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Top Dawgs of the Sixties


Augie DogEver since “Elvis the Pelvis” generated heat and got everyone’s dander up on The Milton Berle Show by swiveling his hips and vamping a half tempo croon to Hound Dog in June of 1956—You ain’t-a-nuthin’ but a hound dog, cuh-crying all the time—it’s been win, place, or show for canines cavorting as cartoon characters or pedigreed stars on a television series.  A credit to their impersonators or trainers, I’m tossing a bone to memorable barking dogs of the Sixties that never bit. 


Not Rhett—but Daws Butler provided the Southern Daw-drawl for The Huck-- blue dog, Huckleberry, on The Huckleberry Hound Show (NBC, 1958–1960). Sponsored by Kellogg’s Cereals, Huck starred as a dim-witted, good-natured, honest, hard-working dog trying out various careers: mailman, truant officer, veterinarian, lion tamer, explorer, mounted police officer, firefighter, and dogcatcher. The Huckster garnered an Emmy for Best Children’s Program, the only cartoon series awarded this distinction until Snoopy wrestled the bone away for Charles M. Schulz’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Who wouldn’t howl at the moon during Huck’s tone deaf rendition of “Oh My Darling, Clementine”? 



I can’t let these sleeping dogs lie without giving high praise to the Dachshund duo-- Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy, regulars on The Quick Draw McGraw Show (1959-1962). Doug Young, impersonating Jimmy Durante, articulated Daddy—“Augie, my son, my son,” when exasperated by Junior’s misadventures, or “Dat’s my boy!” when instilled with pride.  None other than Daws Butler augmented the voice of Augie, whose misguided efforts were meant to please Daddy. One of Augie’s pet lines-- “My dear old Dad.”



Dayton Allen was the dog breath behind Deputy Dawg, a stereotypical “dep-i-ty” sheriff from the  Mississippi bayous, starring in the cartoon series of the same name (CBS, 1962–1963). Deputy battled the ne’er do good locals, though he much preferred catfishin’. 



Like a trained pooch, I assumed my position in front of the set as soon as I heard “Whistle,” the series theme for Lassie performed by Muzzy Marcellino. Woof!  (CBS, Sunday September 12, 1954 - Sunday March 24, 1973). I happened to first tune in during the fourth season when the series featured seven-year-old Timmy Martin (Jon Provost) and his adoptive parents. Basically, Timmy got into some sort of trouble with a wild animal whereby Lassie saved her master by the skin of her teeth, or dashed and yelped for help. The young lad usually received a lecture for his foolhardiness or lack of judgment at the end of each half hour segment—a nip and tuck, for sure!


M-m-m, m-m-m good! Campbell’s Soup sponsored Lassie for its entire nineteen year run, requesting their products be visible in every episode. Just as Campbell’s sought to maintain a clean American image, the show itself attempted to shape wholesome family values.  Still, critics objected plots showing children in danger, and they frowned upon Timmy’s actions which they believed encouraged disobedience.  Nevertheless, the public perceived June Lockhart as the “perfect” mother.  And…Lassie was no bitch either! Pal and five of his male descendants assumed the lead acting role-- Lassie Junior, Spook, Baby, Mire, and Hey Hey.



Cuh-crying all the time is just what I did by the half hour’s end of The Littlest Hobo (1963–1965). No hound dog, this top dawg was one high classed German Shepherd, and that’s not a lie! The noble stray wandered from town to town helping those in need.  Despite noble intentions of well-meaning folks to adopt him, Hobo preferred taking to the road. Maybe tomorrow, I'll wanna settle down, until tomorrow, I'll just keep moving on…I’m misty-eyed just writing about it. 



In this dog eat dog world, man’s best friend reprised memorable leading roles in both animated and dramatic series for television. So deserving of a bow wow, even though these top dawgs may not have caught any rabbits, they sure were friends of mine!  Since the aforementioned formed an all male ensemble, here’s a salute from Doggie Daddy—“Dat’s my boy!”


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