One of those companies was Cinema-Vue Corp. Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop and even the old Toonerville Trolley shorts by Van Beuren were taken by others, so Cinema-Vue had to content itself with another character. It tried to convince stations to buy Tom Puss.
The ad you see to the right is from The Radio Annual and Television Yearbook for 1959. Cinema-Vue was co-founded in March 1954 by brothers Joe and Frank Smith to produce and distribute shorts for TV. But, according to Billboard of September 5, 1955, the company quickly became moribund and the two went to work for Guild Films. The two left Guild, Frank Smith went on to manage Cinepix, a subsidiary of Astra Films, and Joe reactivated Cinema-Vue. The company decided to get into the cartoon business. Billboard of September 24, 1955 reported:
Cinema-Vue Takes Cinepix Cartoons, 1-2 Reel ComediesBillboard, in a story dated October 29, 1955, said Cinema-Vue was going to package an hour-long kids show featuring Westerns, comedies (some were silent starring Charlie Chaplin) and cartoons into an hour-long show called “The Cinepix Kiddie Carnival.” The story stated the company now had 150 cartoons.
NEW YORK, Sept. 17—Cinema-Vue this week took over distribution of the 100 cartoons and 100 one and two-reel comedies that had been handled by Cinepix. It is expected that the Westerns, features and other product out of the latter’s vaults will later also go over to Cinema-Vue, making Cinepix inoperative as a separate entity.
Frank Smith, who had been running Cinepix, has moved over to the new firm as vice-president under his brother, Joe.
So what were these cartoons? All Billboard revealed in its January 22, 1955 was they were “from a variety of production sources and are all sound.” A Billboard story of December 10, 1955 tells that Cinema-Vue had cobbled together an hour-long “Christmas Film Festival” and two of the five cartoons were titled “Santa’s Arrival” and “Christmas Up North.”
We learn a bit more from Variety of May 30, 1956:
Cinema-Vue’s New Batch Of 52 Color Cartoons
Cinema-Vue Corp, has acquired a new group of 52 color cartoons, which added to its backlog of 350 black-and-white subjects, brings its total animated library to 402 shorts. It had acquired 150 b-w's only a week earlier. All the films go into its "Whimseyland" package. Of the 52 new color subjects, 12 of which are "Mutt & Jeff" pix, a total of 40 were acquired from Morris Kleinerman...
I suspect the “Mutt and Jeff” cartoons the ones that were originally silents and later had sound and colour added.
Cinema-Vue’s next cartoon venture was a Christmas show. Reported Variety on September 5, 1956:
Yuletide Show for SyndicationBillboard reported the show consisted of “eight novelty shorts on the spirit of Yule season and theme music recorded by Julius La Rosa and Archie Bleyer.”
Cinema-Vue Corp. is planning a one-hour special Christmas program for syndication, featuring Leon Jason's puppet character Jingle Dingle acting as host to a roster of cartoon films. Jingle Dingle currently is serving as the official weatherman on WABD's, N.Y., Sandy Becker show.
Well, this finally brings us to Tom Puss. Broadcasting magazine of November 30, 1959 explains the origin of the shorts. They were originally Dutch.
Cinema-Vue Corp., N.Y., has opened a West Coast branch office at 11693 Laurelwood Drive, Studio City, Calif., under direction of Frank Smith, vice president and sales manager. The company is worldwide distributor of Tom Puss cartoon series produced by Martin Toonder Studios in Amsterdam.Toonder, according to 1977 The International Film Guide, had been producing comics and cartoons since 1939. Tom Puss was originally a weekly comic, created in 1941.
Did Cinema-Vue manage to sell Tom Puss cartoons to any TV stations? They remained in the company’s catalogue for a number of years. One Hollywood star was certainly acquainted with them. Walter Winchell blah-ed in his column of June 10, 1959:
Mickey Rooney's new bride. Barbara Thompson, is the voice of the frog in the Tom Puss cartoon, Flickers.It’s likely few people had any idea what Winchell was talking about. Fewer do today. But we’ve been able to, I hope, tell a bit about one of television’s most obscure cartoon series. For more, read Jan-Willem de Vries’ background note in the comment section.