Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Witch Hazel & A Couple of Rag Dolls

Here's another vintage Halloween-themed post.CBS seemed to be the network that had the most and more frequently repeated animated Halloween specials. In the 1970s, CBS was also the home of Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Warner Bros., Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies characters, so it seemed pretty natural that a Bugs Bunny-themed Halloween cartoon would eventually air. Bugs Bunny was already a popular Halloween costume and starred in numerous Halloween comic books.In 1977 BUGS BUNNY'S HOWL-OWEEN SPECIAL debuted. This was not a new cartoon - in fact it was a "clip show" made up of 10 Bugs Bunny theatrical one-reelers.
Many of the shorts featured a scene-stealing character named Witch Hazel who Chuck Jones created in 1954 as an adversary for Bugs in Bewitched Bunny. Hazel proved so popular with audiences that she returned two years later in Broomstick Bunny and again in 1959's A Witch's Tangled Hare. A Disney character with the same named appeared earlier, but had little in common with Chuck's Hazel other than voice actress June Foray who voiced both. (Only after Bea Benaderet was unavailable to return for the second short).
Hazel also appeared briefly in 1963's Transylvania 6-5000 and then took on Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales in 1966's A Haunting We will Go. She later resurfaced in the dreadful feature Space Jam (1996) and in several episodes of WB cartoon shows.
Airing after Bug's annual outing was RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY IN THE PUMPKIN WHO COULDN'T SMILE - that's a mouthful! Ann & Andy were introduced to the public in 1918 and 1920 as storybook characters in a series of books written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle. They made the leap to animation in the 1940s in three theatrical shorts. In 1977, a feature film called RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE met some success - enough for former Bugs Bunny animator Chuck Jones to adapt them for television with June Foray (!) providing the voice of Ann! Is there nothing this woman cannot voice?!

This special continued to air on CBS for a few years, and later on the Disney Channel.
Having never seen it, I'd be interested to see what life Jones was able to breath into these ragdolls. For more on the history of Raggedy Ann & Andy go here and here.


Writer said...

I've always loved Witch Hazel. She is probably one of my favorite Bugs Bunny supporting characters - followed by Gossamer.

Writer said...

Also, Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure was probably one of my favorite movies as a child - though I remember being scared of part of it. But I absolutely enamoured of anything that combined live action with cartooning: so Dot and the Kangaroo was another favorite childhood memory - that also scared the bejesus out of me.

TSpats said...

Witch Hazel had me from the get up and go broomstick. Her leaving an array of hairpins when ever she left the frame was a riot. And while readying Trick Or Treating Bugs some tea to pry out all of his 'beauty secrets' sings a little ditty: "A cup of te-ea, some coo-kies, and you-hoo" I wish I could have that merry melody as my ring back tone.