The Ant and the Aardvark

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The Ant and the Aardvark
Aardvarkant.jpg
The Ant (right) and the Aardvark (left)
Portrayed by John Byner
Information
Species Ant (Charlie Ant)
Aardvark (Blue Aardvark)
Gender Male

The Ant and the Aardvark is a series of 17 theatrical short cartoons produced at DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and released by United Artists from 1969 to 1971.

Plot[edit]

The cartoon follows attempts of a blue aardvark named Aardvark (voiced by John Byner,[1][2][3] impersonating comedian Jackie Mason), to catch and eat a red ant named Charlie (also voiced by John Byner,[1][2][3] but impersonating Dean Martin), usually doing so by inhaling with a loud vacuum cleaner sound. The character is essentially unnamed; in the episode Rough Brunch, he claims his name is simply "Aardvark." Charlie Ant gives his nemesis a variety of names as sly terms of endearment (Ol' Sam, Ol' Ben, Ol' Blue, Claude, Pal, Buddy, Daddy-O).[4] In several bumper sequences of The Pink Panther Show, he is called "Blue Aardvark."

Production[edit]

The Ant and the Aardvark series was originally released by United Artists. 17 theatrical shorts were produced in the original series, and were subsequently featured in various television syndication packages, usually shown with DFE's other characters such as the Pink Panther and The Inspector. Four of the 17 entries (The Ant and the Aardvark, Never Bug an Ant, Scratch a Tiger and Don't Hustle an Ant with Muscle) appear in their television syndication form, complete with an audible laugh track added by NBC-TV when released on DVD in 2007. Laugh-tracked versions of all 17 entries are currently available via the video-sharing website YouTube.

When The Ant and the Aardvark first appeared on The Pink Panther Meets the Ant and the Aardvark in 1970, the series became wildly popular, so much in fact that the duo became a featured part of the NBC series.[4] Even though the 17 entries remained popular throughout the broadcast run of The Pink Panther Show, no new entries were produced.[4]

The series used several unique production techniques for the period. The aardvark's body was solid blue: his only clothes—a pair of blue shorts and matching T-shirt—were a matching blue. Similarly, Charlie Ant was solid red, and did not sport any clothing. As such, the character's solid colors allowed them to stand out clearly against the multi-colored backgrounds featured prominently in the series. Charlie also sported half-closed eyes, as a sign of a bon viveur.[4]

Musical director Doug Goodwin was responsible for the jazzy music score. Goodwin assembled an established group of jazz session musicians to perform the series' theme music and musical cues. For the first time in animated cartoons, all six musicians—Ray Brown, Billy Byers, Pete Candoli, Shelly Manne, Jimmy Rowles and Tommy Tedesco—received on-screen credit.[4]

Art Leonardi was responsible for the main title graphic for all DePatie-Freleng entries. For The Ant and the Aardvark series, Leonardi expanded on a technique first introduced for the first Pink Panther cartoon, The Pink Phink. This entailed tearing paper into the forms of objects and characters to form stylized images.[4]

Additional characters[edit]

In the episodes I've Got Ants in My Plans and Odd Ant Out, the Aardvark tussled against a rival Green Aardvark (also voiced by Byner) with a "tough-guy" attitude.

There were additional minor characters in the series. Among them were the following:

  • Cousin Term the Termite (Rough Brunch)
  • Cousin Aunt Minerva, one of the Gi-Ants (The Ant From Uncle)
  • Tiny the Elephant, an ape, and a look-alike of Roland (from another DePatie-Freleng series, Roland and Rattfink) as Charlie Ant's lodge brothers (Mumbo Jumbo)
  • Tiger, voiced by Marvin Miller (Scratch a Tiger)
  • A Boris Karloff-sounding scientist (Science Friction)
  • A nurse at an animal hospital, voiced by Athena Lorde (From Bed to Worse)
  • An anteater-eating shark (Isle of Caprice)
  • A nearsighted lifeguard who mistakes the Aardvark for a dog (Dune Bug)

German version[edit]

In German-dubbed versions of the cartoon, the protagonists no longer imitate well-known actors. The male aardvark is transformed into a female anteater named Elise (Eliza). Charlie (voiced by Fred Maire) remains male, but is no longer a Dean Martin parody. Elise is voiced by Marianne Wischmann, a renowned German voice actress.

The German-dubbed versions of The Ant and the Aardvark series have gained a huge fan community over the decades,[5] mainly because of Wischmann's dry and matter-of-fact delivery of Elise's punch lines, as well as the distinctive vacuum cleaner sound Elise makes with the nose. Thus, the cartoons are commonly known under the title Die blaue Elise (Blue Eliza), leaving out the mentioning of Charlie the ant completely.

Filmography[edit]

All voices provided by John Byner unless otherwise noted.

Title Directed by: Story: Release date: Additional voices: Synopsis:
1 The Ant and the Aardvark Friz Freleng John W. Dunn March 5, 1969 The Ant's quiet lunch is disturbed by a hungry blue Aardvark.
2 Hasty But Tasty Gerry Chiniquy John W. Dunn March 6, 1969 While trying to catch the Ant, who's riding a miniature motorcycle, The Aardvark is bedeviled by the portable "Instant Hole" which removes the ground beneath him on the edge of a cliff and lets the air out of a balloon suspending the Aardvark in the air.
3 The Ant From Uncle George Gordon John W. Dunn April 2, 1969 To bar the Ant from subterranean refuge, the Aardvark strives to plug every ant hole in existence and, to his dismay, discovers a hole of volcanic proportions which is the dwelling of Charlie's huge, older kin.
4 I've Got Ants in My Plans Gerry Chiniquy John W. Dunn May 14, 1969 After breaking up a formal Ant dinner, the Aardvark fights over possession of the Ant with a rival green aardvark.
5 Technology, Phooey Gerry Chiniquy Irv Spector June 25, 1969 The Aardvark builds a flamboyant computer (with a speaking voice resembling Paul Lynde) to assist in catching the Ant.
6 Never Bug an Ant Gerry Chiniquy David Detiege September 12, 1969 The Aardvark obtains a real vacuum to suck the Ant out of his home.
7 Dune Bug Art Davis John W. Dunn October 27, 1969 The Ant is spending his vacation at the beach, while the Aardvark doggedly pursues him. In addition, a nearsighted lifeguard mistakes the Aardvark for a dog, which are not allowed on the beach without a leash.
8 Isle of Caprice Gerry Chiniquy David Detiege December 18, 1969 Stranded on a desert island, the hungry Aardvark tries to avoid a shark while making his way to a nearby island swarming with ants.
9 Scratch a Tiger Hawley Pratt Irv Spector January 28, 1970 Marvin Miller After the Ant removes a thorn from a tiger's paw, the tiger repays the favor by protecting the Ant from the hungry Aardvark.
10 Odd Ant Out Gerry Chiniquy Sid Marcus April 28, 1970 The green aardvark returns as he battles over a can of Chocolate Covered Ants with the Aardvark.
11 Ants in the Pantry Hawley Pratt John W. Dunn June 10, 1970 In an effort to eat, the Aardvark tries to rid a house of its ant infestation.
12 Science Friction Gerry Chiniquy Larz Bourne June 28, 1970 The Aardvark chases after the Ant, who is being studied by a local scientist.
13 Mumbo Jumbo Art Davis John W. Dunn September 27, 1970 The Ant is a member of the Brothers of the Forest Lodge #202, who pledge to always help one another in a time of distress via shouting the call "Zimbula Zoombula", which constantly prevents the Aardvark from having lunch.
14 The Froze Nose Knows Gerry Chiniquy Dale Hale November 18, 1970 The Aardvark tries his best to capture the Ant during a sudden snowy winter.
15 Don't Hustle an Ant with Muscle Art Davis Dale Hale December 27, 1970 After ingesting a bottleful of vitamins, the Ant gains super-human strength.
16 Rough Brunch Art Davis Sid Marcus January 3, 1971 The Ant seeks refuge from the Aardvark with his termite cousin Term at the termite's huge house.
17 From Bed to Worse Art Davis John W. Dunn June 16, 1971 Athena Lorde After being hit by a truck, the Ant and the Aardvark find themselves recuperating in an animal hospital.

Credits[edit]

  • Producers: David H. DePatie, Friz Freleng
  • Directors: Friz Freleng, Hawley Pratt, Gerry Chiniquy, Art Davis
  • Story: John W. Dunn, Irv Spector, Dave Detiege, Sid Marcus, Larz Bourne, Dale Hale
  • Animation: Warren Batchelder, Manny Gould, Manny Perez, Don Williams, Art Leonardi, Robert Taylor, Bob Goe, Tom Ray, Lloyd Vaughan, Bob Richardson, John Gibbs, Phil Roman, Robert Bentley, Ken Muse, Irv Spence
  • Graphic Designers: Corny Cole, Dick Ung, Al Wilson, Lin Larsen
  • Voices: John Byner, Marvin Miller, Athena Lorde
  • Color Designer: Tom O'Laughlin, Richard H. Thomas
  • Title Cards: Art Leonardi
  • Production Supervisor: Jim Foss
  • Coordinator: Harry Love
  • Camera: John Burton Jr.
  • Film Editor: Lee Gunther
  • Musical Director: Doug Goodwin
  • Musicians:

Revivals[edit]

The continued popularity of the series has led to at least two revivals as of 2012.

The first revival featured the characters as part on the 1993 incarnation of The Pink Panther. The characters remained unchanged, though unlike the original 1969-1971, they do not appear in their own segments but rather are included in segments featuring the Pink Panther (now voiced by Matt Frewer). John Byner returned to voice both Charlie Ant and the Aardvark.[4]

The second revival occurred in 2010 as part of Pink Panther and Pals. In keeping with the younger theme (the panther is cast as a teenage version of himself), Charlie Ant (who is never referred to as such throughout the series) is a young, urban teenager voiced by Kel Mitchell best known for the classic TV series' Kenan & Kel, "All That", the movie Good Burger, and Clifford the Big Red Dog. The Aardvark ethnic humor, however, is retained; he is voiced by Eddie Garvar in the style of Byner's Jackie Mason impersonation.

DVD releases[edit]

The complete series was digitally remastered and issued on its own single-disc DVD collection by MGM Home Entertainment/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment in 2007 as Pink Panther and Friends, Volume 5: The Ant and the Aardvark.

The complete series reappeared in January 2009 as part of the DVD collection Pink Panther & Friends Classic Cartoon Collection by MGM Home Entertainment, a 9-disc DVD set containing all Pink Panther, Ant and the Aardvark, Inspector and (for the first time of DVD) Roland and Rattfink cartoons.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Simonson, Robert (22 June 2004). "Sondheim, Lane and Stroman's The Frogs Finds a Lily Pad at Lincoln Center Beginning June 22". Playbill. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  2. ^ a b Scott, Vernon (26 July 1985). "JOHN BYNER IS THE MAN BEHIND CHARACTER'S VOICE". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  3. ^ a b Jefferson, Graham (7 December 1993). "Pink Panther breaks silence // The cool cat acquires a voice from Matt Frewer". USA Today (subscription required). Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Beck, Jerry (2006). Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide to the Coolest Cat in Town. New York, New York: Dorling Kindersley, Ltd. pp. 38–39, 44–45, 102–103. ISBN 0-7566-1033-8. 
  5. ^ This review of the German DVD release briefly mentions the cult status of the series.

External links[edit]