Top Ten TV Cartoon Characters from the 1950s and 1960s
A top 10 list of cartoon characters will always be subjective. The ones I have mentioned in this article are the ones that I fondly remember from my childhood. Sad but true, the list does not include any female characters. The only female TV cartoon character I recall from my childhood was Little Lulu, and she was based on a comic strip. In my opinion, television cartoons were so much better in the 60s. There were no lessons of morality, no politically correct characters; they were just entertainment pure and simple.Coincidentally, most of my favorite characters are from Hanna Barbera cartoons.
So, here is my list of the top 10 TV cartoon characters of the 1950s and 1960s, in no particular order:
Top Cat ran from 1961 until 1962 on ABC; only 30 episodes were made. Top Cat was voiced by Arnold Stang and sounded very much like Phil Silvers Sgt. Bilko. In fact, many of the actors from The Phil Silvers Show were featured in this cartoon.
Top Cat was a yellow cat who wore a purple hat and vest and was the leader of a gang of street cats. The character was a con man much in the vein of Sgt. Bilko. His main protagonists were a local police constable and the members of his gang. Since the gang lived on the streets, many episodes were about them trying to get food from various people and establishments.
Even as a kid, I could appreciate the humor of this series. I really don't know what drew me to it as a child. Maybe the great theme song and the voices and the fact they were cats.
Snagglepuss first appeared on The Quick Draw McGraw Show and was a regular segment of The Yogi Bear Show. He was created in 1959 and was voiced by Daws Butler.
Snagglepuss was a pink lion who lived in a cave. He was always trying to improve his lot in life but always failed miserably. His signature line was "exit, stage right." He was also known to exclaim "Heaven's to Murgatroyd." He pronounced many words as a Shakespearean actor would and was definitely a theatrical lion.
Here is yet another animal cartoon character that I loved as a child. If found him funny and as an adult I can appreciate the way he talked even more.
Deputy Dawg debuted in 1960 and was produced by Terrytoons. He was voiced by Dayton Allen. The character was a Southern deputy sheriff who dealt with stereotypical southern events. His sidekicks were Ty Coon, Muskie the Muskrat and Vincent Van Gopher. The show became so popular that some of the cartoons were shown in movie theatres.
I think as a child I was drawn to the accents and the fact it featured talking animals. I guess most children are attracted by those sorts of characters. And adults would be attracted based on the satire of regular life.
Huckleberry Hound first showed up in 1957 and in 1958, The Huckleberry Hound Show was syndicated. In 1961, it won the first Emmy award given to an animated show. Huckleberry Hound was a blue dog with a Southern drawl and he was voiced by Daws Butler. His signature was singing a bad version of “Oh My Darling, Clementine.”
Huckleberry Hound has always been one of my favorite cartoon characters. His personality always attracted me and the adventures he had were always entertaining. And, who could not love a blue dog with a southern drawl a la Andy Taylor?
Fred Flintstone was based on Jackie Gleason’s character on The Honeymooners, Ralph Cramden. Actually, the entire Flintstones show is said to be based on The Honeymooners. Fred’s full name is Frederick Joseph Flintstone. The Flintstones ran on ABC TV from 1960 to 1966. It was basically aimed at adults and was the first to do so. Of course, the kids all loved it too. Fred Flintstone was voiced by Alan Reed. Fred lived with his wife Wilma, and later their daughter Peblbles. The Rubbles lived next door; Barney was Fred’s best friend. The premise of the show was Fred always trying to improve the life of his family and trying to get away with as much as he could.
The Flintstones is my all-time favorite cartoon show from the 1960s. I still remember episodes so this day; The Wayouts, The Great Gazoo, etc. It is one show that stands up to repeat viewing. The show is still syndicated today.
Tom & Jerry
While Tom & Jerry are two characters, they are best known as a duo. The Tom and Jerry cartoons go back to the 1940s when they were produced as animated shorts. They finally showed up on television in 1960. Several series’ were produced until 1967. Tom & Jerry barely spoke and the cartoons involved Tom and Jerry lived together in the same house; Tom (the cat)was always trying to catch Jerry (the mouse) and was constantly outsmarted.
These cartoons were very enjoyable to me as a child. Yet another animated animal duo that had humorous adventures.
Yogi Bear first appeared on The Huckleberry Hound Show in 1958, by 1961 he had his own show. He became one of the most popular cartoon characters ever produced by Hanna Barbera. He was originally voiced by Daws Butler who based the voice on Ed Norton of the Honeymooners. Yogi and his sidekick Boo Boo bear lived in a cave in Jellystone Park. Yogi was always on the lookout for picnic baskets but was usually thwarted by the park ranger.
I remember Yogi Bear very fondly; he was definitely right up there with Fred Flintstone in my opinion. The show never failed to make me laugh.
George Jetson was the father from The Jetsons television program. The show debuted in September of 1962 on ABC. Surprisingly, since it seems to have such a foothold in the public imagination, it only ran until March of 1963 and produced 24 episodes. However, a second series was produced in the 1980s. George was voiced by George O'Hanlon. The show was basically a space-aged Flintstones. George lived in a high-rise apartment with his wife Jane, his two children Elroy and Judy, robot maid Rosie and dog Astro. The show was about George and his family and their lives in the 21st century.
This was one of the first sci-fi shows I became interested in. Many children in the early 60s were very interested in astronauts and space and this was a cartoon show that helped you to imagine some of the possibilities the future might hold.
Mr. Magoo was created in 1949 and was originally shown as animated shorts in the movie theatre. In 1960, The Mr. Magoo show debuted on television. The main character was a very near-sighted man who would not admit that he couldn’t see well. This resulted in many amusing stories. He also had a dog named McBarker. Magoo was voiced by Jim Backus.
I remember seeing this show on television and enjoying the character. Mr. Magoo was at once a nice old man and a cantankerous one. His adventures made children, and adults, laugh. An example of changing times is that when the live-action film Mr. Magoo was release, blind groups got upset that it was making fun of those with vision problems.
Bullwinkle J. Moose first appeared on the Rocky and Friends cartoon series in 1959; the show was later changed to The Bullwinkle Show because of the popularity of the character. Bullwinkle was voiced by Bill Scott, head writer of the show. Bullwinkle and Rocky (the flying squirrel) lived together in Frostbite Falls and Bullwinkle graduated from Wossamotta U.
Bullwinkle was a great character. He was seen as simple and rather dumb, but he usually ended up getting ahead of the game. The show is almost more entertaining as an adult than it was as a child. The humour is so full of puns and satire that you can’t help but laugh at it. Bullwinkle’s main rivals were Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale; characters based on Russian spies.