesting point of the show is that the tip of Cecil's tail is never seen in most episodes, always extended off-screen or hidden behind an object.  TV insiders say this is a nod to the original Cecil, a hand puppet whose tail was perpetually hidden--because he didn't have one! 

Cecil also has a superhero alter-ego known as “Super-Cecil” who wears a modified Superman shirt (complete with cape). 

It is Cecil who got the honor each week of declaring, "A Bob Clam-pett car-tooooooo-OOOOOOOOON!" at the opening of each episode.

Captain Horatio Huffenpuff (also called "Uncle Captain"): Captian Horation is Beany's kindly uncle and the Captain of the “Leakin' Lena,” which takes the gang from one destination to the other. The Captain is always willing to instruct Beany and Cecil on their latest assignment, but is rather cowardly and refuses to put himself in any personal danger, always locking himself below deck or under a box aptly labeled "Capt. Huffenpuff's Hiding Box."

CrowyCrowy: The navigator of the “Leakin' Lena,” CrowyCrowy is a crow who, to no surprise, spends most of his time in the ship’s crow's nest.  He speaks in a squawky voice and has a tendency to faint whenever the ship encounters danger.

Dishonest John (or simply "D. J."): The villain of all cartoon villians, John is dressed in classic Simon Legree character, and is constantly scheming to ruin Beany and Cecil's adventures.  His infamous catch phrase is a sinister "Nya-ah-ãhh!” and he occasionally refers to Cecil as a "tall toad" or "big salami.”

Whenever Dishonest John's schemes are revealed to Beany and Cecil, Cecil tends to respond with an aghast, "What the heck! D.J., you dirty guy!"  But when Dishonest John receives his inevitable pay-back, it is usually just as painful as the abuse he has caused Cecil during the rest of the episode.

Dishonest John also has a super-villain alter-ego known as “The Bilious Beetle,” which allows him to fly under his own power, utilizing a painful stinger.  "D. J." also occasionally appeared disguised as the mechanical robotic octopus "Billy The Squid," usually in chaotic attempts to simulate sea storms to scare the crew of the “Leakin' Lena” when on a treasure hunt. 

Dishonest John carries a business card that reads: "Dirty deeds done dirt cheap. Special rates for Sundays and holidays.” (Yes, AC/DC fans, this is the “Dirty Deeds” reference!)

PRODUCTION

Executive Producer: A. C. R. Stone

Producer: Robert Clampett

Animation Directors: Jack Hannah and Dick Kinney

Story Material/Storyboards: Bob Clampett, Eddie Maxwell, Al Bertino, Jack Bonestell, and Dale Hale

Layout: Terrell Stapp, Willie Ito, Tony Sgroi, and Homer Jonas

Master Animator: Art Scott

Animators: Lou Appet, Harry "Bud" Hester, Bill Nunes, Al Stetter, Frank Gonzales, Bill Southwood, and Carl A. Bell

Backgrounds: Curtiss Perkins, Robert Abrams, and Marie Reed

Music Underscore: Bob Clampett, Sody Clampett, Hoyt Curtin, and Jack Roberts

Production Assistants: Dick Elliott, John Soh, Jeanne Thorpe, and Mike Sweeten

Voices: Jim Mac George (Beany, Uncle Captain, and CrowyCrowy), and Irv Shoemaker (Cecil and Dishonest John)

References:

http://www.toonopedia.com/beany.htm

http://www.toontracker.com/beanytoon/beanytoons.htm

Thumb via http://www.bucwheat.com/wrkbn/cecil/cec1.jpg

Related Articles:

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>  Heckle and Jeckle

>  Snagglepuss

>  Beany and Cecil

>  The Dark Secrets Behind Childeren's Nursery Rhymes

Visit JAMES R. COFFEY WRITING SERVICES & RESOURCE CENTER for more information.

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