When I was a kid, Cartoons were a vital ingredient of mornings. ANYTHING that disturbed this was immediately looked upon with disdain especially Saturday morning. Unless of course you were taking a Saturday to go to Disneyland or something, but that is most certainly the exception to the rule. When I heard that these cartoons were the self same cartoons my dad watched when HE was a kid, I was amazed. The truth is, these characters and their cartoons are classics even today. They are still funny and still clever. You can see the timelessness in them. Now before you read my list. You will not find any Disney properties. This is only because in my own youth, there were no Disney cartoon shorts. They just didn’t exist after Steamboat Willie. Otherwise, the mouse would be included.
Some of the funniest big talking ever. Foghorn didn’t have a lot of cartoons, but when he did, it was terrific. Often the pain in the side of the farm dog and a diminutive chicken hawk, Foghorn Leghorn was one of my dad’s favorites. Memorable lines:
Nice boy but he’s got as much nerve as a bum tooth
Nice girl, but about as sharp as a bag of wet mice.
The constant competition to Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck went from just crazy to the perfect image of the 2nd tier Hollywood star. Pretty much the opposite of Bugs Bunny. When Daffy took hold of his sanity it seemed that he would never get the upper hand. In so many cartoons, with out his counterpoint, you would not get near as many laughs.
The every man character. Porky Pig is the most personally identifiable to everyone that watches cartoons. Paired up with nearly everyone, Porky pig was the perfect consistency to the zany nature of the rest of the troupe. He was also the character that said ‘That’s all folks!’
Some would say that Elmer was the every man. Elmer to me was more of a different character that represented The Man. In fact, Elmer was the hunter, the business man, the homeowner. Elmer was 1940’s, middle class. He was the suit, he was the rules. He was bugs bunny’s favorite target. Yet he was always the heavy when it came to Daffy Duck. We kind of enjoyed seeing Elmer get it. After all he was gonna ‘kill da wabbit!’
Tom and Jerry:
Making a departure from the Warner Brothers camp. Tom and Jerry to me were brothers that were constantly feuding. Yet they were still brothers. For me Tom and Jerry had phases that were good and others that were really strange and almost upsetting. The Chuck Jones era of Tom and Jerry featured strange sound effects and odd music that I still can’t place with the Hanna Barbera Tom and Jerry.
I remember as a kid singing a song that had to do with garbage cans and Popeye. The cartoons seemed sometimes very very old and other times quite current. Popeye was the protector of the innocent and hapless in the face of the ultimate threat. Bluto or sometimes Brutus. Never enough to quite best his nemesis, Popeye would resort to eating spinach and then handily dispatch his foe with muscle and magic. I remember him shooting someone from a tattoo of a battleship on his chest and using his signature corncob pipe as a blowtorch to open the can of spinach. The 1960s were my favorites, but the black and whites were pretty good too. Popeye always had a subtext of conversation with himself that I found to be very funny.
From the 40’s and 50’s This cartoon along with Popeye and Casper would show up on weekdays on a local show that was designed to entertain and advertise to the kids while they ate their breakfast before going to school. The episode of little Audrey I remember the most was Audrey the Rainmaker. She had wished that the rain would stop forever so she could play every day. Then she got her wish. There were daffodils or possibly Irises that were screaming for water. Those flowers often haunted my nightmares. They were so desperate for water!
The friendly ghost! Made by the same folks Casper was a member of a supernatural troupe that tried to convince kids that the supernatural was fun. I guess. I have no idea. However, Wendy, the witch was his good friend and he never really wanted to scare people, he just wanted to be friends. I wonder how he died. In the Simpsons I recall them mentioning that perhaps Casper was a dead Richie Rich trying to pay penance for a life of wealth and privilege. I had seen certain Casper cartoons so many times that I remember every line and every piece of timing.
Snoopy Was the first comic strip I ever read. I loved it. I loved everything about it. At the time, the only things I could count on was Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Charlie Brown Christmas. But both of those shows were so important to me as a kid that they were marked on a calender so I wouldn’t miss it. The animation was fairly sloppy according to Charles Shultz, but for me it was the voices and the music that made it.
The king of Saturday morning. Overture! Light the lights! This is it. We’ll hit the heights. The bugs bunny loony tunes hour would replay all of the loony tunes cartoons from decades in the past. For me, they were new. Everything about them was what made Saturday morning worth waking up for.