2 September 2007 | redryan64
Extremely Juvenile Programming, Remotely Adapted from the top Cops & Robbers Comic Strip, Law & Order Symbol and Huge Chunk of Americana ,
We saw DICK TRACY creator,Chester Gould, as a guest on our CBS TV Affiliate's AT RANDOM Saturday's Late Night talk fest. The Show's host, Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Irv Kupcinet hosted and provided us with interesting, stimulating excursions into "The Lively Art of Conversation." At this time, either late 1960 or early '61, Mr. Gould announced that there had been a deal cut between his syndicator,The Chicago Tribune-N.Y.News Syndicate and United Productions of America (UPA for short)an Animation Studio, to produce a series of DICK TRACY animated cartoons for Television. He thought that they'd be on TV shortly, but ventured no further opinion.
Well, that sure sounded good to this 14 year old's family. It's not that TRACY was a favourite, but we did get the Chicago Sunday Tribune and were familiar and could get much more closely acquainted.
There had been Dick Tracy adaptations before. He sold a lot of Comic Books and Big Little Books. He was the starring in 4 1930's-40's Republic Pictures' Serials, 4 RKO Series "B" Movies and a short lived 1950's DICK TRACY live action Television Series. So, great, he would be welcomed with open arms!
Well, to our surprise the Dick Tracy UPA Cartoons were just about an equivalent to their MR.MAGOO TV Cartoons(not the Theatrical releases). Of course there is nothing intrinsically evil or even dis likable about The MAGOO TV productions; but we never expected such similarities.
Chester Gould's DICK TRACY(1931-Present)had long been called "the best written and worst drawn strip in the Newspapers." He made use of the bizarre, the crude, the evil in creating colorful foes for Tracy to battle. Bad Guy Characters had Names that were indicative of physical attributes and habitual behaviour. Hence we saw Prune Face, Flat Top, The Mole, Mumbles, The Brow, etc.* Most of these villainous foes were used in the cartoons, but in twosomes. The greatest divergence from the Strip was an army of Tracy Deputies such as Jaspanese Detective-"Joe Jitsu", Mexican Sleuth-"Go-Go Gomez", "Heap O'Calorie"-a human caricature obviously inspired by Actor/Funnyman Andy Divine and "Shemlock Sholmes"(a talking, cockney accented English Bulldog and his "Retouchables" an animated Keystone Kop Knockoff.
There was surely no skimping on the acting talents assembled. The voices were provided by the cream of the Voice Actor Fraternity. Names like Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, Jerry Hausner and Johnny Coons** were numbered among the creative talents featured. They were joined by veteran screen Comedian and Dialectician Supreme, Benny Rubin. And the voice of Dick Tracy was provided by distinguished Actor, former member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre of the Air, Everett Sloane!(Honest, you can look it up yourself!)
* Not only did the bad guys get such descriptive monikers. After Tracy's 1st partner, Pat Patton was promoted to Chief of Police, his 2nd partner was introduced, Sam Ketcham! 2 regular supporting characters, a man & woman Hobo pair were aptly named "B.O.Plenty & Gravel Gertie"and later after marriage, they had a daughter, "Sparkle Plenty." Others included Tracy's Girlfriend & later Wife, "Tess Trueheart" and Shakespearian Actor and Health Fanatic, the John Barrymoreesque, "Vitamin Flintheart".
** "Uncle"Johnny Coons had long been a top Kiddie TV Host/Performer in the Chicago Market. He had won the local Emmy and maybe even a Peabody(?) for Children's Television. It was he of the famous on air flub when, thinking he was off said the immortal words, "There, that out to hold the little bastards for another day!" He made a quick exit to the L.A area, working in TV, Commercials and in voice acting for people like UPA.