Friday, April 1, 2016

Heavens to Murgatroyd!

Does anyone remember the cartoon character Snagglepuss? Snagglepuss is a character created by Hanna-Barbera in 1959. He's best known for his famous catchphrase, "Heavens to Murgatroyd!", along with phrases such as "Exit, stage left!" (or stage right, and sometimes even up or down), a phrase used in theatrical stage directions. Finally, Snagglepuss tends to add the word "even" to the end of his statements.

He first appeared in several episodes of The Quick Draw McGraw Show and became a regular segment on The Yogi Bear Show. Daws Butler based the character's voice on Bert Lahr's Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, which at one point caused some confusion to the point where Mr. Lahr threatened legal action against Hanna-Barbera and Kellogg's. To resolve the matter, it was decided to include the on-screen message "Voice of Snagglepuss--Daws Butler" during the commercial segments.

I remember Snagglepuss mostly from his appearance on Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics in 1977 and 1978. Of course all of these were seen in reruns, as I was born in 1977, but I was always a big fan of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, especially Scooby-Doo. My love for Scooby-Doo probably is the reason I still love to read mysteries.

The thing about Snagglepuss is that he was an effeminate, pinkish lavender lion who many have assumed was gay over the years. While gay-pride and gay-rights activists and folklorists will like to use Snagglepuss as a gay icon because of his pinkish lavender fur color, his lisping speech and his fondness for the theatrical, Joe Barbera was once quoted as denying the likelihood, insisting that the character (and voice) were modeled on Bert Lahr (adding that Lahr "once beat up on his wife!” which I guess was supposed to make Lahr more manly, but seems cruel and silly to me). Too, there were at least two episodes involving a would-be girlfriend, Lyla, who rejected Snagglepuss as too boorish. Haven’t we all (gay men, that is) though had “a would-be girlfriend” to hide our sexuality.

On a Season 34: Episode 8 "Weekend Update" segment on Saturday Night Live (November 15, 2008), Bobby Moynihan appears in costume as Snagglepuss to comment on California's ban on gay marriage. During the segment Snagglepuss is outed by anchor Seth Meyers and then confesses that his domestic partner is fellow Hanna-Barbera cartoon character The Great Gazoo, who also makes a cameo.


Michael Dodd said...

At some level of my child mind, I must have thought Snagglepuss was gay. I quickly adopted "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" and "Exit, stage left!" into my conversation even.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember Snagglepuss however I do remember all of the Buggs Bunny cartoons. One that I'm especially fond of is the one where Buggs is playing the piano and he stops to say, "I wish my brother George was here." And he resumes playing like Liberace or Van Cliburn although I'm pretty sure the reference is in deference to Liberace.

GuyDads said...

As a little kid in the 60s, I LOVED watching Quick Draw McGraw and Yogi Bear. Where I grew up they were on Sunday mornings, which meant I could only watch them if I was too sick to go to church and Sunday school. Such a moral dilemma for a kid.