Exit Stage Left – One Very Cool Cat

Exit Stage Left

… or right, or even up, or down. This is a well-known saying that a lot of people would immediately relate with Snagglepuss, the Hannah Barbera cartoon character who was first on The Quick Draw McGraw show and later was on nearly every episode of The Yogi Bear show in the 1960’s and 70’s. Snagglepuss also appeared in many other Hannah Barbera series and shows.

Interestingly, the stage direction “Exit Stage Left” would require the performer to leave the stage to the right as viewed from the audience. The “stage left” direction refers to left as seen from the stage.

If you view the example in the video, Snagglepuss moved “House Left” when he said “Stage Left”. Perhaps a decision was made against precision so as not to confuse children by having Snagglepuss say left and move right?

Heavens to Murgatroyd

“Heavens to Murgatroyd” was another well-remembered phrase from Snagglepuss, an Hannah Barbera cartoon character, but the phrase was
from the 1944 film Meet the People. Bert Lahr, who you might remember in another role as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, was the one that utterred the saying in the film. Snagglepuss’s voice was very much like Lahr’s even to the extent that he sued when it was used to promote Kelloggs products. The voice of Snagglepuss was Daws Butler.

Murgatroyd is simply a random name and the phrase was used as an expression of surprise and amazement at a given situation. The phrase “Heavens to Betsy” was often used around this time and the use of Murgatroyd instead of Betsy certainly would increase the comedic value.

So, what about the origin or meaning of “Heavens to Betsy”? Well, many have tried to link it to Betsy Ross or even Davey Crockett’s rifle, Betsy, but the American Dialect Society has referenced uses of the phrase dating back at least as far as the 1870’s. (though I have also seen a forum post suggesting they have found one back as far as 1857 http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=399301 See The Grammarphobia blog’s article on this topic.

The lexicographer Charles Earle Funk, in his appropriately titled book Heavens to Betsy!, says he spent “an inordinate amount of time” on this problem before deciding that it’s “completely unsolvable.”


To my memory, Snagglepuss would say things such as, “Heavens to Murgatroyd; Betsy, even!” Let’s face it Snagglepuss appended “even” to nearly every phase he uttered.

There is more about Snagglepuss on Wikipedia – click here.


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