The Shriners, The Flintstones, and The Grand Poobah?
What do these 3 things have in common you ask?
On October 17th, 2009 we attanded a Shriners event in Fort Myers Florida where Carrie's uncle Jon became a Shriner. While there, we had the pleasure of sitting with Araba Shriner Bob McKenzie. Bob heads up the one and only Flintstone Unit in the entire Shriners Organization.
Why do we mention this on this website?
In our Shriners travels we have often referred affectionately to the Imperial Potentates at the various Shrine Centers as "The Grand Poobah". In fact, at the 2009 R.I. Potentate's Reception for John Adams, his daughter got up and spoke about him using the same term.
Notice Fred's hat as part of his get up when attending meetings at the Lodge for the "Loyal Order Of The Water Buffalo".
"Grand Poobah is a term first introduced on the television show The Flintstones. Fred Flintstone and his friend Barney Rubble were members of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes Lodge No. 26. The lodge is a spoof of men's clubs like the Freemasons, the Shrine, the Elks Club and the Moose. A high ranking elected position within this organization is Grand Poobah or Grand Imperial Poobah."
Now I must confess. I've often wondered (and halfway feared) that us using that term might seem disrespectful. We have never meant it that way. In fact, to us it is quite the opposite. A non-Shriner needs to know that while these guys are raising money very seriously, they are having fun while doing it.
So while having dinner with Bob, he enlightened us with some interesting Flintstone tidbits and trivia. The creators of the Flintstones were 2 guys whose names we probably all recognize - Hanna-Barbera. They are Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera.
I learned this weekend they were both Shriners.
Bob and his Araba Unit, like so many others around the world, drive those "funny little cars" in parades. The Flintstone Unit's cars are replicas of Fred Flintstone's car. And here's Bob and his group in costume..... From the Araba website
And just as a footnote:
While researching Hanna Barbera I stumbled onto another cartoon celebrity, also a Shriner, that was the voice of so very many in all our lives. His name is Mel Blanc, but better known as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Porky, Tweety, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, and the list goes on. But I never knew he was the voice of Barney Rubble on The Flintstones.
From an old news article...
Entertainers Shrine Unit to Be Led by Mel Blanc
Mel Blanc, “the man of 1000 Voices,” who is known throughout the world for his movie, radio and television work, has been elected president of the Show Business Shrine Club of Al Malaikah Temple.
Blanc and other officers and directors will be installed at a dinner-dance to be held on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. in the Empire Room of Sportsmen’s Lodge, 12533 Ventura Blvd. Music and entertainment will be supplied by Manny Harmon and his orchestra.
Other new officers are Bart Conrad, first vice president; Bernie B. Lane, second vice president; Don De Fore, third vice president, and Eugene L. Zola, secretary-treasurer.
Newly elected directors are Ernest Borgnine, Tom Frandsen, Manny Harmon, John F. Golden, George B. Hunt, Paul Miller, Ralph L. Blink, Milt Canfield, William F. Hertz, Leonard D. Hess, Ben S. Levy, Theo Nowak Jr., Joe Popkin, Arthur H. Rockwell and Max Salit. Levy is chaplain, Max Kleckner is publicity chairman.
Blanc has gained international recognition by circling the world with humor for many years in a variety of performing arts — first on radio, then via animated cartoons in motion picture theaters, followed by recordings and television.
Even after more than three decades, Blanc’s voices Bugs Bunny, Sylvester Cat and Speedy Gonzales (plus a string of other distinctive characters) stall are delighting an estimated 30,000,000 daily throughout the world.
Born in San Francisco 59 years ago, Blanc was reared in Portland. Ore. He started in show business, he says, “entertaining students and teachers, getting big laughs and lousy grades.” In his early teens, he created the cackle later to become Woody Woodpecker.
Blanc and his wife Estelle, who costarred with him on his early radio shows, live in Pacific Palisades. Their son Noel is president of Mel Blanc Associates.