These toons are making me looney! or Old pop culture references in WB cartoons

I like to watch old Warner Brothers cartoons from the '40s and '50s, but I’m always finding myself confounded by some kind of pop culture reference that made the original audience cracks up and leaves me thinking “What the heck was that about?”

The one that’s bugging me most at the moment has to do with a specific song, apparently titled “Carolina in the Morning” according to a Google search I ran on what I remembered of the lyrics. (“Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the moooooooooooooooooooooorning…”) It’s showed up in at least three cartoons that I’ve seen, one with Bugs Bunny, one with Daffy Duck and one with characters that I’ve since forgotten. When they sing it, it always ends with an identical string of scat/babble that doesn’t seem to belong with the song itself, but maybe that’s just another reference I’m missing.

The really perplexing one is the cartoon featuring Daffy Duck. In the 'toon there are a bunch of books which come to life, with characters stepping out and interacting. One of the books spawns a sickly caricature of Frank Sinatra, who sings a typical pointless string of "ba-ba-ba-boo"s and attracts flocks of fawning, fainting females. This incites the jealousy of Msr. Duck, who dons a powder blue zoot suit and a yellow “conk” hairstyle and takes the stage himself. (You can see the outfit here on the cover of the tape where I saw this cartoon, at Amazon.) He sings with a (Mexican?) accent and acts, of course, absolutely daffy. “Nossing could be feener than to be in Caroleener in ze maaaaaaawning…” Followed, of course, by the scat, which I think he did while somebody tried to drag him off stage/arrest him/something like that.*

Who, what, where, when, why? What’s the reference here? :confused:

  • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon in which this song is sung, the scat portion is also during some sort of struggle. If there’s a significance, I dunno.

Can’t help you with the song, but I can tell you that the caricature is of Bing Crosby, not Frank Sinatra.

Crosby: “ba-ba-ba-booo”

Sinatra: “doobie-doobie-dooooo”

It looked like Sinatra. I might just be using the wrong onomatopaeia. :slight_smile:

In the one with the books, Daffy is impersonating Danny Kaye:
Under K we have:

Anyway… I thought “doobie doobie doo” was the Bud Ice penguin… :wink:
[sub]kidding! i know that reference, at least![/sub]

Oh, cool, GIGObuster - thanks!

There is a reference that I have seen in one, possibly two cartoons. The most recent one that I’ve seen (just a couple of weeks ago on the Cartoon Network) was Bugs Bunny sitting down at a grand piano and then says in a weird voice–well, weirder than usual–“I wish my brother George was here.”

I’m convinced that this is a reference to something that audiences in the 1940s or 1950s would understand, but damned if I can figure it out. Can anyone help?

Liberace, from his TV show in the 50s and 60s.

Bugs is imitating Liberace (who used to refer to his brother George a lot on his old 1950’s TV show).

Also, the reason why the Sinatra caricature looks skinny and sickly is because it’s the 1940’s idol-of-the-bobby-soxers version, not the later “Ratpacker” and “Chairman of the Board” versions that people today are more familiar with.

One other thing about Sinatra in the cartoon with the books:

The song he’s singing is “It Had to Be You.”

It even made the Big Bad Wolf swoon.

Well it isn’t that old a reference but I remember an episode of “Pinky and the Brain” ( I think it’s WB) which is a parody of the 70’s film-noir classic “Chinatown”. Needless to say no child is going to get it and many adults won’t either. Just a way for writers to have some fun.

WB cartoons in the forties often included references to World War II, with stock phrases such as:
“Was this trip really necessary?”
Daffy: “I’ll say I did! I forgot: The government doesn’t want us to do any nonessential traveling!” (When I first heard him speak this line I thought he was saying “nonsensical troubling”–but where would he be without that?)
Daffy also parodied a popular song with:
“So don’t you go and beat me Daddy, to the nearest bar!”
(From “Beat me Daddy, Eight to the bar.”)
Daffy, again, in a cartoon where Elmer shoots him, says at one point, “Go ahead! Sthee ifth I give a moon and sikshpenshe!” (From a Somerset Maugham story, I believe…)
But the best pop-culture example was a cartoon with Bugs and Elmer working in a restaurant. Humphrey Bogart orders fried rabbit. Before Bugs sees Lauren Bacall at the table–and is happy to comply–he keeps screwing up Elmer’s orders, so that at one point the pie-splattered Bogey growls at Elmer, “Why did you hit me in the face with a coconut-custard pie with whipped cream?”

Luckily for Warner Brothers, MANY (maybe most) of the pop icons they included in cartoons were stars for the ages (Bogart, Peter Lorre, Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson), people whose movies remain so popular that even today’s kids know who they were.

They only get in trouble when they include people like Jerry (“Aaah yessss!”) Colonna, who may have been well known in the 40s, but who are pretty much forgotten now.

The zoot-suited character might be a parody of Cab Calloway (best known for “Minnie the Moocher.”)

For other celebrity spoofs in Warner Brothers cartoons, see:

Jerry Colonna’s also the one responsible for
“Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo- oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooook-lahoma!”

I think this was in a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon, but maybe not.

At the end, Tom (or whoever) says in a low, echoing type voice:

“Dooooon’t you belieeeeeve it.”

Was that a reference to anything?

“Don’t you believe it” is a reference to an old short radio program from the 40’s, called Don’t you believe it. It was sort of a 15-minute audio-version of The Straight Dope, (or maybe more accurately,,) in which common misconceptions were presented and debunked. I have a few of these kicking around, but not as many as I’d like to.

If you want to have a whole whack of Warner Bros cartoon references explained, watch the film version of Hellzapoppin!

Hellzapoppin was an anarchistic and surreal Broadway play, and strangely enough made a large contribution to the aesthetics and logic of cartoon shorts. You’ll recognize a number of gags that became stock bits – like the little fella delivering a house-plant to an absent “Mrs. Jones.” He inexplicably wanders onstage (or onscreen), interrupting scenes, while haplessly calling “Mrs. Jones! Mrs. Jones!” With each appearance, the plant is a bit bigger, until finally it’s a big ol’ california redwood on the back of a lumber truck, with the little guy standing on the tip of it.

To give you an idea of how f%cked-up this movie is, the eighties cult movie The Forbidden Zone is, in many ways, an imitation of it.

Yes!! A wonderful movie! (At least the last time I saw it, which was probably 40 years ago on TV.) It does not appear to be on video - if anyone can point me to where I can buy it, please do.

My mother actually saw the play. They actually dropped things on people in line with what they talked about on stage.

One of my first OPs, from three years ago.

Here’s one I always wondered about: They frequently imitated someone saying “How DO ya do?”, like it was some sort of catch-phrase of the day. Who were they imitating?

And another one: “[fill in the blank] is da cwaaaaziest people!”