Boomers Knew Hans Conried

It was sixty years ago, in January of 1963, that Fractured Flickers appeared on TV. The show only lasted one season, but its host, Hans Conried, appeared time and again in movies, TV shows and cartoons watched by boomers for decades.

The premise of Fractured Flickers was a crazy mash-up of old movie footage that was re-captioned, with a new storyline that had little, if anything, to do with what was appearing on screen. In addition to the flicker footage, the show featured often tongue-in-cheek interviews by Conried with popular TV personalities of the time, such as Barbara Eden, Bob Denver and Rod Serling.

Classically trained in theater, Conried started out performing in Shakespeare productions and Broadway shows before lending his voice to characters in radio shows in the 1930s. His huge range as both a dramatic and comedic actor, coupled with his ability to perform a multitude of accents, made him a most-sought-after actor for all types of productions. By the 1940s, he was voicing cartoon characters; he was the voice of Wally Walrus on The Woody Woodpecker Show (1944-48). Watching the cartoon in syndication may be the first time many boomers heard Hans Conried’s distinctive voice.

In 1953, Conried appeared in the Disney classic film, Peter Pan, as the voice of Captain Hook. That began an association with Disney that lasted through the 1970s. This led to roles in segments of The Magical World of Disney (starting in 1954), like the riverboat gambler named Thimblerig in Davey Crockett at the Alamo (1955).

Other cartoons where boomers heard his voice include his characterization of Snidely Whiplash on both The Dudley Do-Right Show (1959-61) and The Bullwinkle Show (1960-63). He was also the narrator on George of the Jungle (1967), and voiced several Dr. Seuss characters in animated TV specials like Horton Hears a Who! (1970).

Here is a not-so-thinly disguised version of Snidely Whiplash (still voiced by Hans Conried) repurposed for a breakfast cereal series of commercials:

Boomers also saw Hans Conried in movies, including the title role of Doctor Terwilliker in the now cult-classic, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), which happens to be the only live-action movie written by Dr. Seuss.

Conried appeared in recurring roles on several TV shows during the boomer years, most notably as Uncle Tonoose on Danny Thomas’ show, Make Room for Daddy (1953-64). His guest starring roles on a huge number of popular TV shows is also where boomers witnessed the huge talent of Hans Conried. Here is a partial list of TV shows on which he appeared:

I Love Lucy (multiple roles, 1952)
Maverick (1958)
Dragnet (1957)
The Donna Reed Show (1959)
Mister Ed (1962)
Gilligan’s Island (1964-65)
Burke’s Law (1964-65, recurring role)
Ben Casey (1965)
Lost in Space (1967)
Hogan’s Heroes (1968)
The Monkees (1968)
The Beverly Hillbillies (1968)
Daniel Boone (1968)
The Brady Bunch (1969)
Love American Style (multiple roles: 1969, 71, 72, 73)

Despite being born in 1917, Hans Conried had a ubiquitous influence in the formation of boomers’ expectations for cartoon voiceovers and comedic scenes throughout the boomer years. He passed away in 1982.

Where do you remember seeing or hearing Hans Conried, boomers?

Boomers Looked to the Future on TV

If you are a fan of boomer-era TV trivia (and who isn’t?), you may or may not be aware of an esoteric tidbit that directly coincides with this date in history. The Jetsons (1962-63), the animated TV series, was set in a future 100 years from the time the series was aired, which would mean it took place in 2062. In the series, George Jetson, the family father figure, was named as a 40 year-old man. Subtract 40 years from 2062 and 2022 surfaces as the year of George Jetson’s birth. Somehow, someone got to July 31 from there. Where the exact month and date came from is left to speculation.

Mister Boomer has written previously about The Jetsons, as it was a family favorite in his household. In the past month, while Mister B was flipping through the channels, he found an episode of The Jetsons airing, so he invested a half hour to watch it. The episode was the one where George’s daughter, Judy, enters a songwriting contest. The winner of the contest will get a date with a famous rock star, Jet Screamer. George, wanting to keep his daughter away from any rock & roller, tries to sabotage Judy’s entry by substituting some words with his son Elroy’s secret code. In true sitcom fashion, of course, Judy’s altered song wins. George follows Judy on her date with Jet Screamer, and sneaks into that night’s concert by picking up equipment and walking behind the back-up band. Ultimately, George gets on-stage behind a futuristic drum set to better watch Jet and Judy, only to be discovered. The tables get turned when George is then put in the spotlight as the father of the winning songwriter, who will start the song off with a drum solo. With the spotlight on George, he launches into his solo lead-in to the song, Eeep! Opp! Ork! Ah-Ah! It turns out George is a regular Buddy Rich on the drums, a swingin’ 40 year-old daddy-o. It’s worth checking out, boomers.

Speaking of age, Mister Boomer recalls right around the time that The Jetsons was being broadcast, a teacher in one of his classes asked the students to do the math to see how old they would be in the year 2000. Then, she asked them to imagine what their life would be like when they were 40 years old. Mister Boomer recalls it was a frightening proposition since 40 seemed so old! The future envisioned throughout our boomer years did come to pass in many ways (though we have no flying cars yet), but the thought of thinking forward around 30 years was almost too much to bear.

In terms of The Jetsons, once the space-age marvels are eliminated, the characters acted pretty much the same as people did in the 1960s. In The Jetsons example just mentioned, George was anti-rock & roll until he got his 15 minutes of rock stardom. It seems that somehow, we can envision technological marvels, but human evolution is much harder to predict. Star Trek may be the only TV show that looked to a future when poverty, war and disease were in the past.

As we boomers age, it’s fun to remember the way we were 40, 50 or 60 years ago. Yet it’s more than a little frightening to think forward and wonder what our lives will be like 20, 30 or 40 years from now. Maybe a young Mister B was right to be wary 60 years ago. Happy Birthday, George!

How about you, boomers? Did you ever imagine your life in the year 2022?