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The characters of Beany and Cecil were first seen as puppets on the 1950s show Time for Beany, which featured Captain Horatio Huffenpuff (“Uncle Captain”) and his nephew Beany Boy as they travelled the high seas aboard the Leakin’ Lena.
Beany (who was named for the propeller hat he always wore) was accompanied by his pal Cecil, the seasick serpent, who externalised his aversion to the sea by sneezing (which was much more appealing than the usual reaction).
The bad guy was Dishonest John (abbreviated to “DJ”), who delighted in twisting his moustache and laughing depravedly whenever he was able to upset Captain Huffenpuff’s activities.
During the series’ run, Beany Boy met such unforgettable characters as Thunderbolt the Wonder Colt, the Incredible Three-Headed Threep, Pop Gunn the western explorer, Tearalong the dotted lion, Billy the squid, and Careless the Mexican Hairless.
This series was hugely popular with kids and adults, mainly because of the talents behind the production. Bob Clampett created the show and made a concerted effort to spoof any person, place or thing, almost to the point of defamation.
With the help of comedy genius Stan Freberg and veteran voice talents Daws Butler and Don Messick, Clampett turned a simple local puppet show into one of the most popular programmes of the 1950s, winning two Emmys in the process.
After Time for Beany was cancelled, Clampett launched a new, animated version of the show. In 1962, Matty’s Funnies with Beany & Cecil premiered, introducing viewers to the animated versions of their favourite characters.
Matty Mattel (named after the Mattel toy company) and his sister Belle, however, were quickly dropped from the show, which gave Beany and Cecil top billing.
This new version was just as popular and just as irreverent. Since Clampett’s creation was now seen by a wider audience, he now had more people that he could offend, even the then-untouchable Disney Corporation.
Proving that you can’t keep a good Beany Boy down, Beany and Cecil was revived in 1988 in all-new animated adventures. Spearheading the project was Bob Clampett’s protégé John Kricfalusi, who would eventually create the wildly popular .
Staying true to Clampett’s original vision of the show, Kricfalusi was diligent in his attention to story and animation. Some say this diligence caused the downfall of the show by putting production too far behind schedule.
Capt. Horatio Huffenpuff
Beany Boy (1988)
Mark Laurence Hildreth
Dishonest John (1988)