No doubt about it. Cereal giant Kellogg’s was heavily into television advertising. They sponsored an unwholesome number of programs, and that included many cartoon shows.
In the fall of 1957, The Woody Woodpecker Show premiered on ABC television. It was made up of older theatrical cartoons along with new bumpers and interstitials. Kellogg’s was the sponsor, and as was the custom in them days, the star of the show could be seen plugging the sponsor’s wares.
For me and probably a lot of other kids, it was a thrill to see Walter Lantz giving lessons about how cartoons were made. Director Alex Lovy was often shown in these sequences, and it’s my guess that they used him because he could draw with both hands. That meant that he could be photographed drawing from either side!
By my memory, the last network showings were on NBC in the ’76 -’77 season. They would show two Woody cartoons with an Andy Panda cartoon in the middle. Weirdly enough the fifties and sixties shorts were more heavily censored that the forties ones. Lantz must’ve been disgusted with the network meddling, because shortly afterwards he put out a large syndication package that included most of his color cartoons, uncut and with titles and credits intact (some of the local stations may have done some of their own editing unfortunately.) It was great until Lantz sold everything to Universal in the mid eighties.
By the time of the network TV show, Grace Stafford (Walter Lantz’s spouse) had been established as the regular voice of Woody, and she can be heard in all of the following commercials.
This and the following three spots were likely produced in the early years of the Woody Woodpecker network show. This one was animated by Don Patterson (except for the shot of Woody eating the cereal, which was re-used from another spot animated by Laverne Harding.) Don was one of the real greats in the cartoon business. He’d worked for Mintz, Disney, and MGM before moving to Lantz in the early fifties. He was originally hired to animated for Walter Lantz himself, before Lantz put Don in the director’s chair. As a director, Don made cartoons that were very unique and funny. He was bumped back into animating when Tex Avery briefly returned to the studio. Don did brilliant animation for Tex, as well as Alex Lovy and Paul Smith before moving to Hanna-Barbera where he spent the rest of his career. Dallas McKennon is the voice of Crackle.
Animation by Laverne Harding. She had been with Walter Lantz for many years before moving to Hanna-Barbera. From there she went to DePatie-Freleng where she animated on many of the early Pink Panther cartoons. When Warner Bros. re-activated their cartoon studio, Harding was one of the artists they pinched from DFE.
Woody with a hunting rifle? More animation from Laverne Harding.
Rice Krispies Treats
Art Gilmore narrates. Animation by Ray Abrams. Abrams worked for Lantz in the thirties before moving to the newly formed MGM studio. He worked on The Captain and the Kids cartoons before becoming a fixture in Tex Avery’s unit. Abrams moved back to Lantz when he was resuming production of shorts in the early fifties.
I’m guessing this was made about 1967. Les Kline animates. He’d spent most of his career working for Lantz. June Foray is Knothead and Dallas McKennon is Buzz.
Breakfast on a Train
This spot is probably from 1972, and things are starting to look sad here. The Lantz studio was about to cease production of shorts. Director Paul Smith was about to retire. The animators here are two refugees from Disney, Volus Jones and Al Coe, both men spent measurable time drawing Donald Duck. Coe had been with Disney and moved to Lantz along with Jack Hannah to work on the TV show (He’d animated the famous “Meet my boss, Walter Lantz!” opening) then moved into shorts with the departure of Alex Lovy, Don Patterson and Laverne Harding. Volus Jones went from Disney to Format Films, DePatie-Freleng, the new Warner Bros. studio, Hanna-Barbera, and finally Lantz. Jones did the scenes in the train, and Coe did the exterior shots. Shep Menkin is the voice of the conductor.