Tra la la la la la la. Recognize that? If you grew up in the seventies or early eighties it is likely you will remember those silly words as part of the theme song for The Banana Splits and Friends Show. Created by Hanna-Barbera the series was originally called The Banana Splits Adventure Hour and ran from 1968 to 1970.
The program featured actors decked out in animal costumes made by Sid and Marty Krofft; Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky collectively made up the fictional rock band The Banana Splits. The show featured various skits including the characters mentioned above and on occasion their arch nemeses The Sour Grapes Bunch who, dressed in purple, would dance their way in and out of the Banana Splits clubhouse to deliver messages (such as an invitation to a rumble which The Banana Splits lost) . In addition to the live action segments each episode included either cartoons or the serial Danger Island which featured a very young Jan Michael Vincent.
Common sense dictates that most of us do not remember this program from its original run, but rather later when it entered syndication and ran for years (until at least the early eighties, though I could not find a definitive date). The original one hour program was cut up into thirty- minute episodes and featured the same cast of characters and mix of live action and animated entertainment.
Some of the accompanying cartoons were Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel, Hillbilly Bears, Precious Pup, Squiddly Diddly and Winsome Witch (click on the names to see a clip). The show also featured the animated serials The Arabian Knights, The Three Musketeers (my favorite!) and The Adventures of Gulliver. Additionally, the producers joined The Banana Splits with another series which featured live actors interacting with animated characters called The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And of course, there was the live action serial Danger Island.
The Banana Splits was not particularly ground breaking and the program found little success in its original run but obviously made some money in syndication, which in television is often the case. The series did contribute to the world of entertainment by offering valuable experience to some future heavy hitters; according to Wikipedia and confirmed on IMDB the early live action segments and the Danger Island serial were directed by Richard Donner of Lethal Weapon fame. As mentioned above Sid and Marty Krofft, who would later become famous for H. R. Pufnstuf (and other kid oriented programming), created the costumes. For more information and links to other sources click the image below and you will be taken to the Wikipedia page which served, along with my personal recollections, as the primary source of information for this post.
– John Morton