As a child I was an early riser. On a Saturday morning I could be found planted directly in front of the television as early as 6:00 am. If I were up early on a week day, I might catch the rerun of an older show; “The Life of Riley” comes to mind, but, Saturday and Sunday mornings were all about cartoons. The earlier you were up, the older the cartoons. This was where I saw Popeye and Betty Boop. The best of course were Looney Toons, with Bugs and Daffy. I alway loved the orchestral music in the old cartoons and firmly believe that my later discovery and appreciation of classical music started with cartoons (Lassie figures in there too). Anyway, at 7:00, I would be sure to change the station to channel 4, WBZ-TV in Boston for Rex Trailer’s Boomtown. Boomtown was a three hour mix of songs, skits and more cartoons lead by cowboy Rex Trailer and his sidekick Pablo. There were more cartoons after Boomtown, Adam Ant, Rocky and Bullwinkle, later on The Pink Panther - he was cool, but I liked the Aardvark best of all. After lunch, I would have to “go outside” for the rest of the day which was fine, because after cartoons the only thing on TV was bowling.
In September of 1965 the Beatles came to Saturday morning TV in a cartoon of their own on ABC, channel 7 WMUR-TV in Manchester, at 10:30. The show consisted of three segments. Two stories, named for particular songs, featured the mop topped lads in some zany adventure ending with them playing the song in question. The middle segment was a sing-along where you could join in with the Beatles by following a bouncing ball. A white dot skipping along the lyrics of “Mister Moonlight”.
While I was initially thrilled with this new Saturday morning offering, something wasn’t quite right. After all, I had seen “A Hard Days Night” twice, these were not the voices of the real Beatles. I soon learned that the Beatles themselves had nothing to with the series at all. In fact it turns out that the actor Paul Frees, who voiced John and George in the cartoon, was also the voice of Boris Badenov on “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show”. While the stories were amusing, the best part of it was as always, the music. Songs were played in their entirety which was great, because, while I was allowed to turn on the TV, I was not old enough to use the HiFi.
The Beatles ran from 1965 to 1967; reruns aired through 1969. It was the first cartoon series based on real people. Another strange thing about the cartoon was that the Beatles' look never changed. This is what they would have looked like in 1969.