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Rare UPA Recordings by Mel Leven

Here’s another historical curiosity courtesy of animator Mike Kazaleh.

Songwriter Mel Leven (“Cruella de Vil” for 101 Dalmatians) wrote many songs which were turned into mini-musicals for UPA’s Boing Boing Show (1956). Two of his most famous were Three Horned Flink (Fred Crippen animated and directed, above, from a design by Jimmy Murakami) and Fight On For Old (dirty print transfer embed below, directed by Ernest Pintoff, designed and animated by Fred Crippen).

The Boing Boing Show came and went in the late 50s, but Leven apparently felt his songs were worth another shot. In 1959, with UPA’s approval, Verve Records released a single featuring “Fight on for Old” backed-with “Three Horned Flink”. Says Kazaleh:

“These were recorded in 1959 after the “Boing Boing Show” was finished. Notice these are different arrangements from the versions used on the show. While researching UPA and Bobe Cannon, I had several visits with Mel Leven. On one of the visits he loaned me his copy of the 45rpm. I took it home and taped it, now I’ve digitized it for your pleasure.”

Once again, neither song attained mass popularity. In fact, both the films and the record are some of the most obscure productions UPA ever made. They shouldn’t be – Leven’s tunes (and his voice on Flink) are quite charming. You can see the original UPA versions above and can hear both sides of the 1959 single after the jump:

3 Horned Flink

Fight On For Old
  • Charming…wonderful…..delightful…light & cheerful…something we rarely see or hear any more, sadly.
    Artists were more free in the 50’s and 60’s to create charming work like this. There were LP recordings of comedians that were in the same style, by Allan Sherman, Jonathan Winters, Stan Freeberg; a golden era gone.

  • uncle wayne

    thank YOO! In youtubing for (ANY) video clips from this CBS show….there is NOTHING!! Has anyone out there clips from the show, its opening, etc???

  • Robert Barker

    Interesting. A CBS animated show later broadcast in prime time, beating the Flinstones by a couple years. As far as I know CBS never had a regularly scheduled show in color before the fall of 1965, and yet this is in color. I don’t remember them ever trying to recoup some of their investment by broadcasting the show on Saturday mornings. Anybody know any outside of Wikipedia info on this show?

    • Mike Kazaleh

      After Hank Saperstein bought UPA, he used the “Boing Boing Show” shorts as the basis of a syndicated package called “Cartoon Parade.” Since Columbia Pictures owned the rights to the UPA theatricals, The Boing Boing Show shorts were the few films that UPA still retained. In repackaging the show, Saperstein in most cases added generic title slates (presumably to eliminate the CBS copyrights) and in some cases added voice overs to pantomime sequences. They were originally shot in Technicolor, but the Cartoon Parade prints were struck on Eastman stock.

      Later, in the late eighties, these cartoons were used as fillers on the USA network broadcasts of Mr. Magoo. Still later, Paramount Home Video released six VHS tapes of the cartoons. On the tapes and the USA broadcasts, some tampering in video post was evident.

      Strangely enough, in the mid seventies, whole half hours of the original Boing Boing Show were aired on the CBC network.

      • Thanks for the info about the obscure syndicated repackaging. I wondered why I have childhood memories of these cartoons that were mentioned, in animation references, only as part of a show broadcast before I was born. These “sort-of-lost” UPA cartoons were among my favorites.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I remember these from USA Network’s airings as well. I guess Classic Media’s got it’s mitts on ’em, and yet they don’t even have much of a clue over what to do with ’em, or perhaps not a care that they exist.

  • Fred Crippen rules us all. Thanks Mike & Jerry!

  • Absolutely brilliant. ‘Fight on for Old’ is especially deft, even with the terrible print. They should have played that at halftime of Monday night’s BCS championship game, as a counterpoint to the hype and silliness of college football (which, if you can believe it, was an even bigger deal when these films were made). Thanks for posting these.

  • Stephen

    I would love to see the Boing Boing show on dvd.

  • One of my favorite shorts from the “Boing Boing Show” is “Prehistoric Horse.” The designs are fantastic. I have it on VHS but haven’t seen it online.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      You’d think by now someone would have a brain to find those tapes and just sneak ’em up on YouTube like it was nothing. Best I noticed is one or two of those shows that have been stuck off, often coming from DVD’s sold for a buck at Walmart that are presumed Public Domain material to be had. These films deserve better than that.

  • Fred Crippen is one of my animation heros. I was lucky to work for him many years ago. I loved “The Boing Boing Show,” and I doubt CBS did. The show was on the air on Sunday afternoons when nobody was watching television.

  • James E. Parten

    I remember that syndication package. Here in Los Angeles, it ran as part of an early-morning cartoon package usually logged in “TV Guide” as just “Babysitter”. This program was ostensibly sponsored by the International House of Pancakes, but the only advertising we ever saw was at the beginning and end of the show: just a little taped clip of a man in a chef’s outfit with a spatula against a black background, and a jingle that mentioned the sponsor’s name.

    Other cartoons in that package (run on KHJ, Channel 9) included “Spunky and Tadpole”, “Q. T. Hush”, “Herge’s Adventures of Tin Tin”, and the syndicated “King and Odie Show” made up of elements from the network “King Leonardo And His Short Subjects”. Also included: the one-reel “Our Gang” shorts.

    Memories of individual cartoons are dim and hazy, but I remember one about an ice-cream salesman who did the unthinkable: he changed his tune! There was also one about an election between one Bates and one Jones, with the line “No Electioneering Beyond This Point!”. And there was one based around a jingle “Winter Sports”.

    CBS did no colorcasting between around 1957 and 1965, when they realized that they were being left at the post. There had been some limited color broadcasting after the FCC had adopted NBC’s “dot-sequential” system over CBS’s “field-sequential” one, after having favored the CBS system at first. At the time, CBS’s color shows had no particular color signature, but just the announcer saying something like “And now–in full color. . . ” There was, however, a color version of the William Goldin “Big Eye” logo seen at the end of many CBS films and kinescopes at the time. I’ve seen it on some kinescopes of “Shower of Stars”–but only in monochrome. Seems to have had a kaleidoscope motif.

    • sallie parker

      Winter sports, winter sports
      Throwing snowballs, building forts.
      When the weatherman reports
      Lots and lots of snow.
      Winter sports, winter sports
      How we love the winter sports…

      I remember the Winter Sports cartoon too, but last saw it around January 1968.

  • Chuck Howell

    I too have fond memories of the Flink, as well as the Terwiliger Twins, “Quiet, Kind and Gentle,” “Winter Sports,” “Mr. Charmley Greets a Lady,” “Pee Wee the Kiwi” et al. WDCA – TV (channel 20)in Washington DC used the aforementioned Cartoon Parade package to fill time when movies ran short or to make up for unsold commercial time – running a UHF station in 1969 was not a lucrative proposition. Amazing how the words to Three Horned Flink came rushing back to me as I watched it for the first time in at least 35 years. Amazing to see it in color as well…

  • Tris Mast

    That Flink sure looks like the work of Cliff Roberts.