Animation History
November 9, 2015 posted by Jerry Beck

Paramount Cartoons 1964-65

The trade announcement  for the Paramount 1964-65 shorts. Popeye, Bluto, Squeegee, a mouse, Buck and Wingy, Cy Winder, Honest Injun and Homer Ranger, Goodie Gremlin, Shorty, Swifty,  Laddy and Ali Presto, King Artie, Jacky, Professors Drizzle and Fog, and Hilary the Lion usher in the new season.

The trade announcement for the Paramount 1964-65 shorts. Popeye, Bluto, Squeegee, a mouse, Buck and Wingy, Cy Winder, Honest Injun and Homer Ranger, Goodie Gremlin, Shorty, Swifty, Laddy and Ali Presto, King Artie, Jacky, Professors Drizzle and Fog and Hilary the Lion usher in the new season.

Paramount-64-6-story

laddy-title200The 1964-65 season would be a period of transition. Seymour Kneitel’s passing alone brought some unanticipated changes. Clearly, Kneitel (and Paramount) had planned to “go to series” with Laddy and His Lamp. In fact, this is evident by the titles in the first cartoon which indicates that it is not a Noveltoon (as it would be later released under), but the first in an actual series.

Inspired no doubt by the current TV trend of genies, witches, martians and robots in popular sitcoms, the cartoon (two of them were produced) has its high-concept premise told in song in the title sequence.

In August 1964, comic book artist and animated cartoon writer Howard Post was given the keys to the animation studio and was made its creative head. Post finished up the contract for additional Swifty and Shorty pictures, but clearly began putting his mark on the new films for the rest of the season. Kneitel’s Laddy was out. No more Goodie Gremlin or Skat the Cat.

"Le Boys"

“Le Boys”

After a few early misfires (for example, Horning In – which introduced an enchanted kingdom that would itself reappear in future cartoons, though it’s lead – a young King Arthur – would soon be banished from the screen), Post found his footing and several little gems emerged.

Post allowed his fellow comic artist/writer colleague Jack Mendelsohn an opportunity to adapt his comic strip Jacky’s Whacky World into two delightful cartoons done (as in the strip) in child scrawl, narrated by Jacky himself (age 7 1/2).

Post had several other highlights this season: The Itch, a comic tale of a British man who sprouts wings, drawn in Ronald Serle style, featuring the uncredited voice of actress Hermione Gingold; The final Swifty and Shorty cartoon, Les Boys, which was done without dialogue – and art directed to look like impressionist art – with the characters painted all-white to play against Matisse-inspired backdrops. And then, like it or not, the first Honey Halfwitch cartoon (Honey voiced by popular puppeteer Shari Lewis). The Paramount higher ups liked it well enough to order up a series – which began next season.

Let’s take a closer look at this season’s releases:

Seven (7) Swifty and Shorty Cartoons

swifty-shorty-titleHIP HIP OLE (9/64) Kneitel/Reden. Swifty wants to return a bull fighting cape to novelties salesman Shorty – but ends up fighting a real bull.
ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN (9/64) Kneitel/Tafuri. Door-to-door salesman Swifty tries to get Shorty to buy accident insurance.
THE BUS WAY TO TRAVEL (10/64) Kneitel/Pattengill. Shorty gets on the wrong bus – and its being driven by Swifty!
INFERIOR DECORATOR (6/65) Howard Post/Pattengill. Swifty’s house is a dump and he’s jealous of Shorty’s nice clean mansion.
OCEAN BRUISE (9/65) Post/Pattengill. Swift and Shorty go on an ocaen cruise – but wind up hijacked to a whaling ship instead.
GETTING AHEAD (12/65) Post/Pattengill. Broke, Swifty and Shorty apply for a job at a mad scientists lab.
LES BOYS (12/65) Post/Reden. Shorty tries to awaken Swifty for their early morning fishing trip.


Seven (7) Noveltoons

laddy-lamp600LADDY AND HIS LAMP (9/64) Kneitel/Taras. Laddy wants his genie, Ali Presto, to give him a model airplane.
A TIGER’S TAIL (12/64) Kneitel/Taras. Laddy and Ali Presto go on a hunting safari.
HOMER ON THE RANGE (12/64) Post/Pattengill. Homer Ranger is sent to protect Sierra Susie from cattle rustler Cy Winder.
HORNING IN (1/65) Post/Reden. So he can be the ruler of Magicland, Sir Cedric Sorehead plots to steal the magical Horn of Plenty from King Artie.
A HAIR-RAISING TALE (1/65) Post/Reden. Sheldon and Tinker go to a patent attorney about Tinker’s latest invention: a hair growing tonic.
THE STORY OF GEORGE WASHINGTON (2/65) Jack Mendelsohn/Eugster. Based on Mendelsohn’s comic strip, Jacky’s Whacky World, drawn in children’s art style, Jacky tells the story of George Washington.
A LEAK IN THE DIKE (3/65) Jack Mendelsohn/Taras. Based on Mendelsohn’s comic strip, Jacky’s Whacky World, drawn in children’s art style, Jacky tells the story of Holland and how he saved Amsterdam (“Amster-darn”) from a flood.


Seven (7) Modern Madcaps

zippy-zepherROBOT RIVAL (9/64) Kneitel/Reden. In futuristic 2064, space taxi cab driver Zippy Zeyphr is being replaced by a robot.
AND SO TIBET (10/64) Kneitel/Taras. Professors Drizzle and Fog are sent to Tibet to find an abominable snowman.
READIN’ WRITING AND ‘RITHMATIC (11/64) Kneitel/Reden. Somewhat a remake of TEACHER’S PEST (1950), little bantam rooster “Wingy” on his way to first day of school and has to outwit “Buck”, a hungry weasel.
NEAR SIGHTED AND FAR OUT (11/64) Kneitel/Klein. A near sighted ant-eater thinks a vacuum cleaner is his girlfriend. Little Squeegee (Jack Mercer) helps him to see better.
CAGEY BUSINESS (2/65) Post/Klein. Hillary the ferocious lion wants his rice pudding and will anything to get it – including breaking out of his cage.
POOR LITTLE WITCH GIRL (4/65) Post/Eugster. While Cousin Maggie goes out to doctor, little Halfwitch uses some of her “growing potion” on herself.
THE ITCH (5/65) Post/Taras. A henpecked man has an itch which sprout into wings, allowing him to fly. Hermione Gingold voices the man’s wife.


Meanwhile, The New Casper Cartoon Show on ABC Saturday Mornings were killing it in the ratings. The show would continue on in reruns for five more years. No additional animation required.

casper-ratings-64-1casper-ratings-64-2

NEXT WEEK: Paramount Cartoons 1965-66 – and Nudnik

(Thanks, Ken Layton)

24 Comments

  • “Popeye Champions” reissues for 1964-65:

    1) “Double Cross Country Race”
    2) “Pilgrim Popeye”
    3) “Bride and Gloom”
    4) “Greek Mirthology”
    5) “Fright to the Finish”
    6) “Tots of Fun”

  • If I can play Captain Pedant for a moment:

    “The final Swifty and Shorty cartoon, Les Boys, which was done without dialogue – and art directed to look like impressionist art – with the characters painted all-white to play against the Matisse-inspired backdrops.”

    The Matisse comparison is good, but impressionist is not. These backgrounds could be called Fauvist, as Matisse was among the Fauves in his early years, but they’re definitely post-impressionist – and very attractive.

    The Itch is head and shoulders (pun?) above anything else that year.

    If I am so unlucky as to end up in Hell after death, I expect to be serenaded with the Laddy and His Lamp or Zippy Zephyr theme songs while being forced to watch Near Sighted and Far Out.

    • Stephen, I anticipated someone would write in to help define the art style evoked in Les Boys – and I thank you for clarifying that.

      When I did a tribute to Famous Studios at MoMA in 1995, I insisted on getting a print of Les Boys to screen – even paying to create a new 35mm print out of my own pocket. The idea of showing this cartoon at The Museum of Modern Art was a something I had to witness – and it was duly appreciated by the art-crowd in the audience.

      They were lucky I didn’t run Op, Pop, Wham and Bop. 😉

    • Op, Pop, Wham and Bop is one of my “new” favorite cartoons, which Steve Stanchfield introduced me to via Cartoon Research six months ago! haha ; )
      – William Carroll in Louisiana

    • To me the only redeeming thing of that cartoon was the animation being a little higher than most (I guess I ought to thank Marty Taras for putting a little more effort in such a wordless short).

  • Aside from Post being in after Kneitel’s death, Eddie Lawrence also was out on the final couple of Swifty & Shorty cartoons before “Les Boys” — IIRC, Bob McFadden did Swifty and Jack Mercer handled Shorty on “Inferior Decorator”, “Ocean Bruise” and “Getting Ahead” — the middle of those three cartoons is a story by Eli Bauer that borrows it’s basic idea from “Dickie Moe”, the famous (infamous?) Tom & Jerry cartoon he wrote for Gene Deitch (Bauer even recycled the captain’s “Bring back my whale!” closing line from the original cartoon).

    • Eli Bauer also has the distinction of having wrote the very last cartoons for the studio during Bakshi’s brief tenure. I get the impression the studio was already working with a skeleton crew by then.

  • Casper’s new show was a GIANT fave of mine, too!!! Pardon me if you’ve answered this already…. : what’s the ratio of made-for-tv films on this tv-show. (I thought they were allllllll tv ones, until recently!) The Modern Ms, of course, were not!

  • Thanks so much for the daunting amount of research you did, Jerry. You’ve stirred up some happy memories of that era for me, and I’m sure, for so many other cartoon devotees.

    • You have fans like me to thank for still thinking of Jacky’s Whacky World, or maybe Zippy Zephyr, or even Professors Drizzle and Fog!

    • Indeed he has. I remember watching a few of the cartoons mentioned in the article on tv back in the 70s.

  • This was I believe the first appearance of Honey Halfwitch who I wonder if she’s a close relative to Wendy the Good Little Witch?

    I wondering when the Modern Madcap replacement Go-Go Toons started showing in theaters ?

    • You’ll be reading about the Go-Go Toons in two weeks.

    • Can’t wait Jerry! This is all leading into one big finish!

  • Thinking of it some more, it’s interesting how slightly different the design of Laddy in those two “Laddy and His Lamp” shorts appear to me, in the first, he’s seems like he’s 7 or 8, the next, he’s a few year older, and in a different outfit. Thankfully we were spared anymore of that once Post showed up.

  • Paramount used the TV-cartoon versions of Popeye and Brutus (not Bluto) for this advertisement. By this time Bluto had been retired thanks to Paramount claiming they owned the rights to his name (which they didn’t). Brutus’ history can be read at http://animatedviews.com/2010/fifty-years-with-brutus/

    • I don’t think Paramount ever claimed to have the rights to the name “Bluto”.

      In 1958 Paramount sold off all its copyrights in the character names (including ones they DID own like “Shorty” and “Pipeye, Poopeye, Pupeye and Peepeye”) to Harvey Comics. (I have the contract that states this). “Bluto” is not on the list because Paramount never owned it. Maybe Harvey Comics or AAP caused King some trouble… I don’t know… but not Paramount. By 1958 – aside from their ten-year deal to reissue the older Popeye cartoons (as Popeye Champions) – they simply didn’t care.

  • I am surprised that virtually no one is commenting on The Itch. What a wonderful and utterly unique one-off! Was there any short approaching its style and charm from ANY studio post 1962 or 1963? I ‘d love to see it!

    • Well I’ve certainly took note of it. Post understood he had a unique opportunity here, and after getting his footing, took advantage of it – turning out an interesting batch of films – some better than others, to be sure.

      As for The Itch, I also wanted to point out the shot at 2:29 – the background, an overhead shot of the city, was reused from the first Max Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoon. Now whether the original was just sitting around the studio – or if background artist Robert Little repainted it from original layout sketches – I don’t know. But it’s interesting to note.

  • On another note, I am glad to see a reference the live action Paramount shorts. There were a bunch of them (35mm I.B. Technicolor) still in the National Film Service warehouse. I’m surprised they were still there. All of the films were donated to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, along with many other live action shorts from the 1950’s through the 1970’s.

    Cartoons were almost non-existant. There was one Popeye and a Terrytoon (both IB Technicolor) in good shape, and a Hector Heathcoat cartoon in unrunable condition, total vinegar – warped & deteriorating, the Eastmancolor faded all pink.
    There are also a bunch of independent cartoons not tied in to any studio.

    • Ooooh… I wish some of these live action shorties could be unearthed. Turner Classic Movies unveils a few of the Warner shorties of the sixties like SEE HOLLAND BEFORE IT GETS TOO BIG along with the MGM promotionals of the period, but it seems that Paramount, Universal and Columbia have all of theirs buried away… if not lost. At least we have an idea of where some of the 20th Century Fox shorts of the fifties and early sixties wound up, even if nobody has any intention of showing them again. If it were not for their second life on TV and renewed interest in the 1980s (thanks to Jerry Beck, Mike Barrier, Leonard Maltin and others writing about them), the animated cartoons would still be hidden away as well.

    • I have (on VHS) a Paramount “High topper” short from 1963, “Melody For Machines”. It’s actually an abridged version of a Volkswagen of America promotional film from 1962, “The Right Hand of Plenty”. It’s about 9 minutes, vs. about 22 minutes for the original, and doesn’t have any of the narration from the original film, just the music score. (The score for the original film was released on an LP titled “Music To Make Automobiles By”, which could be ordered from Volkswagen of America for $1.)

  • The business with Bluto losing his name began sometime in 1957 and according to Bud Sagendorf was due to “Paramount Studios”. It was Sagendorf who drew a lot of nameless bearded bullies in both the daily and Sunday Popeye strip for quite awhile. Quite possibly, by 1958, Paramount realized they didn’t own the name and never followed up with King Features Syndicate. As Jerry stated, by 1958, other than reissues they didn’t care about Popeye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *