Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Making of The Horn Blows at Midnight

Jack Benny’s final movie got more mileage on his radio and TV shows than it ever did on the big screen. To hear Benny’s characters talk about it, “The Horn Blows at Midnight” was such a stinker that even corpses got up and walked out on it. You may wonder if all the negative publicity caused studio bosses to take a pass on hiring Benny to appear in any more films. It’s not true. The movie made money and columnist Erskine Johnson reported (March 9, 1948) Jack was still being offered roles—and turned down all of them. One was “The Good Humor Man” which Jack Carson finally made. He did make a cameo appearance in Bob Hope’s “The Great Lover” (1949) at the behest of producer Ed Beloin (a former Benny writer). And he played himself in “Somebody Loves Me” (1952), the film about vaudeville friend Blossom Seely and produced by Bill Perlberg, who sold his house in Palm Springs to Jack. But that was it. He told Johnson (September 13, 1952) he had retired from the screen because he couldn’t concentrate on movies, TV and radio simultaneously and “I simply cannot afford to make a bad picture.”

We mentioned one of the challenges of making the movie in this post, but there were others. Let’s check out the United Press from November 10, 1944.

IN HOLLYWOOD
Jack Benny Is Reducing To Play A Slender Angel
By VIRGINIA MACPHERSON

Hollywood, Nov. 10. (BUP)—Today we had lunch with an angel. Only the angel didn’t eat much because he was overweight. And anybody knows angels can’t have too many bulges—not when they're making a picture.
The name of the angel was Jack Benny. And he gained the extra poundage on a USO tour of the strictly unheavenly South Pacific.
Mr. Benny is making a picture for Warner Brothers called The Horn Blows at Midnight. It’s Angel Benny’s job to blow the horn.
“Sounds simple, huh?” he said. “Well, did you ever try to perch on the edge of a skyscraper and toot a trumpet loud enough to blow the whole darn world to little bitty pieces?”
That, in a word, is the plot of the picture. Mr. Benny is a Milquetoast sort of angel who gets appointed by the heavenly chief in charge of small planet management to finish off the world. It’s in that bad a mess.
What happens to keep him from tootling the race into eternity is a surprise ending. And that ending lasts eight minutes and costs the Warner family the tidy sum of $350,000.
Ending Was Too Weak
“We had the picture all finished before I took my show to the South Pacific,” Benny explained. “But when they ran it off they decided the ending was too weak. So here I am, back for retakes.”
Benny said he had a fine time on the tour. Got plenty of rest and food and reported back for work in tip-top condition. He thought.
But Director Raoul Walsh took one look at Benny's roly-poly frame and moaned. Said the word for his ex-angel was tip-top-heavy. He couldn't even squeeze into his wings any more.
So that’s why Benny is on a diet and he hopes the ending ends pretty soon because he’s working up a fine appetite.
The ending involves what studio officials describe as a highly technical process whereby Angel Benny falls off the skyscraper and goes hurtling toward the street.
Studio officials are very proud of that ending. They won’t tell how it works, but they guarantee it will fool all the technical know-it-alls in town.
Benny’s plenty willing to be fooled, but right at the moment he’s just a little worried. They haven’t even explained it to him yet, and what he wants to know is:
Does he really go hurtling through space, or does it just look as if he does?
He’s waiting for that part of the picture as anxiously as the makers I hope the audience will be.


The movie came out the following April. The International News Service dutifully reported:

Jack Benny Must Wear Kiss Muzzle
HOLLYWOOD, May 5.—As a screen lover Jack Benny seems doomed to be thwarted and thwarted.
Just as he was about to start rehearsing a luscious kiss with fascinating Dolores Moran for Warner Bros.’ comedy hit, “The Horn Blows at Midnight,” he came down with a heavy cold; had to do his romancing from, behind a flu mask!


Moran’s Hollywood career was a bust. If Carlisle Jones’ column of May 25, 1945 is right, her concentration during filming was divided.

During those same weeks in which Dolores Moran worked hard at making Benny’s mission difficult for him in The Horn Blows at Midnight, she was hard at work, between scenes, with books on philosophy, English literature and psychiatry, subjects which she is studying at the University of California at Los Angeles. She graduated from Warner Brothers lot high school a year ago with the highest general average in grades ever received by a student there.

Columnists offered mixed reviews. Jimmy Fidler (April 11) wrote the movie “blows a note that is very sour.” But Walter Winchell (May 14) raved the film “is crowded with so many howls some laughs have to wait in line.” And all Dorothy Kilgallen said was Fred Allen went to the preview; evidently she didn’t bother to toss him a straight line about what he thought of it. Regardless, the film provided Benny will more ammunition in his comic arsenal, much to the delight of his fans who thought they were in on another Hollywood inside joke.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Bread Line With Money In It

Another who thought Walt Disney was in the motion picture business in the mid-‘30s was sadly mistaken. He was in cartoon-character-endorsement business.

In the middle of a Depression, while businesses failed, Disney took in an inconceivable amount of money from Mickey Mouse who, appropriately, became a corporate symbol, thanks to licensing and merchandising.

This story from the Mason City Globe-Gazette of October 13, 1936 gives just one small example. And it also gives you the kind of money being thrown around.

Mickey Mouse to Sell “Diamond Bread” Here
Film Favorite of Many Nations Working for Local Bakery.
Mickey Mouse, the 8 year old wonder from far-off Hollywood, who is responsible already for the sale of more than $35,000,000 worth of merchandise bearing his likeness, is now to be a bakery salesman in Mason City during his spare moments.

“That may be news to hundreds of children in this vicinity," said Charles H. "Chuck" Lennan, manager of the Mason City Baking company, 319 Delaware avenue southeast who employed the tiny moive star, whose capers have been flashed around the world.
“A series of 96 picture cards showing the adventure of this famous movie star, all done in brilliant colors by the Walt Disney art staff, will be wrapped in loaves of Diamond Bread, baked and distributed by his company, said Mr. Lennan.
New Picture Each Day.
“A different adventure card will be wrapped with each loaf of white bread every day. And little Tom, Dick or Harry, or sister Ruth, Ida or Margie can get a scrap book from our bakery in which to stick these adventure picture cards.
There is probably not a child in this community who has not heard of Mickey Mouse. The romantic rise of this star in the world of motion pictures and merchandising has been phenomenal. From his beginning back in 1928 up until the present time he has been an outstanding success. Today Mickey Mouse entertains an audience of more than 500,000,000 people every year in more than 10,000 American theaters.
Readers, Readers Everywhere.
More than 300 newspapers publish Mickey Mouse comic strips for the amusement of 35,000,000 readers every day in the year.
When Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse, arrived in London not long ago, every English paper in Great Britain broke out with stories concerning the pair on their front page. Such papers as the New York Times, the World-Telegram, the Herald-Tribune, the Daily Mirror and other papers have recognized Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse as front page news.
And Honors Too.
“But what chance has a mouse of gelling bread?” asked the reporter.
“What chance would you say a mouse had of becoming the most famous star in movies?”
So—thereby hangs the story.


The man behind the marketing wasn’t Walt, nor his businessman brother Roy. It was a fellow Kansas Citian named Kay Kamen. You can’t find a better summary of Kamen’s selling power than at the Filmic Light Website.

People save the darndest things, and some of the cards being talked about in the story have survived in collections, ready to sold to the highest bidder on-line, something even Kay Kamen might not have imagined. Look at some of them below.


Friday, 28 September 2012

Ed Benedict in Dixieland

“Dixieland Droopy” (released 1954) is a cartoon where Tex Avery and writer Heck Allen mix together some old plot standbys—obsessive/compulsive behaviour, fleas and Droopy. The latter is the most puzzling as the main character in this cartoon is a jazz conductor wannabe named John Pettibone. Why Droopy was stuck in a part against character type is curious.

It’s hard to get excited about the fleas, only one of whom is an actual character and only at the end of the short, so the only thing worth watching are bits of really funny animation and the attempt at stylised characters and backgrounds.

The characters are by Ed Benedict and although he once grumpily denied he had a discernible style, you can’t miss Ed’s work if you look at the ice cream truck driver.



You’ll see in the drawing above that background artist Joe Montell (perhaps from Benedict’s layouts) includes a Clinton furniture store, named for animator Walt Clinton.

Here are some of the other characters. The dancing monkey and the dancing ice cream truck (which crashes into a brick wall) are the funniest parts of the cartoon.










Avery uses sound as a gag, too, muffling the fine Dixieland music when the jamming musical fleas are in a pipe or behind a door. And when Droopy gets slowed by some tar, the music slows down, too.

Mike Lah and Grant Simmons are the other credited animators.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Smear Around the Corner

Chuck Jones did it one way. Bob Clampett did it another.

Both directors (and Friz Freleng) employed smears to move characters from one frame to another. Jones’ animators, guys like Bobe Cannon and Lloyd Vaughn, stretched a character like a balloon. Clampett’s animators seem to have preferred brush lines, which also indicate speed.

Here are two examples from “An Itch in Time” (1943). Five drawings from pose-to-pose, less than a half second.












Somewhere in a 1943 U.S. government copyright catalogue may exist the original credits for this cartoon. But the Blue Ribbon release that everyone has seen has shorn them. The credited animator is unknown.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Worst Television Show Ever Filmed

There’s nothing more amusing and satisfying to fans of a TV series to find a hateful reviewer fall flat on their butt when the show they despise becomes a runaway hit, and remains one for years.

Such was the case with “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

The Clampett clan loaded up their truck and drove onto prime time 50 years ago today. The result? The number one show in television for the 1962-63 season. And it got bigger numbers the following year.

The Amarillo News-Reporter bleated: “The Beverly Hillbillies, new tonight, just may be the worst television show ever filmed. It purports to be comedy, but it trots out all the most ancient hillbilly jokes ever told.”

I love “The Beverly Hillbillies.” I watched it in prime-time (with the Kellogg’s cereal boxes in the lower corner of the screen in the closing credits, like on so many shows then) and ate it up in reruns. The series is a little uncomfortable in the first episodes but executive producer Paul Henning seems to have realised what was amiss and fixed it quickly. In the initial few shows, Jed and his clan are the joke. The humour is based on how stupid they are. Henning must have realised you can’t have staying power with all your protagonists being dullards. So the focus was changed. While the Hillbillies remained a little ignorant about modern life, they became underdogs. The city folk became the ones ridiculed on the show—the snobby woman next door, the pathetically avaricious banker, and various shysters who tried to take advantage of them only to be foiled. They were the kinds of people the audience loved to hate and they could identify with the Clampetts. There was balance in the best scripts. Granny (and, for a few episodes, Sonny Drysdale) provided comic relief. There were warm moments (mainly involving Ellie May) and bits of parody (the double-nought spy episodes) and satire (Dash Riprock and the film industry), though not the vicious satire of Al Kapp’s “Li’l Abner,” which the show was compared to in many early reviews due to the superficial similarity in character types. The show was probably the first exposure many people had to bluegrass music. Curt Massey’s theme was, as hit themes generally are, singable, and veteran guitarist Perry Botkin, Sr. provided some fitting and memorable incidental music. And the show hired fine character actors for various occasional or one-shot roles, including cartoon voice actors Alan Reed, John Stephenson, Elvia Allman and, of course, Bea Benaderet as Cousin Pearl.

But some people shore ‘nuff done reckoned that thar show was smellier than a passel of skunks in an outhouse. Here’s the review the day after the premiere in the Lowell Sun, complete with grammatically-incorrect opening sentence.

Hillbillies Series Seen As Insult
By William K. Sarmento
LOWELL—I am well aware that the master-minds at the television networks must try and please a variety of tastes. But last night’s premiere of “The Beverly Hillbillies” was insult to the intelligence of the most moronic viewer. It tops the list of the worst show to come along this season. It was so bad that I almost thought I could hear the windows in millions of American homes flying open to air out the living room to get rid of all traces of this “bomb.”
The show is a cross between “The Real McCoys” and “L’il Abner.” The result of this integration comes on strong, like an inventory at the Chicago stockyards. The basic premise for this “gem” is that a backwoods hillbilly family becomes millionaires overnight due to the discovery of oil in their backyard. They decide to move to Beverly Hills to be near their kinfolk, other millionaires.
The oldest member of the family is a sort of Mammy Yokem who stamps out the fireplace with her bare feet to save her shoe leather. Her son is the male head of the group who has never heard or a telephone, airplane or a millionaire. But he docs drive the family across country to California without incident. Now isn’t he the brightest thing since the Hathaways left with their chimp children?
NEXT there is Cousin Jethro, who looks strangely like L’il Abner. He has had some “schooling” and demonstrated this by his answer to the question, “How come they don’t have ice and snow in California?” Cousin Jethro beamingly replied, “Don’t ask me, I didn’t take it.” Now I can understand why Kennedy has so much trouble getting a federal aid to education bill passed. If this is a tribute to the American intellect, then we bad all better hammer a few more nails into the fallout shelter. Perhaps you may he considering that this was the initial show and it’s bound to get better. Let me clue you that in future weeks we will he treated to such comedy as the Hillbillies attempting to do their washing in the swimming pool in back of their new mansion. Aren’t you weak with anticipation?
The one consoling thing with which I may leave you is that next week you may watch the new Gene Kelly series, “Going My Way” or the return of Perry Como. Maybe if we are all quiet and don’t say anything “The Beverly Hillbillies” will pack up and leave. I doubt if the rating charts will indicate that the public has turned out the welcome mat for them.


 Does anyone even remember Gene Kelly doing a TV series?
 Not all the reviews were negative. Let’s look at three from various news services.

By CYNTHIA LOWRY 
AP Television-Radio Writer 
NEW YORK (AP)—The title “Beverly Hillbillies” explains a lot about CBS’ new comedy series and, happily, the premiere Wednesday night promises a funny, rowdy and maybe even mildly satiric program.
The jokes will be based, of course, on the sudden shift of a primitive Ozark family — one of those moonshinin’, hawg-raisin,’ possum-eatin’ clans found primarily in a writer’s imagination—from a remote mountain shack to a Southern California millionaire’s mansion, courtesy of an overnight oil fortune.
The Clampett family consists of pretty familiar characters of fiction and comic strips: Jed, the colorful talking father (played by Buddy Ebsen); Granny, who considers tending the family still “woman’s work”; Elly May, the lissome daughter whose first name should be Daisy; and cousin Jethro, the handsome bumpkin whose name might be Abner. Anyway, it promises to be uninhibited and amusing if the writers remember to add enough branch water to the corn.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Looks Like Smash Comedy Hit
By RICK Du BROW
HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 27. (UPI)—At the networks there is a strong feeling that “The Beverly Hillbillies,” a new comedy series which showed up last night on CBS-TV, is going to be a smash hit.
The title describes the idea in a nutshell: It is about an Ozark Mountain family that discovers oil in front of its shack and moves to a huge mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., home of money and movie stars.
The series stars Buddy Ebsen as family patriarch; as his voluptuous blonde daughter Irene Ryan as “granny;” and Max Baer Jr., son of the former heavyweight boxer, as a big, good-natured, oafish cousin named Jethro.
Needless to say, the advertising boys are thrilled about the possibilities of the series because it reminds them of “The Real McCoys;” and nothing thrills an advertiser more than a show that is reminiscent of another hit.
SO MUCH FOR THE preliminaries. As a flat observation, the nicest thing I can say about “The Beverly Hillbillies” — or any program, for that matter—is that it is really not like civilized rural clan; these new hillbillies make Li’l Abner and his mob look like a bunch of sophisticates. Samples:
—Miss Douglas, carrying an unconscious, citified oilman into the shack, asks Ebsen: “Can I keep him, Pa?”
—Ebsen, who doesn’t know the value of oil until he’s told about it, and doesn’t realize he’s a rich man, tells a cousin he’s been offered “a new kind of dollars . . . million.”
WELL, ALL RIGHT. This is a cold - blooded commercial series to cash in on some salable types, but there's nothing done; and many times, it was.
For example, the rollicking banjo music that weaves in and out is delightful. The cast is expert and attractive. The writer - creator, Paul Henning who penned comedy for George Bums and Gracie Allen for a decade, knows his business.
Thus, while things sometimes seem forced on “Hillbillies,” it also often fast and funny and fairly acceptable broad farce, though I wouldn’t advise you to call off a good poker game because of it.
To succeed, the “Hillbillies” must compete against tough shows: Perry Como and the new “Going My Way” series with Gene Kelly.

‘Beverly Hillbillies’ Keeps Main Characters In Line
By HAL HUMPHREY
[Los Angeles Times syndicate]
HOLLYWOOD — Taking a family of hillbillies out of their primitive Ozark shack and plunking them down to live in the middle of Beverly Hills sounds like the corniest gimmick to come down the pike since “Truth or Consequences.” The nice thing about this brand of corn, however, is creator Paul Henning’s refusal to let his characters become wise-cracking, knee-slapping comics.
In the premiere episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” on CBS-TV), Cousin Pearl (Bea Benadaret) is trying to convince Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) that since he now is oil-rich, he can leave his remote Ozark existence for the comforts of “Californy.”
JED: You think I oughta move?
PEARL: Jed, how can you even ask? Look around you! You’re eight miles from the nearest neighbor. You're overrun with skunks, possums, coyotes and bobcats. You got kerosene lamps for light, a wood stove to cook on winter and summer. You’re washin’ with homemade lye soap and your bathroom is 50 feet from the house. And you ask should you move!
JED (very soberly): Yeah — I guess you’re right. A man’d be a dang fool to leave all this.
LATER IN THE half hour when the time came for Jed, Granny, Elly and Big Jethro to take off for Californy in their modified flatbed truck, I found myself sharing Jed’s doubts about the advantages of a Beverly Hills manse over his crude but homey Ozark hovel.
Fans of Jackie Gleason’s “Honeymooners” used to complain once in a while over the absolutely stark, and maybe even dirty, tenement flat they occupied. To me, that two-plate gas burner, the rickety ice-box and the flimsy commode actually set off Ralph and Alice Kramden’s frustrating, but funny (for the audience), scramble to carve out a little real living on a bus driver’s pay.
WRITER-PRODUCER Henning feels he is furnishing himself with more comedy springboards by surrounding his hillbillies with the posh accoutrements which come with a Beverly Hills estate, and he probably is right. Someday, though, I hope he will do a season of shows with his hill folk in their natural habitat. Al Capp has done right well with Li’l Abner in that milieu.
It's been a few years since Henning has done TV. He wrote for George Burns and Gracie for 10 years, produced and wrote Dennis Day’s TV show the year it was opposite “I Love Lucy,” then came up with the Bob Cummings Show — the successful one which had Bob as a semi-lecherous photographer for five years.
After a spate of movie-writing, Henning — a slight man who is as serious about his work as any bank vice-president — decided TV audiences were ready again “to just laugh.”
HIS OWN BEGINNINGS were in Independence, Mo., and it was Boy Scout treks into the Ozarks which Henning says inspired his long-standing desire to do something about hillbillies.
“They never think they do anything funny, and that’s the way I'm keeping them in the series,” says Henning.
He wrote the first 11 episodes himself, and even the theme music and lyrics (“The Ballad of Jed Clampett”) to make sure that his hillbillies weren’t corrupted. Henning insists on supervising the publicity, so that his actors' images in the show aren’t cheapened and distorted.
“Somebody thought it would be a good idea to do a magazine layout of pictures with Buddy Ebsen on his small yacht," Henning recalls. “I screamed. It was too out of character for the series, and the people I know in the mid-West take their TV characters very seriously.”
HE WAS EVEN more upset when he saw that in the first episode Elly (Donna Douglas) was too neatly coiffeured and eye-pencilled. “I was ill that day, and didn’t get to the set, but later I felt like killing that hairdresser.”

The show probably lasted a season too long. Much like Mr. Magoo wore out his welcome by continually mistaking things for something else, the final “Hillbillies” season made Granny the butt of the joke by mistaking grunion for… well, my mind has blocked whatever it was. The continuing storyline didn’t help. But the show was fun while at the top of its game.

One of the things I didn’t learn until years after the series left prime-time was that Irene Ryan wasn’t a little old lady. Nor did I realise she was part of the vaudeville team of Tim Ryan and Irene Noblette. They were, among other things, stars of a series of short films for Educational (“The Spice of the Program”) in the mid-‘30s and Jack Benny’s summer replacement on radio in 1936. She later appeared as a regular on Bob Hope’s radio show and if you listen closely to the old broadcasts, you can recognise the voice. Dennis Day once told a story about how he was travelling to Los Angeles from New York to audition for the Benny show. He’d never been west before. His mother recognised Tim and Irene making the same trip and asked them to look after him.

Here she is in the 1944 film “Hot Rhythm,” courtesy of a camera-phone pointed at a TV.



A P.S.—Justin Ebsen posted this note on Facebook: “Okay, now a fun fact: Dad (Jed) was almost killed when in the episode where Jethro becomes a secret agent, he tries to make the Hillbilly truck fly. It was running up on some scaffolding and began to fall when Max Baer Jr. grabbed my dad and pulled him to safety.”

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Woody Dines Out Surprise

How surprised is Woody at seeing a lion walk toward him? His head becomes a red smear.




The smear moves back for a couple of drawings. Then it develops telescope eyes, and the rest of the bodies catches up to them.













This is from Shamus Culhane’s “Woody Dines Out” (1944). The only credited animator is Don Williams.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Big Horn Backgrounds

A noise-making child alienates spaghetti-limbed adults and is ostracised only to become a hero to the adults thanks to his noise.

No, it’s not “Gerald McBoing Boing.” It’s yet another UPA cartoon that ploughs the same ground.

As usual, the designs are the stars and they’re by Thornton Hee this time. Let’s look at some of the backgrounds. Jules Engel worked on those. The swirls on the last frame represent fog.








And being directed by Bob Cannon, there has to be abstract geometry in there somewhere. The circles represent sound waves.



Cannon does a couple of things I really like. The opening titles are treated like a slide show at an old-time movie theatre, which nicely fits the era the cartoon is set in. And he symbolises how loud the kid’s tuba-playing is by having the dialogue drop out during part of one scene.

Marian Richman and John T. Smith, not sounding like his gruff characters at Warner Bros., play the parents.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

50 Years of the Future

It’s only natural that a blog named for the best character on “The Jetsons” should mention the cartoon series’ 50th birthday today.

“The Jetsons” was an animated catalogue of what people of the post-war era thought the future would look like, based on what they’d read and seen in science magazines, world fairs and even TV ads and paid industrial films. It was an era of consumerism and “The Jetsons” featured amazing products of the future one could buy to make their life easier, most of them based on concepts that had been kicking around. Of course, there was a down side, too. Some of those new-fangled things didn’t work or blew up. George Jetson got caught in traffic jams worse than anyone dealt with in 1962. And he put up with a boss who had never heard the term “anger management.”

The show was one of the first that ABC broadcast in colour, though that wasn’t really much of a selling point. I watched the series in black-and-white until the early ‘70s and I suspect I was no different than a lot of kids back then. It would have been odd growing up and seeing these interior backgrounds in colour. If I had to guess, I’d say they were by Dick Thomas.







“The Jetsons” failed in prime time because of numbers—more people watched “Disney” on NBC. Once reruns moved into kid-time on Saturday mornings, it flourished. Years later, it resulted in the Hanna-Barbera studio’s new owners bringing it back with far less entertaining new episodes and a movie that’s best left forgotten.

During the show’s original run, Joe Barbera was the front-man for pre-premiere newspaper stories. But here’s one published 50 years ago today in the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram that quotes Bill Hanna. Only once. The story sounds as if it’s based on a press release by Arnie Carr’s publicity department.

Bert’s Eye View
By BERT RESNIK
TV and Radio Editor
George Jetson fed the micro-tablet newspaper into the reading machine and pressed buttons until he got to the sports page.
There was a picture of the coach of the local football team George pressed another button.
“We’ll moider ‘em,” said the voice of the local coach.
George grinned and absent-mindedly flicked a few cigarette ashes on the rug.
An electric-seeing-eye vacuum cleaner came buzzing out of its wall cabinet, sucked up the ashees and discreetly returned to its niche.
George glanced out of the window and noticed the smog. He pressed a button and his Sky Pad Apartment immediately rose 1,000 feet above the smog.
AN IMMEDIATE RISE to popular acclaim is hoped for George and the rest of “The Jetsons” by his creators, Hanna-Barbera Productions.
“The Jetsons,” a futuristic cartoon-situation comedy a la “The Flintstones,” makes its debut in Color at 7:30 p.m. today on channel 7.
The Sunday series is about a family living in the year 2062. An average family, it has the ordinary astro-age conveniences available to middle-class families.
There is for example, their nuclear-pellet-powered space car which gets 40,000 miles to the pellet. (Economy cars get 60,000 miles per pellet.)
There is the dog-walk, a treadmill which periodically serves up fire hydrants.
A pneumatic tube is used for transporting the children to and from school.
Occasionally the wrong child is returned, but there’s no major problem. Just simply press a reject button until the right child shows up.
* * *
AN UPCOMING episode will feature an anti-gravity dance floor that permits the dancers to gyrate on the ceiling.
An astro-age rock-and-roller, Jet Screamer, will bellow:
“I know a swinging place out on the edge of space.”
He’ll introduce a new dance, the solo swivel, which may be the successor to the twist.
Hanna-Barbera Productions feel “The Jetsons” are bringing a new twist to television with its comic astro-age outlook.
Those who have been associated with the series—the same professionals involved in the production of “The Flintstones”—think “The Jetsons” should move ahead faster in the ratings than the caveman cartooner.
This would be quite an accomplishment for “The Flintstones” were practically an overnight success.
Bill Hanna shares the enthused optimism about “The Jetsons” but isn’t personally going out on any prediction limb.
“You just can’t say until the guy in front of the tube watches it.” he said.
For the guy in front of the TV tube—even though it isn’t pneumatic—also has a reject button.


And here’s another newspaper piece that reads like filler supplied by Carr’s people.

Questions And Answers On ABC-TV’s ‘The Jetsons’
Who dreams up the futuristic gadgets seen in “The Jetsons”?
Three occupants of the “think room” at Hanna-Barbera Productions devote full time to this project.
What have been some of their best brainstorms?
The Peek-a-boo Prober Pill, a tiny diagnostic device that televises — with commentary —- after it is swallowed by a patient; a miniaturizing machine used by Jetson’s boss to shrink shipments of Spacely Space Sprockets and shipping charges; the fooderacycle [sic] unit that instantly prepares and serves any menu selected from its card index.
How many drawings are used in “The Jetsons”?
More, than 12,000 individual drawings (cells) go into each half-hour segment.
How many man hours does each segment require?
A total of 16,000, including all production departments such as dubbing, recording, lab and musicians.
How did H-B happen to follow up their Stone Age “The Flintstones” with a series set 100 years in the future?
The 2060’s setting was one of the ideas proposed when H-B decided to make their first cartoon series with humans instead of animals. It was rejected in favour of the prehistoric Flintstone setting because the idea seemed “too far out” a couple of years ago.
What is the major difficulty in making “The Jetsons”?
Keeping a hundred years ahead of the present due to the scientific breakthroughs being made.
Is there an example of this?
The long-legged bug shaped Moonwalker now in production for moon exploration. On this Joseph Barbera comments that if one of his artists had submitted such a sketch a couple of years ago, he would have thought he was crazy.
How are futuristic sounds for the series made?
With electronic devices and from a sound effects library containing more than 5000 sounds, from “Snores and Shivers” to “Poofs and Pops.”


“The Jetsons” had a great opening. There’s that jumping theme song by Hoyt Curtin and his band and the memorable close-up shot of Earth from outer space, with overlays of drawings to simulate a 3-D effect.





Suddenly, the sound of drums and horns and the shot cuts to a starry black exosphere with moving geometric shapes in the foreground.









The blue skies and space needle buildings of Orbit City quickly fade in, and then the Jetson family zooms toward the camera twice. We get to meet the family. There’s perspective animation during the opening which Hanna-Barbera almost never used in its cartoons because of the cost.



Elementary schools used to have tall windows like this. About 1910.



What?! Cash? In the future? Those three guys in the “think room” aren’t thinking.



We didn’t have “malls” in the early ‘60s. We had “shopping centres.” So that’s what the Jetsons have.



The name “Tralfaz”, at least as it applies to Astro, was heard in the episode “Millionaire Astro.” This is a scan of a cel from that episode, featuring Tralfaz’s dog house that’s on the masthead of this blog. The colour isn’t quite the same as what you’ll see on the cartoon DVD.

One wonders if Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera and their talented artists ever expected “The Jetsons” to last this long. The show’s half-way to 2062, the year its set in. It might just make it there.