Okay, maybe it isn’t quite accurate to call them “MGM guys” since they all worked for other studios as well. But these are some of the animators that come to mind when you think of MGM in its heyday, when Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, and Tex Avery were cranking out shorts. And like almost everyone else in animation, they did a lot of commercial work.
Future posts may delve more deeply into the individual careers of these same cartoonists, but for now here is a small sampling of their spots…
I Love Lucy
Here are three of the many pieces of animation produced by MGM for the popular “I Love Lucy” show, complete with cartoon caricatures designed by Gene Hazelton. The first two clips were animated by Ken Muse, and the third one by Mike Lah. The announcer in the first clip is John Stephenson, the future Mr. Slate! Sponsor Phillip Morris may be the reason that Lucy’s voice went from a falsetto to a baritone.
One of Tex Avery early successes after entering the advertising field was this Pepsodent toothpaste spot. Ken Muse animates the first bit, while Grant Simmons animates the balance.
Animated by Irv Spence for Animation, Inc. in 1961. Shep Menkin is the announcer, while June Foray provides the chicken’s voice.
Bonomo Turkish Taffy
Animators in order of appearance are Ray Patterson, Mike Lah, Robert Cannon, and Grant Simmons. Everyone is showing some restraint here, probably a client thing. Still, I find Mike Lah’s bit to be hilariously insincere. I’m guessing that was produced by the GrantRay studio.
Ruff and Reddy for Alpha-Bits
Animation by Mike Lah, with voices by Daws Butler and Don Messick. Dick Tufeld is the announcer. Produced by Hanna-Barbera for the Ruff and Reddy show. The program itself had very simplified animation, but like so many television cartoons, the sponsor spent more money on the ads.
Kool Aid – Indians
Another Tex Avery spot, with animation by Ken Muse. Featuring Thurl Ravenscroft as a pitcher of Kool-Aid.
Raisin Bran with Mr. Jinks
From Hanna-Barbera. Animation by Ed Love and Irv Spence with some wonderfully over the top vocals by Daws Butler and Don Messick. The Beach Boys meet The Beatles?