Heavens to Murgatroyd!

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Does anyone remember the cartoon character Snagglepuss? Snagglepuss is a character created by Hanna-Barbera in 1959. He’s best known for his famous catchphrase, “Heavens to Murgatroyd!”, along with phrases such as “Exit, stage left!” (or stage right, and sometimes even up or down), a phrase used in theatrical stage directions. Finally, Snagglepuss tends to add the word “even” to the end of his statements.

He first appeared in several episodes of The Quick Draw McGraw Show and became a regular segment on The Yogi Bear Show. Daws Butler based the character’s voice on Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, which at one point caused some confusion to the point where Mr. Lahr threatened legal action against Hanna-Barbera and Kellogg’s. To resolve the matter, it was decided to include the on-screen message “Voice of Snagglepuss–Daws Butler” during the commercial segments.

I remember Snagglepuss mostly from his appearance on Scooby’s All-Star Laff-a-Lympics in 1977 and 1978. Of course all of these were seen in reruns, as I was born in 1977, but I was always a big fan of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, especially Scooby-Doo. My love for Scooby-Doo probably is the reason I still love to read mysteries.

The thing about Snagglepuss is that he was an effeminate, pinkish lavender lion who many have assumed was gay over the years. While gay-pride and gay-rights activists and folklorists will like to use Snagglepuss as a gay icon because of his pinkish lavender fur color, his lisping speech and his fondness for the theatrical, Joe Barbera was once quoted as denying the likelihood, insisting that the character (and voice) were modeled on Bert Lahr (adding that Lahr “once beat up on his wife!” which I guess was supposed to make Lahr more manly, but seems cruel and silly to me). Too, there were at least two episodes involving a would-be girlfriend, Lyla, who rejected Snagglepuss as too boorish. Haven’t we all (gay men, that is) though had “a would-be girlfriend” to hide our sexuality.

On a Season 34: Episode 8 “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live (November 15, 2008), Bobby Moynihan appears in costume as Snagglepuss to comment on California’s ban on gay marriage. During the segment Snagglepuss is outed by anchor Seth Meyers and then confesses that his domestic partner is fellow Hanna-Barbera cartoon character The Great Gazoo, who also makes a cameo.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

2 responses to “Heavens to Murgatroyd!

  • Finistere

    Oh dear, I’m old enough to remember the series from their first run in the late Fifities to the early Sixties, during the time of Camelot. I was in my early teens.
    They were among the best shows on TV and satirized the Cold War (in Boris and Natasha) as well as other themes of that era.
    Since my adult life in NYC was largely spent out in the city and not at home watching TV, I haven’t seen the cartoons since then.
    It must have been a lot of fun working in the copy room of the Hanna-Barbera studio.

  • itsmyhusbandandme

    He’s before my time – that’s a first!
    JP

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