Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bananamanology

.



I posted about this once before, I think.  But what the heck.  The topic never grows old.

For years, Gardner Dozois and I suffered for being honest men.  Periodically, we'd get to reminiscing about the pop culture of our youths and inevitably we'd both enthuse about the artistic genius of the Banana Man.  Nobody believed us.

"This is like Hoppity Hooper, isn't it?" Marianne would say.  "You guys just made it up."

"No!  Really!  And Hoppity Hooper is real too!" I'd respond.  And wind up looking a lot like Jimmy Stewart in Harvey, another honest man who suffered for the clarity of his vision.

Thank God for the Internet!  It took years for the clips to be uploaded, but when they were, they vindicated my youth.

The Internet also proved that the Banana Man I knew was not the original Banana Man.  A. Robin (performing above), who created the act, died in 1950.  The man who appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and yearly on Captain Kangaroo was Sam Levine, who bought the act from Robins and did very well by it.

Here's his version:




I'm amazed there aren't Marxist schools of Bananamanology, obsessively analyzing every least nuance of the act.  Because it's clearly a leftist critique of Capitalism, magically producing endless amounts of consumer goods and then throwing them all away.

Oh, yeah, and Hoppity Hooper?  Also real.  As witness:





You can see why nobody believed me.

*

16 comments:

Unknown said...

I always totally believed you! I am a witness to the Bananaman's wonderfulness. My brother and I both loved him (which says a lot about us). Also remember Hoppity Hooper, but was not as big a fan. How about "Crusader Rabbit"?

Joe Stillman said...

He looks more like a Groucho Marxist.

Michael Swanwick said...

There's a clip on YouTube of Lord Buckley's appearance on the Groucho Marx Show. The titans meet! And Lord Buckley is surprisingly unhipsterish. Well worth looking into.

Michael Swanwick said...

Unfortunately, I only saw Crusader Rabbit after the Web came along. As an adult, I thought it looked like a rough sketch for Rocky and Bullwinkle, but with a much smaller budget.

Had I only seen it as a child, though . . .

Eileen Gunn said...

I like that the rascals' special hand cream is both a hand cream and a floor wax, some 20 years before SNL.

Michael Swanwick said...

Waldo Wigglesworth is a role model for us all. Did you know that Filmore is the strongest bear in Captivity, WIsconsin?

pattieellen said...

Thanks so much - for years I would ask if they had seen the Banana man on Captain Kangaroo, and no one had, or believed me or understood what the attraction was. a surrealistic genius. I was also going to ask about Crusader Rabbit. What about Winky Dinks, the cartoon where you got to draw on the screen.

Seeing Eye Frog said...

But. But. What about the thing in the spring? How can you leave us hanging like that?

Michael Swanwick said...

The thing in the spring? I'm afraid you'll have to refresh my memory.

g-dog said...

Are you sure A. Robins was a man? Sure looks like a woman in costume in the clip. That costume would hide all womanly characteristics - but yet the face shape looked feminine. This is what Lucille Ball would look like in that outfit.

scodav said...

Bananaman creeped out my childhood on a regular basis. It was that sound - oooohhhhhhh!

Smitharama said...

I remember and love both The Bannana Man and Hoppity Hooper. Glad to find someone else with the same memories, to help prove I didn't dream them.

Michael Swanwick said...

Wowwwwwwww!

Michael Swanwick said...

I know next to nothing about A. Robins. It would be terribly interesting and awfully strange if the Banana Man were a woman. But I wouldn't assume that without evidence. I've known a lot of men with delicate features.

Constitutional Advocate said...

In the first clip introduction by Red skelton

Constitutional Advocate said...

In the first clip introduction by Red skelton