The Funny World of Fred and Bunni (partially found live-action/animated variety show pilot; 1978)
|Fanmade depiction of what Bunni, the star and the green man could have looked like. Drawn by The Reynard.|
The Funny World of Fred and Bunni is the unreleased pilot of a variety show that was supposed to be broadcast on CBS, on the date of 30th August 1978. The pilot had live-action actors appearing on-screen with cartoon characters, animated by the Hanna-Barbera studios.
It was one-hour long and starred Fred Travalena, a comedian/singer who was popular at the time for his impressions of celebrities. A sexy animated cartoon young woman, Bunni, would appear as "Fred's conscience". She was voiced by Kathie Lee Gifford (then known as Kathie Johnson).
Other animated characters included a little green man with a Peter Lorre-like voice and a bright yellow star with a Paul Lynde-like voice as an overly negative critic repeating "Boring!".
Other live-action comedians that appeared in the pilot included Sandy Duncan, Vicki Lawrence and Pat Harrington.
The pilot contained skits such as:
- Travalena and Harrington as Lance and Louie Welk, the fictional two brothers of Lawrence Welk who, unlike him, failed into making it into show-business and depicted as stereotypical Germans. A running gag had Harrington's character spurting out "Sonja Henie's tutu!" making Travalena's character laugh.
- Travalena impersonating Frank Sinatra, Paul Williams, Barry Manilow and Henry Winkler in a musical number where all of the characters appear on screen together.
- Travalena imitating Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Carter, Jim Nabors and Howard Cosell.
Joseph Barbera was executive producer of the special, and Iwao Takamoto developed the character of Bunni.
Although some newspaper critics watched the pilot before intended broadcasting, the full pilot has never resurfaced anywhere. Takamoto claims in his book that it "never even made it to air".
The only known part of the pilot that can be found is a performance of Travalena singing The Star With The Lonely Eyes.
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1665&dat=19780830&id=P24dAAAAIBAJ&sjid=TCQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4961,7090211 Article from The Times-News describing the pilot.
- http://tinyurl.com/l4rt5wo Excerpt from Iwao Takamoto's recollection of the genesis of the pilot.
- http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1916&dat=19780830&id=9fcpAAAAIBAJ&sjid=O24FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3779,5422423 Article from The Hour describing the pilot.