Hanna-Barbera TV series editor Earl Bennett, better-known to the public as comedian Sir Frederick Gas during a seven-year stint with Spike Jones And His City Slickers, died Thursday in Woodland Hills, California. He was 87.
After leaving the Jones circus in 1954, Gas was a member of the UPA editing staff. He was mostly involved in voiceovers for commercials. Later, he joined H-B's staff as a sound effects specialist.
He edited five episodes of the 1964-65 series Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, as well as 1962's Mister Magoo's Christmas Carol, the first made-for-TV animated special. He handled sound effects in the 1959 theatrical cartoon Bwana Magoo, and had an uncredited voice role as a prospector in Magoo Beats The Heat(1956).
Bennett was a sound effects editor for the H-B series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969), Help!... It's the Hair Bear Bunch! (1971) and Speed Buggy (1973). He edited The Ghastly Ghost Town, a 1972 episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
As Sir Frederick Gas, he appeared in 19 episodes of the very live-action The Spike Jones Show in 1954.
In 1947, he had roles in the movies Sarge Goes to College (as Eddie) and The Egg and I (an uncredited appearance as a reveler at a country dance).
He was born Earl Fred Bennett on November 5, 1919 in Kansas City, Kansas.
In addition to a career as a film editor, Bennett was also an accomplished artist, having studied under Thomas Hart Benton. He was a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, specializing in painting and sculpture.
After graduating, he turned to the stage, getting a long run in the Ken Murray revue Blackouts.
Jones caught Bennett's nightclub act in 1947 and soon offered him a place with the City Slickers; he was looking for front men to replace Doodles Weaver, who was leaving the ensemble.
Jones had credited Sir Frederick Gas as a gag on several recordings already, but placed the mantle of Gas on Bennett, who knew how to burp.
Gas also specialized in over-the-top Yiddish accents, vocalizing parodies of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" (with Dick Morgan) and "Tennessee Waltz" (with Sara Berner). His version of "Ghost Riders" angered the song's original composer, Vaughn Monroe, and "Tennessee Waltz" sometimes had trouble getting airplay.
He appeared on the Jones TV shows, often wearing a huge, unruly mop of hair, from 1951 to 1954, when Mousie Garner replaced him. Bennett and the other City Slickers were in the 1954 Universal Studios film Fireman, Save My Child.
Bennett painted in his leisure time following his retirement.
Earl Bennett is survived by sons Kenneth and William Summers, their spouses, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Pierce Brothers Valhalla Mortuary, (818) 763-9121.
(This post was edited by eminovitz on Oct 7, 2007, 8:45 AM)
Re: Earl Bennett, aka "Sir Frederick Gas," dead at 87
[In reply to]
Earl Bennett was a truly funny man.
On a side note, Another "City Slicker" was involved in cartoons also. He was Joe Siracusa. Joe was a drummer with Spike Jones and his City Slickers from 1947 to 1953. After a few attempts to start up novelty bands, he ended up at UPA for a time, then DFE, as a Sound and Music Editor, Composer, and Arranger.
His daughter Leslie Ann Jones was the scoring stage manager for the award-winning animated short Let Go (2003). Niece Judy Strangis was the voice of Goldie Gold in the TV series Goldie Gold and Action Jack; she also voiced Groovia in The Roman Holidays and Merilee in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids. Actor-director R.J. Williams, Judy Strangis' nephew, had the title roles in Kissyfur and Dink, the Little Dinosaur; he was Nicky Jaren in Lazer Tag Academy and Sam Baxter, host of Wake, Rattle and Roll.
Other folks who were in both Spike's ensemble and in cartoons:
Sara Berner Singing alongside Sir Frederick Gas in Spike's Yiddish-accented "The Tennessee Waltz," she was also in numerous Looney Tunes -- notably the singing A. Flea in 1943's An Itch in Time.
Billy Barty The 3'9" Barty joined Spike on his early 1950s TV series, often impersonating Liberace (and playing a toy piano!). Barty voiced Baitmouse in the 1990 sequel The Rescuers Down Under. He voiced Troll in Star Fairies and Dweedle in Wildfire (both 1986 TV series).
Milton Berle Uncle Miltie voiced the Cowardly Lion in the 1974 Filmation Associates feature film Journey Back to Oz. With Spike Jones, he co-wrote "Leave the Dishes in the Sink, Ma," which was the B-side of "Cocktails For Two."
Mel Blanc Sang the lead role of The Drunk in Spike Jones and His City Slickers' recording of "Clink Clink, Another Drink." This was filmed as a "Soundie," the ancestor of the modern music video; Mel is a real sight!
Eddie Brandt He wrote special material for Jones. He also wrote for Matty's Funday Funnies (1959), Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles (1966) and Moby Dick and the Mighty Mightor (1967).
Walker Edmiston He appeared on several records with Spike Jones. He also took over as Disney duck Ludwig Von Drake following Paul Frees' retirement from the voice role. Edmiston voiced such series as Top Cat, Plastic Man and Transformers.
Paul Frees Frees sang on several Spike Jones recordings -- most notably as a Peter Lorre soundalike in "My Old Flame." He was heard regularly in Jay Ward cartoons (Boris Badenov, Inspector Fenwick, Ape), as well as many Rankin/Bass cartoons and TV specials.
Purv Pullen A bird and animal imitator, he used the name "Dr. Horatio Q. Birdbath" when recording with Spike. He provided bird sounds in the 1937 Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Doodles Weaver Doodles recorded his horse and auto race routines ("William Tell Overture" and "Dance of the Hours") for Spike. He had voice roles in the Disney shorts Duck Pimples and Hockey Homicide (both 1945) and Tennis Racquet (1949).
"Oh boy." -- Allan Sherman
(This post was edited by eminovitz on Oct 10, 2007, 4:50 PM)