Magilla Gorilla was formed as one of the laundry list of Hanna-Barbera characters created for Saturday morning cartoons. He saw his syndicated premier on January 14, 1964, and finally got his own show, "The Magilla Gorilla Show" in 1966, which also featured shorts from other Hanna-Barbera staples Punkin Puss and Mushmouse, Ricochet Rabbit, and later Breezly and Sneezly.
Voiced by the venerable Allan Melvin, Magilla Gorilla was a large and clumsy gorilla who manned the front window of the pet store owned by Mr. Peebles (Howard Morris). Magilla was constantly getting into trouble - although he never tried to escape, he was frequently driven by his curiosity to look at goings-on, which resulted in calamity every episode, much to Mr. Peebles' chagrine. Other episodes saw Magilla being bought for nefarious purposes, though it was a guarantee that by the end of the cartoon he would be back in the store window, happily eating up Mr. Peebles' profits in bananas. The only other recurring character in the Magilla series was Ogee, a little girl who always wanted to own Magilla but could never afford him.
Magilla Gorilla proved to be an important step in the synergy between cartoons (and other forms of children's entertainment) and merchandising. When the show was introduced in 1964, Hanna-Barbera had already inked a deal with Ideal Games to release a slew of plush toys, board games, and other items bearing Magilla Gorilla's face and the H-B seal of approval. This cycle of generating sales through media has been repeated many times since, but Magilla served as one of the first.
We've got a gorilla for sale
a yellow gorilla for sale.
Won't you buy him
take him home and try him
gorilla for sale!
See in the window, Magilla Gorilla
full of charm and appeal
Handsome, elegant, intelligent, sweet
He's really ideal!
So if you want a yellow gorilla you can call your own
a gorilla who'll be with ya when you're all alone
"Its the Magilla Gorilla show
Starring me and Mr. Peebles...
with Mush Mouse
and Pushkin Puss
and Ricochet Rabbit
(Little girl speaking):
"How much is that Gorilla in the window?"
Take our advice
at any price
a gorilla like Magilla is mighty nice.
Gorilla for sale!
Theme Music, "Magilla Gorilla"
The Big Game (Original Air Date: 1/14/64)
Millionaire J. Whimple Dimple offers to take the cumbersome Magilla off of Mr. Peebles' hands. However, Magilla soon learns Dimple is a big game hunter, and Magilla's head is the next trophy for Dimple's wall. Through his serendipitous clumsiness, Magilla so out-games the millionaire that he is promptly returned to the store.
Gridiron Gorilla (1/21/64)
A football coach spots Magilla in the store window and figures he can use the behemoth to help his team win. Magilla proves to be quite uneducated in the ways of the pigskin, but finally the opposing team makes him mad and he responds by scoring the winning touchdown!
Private Magilla (1/28/64)
Despite peacetime regulations and an assumed ban on drafting primates, Magilla is swept into the Army where he is given a special assignment as a passenger on a rocket to the Moon.
Bank Pranks (2/4/64)
After being sold for a dime, Magilla's new owners turn out to be bank thieves who use Magilla to remove the vault doors. Luckily, the American criminal system seemed reluctant to jail a Saturday morning cartoon star, instead remanding him back into Mr. Peebles' custody for another weekly caper.
Groovy Movie (2/11/64)
Come Back, Little Magilla (3/17/64)
Fairy Godmother (3/24/64)
Planet Zero (3/31/64)
Prince Charming (4/7/64)
Motorcycle Magilla (4/14/64)
Is That Zoo? (4/21/64)
Bird Brained (9/11/65)
Circus Ruckus (9/18/65)
Camp Scamps (9/25/65)
The Purple Mask (10/2/65)
Love At First Fight (10/9/65)
Pet Bet (10/16/65)
Makin' With The Gorilla (10/23/65)
High Fly Guy (10/30/65)
Deep Sea Doodle (11/6/65)
That Was The Geek That Was (11/13/65)
Montana Magilla (11/20/65)
Magilla Mixup (11/27/65)
Wheelin and Deal (12/4/65)
Mad Avenue Madness (12/11/65)
Beau Jest (12/18/65)
Super Blooper Heroes (12/25/65)
After the Magilla Gorilla Show went off the air, Magilla continued to get some screen time courtesy of the Hanna-Barbera wankfest "Laff-A-Lympics", the environmentally conscious "Yogi's Gang", and the lackluster TV special "Scooby-Doo in Arabian Nights".
Any good Simpsons fan will tell you that Magilla made a brief off-screen appearance in Homer's dreams during the "When You Wish Upon A Star" episode; first, singing his friendly theme song, and then shrieking as Homer unconsciously attacked Ned Flanders in full gorilla rage. He also turned up as an inmate in a recent episode of "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law." Seems like the bank heists finally caught up with him after all.
You can catch Magilla Gorilla on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Check your local listings.