Howard Morris voiced more than 100 characters on The Flintstones
In Bedrock, Ernest T. Bass became Weirdly Gruesome.
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Although classic TV fans know him best as Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show, Howard Morris was a prolific voice actor.Perhaps best known for iconic voices like Gopher in Winnie the Pooh cartoons or Jughead on The Archies, Morris also featured in prime time's forays into animation, including memorably playing Jet Screamer and singing "Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah!" on The Jetsons. But we heard him more often in Bedrock than Orbit City.
In the landmark animated sitcom that paved the road for all prime time cartoons, The Flintstones, Morris voiced over 100 characters between the third and fifth seasons. Most often when he'd appear, he'd voice up to three distinct characters in one single episode!
Morris voiced characters in 28 episodes for The Flintstones, including the starring role in "The Kissing Burglar" and "Pa" in "The Flintstones Hillbillies," a parody of The Beverly Hillbillies. His Gomez Addams parody as Weirdly Gruesome was so popular, they brought the character back to play off his equally popular, evolved "Pa" character, who went by the name Jethro Hatrock. In the Halloween episode "The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes," you can hear Morris as both Jethro Hatrock and Weirdly Gruesome, the patriarchs of the families, if you listen carefully.
Morris’s first appearance in the show is as a doctor who "usually works on dinosaurs" (but nevertheless helps Barney with a sore tooth) in "Nuttin' But the Tooth.” His last came in "Surfin' Fred," appearing as Al, the overeager manager of Jimmy Darrock (Bedrock's biggest rock star) who books his overworked star to headline a surfing competition that happens to be where the Flintstones are vacationing.
In between, Wilma yanks his strings as a horn bird, Pebbles takes him for a ride as a baby mammoth, Fred uses him as a tortoise shopping cart, and so many, many more. Morris credits Hanna-Barbera partner Joseph Barbera for his characters singing, whether he was the episode star or simply delivering a quippy zing. He told the Archive of American Television how involved Barbera was in coaching him and other actors through these brilliant voicing sessions: "Joe would direct them all.”
Morris voiced many Hanna-Barbera cartoons in his career (he was the original Atom Ant) and it wasn't just because he liked doing characters. He was also a fan of their very specific animation style, calling it "the best style that was ever done, really.” Further praising their broad catalog of cartoons, Morris said of the famous animation team, "They were guys who were talented in the animation field and who forged a long, reliable reputation.”
In his interview, though, Morris considered the broad scope of voices he got to do on the influential animated sitcom, laughing at the "wild voices" that saw him as the father a few times, but also playing young kids (boys and girls), monkeys, a robber, a guard, a spider, and even once a knitting needle. It seems that much like in Mayberry, you could never guess what the next thing out of Morris' mouth would be in Bedrock.