Tuesday 5 July 2016

No, He Isn't

The theme song for The Roadrunner Show, which aired starting in 1966 on CBS, always bugged me. For one thing, it didn’t fit the sound of the music of the cartoons, it was some cheesy thing with reverbed singers and a half-bar guitar pluck to try to make it sound rock-ish and, therefore, modern. For another, I (age nine) thought “Who’s Barbara Cameron?” Well, that question we can answer below. All hail studio nepotism!

The most bothersome thing is the line in the song that goes “That coyote is really a crazy clown.” Did Barbara Cameron ever watch a Roadrunner cartoon? (After a while, they all seem like the same cartoon). Wile E. Coyote is not a clown. He’s deadly serious about catching his prey. And he’s not crazy, either. All of his schemes to snare the roadrunner are perfectly logical. They backfire in most cases because of cartoon karma. He’s the bad guy. Therefore, he loses.

Here’s an example from the first cartoon, Fast and Furry-ous. Wile E. employs a boomerang to catch the roadrunner. Nothing crazy there. But the idea fails. Why? Because the roadrunner has his own boomerang. Why? Because the roadrunner is the good guy and therefore must win, even through the most contrived set of circumstances.

And the creative mind of Mike Maltese finishes the scene logically by having the coyote’s boomerang return. It’s guaranteed to do so, just like the package says.

About the only thing crazy in the Roadrunner cartoons was some of the concepts that Maltese came up with for gags. This cartoon features the refrigerator/meat grinder that makes an ice-cube path for the coyote to ski on.


  1. After awhile he somewhat became a clown, since he easily could have given up and walked away from the whole thing and choose something larger and slower.

  2. Love the Saturday morning theme AND Milt Franklyn's "Out on the Desert" from the pilot/featurette Adventures of the Road Runner ("THERE HE GOES!").

  3. It is very likely the male harmony on the Road Runner theme is Joe Kotler himself. Hubby and wife often worked together in the studio, so it's told. That poor old recording got hacked, spliced, and redubbed numerous times to fit the needs of the network running the Saturday morning show. Between that and the hideous slapback echo - an attempt to make it "rock and roll" - it's a wonder anyone can make out the lyrics at all.

    You can hear Barbara's true voice much clearer in the Porky Pig Show theme recorded some years earlier. The lyrics aren't much better, but the barn dance mood is far more fitting to Cameron's talent. Sounds a bit like Doris Day? That's not a coincidence. Barbara had the same vocal coach at WLW radio back in the 1930's, Grace Raine.

    Here's more on Barbara Cameron at this link. www.mediaheritage.com/barbara-cameron/

  4. Steve, thanks so much for your added knowledge about this.