Squiddly and Chief Winchley.

SQUIDDLY DIDDLY

Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1965
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Fans of the vast and immensely popular field of funny animal squids have a wide variety of stars to choose from — Squidward in Spongebob Squarepants; Slappy Squirrel's antagonist in Animaniacs, Sid the Squid … and that seems to be about it. Except, of course, for the …

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… pioneer in the field, Squiddly Diddly, who debuted as long ago as October 2, 1965, as one of the back segments in Hanna-Barbera's hour-long Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show.

But other than his species, Squiddly Diddly stayed on familiar ground. The idea of local fauna always trying to get the better of the human authority figure that supposedly has jurisdiction had been done as a national park bear, New York alley cat, zoo denizen, and pet store merchandise. Here, it was done as an invertebrate resident of an aquatic theme park.

The park was called Bubbleland. The human authority figure was Chief Winchley, whose voice was done by John Stephenson (Mr. Slate in The Flintstones, narrator in Ruff & Reddy). The invertebrate, of course, was Squiddly Diddly, whose voice was done by Paul Frees (whose credits range from Super President to Boris Badenov). Squiddly's recurring act of defiance was to escape, usually to pursue a career in show business (he was musically talented — in fact, the title card showed him simultaneously playing a saxophone, a guitar and a set of bongo drums), but of course, Winchley always got him back into his boring old aquarium tank.

For a squid, Squiddly didn't have very many legs. Also, his head was round, like that of an octopus, rather than long and pointy like a squid's, but even for an octopus, he didn't have very many legs — six, to be exact, four of which he generally used for walking, with the other two functioning as arms.

Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel were temporarily split into two half-hour shows during the second season. Before they came back together, Squiddly (along with one of the other back segments, Winsome Witch) went with the Squirrel. A total of 26 episodes were made, 20 in the first season and six in the second.

Squiddly had his share of merchandise, but wasn't heavily promoted — he didn't even have a comic book. Years after his show ended, they kept his trademark current by placing him in one of the studio's ensemble shows, Yogi's Gang (1973), where he, together with Touché Turtle, Huckleberry Hound and over a dozen others, roamed the landscape in search of environmental correctitude.

Squiddly isn't seen very often anymore, except in reruns or, like many old-time Hanna-Barbera characters, an occasional Cartoon Network promo.

— DDM

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Text ©2004-06 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Hanna-Barbera.