Today is the summer solstice, focal point of the pagan holiday Midsummer. In Europe and elsewhere, people of various cultures celebrate Midsummer by collecting medicinal plants and building bonfires to ward off evil spirits. We’re celebrating the occasion with Mr. Magoo in his amusing 1965 cartoon of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The short cartoon is an episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, a weekly series that aired on NBC during the 1964-1965 season. The show was presented in prime time and was intended to amuse adults as well as children. Actor Jim Backus provided the voice of the bumbling, near-sighted Mr. Magoo while he was also working on another prime-time show, Gilligan’s Island. The Famous Adventures were all based on classic works of literature, like Moby Dick and Cyrano de Bergerac. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mr. Magoo plays Puck – “that shrewd and knavish sprite called Robin Goodfellow.”