The Banana Splits
|The Banana Splits Adventure Hour|
Original title card for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.
|Also known as||The Banana Splits and Friends Show|
|Directed by||Richard Donner (Season 1)
Tom Boutross (Season 2)
|Starring||Jeff Winkless (as Jeffrey Brock)
Ginner Whitcombe (as Fleegle 2008)
Terence H. Winkless (as Terence Henry)
Dan Winkless (as Daniel Owen)
James "Jimmy" Dove
|Voices of||Paul Winchell
|Theme music composer||Nelson B. Winkless, Jr. (credited to Ritchie Adams & Mark Barkan)|
|Opening theme||"The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||31 + shorts|
|Executive producer(s)||William Hanna
|Producer(s)||Edward J. Rosen (Season 1)|
|Running time||45–48 minutes|
|Original run||September 7, 1968– September 5, 1970|
|Related shows||The Skatebirds|
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour is an hour-long, packaged television variety program featuring The Banana Splits, a fictional rock band composed of four funny animal characters. The costumed hosts of the show were Fleegle (guitar, vocals), Bingo (drums, vocals), Drooper (bass, vocals) and Snorky (keyboards, effects). The series was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, and ran for 31 episodes on NBC Saturday mornings, from September 7, 1968 to September 5, 1970.
The series costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofft and the series' sponsor was Kellogg's Cereals. The series featured both live action and animated segments and is Hanna-Barbera’s first foray into mixing live action with animation.
In 1967, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera approached the Krofft Brothers to design costumes for a television show which would feature animated and live-action segments, with the whole show hosted by a bubblegum rock group of anthropomorphic characters. 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 for opening the door for their own entry into television. NBC picked up the Krofft 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 segment Danger Island, a cliffhanger serial, as well as the short-lived Micro Ventures, an animated series consisting of only four episodes, ran alongside with the animated segments Arabian Knights and The Three Musketeers. Actor Jan Michael Vincent (billed as Michael Vincent) appeared in the live-action component Danger Island; all the live-action material filmed for the series' first season (including the Banana Splits and Danger Island segments) was directed by Richard Donner.
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 Beatles and (especially) their NBC counterpart, 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 voluminous fleecy costumes similar to later Sid and Marty Krofft characters such as H.R. Pufnstuf. They all spoke in English (Drooper with a Southern drawl in the manner of Michael Nesmith, Fleegle with a pronounced lisp), except for Snorky who "spoke" in honking noises.
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 eastern Cincinnati, Ohio. In many episodes, the Banana Splits would be seen riding on the Runaway Mine Train roller coasters, Log Flumes, Bumper Cars, Merry-Go-Rounds, and many other rides at Six Flags and Coney Island.
Famous too were the "Banana Buggies" mentioned in the theme song. These were seen driven by each live-action character in the opening and closing segments and occasionally in the wraparound and music video segments as well. The buggies were customized Amphicat six-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles each decorated to resemble the character who drove them. Plastic 1/25 scale model kits were issued by Aurora Plastics Corporation under catalog number 832 beginning in 1969; these were never reissued by Aurora, but have since been reissued as high-end, resin-based kits.
The amusement park scenes in the original series were not filmed at Kings Island, which opened in nearby Mason, Ohio in 1972, some three years after filming for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour wrapped in 1969. But some of the rides seen in the series 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.
The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was one of the first two Hanna-Barbera productions in 1968 in which William Hanna and Joseph Barbera received executive producer credits; the other being The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where Edward Rosen served as producer on both series. They would not, however, assume the title full-time for another five years. The Banana Splits was also one of the first Saturday Morning cartoon shows to utilize an adult laugh track.
The series was syndicated on Cartoon Network during the mid-1990s, usually airing in late night hours. The show was removed from the station's lineup in 2003.
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 were also occasionally 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 with 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 Cuckoo, who popped out of the Cuckoo Clock, and Banana Vac (an electric talking moose head) 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, who was originally covered in hair, now clean-shaven and 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 eighteen original first season shows, thirteen additional episodes produced for the 1969–1970 season which were not included in the syndicated package and reconstructed versions of the 36 syndicated edits which presently air on Boomerang. 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 the series 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 up 1.25 million cereal boxes with references to "The Banana Bunch" on them but wound up trashing the stock and starting over.
In the early 2000s Cartoon Network produced a five-part Banana Splits series for its Web Premiere Toons site. The series took the form of a semi-interactive adventure (under the title of SPLITS VISION). The first episode started off with a live-action segment (with new SPLITS costumes and used a new Snorky based on the classic hair-covered first season), which then led into the other four segments using flash-animated versions of the characters. The characters were all voiced by Jeff Bergman.
In August 2008, Warner Bros had announced a multi-platform release featuring new comedy shorts and music videos that debuted on Cartoon Network starting September 2, 2008. The relaunch included a live show and a website, as well as a CD and a DVD featuring 13 new songs released by Universal Records. In addition, a kids-themed area called Banana Splitsville was placed at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's Hard Rock Park (now Freestyle Music Park) rock-and-roll theme park.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (June 2013)|
|Character||Suit performer||Voice actor||Instrument|
|Fleegle (beagle)||Jeff Winkless (1969) (billed as Jeffrey Brock)
Ginner Whitcombe (2008 version)
Bill Farmer (2008 version)
|Bingo (gorilla)||Terence H. Winkless (billed as Terence Henry)||Daws Butler
Frank Welker (2008 version)
|Drooper (lion)||Dan Winkless (billed as Daniel Owen)||Allan Melvin
Carlos Alazraqui (2008 version)
|Snorky (elephant)||"Jimmy" Dove in season 1 song segments
Robert Towers in most other segments
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2010)|
The Banana Splits' bubblegum pop rock and roll was 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"); Gene Pitney ("Two Ton Tessie") and Jimmy Radcliffe provided his songs ("I'm Gonna Find a Cave", "Soul", "Don't Go Away Go-Go Girl", "Adam Had 'Em" and "The Show Must Go On") but did not contribute vocals to Splits recordings. The music director was music publisher Aaron Schroeder while production duties were mainly handled by David Mook. When a heavier R&B vocal was needed, the music producers usually turned to singer Ricky Lancelotti (billed in the show credits under his stage name Rick Lancelot). Lancelotti went on to become one of Frank Zappa's many lead vocalists in late 1972.
In 1968, The Banana Splits released an album on Decca Records titled We're the Banana Splits. The show’s theme song, titled "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)", released as a single, peaked at number 97 on Billboard's Top 100 in February 1969. Written by Tony Powers. Powers, later wrote Oddissey, song featured in the 1981 MUSIC FROM THE ELDER, by shock rock outfit KISS. The version included on the We're The Banana Splits album is the same recording heard at the beginning of the show, while the single version is an entirely different arrangement and recording of the song, featuring an additional verse. The song was written by Nelson Brock Winkless, Jr., however, owing to contractual arrangements, on all record releases (as well as the TV show's closing credits), credit given to Ritchie Adams and Steve Kincannon ( Formerly of Cream and the Allman Brothers ). Winkless is credited as co-writer, along with Hoyt Curtin, of "The Beautiful Calliope" (also called "My Beautiful Calliopesaxaviatrumparimbaclaribassotrombaphone"), which was featured several times in the television series and also issued on record.
US speed punk act The Dickies covered the theme song in 1978, entitled "Banana Splits (Tra La La Song)". Their recording reached Number 7 in the UK charts and now appears as a bonus on the CD reissue of their 1979 album The Incredible Shrinking Dickies. They still perform this cover live at almost every concert and it was also featured in the movie soundtrack of Kick-Ass, during ten-year-old Hit-Girl's brutally violent fight scene.
A cover of the show’s theme song performed by Liz Phair with Material Issue (surprisingly appropriate as Liz Phair and three cast members of the Banana Splits attended New Trier High School) is included on the 1995 tribute album Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, produced by Ralph Sall for MCA Records. Another rendition was performed by rock & roll comic C.C. Banana on the 2005 cartoon tribute album "Complete Balanced Breakfast." A cover of "Don't Go Away Go-Go Girl" by pop-punk band Mr. T Experience was issued on the 1993 tribute album Banana Pad Riot and their Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood and Our Bodies Our Selves CD releases. The 1988 landmark release "Sub Pop 200" included a version of "I'm Gonna Find a Cave" retitled "Gonna Find a Cave" by the band Girl Trouble. "Sub Pop 200" featured recordings from many soon to be notable bands, Nirvana, Green River, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and others from Seattle's Grunge music explosion that followed.
Chicago-based musician Ralph Covert, who records children's music under the group name Ralph's World, covered the theme song under the title "The Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)" on his 2001 album At the Bottom of the Sea.
Oddest of all references is possibly that made by Bob Marley, with the striking (though not exact) similarity between the song's chorus and the bridge of the Bob Marley & The Wailers song "Buffalo Soldier".
The Banana Splits' adventures continued in comic books. Gold Key began publishing a comic version in 1969, releasing eight issues through 1971. Drawn by Jack Manning, these followed the musicians trying to find work or on the road between gigs.
On September 21, 2009, Warner Home Video released the complete first season on DVD in Region 2. The 6-disc set consists of 36 edited half-hour episodes of The Banana Splits And Friends Show as aired on Boomerang.
- Erickson, Hal (1998). Sid and Marty Krofft. McFarland. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-7864-0518-3. Retrieved August 27, 2009.
- CD liner notes: Saturday Mornings: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits, 1995 MCA Records
- Reissued Banana Buggy resin kits at Professorplastik.com
- Iverson, Paul: "The Advent of the Laugh Track" Hofstra University archives; February 1994
- "The Banana Splits". WarnerBrosOnline. August 14, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
- "The Banana Splits Are Back! Warner Bros. Consumer Products Serves Up Four Scoops Of Hilarity With Relaunch". Warner Bros. Press Office. August 15, 2008. Retrieved August 20, 2008.
- "The Banana Splits". The Banana Splits. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
- "Hard Rock Park–Banana Splitsville". Hard Rock Park. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
- "ricky lancelotti". Retrieved July 20, 2010.
- [dead link]
- "C.C. Banana Reunites With Banana 7, Records Song For Tribute Album". TributeAlbums.com. Retrieved March 22, 2010.
- "The Banana Splits". The Big DataBase of Comic Books. Retrieved August 25, 2008.
- The Banana Splits - Complete Season 1 [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Film & TV. Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-04-10.
- Official website
- Doin' The Banana Split! featuring interviews with the original cast
- The Banana Splits Adventure Hour at the Internet Movie Database
- The Banana Splits Adventure Hour at TV.com
- Interview with Shirley Hillstrom (now Sheri Freedman), who played Charley the Messenger of the Sour Grapes Bunch