Here’s a curio I found while looking through animated films at the National Archives: Smokey and his Friends. This strange largely live action short features a fully animated Smokey giving us a little check up on various Forest animals, with stock musical score semi-awkwardly cut together. The point of this particular short isn’t clear beyond a short plug to prevent forest fires. The archive lists this short as being from 1969. Here it is, from a DVD shot off a flatbed there:
It turns out the National Archives has posted some of the PSAs and shorts themselves as well. Here’s a little short called Smokey the Bear and the Little Boy, animated by Era Productions in 1960:
Here’s one from around the time of Smokey and the Little Boy above. Of course, many of you will recognize the voiceover narrator immediately – the little boy sounds like young Billy Mumy:
There’s a much earlier spot that the National Archives has put up. My guess is late 50s:
I really like the cute design of Smokey is this spot, from Canada-possibly early to mid-50s:
Here are some later Smoky-related PSAs, posted by the National Archives. There’s a little animation in these, though not much. The one with the mask is especially creepy, and the one with the singing is just plain strange.
Of course, you can’t talk about the animated Smoky Bear without the mention of his TV show, from Toei Animation:
This one isn’t animated, but has the unmistakable voice of Paul Winchell with his puppet Knucklehead:
And finally, a PSA from 1993 that outright steals without shame the famous Preston Blair skip cycle at the beginning:
It seemed like PSAs were on all the time between cartoons on the mostly UHF stations I watched as a kid. The little PSA shorts above reminded me of ‘Snipits’, little short educational shorts that appeared on TV in the early 70s through the 80s. Some of these would have the kids yell “SNIPITS!” followed by Hot Butter’s electronic classic ‘Popcorn’ music.
Here’s one I especially remember, a little clay animated monster eating badly, followed by a Woodsy Owl “Give a Hoot – Don’t Pollute” psa. Both of these appear to be interrupting a pre-48 Warner Package.
Have a great week all!