Thursday, 4 June 2015

A 1938 TV Set

Yes, there was television in the 1930s. In 1938, New York City was the home of NBC’s W2XBS. It had also been the home of the Terrytoons studio a few years earlier. So it’s not a surprise Terry and his story department tossed in a TV gag in the short “Bugs Beetle and His Orchestra” released that year.

The evil spider is awoken by the NBC chimes and tunes in his set.

He spots a luscious female bug. He kisses where she is on his set.

Her boy-friend bug violates the confines of the TV set and slugs him.

The angry beetle cracks his TV screen in response.

Whether this is the first TV gag in a cartoon, I don’t know, but it must be one of the earliest.

Fittingly, when W2XBS began somewhat regular programming in 1939, it featured Terrytoons.


  1. W2XBS was also located on Ch. 1 on your dial, a spot that was eliminated after World War II (my brain has some vague reference to a Ch. 1 in some old cartoon, which when watching it on TV in the 1960s, didn't make any sense, but would for a cartoon done prior to 1946).

  2. Television has shown up in animation even before this. Kiko and Puddy watch a coronation ceremony in the 1936 Terrytoons "Puddy's Coronation". Plus, Columbia released the Scrappy short "Scrappy's Television" even earlier in 1934. I don't know of any appearances earlier than that, it may be the first.

  3. Cartoon fans are great.
    Thanks, Anthony. I've never seen either of those; the Scrappys are so hard to come by on-line.