Animation History
February 27, 2013 posted by Jerry Beck

“Planet Patrol” by Grantray Lawrence

planetpatrol500

Little is known about the pilot Planet Patrol, except that it was produced by Grantray-Lawrence sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. The commercial studio – formed by animators Grant Simmons, Ray Patterson with producer Robert Lawrence – made several attempts at series TV, ultimately succeeding with the ultra-cheap Marvel Super Heroes cartoons in 1966, and the original animated Spider-man in 1967.

Here, Captain Rocky and Wilbur pursue a space pirate named Hooken-Crook (a sci-fi version of Dishonest John). The story is rudimentary, the music is stock library tracks – but the production is quite slick and beautifully designed. But who actually worked on it?

Animator Mike Kazaleh has some theories:

I can tell you for sure that Grant Simmons is the director. The look of his animation is all over the cartoon. Dal McKennon is voicing the little dog, the professor (sounding like an imitation Benny Rubin), and the villain. I’m not certain of the big dog’s voice. It’s possible that Grant-Ray regular Gene Hazelton did the character models but I wouldn’t swear by it. If the little dog looks like Droopy it’s because Simmons animated on most of Tex’s Droopy cartoon.

As for the date, I can only guess. Simmons often picked up work from H&B (mainly on the commercials and bumpers, but both Simmons and Ray Patterson, along with Irv Spence animated The Jetson’s pilot) and Simmons may have tried to emulate them. So for when it was made, my guess would be 1960.

I found a 35mm print of Planet Patrol a few years ago, and recently dug it out of storage to loan to Steve Stanchfield for inclusion on his excellent (and highly recommended) DVD collection, Mid Century Modern. This is his transfer and restoration – and I thank him for allowing me to share it here:

10 Comments

  • I hate to admit it, but the animation is slightly less stiff than Hanna-Barberra’s aniamtion themselves. And I think Dal does the voice of the big dog.

    • Yeah they really did put more effort into those movements than what we would see from those ‘other guys’. This meets my approval!

  • Yes, this is upscale Hanna-Barbera. Which isn’t surprising since Ray Patterson animated for them at MGM for years and years.

  • Slick production designs, and some of the animation is nice, but the world didn’t miss anything when this wasn’t picked up. Still, it’s always nice to see animation rarities, and I thank you for posting it.

    The derivative character designs are something, that’s for sure.

  • Nice designs and animation, needs a good them song and more music but I assume that would have happened if it was picked up. This would have probably gone well on the local kids shows at the time, or even something like Winchell Mahoney. Thanks for up loading!

  • The final season of MGM CinemaScope cartoons and the early Hanna-Barbera efforts have both primary and secondary characters that are virtually interchangable; it’s really only the movement (or lack thereof) that distinguishes one from the other. Based on that, it’s not a surprise this cartoon would end up coming down with one foot in each studio in terms of design and animation.

  • Is the bad guy just Beany & Cecil’s Dishonest John colored green?!?

  • The Planet Patrol theme is actually from the 1957-59 Desilu series “Whirlybirds”.

  • Interesting to note that the name “Planet Patrol” would be used a few years later for a UK puppet series which apparently did get some syndication (although Ido not remember seeing it). This show–a poor man’s Gerry-and-Sylvia-Anderson imitation–was called “Space Patrol” in its UK run. Suspect the US distributor did not want folks thinking that was just kinescopes of the old 1950′s sci-fi series.

    Better animated than “Colonel Bleep”, almost up there with early Hanna-Barbera.

  • Few know that Gr/L also contracted from UPA to do a few segments of “The Famous Adventures of Mr. MaGoo.”

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