Magilla Gorilla is a gorilla who spends his time languishing in the front display window of Melvin Peebles’ pet shop, eating bananas and being a drain on the businessman’s finances. Peebles (voiced by Howard Morris and later by Don Messick) marked down Magilla’s price considerably, but Magilla was invariably only purchased for a short time, typically by some thieves who needed a gorilla to break into a bank or by an advertising agency looking for a mascot for their new product.
The customers always ended up returning Magilla, forcing Peebles to refund their money. Magilla often ended episodes with his catchphrase “We’ll try again next week.” Like many of Hanna-Barbera’s animal characters, Magilla Gorilla was dressed in human accessories, sporting a bow tie, shorts held up by suspenders, and an undersized derby hat. The only customer truly interested in obtaining the trouble-prone Magilla was a little girl named Ogee (voiced by Jean Vander Pyl and pronounced “Oh Gee!”). During the cartoon’s theme song, “We’ve Got a Gorilla for Sale”, she asks hopefully, “How much is that gorilla in the window?” a twist on the old standard, “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?”), but she was never able to convince her parents to let her keep Magilla. In Yiddish, a “megillah” is a long tedious or embroidered account, from the Hebrew “megillah”, a story written in a scroll. One episode has Magilla saying, “Such a megillah over a gorilla.”