The Banana Splits
original research=August 2008
show_name = The Banana Splits Adventure Hour
caption = Original title card for "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour".
show_name_2 = The Banana Splits and Friends Show
genre = Children's
Richard Donner(Season 1)
Tom Boutross (Season 2)
starring = Jeffrey Winkless (as Jeffrey Brock)
Terence H. Winkless(as Terence Henry)
Dan Winkless (as Daniel Owen)
James "Jimmy" Dove
theme_music_composer = Nelson B. Winkless, Jr. (credited to Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan)
opentheme = "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)"
country = USA
language = English
num_seasons = 2
num_episodes = 31
producer = Edward J. Rosen (Season 1)
September 7, 1968
September 5, 1970
imdb_id = 0062543
tv_com_id = 3824
"The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" was an hour-long, packaged television program that featured both live action and animated segments. The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, and ran for 31 episodes on
NBCSaturday mornings, from September 7, 1968to September 5, 1970. The series costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofftand the series' sponsor was Kellogg's Cereals.cite book|last=Erickson|first=Hal |title=Sid and Marty Krofft|publisher=McFarland|date=1998|pages=14-15|isbn=9780786405183|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=jgTN6_IC9b4C&pg=PA15&dq=history+of+the+banana+splits+costumes&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U0AeRj5dR89FcAb33NblsEP4On_iw#PPA14,M1]
In 1967, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera approached the
Krofft Brothersto design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rockgroup of anthropomorphiccharacters. The format of the show was loosely based on " Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In". "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" premiered on NBC on September 7, 1968.
The Kroffts give credit to the success of the series by opening the door for their own entry into television. NBC picked up the Kroff's series
H.R. Pufnstuf, which was launched during an hour-long special hosted by The Banana Splits on August 30, 1969.
The show's live-action segments "Danger Island", a
cliffhangerserial, as well as the short-lived " Micro Ventures" ran alongside with the animated segments " Arabian Knights" and "The Three Musketeers".
Each show represented a meeting of the "Banana Splits Club," and the wraparounds featured the adventures of the club members, who doubled as a musical quartet, meant to be reminiscent of
The Beatlesand The Monkees. The main characters were Fleegle, a beagle; Bingo, a gorilla; Drooper, a lion, and Snorky (called "Snork" in the theme song lyrics), an elephant. Fleegle would assume the role as leader of the Banana Splits and preside at club meetings. The characters were played by actors in fleecy costumes similar to later Sid and Marty Krofft series such as "H.R. Pufnstuf".
The Splits' segments, including songs-of-the-week and comedy skits, served as wraparounds for a number of individual segments. In the second season, "The Three Musketeers" segments were replaced with repeats of "
The Hillbilly Bears", a cartoon segment that previously appeared on "The Atom Ant Show" (1965-1968).
For the first season, some of the live action segments (specifically those used during the musical segments) were shot at
Six Flags Over Texas, an amusement park located in Arlington, Texas. For the second season, filming took place at the Coney Island amusement park, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits would be seen riding on the Runaway Mine Train rollercoasters, Log Flumes, Bumper Cars, Merry-Go-Rounds, and many other rides at Six Flags. Contrary to popular misconception, the amusement park scenes in the original series were not filmed at Kings Island, also in Cincinnati, Ohio, which did not open until 1972. (Filming for "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" wrapped in 1969.) However, some of the rides seen in the series eventually were relocated to Kings Island (following a flood which led to the closing of Coney Island; the park later reopened on a smaller scale) and the live-action scenes in the 1972 production " The Banana Splits In Hocus Pocus Park" were indeed filmed at Kings Island in Cincinnati. All of the live-action material filmed for the first season of "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" (including the Banana Splits and "Danger Island" sequences) was directed by future "Superman" director Richard Donner.
"The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" was one of the first two Hanna-Barbera productions in 1968 in which
William Hannaand Joseph Barberareceived executive producercredits; the other being " The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" ( Edward Rosenserved as producer on both series). They would not, however, assume the title full-time for another five years.
During the first season, the Banana Splits segments often concerned the group's confrontations with a rival club: The Sour Grapes Bunch. The Sour Grapes were not seen on camera, but would send notes (usually a challenge or some other kind of threat) delivered by one of the "Sour Grapes messenger girls," who would dance into the Splits' clubhouse wearing purple minidresses, matched with pink leotards, tights and black
go-go boots. They would normally intimidate or frighten the Splits until they gave the note to Fleegle. They would then dance out and take a bow before leaving. Five young actresses appeared as the messenger girls: Debra Thibodeaux, Colette Chenault, Julie Graham, Kathy O'Dare, and Shirley Hillstrom; only one would appear at a time, always called "Charlie" in the context of the show, except for the performance of the song "Doin' The Banana Split" (the segment first appeared in show #5, originally telecast October 5, 1968) which featured all five girls dancing with The Banana Splits. Their dance instructor was Byron Gilliam. Both Julie Graham and Kathy O'Dare would later appear in the 1970s TV series " Happy Days".
The Splits also occasionally were visited by the Mariachi-tuned Dilly Sisters (an actual musical act from Mexico), who would appear at their door playing guitars and singing "The Mexican Hat Dance" or "
Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay". In other recurring features during the first season, Drooper and Bingo offered advice to viewers in the "Dear Drooper" segment, while Fleegle served as the reporter for "Banana Splits News". Other running gags included Fleegle repeatedly hitting himself by accident with his oversized gavel. The show introduced some catch phrases: the line, "That's An Ooch," would be said every time a member was hit or injured (sometimes, it would be a double or triple-ooch depending on the extent of the injury). Other memorable sayings included "Hold the bus!" and "Uh-oh, Chongo!" (the latter from the serialized "Danger Island" segment).
In the second season, all new live-action segments were produced with the Banana Splits characters, while the animated segments and "Danger Island" serial were repeats. ("Arabian Knights" and "Danger Island" were reprised from Season 1, while "The Three Musketeers" would be replaced by repeats of "The Hillbilly Bears", previously seen on "
The Atom Ant Show".) For the new season, the set was slightly modified, and the Splits' recurring routines were all new: Fleegle attempted (quite unsuccessfully) to perform magic tricks as alter ego "The Great Fleegali", while "Super Drooper" fought crime and "Coach Bingo" kept the rest of the group active in sports competitions. Other new elements included "School Time", "Nursery Rhymes" and a "Gag Wall" segment (reminiscent of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In"), as well as "Fan Club" meetings where the Banana Splits would read viewer mail. Goofy Gopher (voiced by Paul Winchell) would pop out from a flower pot to deliver the occasional one-liner, joining the Cuckoo Clock and Banana Vac as secondary characters. The characters' costume designs also received an overhaul (introduced in the next-to-last Season 1 episode, "The Great Banana Splits Buggy Race"), with Snorky now sporting a yellow and blue striped vest.
Syndication and cable
In syndication, the show was re-edited into a half-hour format and retitled "The Banana Splits And Friends Show." That package consisted of 125 half-hours, including 36 "Banana Splits Adventure Hour" cutdowns (edited from the 18 original first season shows; 13 additional episodes produced for the 1969-1970 season were not included in the syndicated package; reconstructed versions of the 36 syndicated edits continue to air on Boomerang today). Four other Hanna-Barbera series (originally unrelated to "The Banana Splits", apart from having been produced by the same studio) were folded into the syndicated series as well: "Atom Ant" (26 half-hours, also featuring "
Precious Pupp" and the aforementioned "Hillbilly Bears"), " Secret Squirrel" (26 half-hours, also featuring " Squiddly Diddly" and " Winsome Witch"), " The Adventures of Gulliver" (17 half-hours), as well as "The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (20 half-hours, originally seen in prime-time and here introduced as "The Adventures Of Huck Finn") which combined live-action with animation. The four other shows occasionally are repeated on the Boomerang cable network in their original, non-"Banana Splits" configurations. (The syndicated "Atom Ant", "Secret Squirel" and "Gulliver" episodes had a rotation of eight repeating clips edited into them, with Paul Winchell redubbing Fleegle's voice to introduce various cartoon segments. A total of a minute and a half of this footage was repurposed in this manner; the clips originated from Season 2 shows, as did the syndicated series' opening and closing titles. It was the only Season 2 material included in the syndicated package.)
Although fewer episodes were produced during the second season (13 compared to 18 in the first season), NBC repeated five Season 1 episodes (re-edited to feature the final five chapters of "Danger Island") to maintain continuity of story line immediately following the first run of the 13 Season 2 episodes.
After the cancellation of the original series, the characters were revived in the TV special "
The Banana Splits in Hocus Pocus Park", which first aired as an hour-long installment of " The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie" on Saturday, November 25, 1972. Unlike the television show, The Splits spent most of the film in animated form.
In addition to the original 31 episodes of "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour", NBC also aired two "preview" shows. "Meet The Banana Splits" was a half-hour special consisting of segments from the early episodes; it aired Friday, September 6, 1968, one day before the show's official premiere. Another "fall preview" show, called "The Banana Splits And Friends" (not to be confused with the later half-hour syndicated package "The Banana Splits And Friends Show") aired in "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour's" regular timeslot on Saturday, August 30, 1969. The latter show served as a "fall preview" for NBC-TV's 1969-1970 Saturday morning lineup, and was produced by
Don Sandburg(who was best known to Chicago-area TV viewers as "Sandy the Tramp" from WGN-TV's " Bozo's Circus)" for NBC-TV. The special featured appearances by Jack Wild (Jimmy of "H.R. Pufnstuf"), Judy The Chimp (of "Jambo"), and a costumed "Pink Panther". Although the special aired before the start of the second season, it was the last original "Banana Splits" show to be filmed, after regular shooting for the series had been completed.
Joe Barbera wrote in his autobiography, "My Life in 'Toons", that the original name for theseries was to be "The Banana Bunch," but Hanna-Barbera was forced to change it after the author of a children's book by that name refused permission to use the title. Kellogg's had printed up1.25 million cereal boxes with references to "The Banana Bunch" on them but wound up trashing the stock and starting over.
In August 2008, Warner Bros announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts and music videos that debuted on
Cartoon Networkstarting September 2, 2008.cite web|url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-7Oip-NIjM|title=The Banana Splits|date=2008-08-14|work=WarnerBrosOnline|accessdate=2008-08-15] cite web|url=http://www2.warnerbros.com/web/corpcomm/portal/press_release.jsp?id=WBCPBananaSplitsReLaunch|title=The Banana Splits Are Back! Warner Bros. Consumer Products Serves Up Four Scoops Of Hilarity With Relaunch|date=2008-08-15|work=Warner Bros. Press Office|accessdate=2008-08-20] . The relaunch includes a live show and a new website,cite web|url=http://www.bananasplits.com/|title=The Banana Splits|work=The Banana Splits|accessdate=2008-08-15] as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs to be released by Universal Records. In addition, a new kids-themed area called Banana Splitsville is being placed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's Hard Rock Parkrock-and-roll theme park. [cite web|url=http://www.hardrockpark.com/bornintheusa/bananasplitsville.cfm|title=Hard Rock Park - Banana Splitsville|publisher=Hard Rock Park|accessdate=2008-08-26]
The Banana Splits' adventures continued in
comic books. Gold Key began publishing a comic version in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971. [cite web|url=http://www.comics-db.com/Other_Publishers/G/Gold_Key_Comics/B/The_Banana_Splits/index.html|title=The Banana Splits|publisher=The Big DataBase of Comic Books|accessdate=2008-08-25] Drawn by Jack Manning, these followed the musicians trying to find work or on the road between gigs.
The Banana Splits'
bubblegum pop rock and rollwas provided by studio professionals, including Joey Levine("I Enjoy Being a Boy", "It's a Good Day for a Parade"), Al Kooper("You're the Lovin' End"), Barry White("Doin' the Banana Split"), and Gene Pitney("Two Ton Tessie"). The music director was prolific songwriter and producer Mark Barkan along with Ritchie Adams. The main theme, "The Tra-La-La song," was written by Nelson B. Winkless, Jr. (on all record releases as well as the TV show's closing credits, the song is credited to Adams and Barkan, due to contractual arrangements).Fact|date=December 2007 Despite this, Winkless is credited as co-writer, along with Hoyt Curtin, of "The Beautiful Calliopa" (also called "My Beautiful Calliopasaxaviatrumparimbaclaribasotrombaphone"), which was featured several times in the television series and also issued on record.
** Acted by Jeffrey Winkless, billed as Jeffrey Brock.
** Voiced by Paul Winchell, who also provided the voices of Goofy Gopher and Cuckoo.
** Acted by Terry Winkless, billed as Terence Henry.
** Voiced by Daws Butler
** Acted by Dan Winkless, billed as Daniel Owen.
** Voiced by Allan Melvin, also provided the voices of the announcer and Banana Vac
** Acted by James "Jimmy" Dove in season 1 song segments
** Acted by Robert Towers in most other segments
Although Snorky's voice often has been mistakenly credited to
Don Messick, the character never actually spoke. Messick did perform Drooper's voice in some portions of "The Banana Splits In Hocus Pocus Park", with Allan Melvin voicing the character in other scenes).
Jeffrey, Terry and Dan Winkless are brothers, the sons of N. B. Winkless Jr., a jingle writer for the show's sponsor,
Kellogg's. Winkless composed some of the memorable Kellogg's cereal jingles, including "The best to you each morning," and also co-wrote (with Hoyt Curtin) "The Beautiful Calliopa," a song used on the series. The actors' names were changed in the show's credits to avoid the appearance of nepotism. Fleegle's voice is an imitation of actor/comedian Ed Wynn.
Ironically, James Dove, the original Snorky, was previously a voice-over artist. He was hired as a result of his small stature, and has stated that he was fired as a result of not being able to get along with the Winkless "kids". James Dove currently suffers from end-stage
Parkinson's disease. He lives in assisted care in Los Angeles. Dan Winkless currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jeffrey Winkless died of cancerat age 65 on June 26, 2006.
Earl Kress, a reputable source in the animation industry who holds close ties with the Hanna-Barbera crew, posted on his blog that "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" was tentatively scheduled to be released on DVD in 2007. After further research had been done on available master materials needed to reconstruct the shows for proper DVD release, the project was cancelled. [ [http://www.mynameisearlkress.com/weblog/?p=151 My Name Is Earl Kress Blog ] ]
* [http://www.bananasplits.4t.com Doin' The Banana Split!] featuring interviews with the original cast
* [http://puppet.wikia.com/wiki/Banana_Splits Puppet Wikia: Banana Splits]
* [http://home.comcast.net/~bubblegumusic/banana.htm Banana Splits' music]
* [http://www.wingnuttoons.com/Banana_Conf.html Interview with Shirley Hillstrom (now Sheri Freedman), who played Charley the Messenger of the Sour Grapes Bunch]
* [http://www.bananasplits.com/ The new official 2008 Banana Splits website]
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