He’s the host who shills for Post! I’m talkin’ about Linus the Lionhearted, the product spokesman (spokeslion?) who became a cartoon series star before vanishing off the airwaves. Part of his appeal was the vocal styling of veteran actor Sheldon Leonard. Leonard by this time was a successful producer of live-action shows (many of them sponsored by Post. Coincidence? Maybe not…) and one of the animators on the Linus show told me that his services as a voice actor didn’t come cheap. The show itself was a real mixed bag. Some of the cartoons were humorous and entertaining while others simply left you scratching your head wondering what the heck just happened. Linus’ transition from product mascot to TV star was engineered by Ed Graham, the advertising man who became a cartoon producer. Let’s follow Linus as he heads down that crunchy road to success…
Heart of Oats
What? This is Linus the Lionhearted? Selling another cereal? You mean to say we got a second hand lion when they made Crispy Critters? This is a pretty strange commercial, but then again, most of the old Post ads were more strange than funny. Sheldon Leonard speaks even at this early date, and Martin B. Taras animates.
Some of the earliest Crispy Critters spots were produced at Warner Bros. With General Foods as the sponsor of the Bugs Bunny Show, this shouldn’t be surprising. Phil Monroe is the director. There are two scenes where the animation switches from Gerry Chiniquy to Virgil Ross in mid-scene, which leads me to believe that they went through several client revisions before this spot aired. What a bizarre campaign! Speak the name of the product and get trampled on by stampeding animals! The slogan should’ve been “Ask for it by name!”
Lolita La Cheetah
Another WB one. Ken Harris and Virgil Ross animate.
The little bird here is voiced by Charles Smith, the future Super Bwoing on the Super 6 show. Tom Ray animates. By now they were using the new Linus design by George Cannata Jr.
Here’s the TV show opening with the sponsor’s plugs replaced. See a parade of Post people pushing pertinent products. Some people objected to the show claiming it was a half hour commercial. The eighties hadn’t happened yet…
Notice how the theme song momentarily becomes “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” partway through. Show regulars Carl Reiner, Bob McFadden, and Gerry Mathews can be heard here. From Ed Graham productions.
The end is nigh. Linus is now the second banana in his own cereal. Mind you, bananas in your cereal can be nice. So can strawberries.