The Magilla Gorilla Show was a classic animated television series aired in the 1960s. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, the show premiered in 1964 and ran until 1967.
It was primarily designed for a children’s audience, but like many cartoons of that era, it often contained humor that could also appeal to adults.
The central character, Magilla Gorilla, is a large, friendly, somewhat clumsy gorilla living in Mr. Peebles’ pet shop. Magilla is always up for adoption but invariably ends up getting returned to the pet shop for various comical reasons.
The series’ recurring theme is Mr. Peebles’ attempts to sell or adopt Magilla, with the tagline: “We’ve got a gorilla for sale, Magilla Gorilla for sale.” There was also a little girl named Ogee (pronounced “Oh Gee!”) who always wanted Magilla but was never allowed to buy him.
Magilla may have been a sizable gorilla, but he had a heart equally large. Sold and resold repeatedly, his misadventures stemmed largely from his well-meaning but often misguided attempts to fit into the human world.
Whether it was trying out a new job or attempting to integrate into society, Magilla’s innocent, child-like nature always shone through, making him a character audiences could not help but root for.
Hanna-Barbera Productions created “The Magilla Gorilla Show,” an animated series featuring the titular character, Magilla Gorilla, for Screen Gems. Ideal Toys sponsored it from 1964 to 1967.
Notable recurring characters included Punkin’ Puss & Mushmouse and Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-Long. Later, characters from the Peter Potamus show joined the syndication lineup.
Before its launch, the team teased the series in a mid-to-late December 1963 interview titled “Here Comes A Star.” Like many Hanna-Barbera characters, Magilla Gorilla wore human attire: a bow tie, shorts with suspenders, and a small derby hat.
Following its debut year, ABC-TV aired reruns of all 31 episodes on Saturday mornings in 1966-1967 and Sundays in the subsequent season.
Boomerang showcased the show until July 22, 2012. Then, after a hiatus of eight years, The Magilla Gorilla Show made a brief comeback on Boomerang from November 26 to November 30, 2020. This revival included both the opening and closing themes and titles. During this four-day stint, segments featuring Punkin’ Puss & Mushmouse and Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-long were absent.
Magilla Gorilla | Back in the Day
Mr. Peebles – Forever For Sale Sign
Mr. Peebles runs the pet shop that houses Magilla Gorilla. Frequently, he would slash Magilla’s price significantly. However, buyers typically had ulterior motives, like thieves wanting a gorilla for a heist or ad agencies seeking a new mascot. Regardless, they always brought Magilla back, compelling Mr. Peebles to give a refund.
Often, Magilla would conclude episodes, optimistically saying, “We’ll try again next week.” Eventually, he took a villainous turn, but Scooby and the gang captured him.
Allan Melvin voices Magilla Gorilla, an anthropomorphic gorilla who languishes in the front display window of a pet shop that Melvin Peebles runs. While Howard Morris provided Peebles’ voice in 1964-1965, Don Messick took over from 1966-1967.
The gorilla, munching on bananas, becomes a financial burden to Peebles. To entice buyers, Peebles drastically reduces Magilla’s price. However, customers, whether they’re thieves needing a partner for a heist or an ad agency seeking a new mascot, always bring Magilla back.
Peebles then has to refund them. At the end of most episodes, Magilla often says, “We’ll try again next week.”
His loyal friend, a little red-headed girl named Ogee (voiced by Jean Vander Pyl), fondly asks in the opening theme song, “How much is that Gorilla in the window?”
Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-Long
In the vivid backdrop of Hoop ‘n’ Holler, Ricochet Rabbit, brought to life by the voice of Don Messick, dons the hat of a sheriff. Staying true to his name, Ricochet has a distinctive way of bouncing off walls, exclaiming “ping-ping-ping!” at each rebound.
On the other hand, his sidekick, Droop-a-Long Coyote, voiced by Mel Blanc, channeling Ken Curtis’ Festus Haggen from the famed TV show “Gunsmoke,” often finds himself in comedic mishaps, like crashing through windows rather than bouncing like his counterpart.
Ricochet wasn’t just fast; he had a knack for deploying mischievous trick bullets against his adversaries. These bullets had a humorous array of actions, from hovering mid-air to unleash an exaggerated mallet on the villain to drawing targets and packing unexpected punches.
Ricochet Rabbit’s iconic catchphrase? A rhythmic “ping, ping, PING!” followed by a proud declaration: “Ricochet Rabbit!” While some recall it as “Bing,” the episode “Rapid Romance” sets the record straight. In it, Ricochet’s autograph for an admirer distinctly reads “Ping.”
Punkin’ Puss & Mushmouse
Set amidst the dense woods of the American South, the show introduces viewers to a rustic cat named Punkin’ Puss, brought to life by Allan Melvin’s voice. This hillbilly feline shares his home with a clever mouse named Mushmouse, voiced by Howard Morris.
Their dynamic is a constant game of cat-and-mouse, with Punkin’ often attempting to target Mushmouse using his trusty rifle. The rapport and antics between Punkin’ Puss and Mushmouse evoke strong resemblances to the legendary duo, Tom and Jerry.
The Catchy Theme Song and Rich Universe
“Magilla Gorilla for sale!” – this catchy refrain is one that many fans still hum nostalgically. The theme song and the show’s rich universe featuring side characters like Ogee (“Oh Gee!”) and the troublesome Ricochet Rabbit added layers of charm.
Hanna-Barbera was known for its vibrant universes, and The Magilla Gorilla Show was no exception, drawing viewers into a captivating world week after week.
Breezly and Sneezly
The show stars Breezly Bruin, a witty and ingenious polar bear with Howard Morris lending him his voice. Alongside Breezly is Sneezly Seal, characterized by Mel Blanc’s voice, a downhearted seal who, despite his perpetual cold, has sneezes of incredible force.
The duo resides in an igloo amidst the vast Arctic expanse.
Their adventures often revolve around Breezly’s clever yet ill-fated attempts to infiltrate a nearby army base, always striving to outsmart the base’s commander, Colonel Fuzzby, voiced by the talented John Stephenson.
Reboots, Reruns, and Beyond
Given the lasting legacy of Magilla Gorilla, it’s no surprise that there have been calls for reboots or continuations.
Reruns on various platforms have introduced the show to newer audiences, many of whom are discovering its charm for the first time.
While the original episodes hold a vintage charm, the potential for Magilla’s tales to be retold in a contemporary setting, with modern animation techniques and storytelling, is a tantalizing prospect for many fans.
- Allan Melvin – Magilla Gorilla, Punkin’ Puss
- Howard Morris – Mr. Peebles (1964–1965), Mushmouse
- Don Messick – Mr. Peebles (1966–1967), Ricochet Rabbit
- Mel Blanc – Droop-a-Long Coyote
- Jean Vander Pyl – Ogee
Magilla Gorilla in other languages
- Brazilian Portuguese: Maguila, o Gorila
- European Portuguese: O Show do Gorila Maguila
- Greek: The same as in English
- French: Maguilla le gorille
- Italian: The same as in English
- Spanish: Maguila Gorila
- Japanese: ゴリラのゴンちゃん (Gorira no Gon-chan)
- Finnish: The same as in English
- Hungarian: The same as in English
- Polish: Goryl Magilla (pronouncing with double “l”)
- Allan Melvin (1963–1994)
- Daws Butler (1973)
- Jeff Bergman (Web Premiere Toons)
- Maurice LaMarche (Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law)
- Frank Welker (Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?)
- Jim Cummings (2020–present)
- Paul F. Tompkins (Jellystone!, 2021–present)
Memorable Supporting Cast
A cast of memorable cartoon characters amplified Magilla’s charm. From Mr. Peebles, always hoping to make a sale, to Ogee, whose love for Magilla was pure and innocent, the supporting characters added depth and dimension to the series. Their dynamics with Magilla created a world that was both entertaining and deeply engaging.