The Groovie Goolies

They live in Horrible Hall, which sits on Horrible Drive.  The inspiration for them were the classic, Universal monsters of the 1930s and 1940s I so adore.  How can I not love the…

The Groovie Goolies is an animated series that enjoyed its original run on CBS from 1970 to 1972.  The series was produced by Filmation Associates, which was founded in 1963 and which produced both live-action and animated children’s programming to become one of the top animation companies for Saturday morning cartoons for over 20 years.  Sadly, Filmation was bought by L’Oreal Cosmetics Company in 1988 and they soon closed the doors on the studio for good.  But Filmation left a rich legacy of cartoon episodes behind in those two decades.  Their over 1,600 productions included cartoon versions of popular live-action series, like the animated Star Trek show they made in 1973 and 1974.  Filmation also made several popular feature films and specials.  The Groovie Goolies is just one of their series but it’s a favorite of mine and worth a bit of attention during the eeriest month of the year.

The Groovie Goolies made their debut on a double bill with Sabrina, the teenage witch on a series appropriately titled, Sabrina and the Groovie Goolies.  Sabrina was originally introduced as a supporting character on The Archie Comedy Hour the previous year.  Sabrina the Teenage Witch was spun off into her own show the year after.

Sabrina appeared on The Archies Show with her aunts Hilda and Zelda.  The Goolies were Sabrina’s cousins.  Take a look at a clip (here), which features Sabrina, a few of the Goolies and popular Archies characters. In 1971 The Groovie Goolies got their own series in another spin-off from Filmation.  The Goolies’ show was not a critical success but they had a loyal following of people who couldn’t resist the combination of classic monsters and silly laughs as their “schtik” was to scare people for their own amusement.  The monsters also had musical talent.

Here’s the theme song and opening sequence for the Groovie Goolies

For reasons I’ve already mentioned, I love the cast of characters, which were voiced by veterans of film and television.  Here are a few of the main players:

Drac – voiced by Larry Storch who I adored on F-Troop, Drac is the short-tempered vampire and leader of Horrible Hall.

Frankie – voiced by Howard Morris impersonating Boris Karloff is a laid-back Frankenstein’s Monster whose “job” it is to head the Muscle-leum Gymnasium. Frankie is zapped by lightning quite often, which he enjoys immensely.  Worth noting – aside from a substantial career as a voice artist, Howard Morris also starred in such classic comedy shows as Sid Caesar’s, Your Show of Shows and The Andy Griffith Show.

Wolfie – also voiced by Howard Morris partially impersonating Wolfman Jack, the raspy-voiced, disc-jockey who was popular in the 1960s and 1970s.  Wolfie is somewhat of a hippie/surfer dude character who is always out for a good time.  He also manages to get on Drac’s nerves often.

Hagatha – a witch who doubles as the cook of Horrible Hall.  Hagatha was voiced by long-time actress and voice artist, Jane Webb.

Bella La Ghostly – a Vampira-type switchboard operator, also voiced by Jane Webb.

Dr. Jekyll and Hyde  – a take on the classic character of film and literature, Drs. Jekyll and Hyde is the two-headed doctor who often fights with “himself.”  This character is voiced by Howard Morris and veteran actor, Larry D. Mann.

Mummy – this character is also voiced by Howard Morris impersonating popular comedian, Ed Wynn.   Mummy is, well…a mummy, bandages and all.  Mummy’s role is to serve as the announcer for “The Mummy’s Wrap-Up” newscasts.

The Goolies’ show has a Laugh-In-type set-up where they’d do short comedy skits, one liners, jabs and even had a “weird windows” set just like the windows used on Laugh-In through which the characters would banter and joke.

My favorite part of the Goolies shows are the musical numbers, as silly as they are.  Yes, they are musicians and singers too.  At least one musical number is featured on each show, which looks and feels similar to video montages used on The Monkees classic show from the mid-1960s.  Here’s the song, “Frankie” about Frankie because he’s got personality:

 

Another musical extravaganza, monster style, “Monster Trio”

Like the classic monsters that inspired the series, some of Hollywood’s most popular artists did anything to work with them.  In the case of Universal’s monsters, the popular duo of Abbott and Costello made a series of films with the fiends.  In this case, it was Warner Bros. animated superstars from the Looney Tunes cartoons who starred in such outings as Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies (1972), which was an episode of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie, a series that ran from 1972 to 1974.  The film has Daffy Duck in Hollywood, producing a movie about King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable. Aside from Daffy, the other Warner Bros. stars that appear include, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, Tweety and Sylvester, Petunia Pig, Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Pepe Le Pew, Charlie Dog, and the Road Runner and Coyote (Warner’s main star, Bugs Bunny, doesn’t appear though).  I must mention that most of those characters were voiced by the legendary genius of Mel Blanc.

The Groovie Goolies original show was relatively short-lived but they made a couple of incarnations in subsequent years.  Filmation used the characters in rehashed cartoons where they’d appear to introduce other popular characters and shorts in The Groovie Goolies and Friends and the original series enjoyed years of syndication after 1978.

The Goolies aren’t the most popular of cartoons but they are memorable and worth a look, particularly this month where anything classic monster is the order of the day.  So, here’s my shout out to those classic, monstrous misfits.  By the way, should you be interested, there are several Groovie Goolies DVD sets available including The Saturday Mourning Collection, which features 16 episodes on three DVDs.

To get you in the Halloween mood here’s a “Monster Mash” music video featuring the Groovie Goolies:

Stay groovie.

5 thoughts

  1. And wouldn’t you know it… I was reminiscing about this show and others a week back with an old friend who still knows all the words to a few of those songs. I’ll need to show him this great post.

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