Ruth aged nine with pointer on the rebus board, Cheri aged six dancing and the 20th Century Fox and Willy the Wolf perform I M 4 U during the Clampett Family puppet Show.
In September 1969 our dad Bob Clampett came to us with a proposal. A club resort in Indian Wells California wanted a Christmas show for their members and were willing to pay a sizable fee to have the Clampett puppets appear. Dad would accept the offer and give all the money to us kids Ruth, Cheri and Rob under the condition that we treat this as a serious commitment. We would have to rehearse every day after school up until the performance on Christmas Eve.
After considering the pros and cons a bit we all accepted. The experience turned out to be one of the best that we can all remember. Why? First of all, it was a great family experience. Our mom Sody was also actively involved. She helped work the puppets. Even our grandmother Dossie got involved by sewing our costumes and the stage curtains. Most significant it was the first time that we could see our dad for an extended period of time in his element. Bob Clampett gave this little puppet show his full attention as the director. He envisioned it as a show of puppets, live action and even a full sized Willie the Wolf in a full body suit. He put together a pre-recorded track that really worked as a musical comedy live show. He opened the show with his big guns Beany and Cecil and Clowny doing a comedy bit from the puppet era of Time For Beany where they teased the audience by having Clowny pretend there was not anybody in the audience. Then Alvin and the Chipmunks did their Christmas song. These were the same puppets that dad used on the Ed Sullivan Show with Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian. A Maurice Chevalier animal puppet sang Thank Heaven For Little Girls to a six- year old Cheri Clampett. Nine- year old Ruth Clampett perfectly kept pace with pointer following the rebus drawn by Bob Clampett for the song I M 4 U. (see photo above)
The audience loved it but not as much as we loved doing it even though we rehearsed it on a stage every day after school for two to three hours for a full three months.
The Clampett family and puppets circa 1969, left to right: son Bob, Jr. holding Willy the Wolf, Bob, Sr. holding Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent, daughter Cheri holding Chipper, wife and mother Sody holding the 20th Century Fox, and daughter Ruthy holding Marilyn Mongrel.
It was such a success that we ended up doing it several years after that. One Christmas we even performed it for all of the Southern California Bank of America employees and their families. Looking out from the stage there were a few THOUSAND people and all I could think was that the Cecil hand puppet must have looked pretty small to the back rows.
We are reminded by the passing last Saturday of Neil Armstrong that 1969 was the year of the first Lunar Landing. It was also the year of Flower Power, Woodstock and the anti-war protests. For us it was that watershed moment, The Clampett Family Puppet Show. Priceless!
The map to No Bikini Atoll from the cartoon Cecil Meets the Singing Dinasor.
Without question this is the Beany and Cecil Cartoon gag that gets referenced the most. It has ALL of the elements that made the cartoons popular. From the verbal and visual puns to the pop culture references to the naughtiness. Some of the descriptions include The Bridge of Bardot, the Low Low Bridge-Ada, Good-Grief Reef and Pony Tail Point. Most amazing of all is that Bob Clampett and the production staff got it past the ABC Network censors, although girl on the map is wearing a bikini of lush forage. Hope this memory brings a giggle or a smile to your face.
Just a few days after the Loch Ness surfaced in Scotland another mysterious creature has emerged. A Sea Serpent was recently spotted by three men in Lake Hornindalsvatnet, this is in Norway according to an online news feed called Inquisitr. Some reports added that the three men were not drunk when they reported this story.
Sea Serpent rings visible.
And this is not just any old sea serpent they saw. There have been reports that the Serpent of Hornindalsvatnet has been swimming in the waters of Hornindal, Norway since the 1700s. Sure, Nelly the Loch Ness monster may get all of the attention, however, that may soon change.
Why these sightings now, Centuries later?
And this just in. We have a Youtube clip from Lake Seljord in Norway. The video the girl shot is closer than the other pic. They may be speaking Norwegian but can you honestly say a girl like that would lie?
Who says a horse is a horse? Waterhorse ancestor to Cecil from No Such Thing as a Sea Serpent.
Sea Serpent rings chased by his tail from No Such Thing as a Sea Serpent.
Just maybe the relatives of Cecil really are surfacing, rings and all? Could it be global warming? Inquiring minds want to know.
Bob Clampett and Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent viewing the animation exhibit at Expo 67 in Montreal Canada.
Expo 67 was the last great convergence of animation pioneers. All of the animation greats were invited including the great Warner directors, but also names from the PREVIOUS generation. Animation greats J.R. Bray, Otto Mesmer (Felix the Cat), Dave Fleischer (Betty Boop, Popeye), Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker), and Paul Terry (Mighty Mouse) all attended.
For Bob Clampett it was the very first time he was recognized at all for his contributions to animation and also the first time he was able to meet many of the people he had admired all the way back to his childhood. The photo above also captures something else very interesting. Bob Clampett always traveled with the Cecil puppet and the character came alive when Bob Clampett put Cecil on his hand. Clampett didnít play the Cecil character. It was more like Cecil was another side (and more gregarious to boot) of his own character.
More about Bob Clampett, Cecil and Expo 67 in future posts.
Latest sighting of the hump of Nessie.
The number one item trending on Google yesterday August 4, 2012 is the sea serpent sighting at Loch Ness. Imagine that? A hump in the water sets the web ablaze. We love it! Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent is the obvious connection to Nessie, however the very last of the original Beany and Cecil cartoons had another two-toned sea serpent that took us through history including his peekaboo appearance at Loch Ness.
Scene from the Beany and Cecil Snorky cartoon.
That mud-pie throwing character with tiny arms was Snorky, S-N-O-R-K-Y. Snorky appeared in the cartoon No Such Thing As A Sea Serpent. Bob Clampett himself provided the voice of Snorky as well as the voice of the narrator.
Snorky ready to throw a mud pie.
This cartoon appears on the remastered Volume One Beany and Cecil DVD and includes a commentary by all three of Bob Clampettís kids Cheri, Ruth and Rob. Watch it. We promise you will have a whole new take on history.
Note the propeller caps built into the table.
The most recent episode of the History Detectives (Episode One from Season Ten) had three rock music mysteries including an investigation into the Starburst Stratocaster that Bob Dylan used at Newport when he first played electric as well as some purported Beatle autographs from their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show at the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach.
The final segment was about a collage signed FZ that a fellow bought at a South Carolina thrift store for a few bucks. The collector contacted the History Detectives show because he thought the art graphic might be by Frank Zappa the famous musician, composer extraordinaire and fearless leader of The Mothers of Invention. There were only a couple of early pieces of graphic art that could be attributed to Frank Zappa because of his laser like focus on music.
Both of the pieces seen here appeared on the History Detectives show. In the black and white image a young Frank Zappa stands beside his prize winning public service announcement to protect against forest fires. Prominent on the left side of that image from 1953 Zappa drew an angry kid wearing a beany cap. For those that donít already know it, Frank Zappa was a big fan of Time For Beany and told TV Guide that it was his favorite TV show. This photo was taken while Time For Beany was still on five days a week in Southern California.
Forest Fire Prevention Prize winning poster with Beany Cap on left.
Frank Zappa with his Forest Fire Prevention Photo as it appeared in the newspaper.
What struck us about this segment was not just seeing the Beany cap on his prize- winning image but several propeller caps decorating the table in the color art piece in question. Gail Zappa solved the mystery by pointing out that the color piece was an image of a Hollywood Drum shop on Vine Street near Melrose that remains open for business to this day. The store still has the bell seen in the upper left hand corner of the collage. Mystery solved and the guy that bought the collage at a thrift store in the heart of dixie got a $25,000 appraisal. It is a kick for him and a kick for us to know that someone as brilliantly creative as Frank Zappa had such an affinity for Beany and Cecil and their little local puppet show and even put the iconic image from the show (propeller cap) in his graphic art.