Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Following Cartoon is Brought To You in Living Color

Anyone watching TV in the ‘60s will remember kaleidoscopic animation unfolding to form the NBC peacock, assuring us the “following program is brought to you in Living Color” (even on black-and-white sets). The version best-known was produced over a four-month period in 1962 by Elektra Films in New York.

There have been other animated versions of the peacock, but the coolest may be one produced for the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show sponsored by the Ford Motor Co. Whether footage still exists I don’t know, but a book called “Design in Motion” published in 1962 preserved some or all of the frames from it.

This animation was made at Playhouse Pictures. If Mike Kazaleh is around, I’ll bet he could tell you who animated it.

The peacock first appeared (non animated) on NBC in 1956; you see an ad from Variety of December that year to the right. The cast of the George Gobel Show used the newly-invented (at NBC) Chroma-Key to pop out from behind the peacock in 1957. But the Tennessee Ernie animation may be the most charming use of the network bird.

By the way, you can click on each set of 12 panels to make them bigger.


  1. The audio on the 1957-62 standard color opening made sure the audience was paying attention when the peacock came on, since instead of the soothing woodwinds of the better-remembers 1962-75 color opening, we get a J. Arthur Rank-like gong opening and a soaring and far more dramatic sounding finish to the animation. NBC was definitely proud as a peacock of the new color system, and apparently didn't want it to slip by unnoticed.

  2. Ludwig von Drake interacted with the peacock on the opening segment of "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" titled appropriately, "An Adventure in Color."

    Thanks for sharing this rare gem. Yet another example of the peacock's versatility!

  3. This spot was animated by Bill Littlejohn. I have a 16mm color print of the segment, produced by George Woolery at Playhouse Pictures of Hollywood.

    1. Thanks, Mark. I really love the drawings. Playhouse did such nice work; I wish I could showcase more of it.

  4. When NBC ran " A Hard Days Night " on " NBC Tuesday Night at the movies " they did a parody of themselves. A penguin walked out and the announcer said; " The following movie is brought to you in lively black and white, on NBC ". That was back in the 60's, I have never seen that opening re-broadcast since.

  5. Yes, that's it ! Made my day. Thanks.