Monday, December 11, 2006

Baby Huey meets his maker

Mills of the gods

Sid Raymond just died. Yeah, I did not know who that was either until I found out that he was the voice of many cartoon characters. Unlike Mel Blanc, whose characters were so famous that everyone knew him (Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety, Speedy) Sid did mostly off Broadway characters. The four that were mentioned in his obituary were Baby Huey, Catnip (the cat in the old "Herman and Catnip cartoons) and Heckle and Jeckle. I find it interesting that Sid could do both Heckle and Jeckle but only Catnip of Herman and Catnip. Heckle and Jeckle looked and sounded exactly alike so I guess there was no sense in having two actors for the parts of the "talking magpies". Herman and Catnip were different species and so needed different voices. Actually, I don't recall CAtnip ever speaking at all. Each of the Herman & Catnip cartoons were the same, as foreshadowed by their theme song.

"Diddle didle dee, diddle diddle dey,
all the mice are feeling gay.
Diddle diddle dee, didddle diddle dey,
Hermans come to stay.

Diddle Diddle Dee, Diddle diddle doe
he's the bravest mouse we know.
Diddle diddle dee, diddle diddle die,
Herman's quite a guy.

When Catnip the Cat, sees Herman the Mouse.
Catnip, the Cat, packs his bag and leaves the House !

Diddle diddle dee, diddle, diddle dey
it's just like a Holiday!
Diddle diddle dee, diddle, diddle dey
Herman's come to stay."

Then the cartoon would open up with Catnip the cat terrorizing the mice who all lived together in a hole in the wall. Several mice would have narrowly escaped death (and being eaten) and would be sweating and breathing hard, feeling sorry for themselves, when Herman would, from out of nowhere, say something sarcastic. One of the dejected mice would yell, It's Cousin Herman" (actually he would say "Hoyman" and the other mice would gather around Herman and his suit case. The rest of the cartoon would focus on various tricks Herman would play on Catnip, most of which would have killed an ordinary cat. Catnip would always come back for more.

As stated above, I can't recall a word Catnip ever said other than eehwweeeeeeeeee !! when he was dropped in a big pot of boiling water or sawed in two by a chain saw.

Heckle and Jeckle had very distinctive, polite English accents. They always said nice things to each other while they were kicking the hell out of whichever foil was in that particular cartoon. Baby Huey, as I recall (he was a Giant baby duck) had sort of a dumb sounding voice, somewhere between a one year old's speech and that of the rather idiotic dog in those cartoons who was always saying "Which way did he go George, which way did he go ? ". I was never a fan of any of Mr Raymonds cartoons. Although I plan to do a search on him later today to see if there are any characters who were not mentioned in the obituary whom I might recall.

The old boy lived 97 years. Those Catnip cartoons were made in the 40s (I saw them on episodes of Cartoon Carnival as a child). Heckle and Jeckle probably reached their zenith in the 50s and 60's, as did Baby Huey.It must have been strange for this fellow to walk through his living room on Saturday mornings and hear his voice comming out of a fat duck, or seeing himself strapped on a log and cut in half by a buzz saw. It must have been quite a satisfying life in a lot of ways. I don't know if any of those old cartoons are ever shown anymore.They were made to be shown at the movies, back when every movie had a cartoon, a more civilized time. We move too fast now. We come in the theatre and march right out. Gone are the days when you'd show up on a Saturday morning and stay for 6 hours. More's the pity.

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