THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
January 12, 2017 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Forgotten Animation Studio: Kling Film Productions

kling-studios-600

This is a studio I’d like to research much further!

Kling Film Productions has an interesting history, although only spotty information seems to exist. I’m very much interested in researching this studio further, since it’s clear that many of the better animated drive-in ads were produced by this small shop. They were one of many industrial film companies producing promotional and educational films in the 40s through the 60s. This company is almost forgotten today, and it’s understandable that it’s quite hard to find much information on them.

The work of Kling’s industrial film neighbor to the east, Jam Handy, in Detroit, Michigan, has had many of its films saved and available, many thanks to Rick Prelinger’s preservation efforts. Evidence of Kling’s History is obscure at best, although Mystery Science Theatre 3000 did find one of their live action shorts… Mr. B Natural – and poked fun of it here:

Kling’s history seems to date back to the late 40’s, producing industrial films commissioned by mostly manufacturing companies. Like Jam Handy, many of these involved training for sales or were instructional in using industrial equipment.

A majority of the work done in Chicago by Kling into the 50s in both their Chicago and Hollywood studios concentrated on those industrial films. Besides Mr. B Natural, the few examples that seem to have surfaced of their work produced in Hollywood involve the farming industry and manufacturing equipment.

Food manufacturing equipment operation and maintenance films are some of the very few that were ever copyrighted. It seems to me that it was a catch as catch can operation. They produced live action commercials for the local markets, TV graphics, rented the studio space for public gatherings, and I’m sure many more things. This small company was located at 1058 West Washington in Chicago, the site of a former Roller Rink. Interestingly, Kling eventually sold it’s main production space to one of its former employees, Fred A. Niles, who operated his own production studio there into the early 1980s. He sold the building to Oprah Winfry’s Harpo Productions around 1984 – and the property remained in Oprah’s hands until it was sold in 2014. The entire Harpo Studios compound (built around this main building) was torn down in July 2016 to make room for the new McDonald’s Headquarters.

harpo-studios-demolition

Although not their main bread and butter, Kling did produce some commercial material as well- most notably a series of recognizable classic Snack Bar Theatrical Advertisments from the early 50s through (at least) the very early 60s. It’s unclear at this point in the limited research I’ve done so far to know how much (if any) of this animation was produced directly in Chicago; it’s more likely that most if not all of the animation the studio produced involved bringing in freelance animators to their studio in Los Angles. That studio was located at at 1416 N. La Brea Avenue. For you history buffs, this is the old Chaplin Studio space, and is of course now owned by the Jim Henson Company.

Kling seems to have produced many of these ads directly for Filmack Studios, an old Chicago-based film ad company. Many of the classic ’snipes’ were made there over the years. Looking (and listening) to the many spots that Kling studio produced, I suspect that they actually were the production company for the classic Let’s All Go to the Lobby. My guess is that it may be one of the first animated shorts they made. On the Wikipedia Page for that short film, they list Dave Fleischer as being ‘the animator’. If Fleischer was indeed involved in the making of this commercial, it would be interesting to see what that involvement was. (Jerry posted a bit about this here)

Here are some of my favorite spots Kling produced:

CIRCUS SPOT. There’s actually a series of these that they made (perhaps they would be part of the same 10 minute intermission clock?)

The Intermission Quartet:

Pirate’s Treasure:

The Rodeo. May absolute favorite. Note that this and others have Thurl Ravenscroft on the track.

Another one of my favorites a spot for ‘Buttercup’ popcorn. at 1:11 on this youtube file:

While not all the animation here is produced by Kling, the films identified on this Youtube as being produced by Jay Ward are actually produced by Kling in the late 50s or early 60s.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Ice Cream Maker. Finally, here is a longer industrial film, animated at their Hollywood location. It was produced to sell packaging equipment to Ice Cream manufacturers. This print was purchased on Ebay from a place that bought a warehouse full of things in Chicago. There were multiple prints for sale, and I got lucky and bought a bunch of them since one of the cans they showed said ‘color’. I ended up with a Kodachrome print.

KLING CAN-600

Have a good week everyone!

44 Comments

  • On the Drive In Intermission Clock cartoon I noticed that the voice of the announcer sounded like Marvin Miller a well known voice over actor who was in Panda and the Magic Serpent, the second voice of The Inspector’s Chief (replacing Paul Frees) and starred in Land of the Lost. And one of the incidental music with the elf was arranged by John Seely who did several of the musical scores on several of the Looney Toons and Gumby as well for the live action version of Dennis the Menace.

    • @Bigg: Not really scores, but Capitol library music produced by John Seely. Don Yowp and Steve Carras can fill you in.

    • And I believe I heard June Foray on the cutout spot.

    • Marvin Miller also was the narrator of bumpers that were part of the Pink Panther’s Saturday morning TV series. (“Aw, now you’re going away mad. And he forgot his change!”)

    • Marvin Miller and Paul Frees both worked on the TV series “The Millionaire” – Frees was the voice of millionaire John Beresford Tipton, and Miller played his assistant Michael Anthony, who gave randomly selected people million-dollar checks.

  • I surely would have thought “The Butcher, the Baker, the Ice Cream Maker” was paid for by some mega-Dairy trust. Nope, rather it’s the mighty Paraffined Carton Research Council – I guess that’s why they keep going on about how stackable square ice cream is.

    Character design resembles the Ajax Foaming Cleanser elves. The inevitable Paul Frees does some voices (if my ears don’t deceive me, and they don’t).

    • Paul Frees was the voice of the Ice Cream Maker in The Butcher,The Baker and the Ice Cream Maker.

  • Trying to trace animators who worked at industrial companies in the ’50s can give one a headache. For example, Walt Clinton is listed as the director of “Butcher, Baker…” He was in the Tex Avery unit at MGM when it disbanded in March 1953. By November, he was hired at Five Star Productions, another industrial company. He was at Hanna-Barbera no later than 1958 when he drew layouts for Huck Hound. So when did he work on “Butcher”? Was it subcontracted to another company?
    Kling advertised extensively in trade publications. According to one in a November 1952 edition of Broadcasting magazine, Kling had just set up in Hollywood, with Ray Patin Productions as a division of the company handling its animation.

    • That’s great.. and makes a lot of sense now. I wonder if this arrangement went throughout the 50s into the 60s. This particular short is on Kodachrome stock with an edge code of 1960- and it appears this short was made around that time.

    • Well, to further muddy things, in August 1960, Daily Variety reported animators Ed Aardal and Don Williams and sound editor Charles Hawes had been hired by Animation Associates, the company Rudy Cataldi co-owned, and which animated “Q.T. Hush.” All of them are credited on “Butcher.” From where they were hired, the trade paper didn’t say.

  • 1416 N. La Brea is the former Charlie Chaplin studios.

    https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x80c2bf27a8f31d9f%3A0x158268b3f4c5975a&hl=en-US

    • Yes- I made a little note of that in the article above- and of course Kermit is dressed as Chaplin there these days as a really nice tip of the hat so to speak.

  • The Butcher the Baker And The Icecream Maker Have Credits and it indicates that Don Williams,Cal Dalton, Edwin Aardal, and Rudy Calliti are animators

  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t 1416 North LaBrea the first home of the Hanna-Barbera animation studio (back when it was Ruff and Reddy and Huckleberry Hound, by and large)?

  • I understand Filmack still has the negatives to Let’s All Go To the Lobby.

  • I hope you’re able to find out more about these spots and the animators who did them. This is much of our history (those of us in the industry). These kinds of places were the bread and butter of people between studio jobs, or, I suspect, of people fired by Disney after the strike, let go after McCarthy, etc. We know some stuff about Push Pin and some of the bigger ones, but, as you say, information on the smaller places is hard to find.

  • I did hear Thurl Ravenscroft singing.

  • The Thunderbean Walter Lantz collection has some cinema commercials: two for Coca-Cola, and one for Autolite auto care (the last with Andy Panda and a late-period Oswald the Rabbit). Did other theatrical studios do anything in this line?

    Still waiting — perhaps in vain at this point — for anybody to do a nice disc of curated period intermissions.

    • Were they short commercials, or longer ones like “Boy Meets Dog” for Ipana? (and do any prints of “Boy Meets Dog” exist with the Ipana plugs intact?)

    • Replying to Rnigma: I have seen on You Tube (somewhere!) a print of “Boy Meets Dog” with the Ipana mentions included, though the sound is missing from those scenes. My guess is they found a 35mm workprint of the picture, then synced it to the 16mm Castle Films version for the sound, leaving silent gaps at the scenes cut out by Castle.

      The Coca-Cola commercials Lantz made were trailers about three minutes each; he made one group in the late 1940′s, probably with Dick Lundy directing, and another batch in the early-mid 50′s, probably directed by Paul Smith. Coke itself does not appear until the end of these commercials, as the solution to the characters’ situation; the main titles identify the films only as “A Walter Lantz Production” with no mention of commercial sponsorship.

  • Needless to say, the animation & production in general are very high quality albeit economized, unlike other theatre interstitials we have seen.

  • Here’s a couple faves of mine, not sure if they were Kling’s work but here you go!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuuDRzjQeks
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTzVkNKoHtg

    There’s a couple more here, albeit a few repeats!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-_OyoB5LIs

    • The scene with the “Atomic Corn Popper” in one of the segments in the third video you linked to used to air on AMC on Saturday mornings, back when they showed classic movies without commercials.

    • Yeah I remember that!

      Animation and intermissions just sorta go hand in hand! Like this!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LStht0ldrBM

  • Sounds like Bill Thompson doing the butcher, and Billy Gilbert, or an imitator, doing one of the shopkeepers in The Butcher, The Baker and the Ice Cream Maker. Thanks for posting all these obscure industrials, Steve!

  • That “Intermission Quartet” ad’s giving me Terrytoon vibes.

    Great post, Steve. Great post.

  • Couldn’t help but notice that most of the snipes showed a specific product when ice cream was mentioned – De Cicco’s Bon Bons – whereas the other products were generic. Methinks some product placement was afoot.

    • It seems like there’s a version of them that either show Di Cicco’s Bon Bons or not, perhaps they made those ones specially for them and made a standard/generic version for anyone else.

  • Rudy Caladi did mention that Lou Kachivas was his assistant on these films. Caladi was a regular and I would not be suprised if he did some of the intermission snipes

  • Is it safe to assume that Kling made the Buttercup Popcorn trailer? That’s a classic in my book; the Beacon theatre here (long gone now) ran that with every show. (Of course they didn’t replace the prints nearly often enough, so it usually looked pretty tacky…)

    • I love that Buttercup one; this whole series of trailers seems to date from 1953 through 56.

      I’ve started to look a little further- this would be a really fun subject to really dive into- but as Yowp said it’s so hard to find out. The Guild may be one of the best sources to see who was where artist-wise at different times; I wonder if Filmack has the records It looks like some spots were indeed done by the Chicago staff or another small entity; the Technicolor spots all seem to come from the studio in Los Angeles. Clearly there is sponsorship in these various ads from different companies for various snacks; my guess is that specific distributors of theatre and snack supplies would sponsor some of these- and perhaps gave free copies to the theaters (this is worth researching a little more). The Dr. Pepper spots by Creative Arts Studio in Texas might be my favorites for their bizarreness…

    • Those Dr. Pepper spots are actually by Keitz and Herndon.

    • Keitz & Herndon is also responsible for the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Jot”.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMurvA2aiIc

      Keitz & Herndon is even mentioned in the Warren Commission’s Report of the Kennedy Assassination.
      https://books.google.com/books?id=db1FAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA154&dq=Keitz+Herndon+dallas&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi30re76MfRAhUNzWMKHaokCIYQ6AEIQjAJ#v=onepage&q=Keitz%20Herndon%20dallas&f=false

  • Some of the staffers at Kling(Fred Niles) included
    Lloyd Vaughan- Animator
    Lavelle Haines Howard- Final Checker
    Bob Givens-Background Supervison
    Gordon Ipsen, and Barbara Begg- Backgrounds
    Jerry Bowen- Layout
    and Annie Holmes- Paint Superivsor

  • I remember seeing this in a theater (not a drive-in) in the early 1980′s:

    https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI69fuIBMI

    (Of course back then I didn’t know that the character who only says “Si” was based on one of Mel Blanc’s characters on the Jack Benny show.)

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiI69fuIBNI

  • Oh I forgot that Don Sheppard worked at Kling as well(I think he worked on the ailen trailer)

  • Another staffer at Kling was Lou Scheimer one of the infamous founders of filmation(Yes That Filmation) Scheimer did backgrounds at the studio and Bob Givens famous joked of it. Sheppard did layout

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