Saturday mornings were a special time in front the the television when I was growing up. It usually meant watching the “test pattern” until hearing sign on. From there, instead of there being programs meant for the adult viewers, there was the time that the children were in charge of the TV. Cartoon programming was presented.
There were many programs presented for kids during that time period, and at this post I am only going to discuss three that come to mind: King Leonardo and His Short Subjects, Heckle and Jeckle, and Mighty Mouse. Yes there were many more show presented during the time period, and they will merit a visit at another time.
King Leonardo and His Short Subjects centered around the king of a fictional nation Bongo Congo with its famous export item being the bongo drum. Episodes were interspersed with commercial content hawking the latest toy or maybe the best tasting cereal ever. One particular memory from this series was the weekly short cartoon where Odie the skunk (the King’s obedient servant who actually kept the King on track) was on the roof adjusting the TV antenna as King Leonardo was directing him from inside to move it to the left or right. It ended with Odie falling off the roof, the antenna spinning around, and the King declaring, “that’s much better, the next cartoon is coming in fine now.” That entire bit would be lost on today’s kids, as very few know what an outside TV antenna looks like, let alone how a small turn could play havoc on your reception. Anyway, King Leonardo had a good for nothing twin brother named Itchy (who talked like a beatnik) who hung around with a character called Biggy Rat. These two were always plotting against the King and from their actions either ended up in jail or got away. Memory tells me there were some other cartoons presented in the half hour, but I cannot remember the characters. Did Tennessee Tuxedo get his start on this show?
Heckle and Jeckle were two animated magpies always creating or getting involved in some type of mischief. Usually they were scheming to get a free meal or a reward of some type. It would have been confusing to some that the two were identical except for their speech: Heckle had a New York accent and Jeckle had an English one. They hardly ever referred to each other by name, and their schemes seldom worked out for the best as something in the end would dash their plan. I think these cartoons were theatrical released at first and then played again on TV for my generation.
Presented on the same show with the magpies was the heroic character, Mighty Mouse. Who through fortified powers emulating Superman, battles the evil cat and saves the picked on mice. His nemesis was named Oil Can Harry who I cannot remember much about other than the name, but the show kept me entertained for a time on Saturday mornings. And later on in life, I watched Andy Kaufman on an episode of SNL pantomime to the theme song: Mister Trouble never hangs around, when he hears this mighty sound. Here I come to save the day, it means that Mighty Mouse is on the way. Yes sir when there is a wrong to right Mighty Mouse will join the fight. On the sea or on the land he gets the situation well in hand.
There sure were many fun hours spent watching the Saturday morning cartoon programs. I’ll probably visit many others in other posts.
Please comment with your memories of Saturday mornings.