Beany and Cecil is remembered as one of the most innovative and entertaining shows ever aired on television, but ask any ten fans what they liked best about the series, and you will get ten different answers.
Like The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky before it, the characters of Beany and Cecil were first seen as puppets on the 50's show Time for Beany (1950-1953), which featured Captain Horatio Huffenpuff and his nephew Beany Boy as they traveled the high seas aboard the Leakin' Lena.
Beany, who was named for the propeller hat he always wore, was accompanied by his friend Cecil, the seasick sea serpent, who externalized his aversion to the sea by sneezing (which was much more appealing than the usual reaction).
The bad guy was Dishonest John, who delighted in twisting his moustache and laughing depravedly whenever he was able to upset Captain Huffenpuff's activities.
This series was hugely popular with kids and adults, mainly because of the talents behind the production. Bob Clampett created the show and made a concerted effort to spoof any person, place or thing, almost to the point of defamation. With the help of comedy genius Stan Freberg and veteran voice talents Daws Butler and Don Messick, Clampett turned a simple local puppet show into one of the most popular programs of the 50's, winning two Emmys in the process.
After Time for Beany was canceled, Clampett launched a new, animated version of the show. In 1962, Matty's Funnies with Beany & Cecil premiered, introducing viewers to the animated versions of their favorite characters. Matty, however, was quickly dropped from the show, which gave Beany and Cecil top billing.
This new version was just as popular and just as irreverent. Since Clampett's creation was now seen by a wider audience, he now had more people that he could offend, even the then-untouchable Disney Corporation.
Proving that you can't keep a good Beany Boy down, Beany and Cecil was revived in 1988 in all-new animated adventures. Spearheading the project was Bob Clampett's protégé John Kricfalusi, who would eventually create the wildly popular The Ren & Stimpy Show. Staying true to Clampett's original vision of the show, Kricfalusi was diligent in his attention to story and animation. Some say this diligence caused the downfall of the show by putting production too far behind schedule.
Whichever version of the unlikely duo you decide is your favorite, one thing must be agreed upon; Beany & Cecil are two of the most enduring and marketable characters ever created.
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