Growing up, there were obvious homosexuals on TV and in movies yet for most straight audiences, they were seen as Second Bananas, eccentric and flamboyant and not activists flaunting the reality of their “lifestyle” in everyone’s faces. In the Golden Age of Hollywood, think Edward Everett Horton, Marjorie Main, and Franklin Pangborn, and in television in the 1950s-60s, think Nancy Culp (Beverly Hillbillies), Paul Lynde, and of course, Snagglepuss.
Ahh, Snagglepuss. His voice was modeled on Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, a similarity that “The Wizard of Oz” actor litigated over when the pink feline appeared in Kellogg Cereal commercials. However, that’s where the similarity ended. Snagglepuss was not cowardly. He was confident and unapologetically fey, poised with wit and I’d say presence. For a young kid like me, he was a great role model.
His greatest appeal, to me, was his trademark campy delivery, which included some distinctive catchphrases including “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” and “Exit, stage left!” plus his way of ending sentences with the word “even” (you have to hear it to get it).
He was never the cartoon superstar, but was ubiquitous from his beginnings in 1959 as Snaggletooth on the “Quick Draw McGraw Show”, through 32 episodes of his own shorts in the “The Yogi Bear Show”, through a million shows such as “Wacky Races”, “Laff-A-Lympics” and more, most recently revived by DC Comics in a more “realistic” manner as a Tennessee Williams-esque playwright.
Now word comes that he’s returning in the upcoming HBO Max series called “Jellystone!” along with a town full of Hanna-Barbera characters including Yogi Bear! Boo-Boo! Huckleberry Hound! Captain Caveman! Top Cat! And so many more faves! But now that means I have to subscribe to another streaming channel! Crap!