Friday, 10 February 2017

Diana, the Mel-O-Toon

“Mel-O-Toons” was an animated cartoon series produced by Art Scott in the late 1950s. His company bought the rights to children’s records and then matched drawings to the narration on the record. At times, there wasn’t an awful lot of animation. Cycles and camera pans over background drawings kept costs to a minimum. The “Mel-O-Toons” were syndicated by U.A.A., the same company that filled TV stations with Warner Bros. and Fleischer Popeye cartoons.

The backgrounds were pretty stylised. Here are some examples from Diana and the Golden Apples. No artists are credited. Neither is the narrator of the tale, Art Gilmore.

The background above is used in close-up in others scenes to save money.

More art.

The story for this record/cartoon was by John M. (Bud) Freeman and copyrighted by Capitol Records on June 3, 1954. Billboard reported on August 7th that it would be part of a fall release of classics for kids on 45 and 78 rpm along with The Trojan Horse (also made into a Mel-O-Toon) and Waltz of the Flowers. Capitol had a top-notch children’s department then, with Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker and Bozo the Clown on recordings, along with some one-shot stories such as the classics. Read more about Mel-O-Toons in this post and this post.


  1. I remember those Mel-O-Toons turning up in the 90-minute block of cartoons a local station ran on weekday mornings when I was a kid. Don't think I ever gave them a chance back then. A Mel-O-Toon always meant that the channel got changed.

  2. I remember our CBS affiliate ran a block of these before school back in the mid 1960's. They had a number of narrators. The great Claude Rains narrated " David and Goliath ".

  3. In Seattle, they were part of the "J. P. Patches" show, a locally-produced kids' program that ran live for 90 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, plus a 60 minute Saturday show. J. P. Patches was a much-beloved clown in the Northwest. He ran a variety of old cartoons, including the Mel-O-Toons--which were special favorites of mine. I confess that as a child I was not too concerned about how much movement was in a cartoon. The Mel-O-Toons were my first exposure to Greek mythology and classic literature.

    1. J.P. was brilliant. But I don't remember him running Mel-o-toons. I remember him cutting away to some Warners cartoons.

  4. In New York, they were mainly consigned to the deadest cartoon block of all -- the 11-12 noon one on WPIX, hosted by Ray Heatherton (Joey Heatherton's dad) as "The Merry Mailman". IIRC, they didn't show up until about two years after they were produced, and then were paired with Trans-Lux's "The Mighty Hercules" (as a kid I'd only see them if I were home sick from school, but school was close enough to where I could go home for lunch just before noon and catch the last few minutes before the 15-minute version of "The Rocky Show" came on Ch. 11).