Most of the Mel-O-Toons weren’t all that visually interesting. Take, for example, these frames from “David and Goliath.”
We’ve written a bit of history of the Mel-O-Toons here before. Let’s add a few other items. The first mention I can find of them in Variety is in connection with another series which I don’t believe ever got off the ground. This is from July 17, 1959.
[Missing Words] To Burgess TalesAs the cartoons could be used as drop-ins for children’s show, they wouldn’t necessarily be in a station’s TV listings in the paper. They appeared on a station in Philadelphia as early as December 1959; one channel in New York still broadcast them in 1976. Evidently UAA wanted an extra push to get stations to buy them. Variety of November 9, 1960 explains what the company did.
New World Productions has secured rights from Thornton Burgess for production of several series based on his works. Series will consist of 104 six-minute combined live action and animated cartoon films under the title of "Story[missing words]". [B]urgess, now 86 and still actively writing, has turned out some 16,000 stories dealing with Peter Cottontail, Paddy the Beaver, Roddy the Fox and other children's stories. Company has signed John Rust to adapt and narrate each full-color subject. Animation will be handled by Art Scott, who is now doing the company's "Mel-O-Toons" series of 62 six-minute animated cartoons based on childrens' records.
UAA Melo-O-Toon Gets Toledo TestThis full-page Mel-O-Toons trade ad appeared in May 1960. “Top animation”?!
In order to hypo its sales ammunition, United Artists Associated took the unusual path of buying time in test market of Toledo, to sample its recently acquired Mel-O-Toons cartoons. In mailings and on-the-air, it asked viewers to write-in. commenting on the two Mel-O-Toons shown Oct. 27, on WSPD-TV. The viewer response numbered over 400, virtually all commenting favorable on the two cartoons shown, "Rumplestiltskin" and "Waltz of the Flowers." Many replies came from kids in the 12 to 14 age bracket. Many parents compared the Mel-O-Toons favorable to what they called the usual violence in kiddie programming. Mel-O-Toons episodes are based on best-selling kiddie records. Viewer response will be used by UAA for its sales pitches throughout the country
Back to “David and Goliath,” the children’s record was originally released by Capitol by October 1952, narrated by Claude Rains with music by Nat Shilkret (neither receive credit on the cartoon). It came out at the same time as other 45s and 78s featuring Woody Woodpecker and various Warner Bros. characters that were far more popular on TV than the Mel-O-Toons ever were.