<em>Harry Happy</em> (1963) <em>Harry Happy</em> (1963)

Harry Happy (1963)

I got such a good reaction to the previous 1960s Paramount cartoon that I posted last week, I couldn’t resist torturing you with another.

First, a confession: Of all the classic Hollywood cartoon shorts, the Paramount/Famous Studios cartoons in general are my favorite “guilty pleasures”. Why? I’m not sure, but I truly admire the skill of the animation crew and art staff. The big problems at Paramount lie in direction, gag timing, and with matters of good taste. By the 1960s they were coasting on their celebrated past, as remnants of the Fleischer studio and their shorts from this era fascinate me. The budgets were cut to the bone and the characters the studio developed for a decade were no longer available for use. They had the freedom to go off and make animated shorts on any subject they wished, in any style of art or technique. Sometimes they took advantage of this freedom, most times they did not. A few gems have risen to the surface (My Daddy The Astronaut, The Itch, The Plumber, Marvin Digs come to mind), but the bad ones of the 60s are so wrong on so many levels, such train wrecks, I can’t keep my eyes off them.

Below is one of these. It’s one of several “domestic cartoons” that Paramount made under it’s Modern Madcap label. Various studios tried this type of fare in the 1950s. Robert McKimson’s Wild Wife (1954) at Warner Bros. is an example; the Pete Hothead cartoons at UPA and the Gene Deitch John Doormat series at Terrytoons are others. Paramount tried a few of these as well, however here the characters aren’t funny, and there’s no attempt at social commentary. They are simply bleak and pessimistic – each one more depressing than the last. Perhaps next time I’ll post In The Nicotine (1961) about a man who terrorizes his wife with his constant chain smoking; or The Plot Sickens (1961, written by Irv Spector) in which a nebbish plans various ways to kill his shrewish wife. Unpleasant subjects, poorly made, with painfully unfunny results.

Here’s one short that really disturbs me – and once again, I don’t believe this it was ever aired on television. It’s about a guy who is a complete asshole and wife abuser. It’s dark. It’s oppressive. So of course it’s called Harry Happy.

What were they thinking?

  • *is bewildered* That was a very odd experience. It made me think about the nature of relationships, psychoanalysis, and gender roles. So I guess in that case it succeeded in eliciting a response. Was it trying to be funny? Because it was in a way; I liked it when she hit him with a frying pan and said “I’M GETTING A DIVORCE.” The shrink outside the window was cute. But like you said, the timing is so flat and deadpan, it just confused me.

  • wow….
    That Harry Fella’ is a DICK!..
    I am not sure how to feel after having viewed that. Also, I’m a little freaked out by the marriage therapist always jumping out of the window on to the ledge…
    “is he offering some Comment on TAKING THE PLUNGE”?
    I wanna see the others now.


  • uncle wayne

    I, too, am one (of the many few) that love “Harvey”-toons….and “Modern Madcaps!” As stilted as the (late 50s & 60s) ones are….they are still 87 times better than the “60’s Popeyes!” You’re rite…I never have recalled seeing this on any tv show. Thank you!!

  • Thad

    Johnny Gent and Marty Taras posing, spousal abuse, stagnated timing, no resolution, … where’s the love for this gold?

  • This isn’t a very good cartoon, but it touches on something that cannot be ignored. Spousal abuse is a very serious issue, especially when the abuser acts nice to everyone outside his home, that way, they won’t believe he’s a batterer. DO NOT ignore the possibilities.

  • That was actually a great concept! Switching your public and private “faces”. It seems to be the premise for at least a couple of Jim Carrey comedies.

    Probably not original to that cartoon, it goes back to Jeckyl and Hyde at least, and not fully realized for its potential, but I found myself interested in seeing how that switch was going to play out for him.

    In the man’s defense he did recognize the need for counseling and went. How many abusive husbands do that? And he apparently never filed charges against his wife for the serious physical battery he suffered from her.

    That was 100% better than most dreck being made then. Not a high bar, I admit.

  • I can’t recall the last time I laughed so hard at a cartoon.

    Shame that so many weak and drab characters made it to series and a many layer onion like “Harry Happy” was reduced to this one-shot.

  • Joe

    Well, I did like the bit where Harry tried to bite the dog’s head off.

  • Alfons Moline

    Actually, Harry Happy did air on TV… in the U.K. (way back in 1981).
    I am glad that you share with us those rare cartoons. Whatever be their faults -weak animation, poor stories, un-PC themes- they are part of the Golden Age (well, its waning days) of American animation, whenever we like it or not.
    Another 60´s Paramount/Famous I would like to see again (and which also aired on British TV in the early 80´s) is OP, BOP, WHAM AND BOP, a 1965 Noveltoon directed by Howard Post. Despite the subject is nothing new -a cat-and-mouse duo chasing each other through a modern art gallery- it´s a good example of pantomine animation in a time in which cartoons without dialogue (save for the Pink Panther cartoons) were already a thing of the past.

  • Eva

    They kind of flipped the premise of Disney’s 1950 “Motor Mania”, where Goofy is a nice guy until he gets behind the wheel. That marriage counselor wasted no time and delivered an accurate verdict, which Harry tried to apply, though the first question he should’ve asked was “and where IS your wife?” Spousal abuse was the dark side of the ring-a-ding ding, smoking and drinking era, all-cool though revisionists claim it to have been.

  • “Poopsie, say hello to Mr. Happy!”…no, that doesn’t sound wrong out of context at all. Not in the least…

  • Christopher Cook

    True this didn’t make it on with the other Modern Madcaps on 1963’s “New Casper Cartoon Show.”

    But one did that still baffles me–“Crumley Cogwheel.” It’s about an office nebbish whose boss chides him for working 20 years and never asking for a raise. Boss threatens to fire him if he doesn’t, so towards the climax, where does he find the courage? By getting drunk at lunchtime.

    And this aired on Saturday mornings on ABC.

  • I think the character here is deeper than the story they were working with. Even though he’s a jerk, at least he TRIES to save his marriage. What makes it so sad is that even though he tries, he still winds up with a skillet to the head. I actually felt sorry for Mr. Happy. No matter what he does or how he acts, nobody cuts him any slack at all. At least Ralph Kramden, Fred Flintstone, Archie Bunker, Homer Simpson, and Peter Griffin usually get the benefit of a happy ending.

  • i love the constant re-use in later famous cartoons of what is apparently the only song in the Fleischer/Famous studios music library- “It’s a Hap-hap-happy day,” from the Gulliver’s Travels feature film.

  • Along with La Petite Parade and Trash Program, this seemed to be a recurring theme at Paramount during the 60’s, where a husband has a recurring problem that pisses off his wife no matter what he does. Though here, there’s a stronger setup for our hero.

    Thanks for sharing these lost cartoons. I’m particularly curious about The Plot Sickens and The Plumber.

  • Randy Koger

    Hmmmmm…..I kinda liked it. Very 1960’s and a product of its time.

    I find it interesting that no one has seen fit to comment that the wife ends up being an abuser too, FAR more physically abusive than the husband in the end.

    In this politically-correct, knee-jerk society we live in today most folks seeing this cartoon won’t get past what they see on the surface. But dig a little deeper and there are a LOT of messages about the human condition in this little bit of film.

    Maybe I wasn’t too surprised by the cartoon because the guy reminded me of my Father. Everyone that knew him thought he was great but the minute he got home and shut the door the entire family was his servant. And his temper and actions were nearly identical to the guy in the cartoon.

    Such is life sometimes.

    More Modern Madcap cartoons please!

    PS: I also happen to think this series had some of the best cartoon opening music ever. Great stuff!

  • I think this might have played better with a slightly hipper musical arrangement, at least some of that elerctric guitar from, “Hardrock Candy Mountain.” They were playing with a more adult theme here, but it sounds like a Casper cartoon.

    The story is more successful and interesting than the story for “Wild Wife,” which doesn’t even stick to it’s basic premise that women are very busy.

    I think with a little more care “Harry Happy” could have been a decent cartoon. Harry’s bipolar behaviors could have been used for comic effect in a variety of inappropriate situations. Imagine him as a doctor with a pleasant bedside manner who becomes a screaming maniac while in surgery.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Yep, didn’t see this one before, thanks Jerry!

    And as Richard stated, yeah, it’s a shame often these one-shots at Paramount tended to be a little more interesting over their attempts at series and characters that never overstayed their welcome.

    In the case of cartoons like this one posted, I was reminded of a few other Modern Madcaps of the period often involving around the outcomes of situations

    In “Trash Program”, you have a typical blue-collar husband get chewed by his wife into looking for a new job, so he takes a class on being a garbage collector and graduates, only to make the wife even more pissed at his sloppy attire, and for him to go back out and finally come back in a sea captain’s outfit, only for the tables to be turned as the wife finds out what he’s captain of.

    In “One of the Family”, a dog is told by a psychiatrist to treated as ‘one of the family’, and after a series of brushes with the husband, said husband uses reverse psychology to bring the dog back in his place.

    In “One Weak Vacation”, a tired husband comes home to a wife asking to take a vacation through Europe on a ‘go-now, pay-later plan’, only to have a series of unfortunate events happen to said husband who is relieve to come back home and immediately goes back to work happily.

    Of course nothing takes the cake like “Harry Happy” and the way this cartoon was executed (a resolution would’ve been nice). I don’t know why I tend to go for these train wrecks too, but as you said, I can’t keep my eyes off ’em! There’s a few others I wouldn’t mind seeing again after so long like “Drum up a Tenant”, “Sour Gripes”, “The Robot Ringer”, “Whiz Quiz Kid” and such.

  • Not for kids obviously. Thanks for sharing this. Sounds like it could have been theatricaly billed with the 1963 Cary Grant film “The Charade”.

    Example dialogue…

    Reggie: …Marriage license. Did you say marriage license?
    Cruikshank: Now don’t change the subject. Just give me the stamps.
    Reggie: Oh, I love you, Adam…Alex…Peter…Brian…Whatever your name is. Oh, I love you. I hope we have a lot of boys and we can name them all after you.
    Cruikshank: But before we start that, may I have the stamps?
    (They kiss.)

  • Pedro Nakama

    I saw that egg gag coming.

  • I think it’s fine, very funny actually!
    Timing may be bad, yes, but there are some gags that are visually so direct and dry that end up being great, like the doctor going out the window, that’s kind of extreme staging. I think it takes advantage of exaggeration well, one aspect of animation that is very often forgotten. It’s a cartoon, and they did treat it like one.
    As for the dark depressing subject, I agree it could be much better aproached, but still, I don’t see many contemporary cartoons that even have the iniciative of talking about anything but fantasy, so again, I found it refreshing in a way.
    What am I thinking?

  • Gill

    The first thing I thought when I saw it was that drama, Mad Men: rigid gender roles, people lying about their feelings, and pre-conceived notions of marital bliss. Should it remind me of that?

  • Tom

    Ironically and coincidentally, this short was the direct influence on Banjo the Woodpile Cat.

  • An interesting film. It’s another cartoon featuring wife-hitting-husband-with-a-frying-pan gag but in a way this was justified, since the husband really was being an a-hole to his wife.

    Yes, do a post on In The Nicotine and The Plot Sickens, please. Especially the latter.

  • Matthew Yorston

    Yes, I thought this was funny!

    I gotta admit; I LIKE these “adult” subject storyline themed Paramount cartoons of the later era. Not for children; the sophistication of the humor would go WAY over the heads of the kiddies. Brilliant situation comedy stuff!

    Do you take requests, Jerry? Because now that you’ve posted this and “Hobo’s Holiday”….. could you please post “The Plot Sickens” because I REALLLLLLLLY wanna see that one. That one sounds like a rarely seen, underappreciated Famous Cartoons gem….. right up there with “Chew Chew Baby”.

  • The shrink looks like Smithers from The Simpsons.

  • TJR

    You where right. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this. That reminds me of a cartoon from this era (that I think I saw here) that dealt with Cannibalism. Please share more of your guilty pleasures.

  • This is BRILLIANT!
    I haven’t laughed so hard at a cartoon since I can’t remember when!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Banjo huh? Learned something new today!

    Yeah, I felt sorry for the guy in this toon as well. Kinda wish it ended with some cliche line for him to say like “Looks like it’s back to the marriage counselor for me!”. Though given the circumstances, I’d rather he was equally mad at the bad advice the counselor gave him, and ends up chasing that guy out of the room with a shotgun, perhaps followed by some men from the nut house on a call for his previous mishaps while coming home earlier. Now that’s an ending!

    Still, a cartoon about someone with bipolar disorder would’ve made for an interesting series on itself if such a premise could’ve seen far past the six minutes shown here.

    I think Mr. Samaj may enjoy “The Plumber”, let alone I’m probably a tad interested in seeing more of those morbid tales like “The Plot Sickens”.

  • cliffclaven 2.0

    You can almost see old gagmen making notes during contempory cartoons and imitating things without quite understanding them. It’s part of the strange tone-deaf quality that haunted the Famous product (especially Baby Huey and Katnip & Herman, who were often painful and/or creepy rather than funny).

    The Modern Mapcaps and Noveltoons were sometimes pretty obvious in their specific inspirations.

    This one felt like a simple inversion of Terrytoon’s “Another Day, Another Doormat” where John Doormat lives up to his name at home, but strikes terror into his employees at work.

    Other misfired imitations included “Finnegan’s Flea” (“One Froggy Evening” with a possibly funny but botched punchline) and “Funderful Suburbia” (a direct descendent of late-period Goofy and those Tex Avery new-inventions shorts).

    At least there was some technical experimentation in “Bouncing Benny,” the Gerald McBoingBoing knockoff about a kid who had a spring for a rib cage (seriously). If you watch closely (it’s on the Harveytoons collection), you can see it’s actually done with cutouts. The result is pretty darn close to the limited cell animation they were doing.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    If we’ve opened up the floodgates for request. I wouldn’t mind seeing “Sour Gripes” again. This one if your typical Famous Studio cartoon that ends with the main character buying the farm. A fox, fed up after reading the Aesop fable on the Fox & The Grapes, challenges the fable by trying to steal a grapes from a vineyard owned by some Italian name Luigi (who plays his according while stomping on grapes for seconds on end). In his feeble attempts, the fox disguises himself as a health inspector (not too convincing as his tail was sticking out) and as some judge asking for a sample for some contest (this time using a human mask). In the end, the fox comes charging through the place in a tank, only to be blown up to kingdom come, only then does he state his thankfulness or not eating the grapes in the end (now in the typical angelic garb complete with harp). I remember this cartoon playing only ONCE on Nickelodeon around 1990 or so, but somehow they never had it in it’s Cartoon Kablooey rotation later on.

    Another one I had stated before I’d like to see too was “Drum up a Tenant”, where the same Italian guy works as a glassware shopkeeper, who leases an apartment upstairs to a beatnik who nearly destroys his shop and his nerves with his music. In the end, he manages to get the guy out of there, only to get a woman leasing the place and destroying his shop after all with her singing.

    Though this is a “Noveltoon” instead, I wouldn’t mind seeing what “The Sheepish Wolf” was like (having only read a synopsis of it).

  • J Lee

    Hey it could have been worse — They could have had the wife actually wanting the old abusive husband back, in some sort of pre-Jerry Springer type relationship.

    Paramount/Famous gets bad press for their continuing series in the 1950s, but the one-shot Noveltoons from the decade actually hold up quite well. It’s the one-shots from the 60s, when virtually everything had to be a one-shot (even failed efforts like The Cat) that the started really running short on ideas — or if they did find a decent idea for limited animation, like the first three Swifty and Shorty (nee Ralph and Percy) cartoons, they quickly ran the idea into the ground.

  • Cliff: “You can almost see old gagmen making notes during contempory cartoons and imitating things without quite understanding them.”
    J. Lee: “Hey it could have been worse — They could have had the wife actually wanting the old abusive husband back.”

    Jeff: seems to me she did. The point was clearly made that while “before, you were disgusting” as an abusive spouse, “now you’re unbearable” as a good-natured, but disastrous klutz. Unbearable sounds worse than disgusting to me. So yeah, she wanted the abusive hubby back, if not saying so directly.
    And that leads me back to Cliff: yes, this strikes me as an example of the storymen working without understanding the implications of what they were doing. Quite clearly, IMHO, the crew thought no further than “let’s do a cartoon where a man is Jekyll in one sphere and Hyde in another; he’s forced to trade off by a shrink and the consequences are worse.” In other words; I think the crew thought no worse of showing “Hyde” mistreating his wife than of showing “Hyde” mistreating the public and passersby later. In another cartoon, the pattern might just as well be repeated in a milieu that didn’t involve spousal relations at all (i. e. Disney’s MOTOR MANIA).

    Angry behavior in any realm all seems to have fallen into the rough category of “having a terrible temper,” with the crew seemingly unaware of the more troubling implications when a married spouse was the sole target.
    All of this could tie into one reason why society turned a blind eye to domestic violence for so long; it was simply seen as one of many kinds of tantrum, with the extra elements of sexism and entrapment ignored or denied.

  • I usually love Famous Studios cartoons, though this one was pretty weird. Entertaining and disturbing at the same time!

    I could see this airing on Adult Swim. That program could use some stuff like this for once! Even regular watchers (including stoners) could find this amusing.

  • The Modern Madcaps were surely the most sophisticated and creative of Famous Studio’s output of the ’60s and I’ve always been drawn to the mid century inspired background designs and musical scores which in this case, fit the theme of the short so well. Too bad the animation is so sloppy and writing is bad. I think that with better timing and direction in the hands of someone like Bobe Cannon, this concept would’ve made for a really entertaining short!

    If we’re putting in requests for bad Paramount cartoons, I’ve always wanted to see the Famous GoGo Toons (only ever seen Marvin Digs) and would especially love to see the Shamus Culhane shorts (“The Squaw-Path” and “The Plumber”) and the two Chuck Harriton directed shorts, especially “Keep The Cool, Baby” with a supposedly really hip jazz score and design scheme!

    Thanks for posting this short Jerry, it’s a gas!

  • What the Paramount story crew probably was thinking (in boiled-down form): “He may be an arsle [sic], but he’s OUR arsle.”

  • great cartoon! funny as hell!

  • J Lee

    David — It might be implied, but at least it’s not overt, since she clangs him in the head with the frying pan again — I was thinking more of the type of ending like in Warners attempted in “Those Were Wonderful Days”, where the twist was the heroine goes back to the villain kidnapper/potential rapist at the iris out.

    Early 30s cartoons (and 1890s melodramas) being what they were, the implied message there that the woman wanted to be with the villain for whatever abuse ensued doesn’t hit home as much as if the same cartoon had been done a decade or so later – which may be why Jones used the goofy comedy relief guy to go off with Dora Standpipe at the end of “The Dover Boys” instead of Dan Backslide. In “Happy Harry”, at least they restrained themselves from having the wife directly demand the old, abusive Harry come back or show an end scene of her hugging her abusive honey.

    There may be some comedy out there to be found in the “Bad boys and the Women Who Love Them” storyline that kept dozens of daytime talk shows going over the past 25 years (and which Friz tried to use in “He Was Her Man”), but I don’t think Paramount’s cartoon staff in 1963 would have had anything near the deft touch to pull that storyline off.

  • Tim Brown

    I thought this cartoon was actually quite funny…..I laughed out loud a few times! Whoever did Harry’s voice nailed it!

    This cartoon is better than about 99% of the shit that’s out there right now!

  • Jim Meadows

    Was that Frank Nelson I heard voicing the shrink?

  • AlphaTom

    I love how the only solution is to change who you mistreat.

  • According to Graham Webb’s book, Bob McFadden and Corrine Orr did the voices. Can you confirm, Jerry?

  • Thanks everyone – I’ll try to post some of the other oddball Paramount cartoons in future weeks. If you can’t wait, see this page.

  • Marvin

    Adult Swim couldn’t air this because it wasn’t created in Atlanta.

  • Harry seems to be one of those guys whom we refer as “farol en la calle, obscuridad en su casa” here in Mexico (a street lamp that doesn’t shine on its own home).

    Something from which I had a close personal experience, since my own father is something of a Harry Happy; often as a child I wished I wasn’t a member of his family, so he could treat me as he treated strangers; so I do think the cartoon—while poorly executed—does have merit as a social commentary.

  • Mike Kazaleh

    Bob McFadden really is doing all the men’s voices (and one granny.) I don’t know who is doing the women’s voices, although I’ve heard her in other Paramount cartoons from this period.

  • Cole Johnson

    As far as these end-of-the line Paramount cartoons go, howabout MOUSE TREK? I’m assuming it’s a parody of Star Trek, and as such I would think it would be around.


  • OM

    “My Daddy, The Astronaut” can be found here:


  • Cole,

    Bakshi’s “Mouse Trek” can be seen here:


    The cat looks just like one of the characters in Bakshi’s earlier Terrytoons work “Sad Cat”

  • Dock Miles

    This cartoon offers fascinating reflections of its era. Unfunny because, on some level, the creators knew the subject of their satire was no laughing matter.

    In the years after WWII, the role of “housewife” became so restricted (and so required for all women who were not wealthy) that an enormous amount of national social energy was required to keep females in their place and at least superficially happy with the situation. Inevitably, the energy became oppressive. And by the early ’60s, there were lots of tensions seething under the surface. (“Revolutionary Road”/”Feminine Mystique” anyone? Both ’62-’63.)

    The Organization Man had to be kept in his slot, too. And one bizarre tactic of the times was to hammer home to guys that they were not squeezed down by the Boss or the System — but by Women! (Think Big Nurse.)

    So, as we see in the cartoon, the acceptable object of Organization Man’s wrath was all the females that suppressed him. And that display was intended to keep the housewives in line, too. Any change from the standard roles was a haw-haw-ridiculous notion. Right? Right?? Maybe not, by 1963.

    Unfortunately, the best solution to this social bind — drop out! — is not a viable option any more.

  • Bugsmer

    That was hilarious, Jerry. Thanks.

  • Cole Johnson

    Thanks to Charles Brubaker for the link to the last Paramount cartoon, MOUSE TREK. A sad way to go out, considering the studio’s long cartoon heritage, going back to World War One. I was hoping for a satire of STAR TREK, but alas, it’s just another ugly Ralph Bakshi mean-stupid-cat affair, indistinguishable from his Terrytoons.

  • You know, that looked awfully familiar to me, and I’m thinking it did air in Chicago in the late 70s. They ran a lot of stuff like that on weekday mornings during Bozo’s Circus and The Ray Rayner Show.

    Can’t swear to it, but I swear I’ve seen this before yet not since I was a child.

  • Marin Pažanin

    This wasn’t a so good cartoon, but it was crazy!

    “Trash Program” can be found here:

    “The Fuz” can be found here:

    Credited Director: Seymour Kneitel
    Animation Director: Martin Taras
    Animation: John Gentilella, William B. Pattengill
    Story: Al Pross(he was an animator and writer at the studio) and
    Izzy Klein
    Scenics: Anton Loeb
    Music: Winston Sharples

    Originally Released in September of 1963.

  • Marin Pažanin


  • Roloff

    This started to grow on my so much that I just picked up a 35mm print of it! If it wasn’t for being able to see it here and reading about it including some of the great comments, I wouldn’t have bought it.