Depression followed but it was the eighties now and nobody noticed. Fleegle’s royalties from the Africa episode had been mostly wiped out by the hospital fees but enough was left to buy a small house in Boise, Idaho. Jobs were not forthcoming but were not really sought after either until a chance encounter with childhood friend Ren (chihuahua, later of Ren & Stimpy fame). Fleegle was introduced to the high-income, high-risk world of organised crime. He was caught several times for minor offences and did a number of brief stints in various prisons around the country but his luck finally ran out in 2002 when he completed a hold up at a garage on the outskirts of Cleveland using his finger as a weapon. Caught on camera and belittled on national television by John Bunnell during the ensuing chase (featured on World’s Most Awesomest Police Chases), Fleegle was captured and sentenced to death thanks to an obscure law on the state’s statutes. An appeal is pending.
Bingo (the Gorilla)
While many theories exist purporting to explain the reasoning for the cancellation of The Banana Splits show – including that there was an LSD shortage across California, that one of Hanna or Barbera developed fruitphobia, and that the cast were kidnapped by the Vietcong in order to sap morale among troops – one of the more likely explanations (other than the fruitphobia one) is that evidence of Bingo’s communist leanings came to light and frictions developed on the set of the show. Certainly there is little to tell about the programme’s Gorilla after the start of 1971 until the end of the decade when 60 Minutes ran a short segment on Fidel Castro that included photographic evidence of Bingo’s earlier appearances on Cuba.
Efforts over the years to unlock classified documents kept by Nixon – a vociferous opponent of socialism, hippies, and orange members of the ape family – have failed repeatedly leading many experts and paranoid schizophrenics to suspect that Bingo was either spirited away by the FBI or was, in fact, infected with HIV and sent to Cuba as a trojan gorilla.
Drooper (the Lion)
Drooper found instant success after the show by syndicating his popular Dear Drooper section out to numerous media publications worldwide. Despite a promising start there was a noticeable change in the style of advice he dispensed from 1973 onwards as seen in this response to the question My mommy and daddy fight all the time. Should I tell the police? posed by a nine year old girl from Wisconsin: "Hee hee, oooh, now that’s a toughy! Hmmmm. Grown-ups fighting! Whatever next! Well little girl, your Super Uncle Drooper thinks you should try to ignore the … oh, screw it, go and take the gun from under your daddy’s bed and cock it next to his ear when he’s sleeping. When his eyes jerk open tell him if he beats your mommy again you’ll perform an emergency gonadectomy on him. Write in again to find out what a gonad is."
Fired soon after Drooper nevertheless still had a lot of friends who liked his style and it wasn’t long before he was leading a vigilante gang meting out justice across the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Criminals soon realised that in their particular jungle this lion wasn’t sleeping tonight. Or any night. With his knowledge of gangs and experience in the industry Drooper was brought in as an advisor to the 1979 film The Warriors and decided to leave the world of crime and crimefighting to the professionals, seeing this as a stepping stone back into showbusiness. Unfortunately it was a stepping stone slippery from the stream of sorrowful setbacks and Drooper’s paws skidded sending the sad star to a sudden stop. While working on his next film – a TV movie called The Hostage Tower – Drooper was run over by a Citroen in Paris. He survived for three days – and production was paused as a mark of respect – but eventually died from thirst because French doctors didn’t really know how to treat a lion. The movie, which starred Peter Fonda and Kier Dullea, was rubbish.
Snorky (the Elephant)
Snorky never spoke on the show, communicating instead through a series of honks. In real life, however, Snorky was a trained Shakespearian actor from the outskirts of London. After The Banana Splits split the versatile actor returned to his native land keen to build on his overseas success and land some plum roles on the many stages. His timing couldn’t have been worse. In 1972 the Royal Shakespeare Company voted almost unanimously to expunge all traces of the Great Bard’s so-called Pachyderm Proses from history. This they completed by March of 1973 and the world soon forgot all about such classics as Three Rhinoceroses Of Seville, A Midwinter Day’s Hippopotamus Safari, and King Elephant IV.
Snorky changed profession entirely, sending himself back to college and then university where he picked up a degree in oceanography. From 1981 to 1984 he took part in a series of months-long expeditions in and around Antarctica and became one of the leading experts in the field of whale courtship. This new prestige brought with it invites to benefit evenings and it was in 1984 that the ex-Split met and began an affair with Princess Diana. All the nice girls like a long, thick trunk but it just so happens that Diana liked them too. A lot. The liaison was uncovered by Prince Charles in 1985 when, despite his best efforts to hide, Snorky left footprints behind in the butter in the fridge. 1985 was the last year anyone heard about Snorky although an open-air performance by Dire Straits in the grounds of Clarence House (Prince Charles’ official residence) in 1989 was apparently interrupted by the sound of honking from the basement. Global warming was blamed.