Kausler's Closet
September 12, 2018 posted by Jerry Beck

“The Colonel Bleep Show”

Mike Kazaleh’s cover art for Streamline Pictures VHS release of COLONEL BLEEP (Vol. 2 from 1990)

This week, I dug out of Mark Kausler’s closet this rare episode (or pilot?) for Colonel Bleep. To be clear, it’s not the cartoon itself but live action wrap-arounds for a hosted Colonel Bleep kiddie show.

Colonel Bleep was designed and directed by Jack Schleh, whom I had the pleasure meeting and getting to know in his final years. Schleh was quite proud of the show (as well he should, I find them quite entertaining – and the artwork is fantastic); the cartoons were produced in Miami Florida back in 1956. He told me that he had no money to produce Col. Bleep, so he decided to simply have one narrator (a local Miami newscaster) and characters based on sound effects (Bleep, Squeak and Scratch)! He was a proud that his cartoon was the first one produced in color for television (on 16mm). And he beat Hanna-Barbara to the tube by a year.

Schleh started his TV animation career in upstate New York in the early 1950s, providing graphics for the emerging TV stations around the country. He began animating those graphics (particularly generic weather reports) and Richard Ullman (his producer/salesman) found there was a need for five minute cartoon fillers in the mid-1950s – and that’s how Bleep was born. Schleh later produced the infamous Mighty Mr. Titan and produced the first Mountain Dew TV spots.

Don Yowp wrote about this proposed TV Bleep show on his blog in 2014: “By mid-1957, (Colonel Bleep) was ready for syndication by Richard Ullman of Buffalo (Weekly Variety, June 19, 1957). …(The show) debuted on WGR in Buffalo on September 23rd.”

Is this 13 minute film one of the episodes telecast by the CBS affiliate in Buffalo? Loblaws Supermarket chain was operating there at that time. Or was this a test episode created by Schleh and Ullman to help sell the concept?

Below is a five page “pitch” piece which I suppose was sent to local stations. Interesting to note that they were trying to create more than a “kiddie show”… but a children’s Quiz Show, as well as an ‘animated adventure’ series; all new ideas at the time — ideas that would later come to be, from other hands.




(Thanks to Mark Kausler and Mike Kazaleh)

19 Comments

  • I was so fascinated with the look of this series–white lines on a darker background that looked like a sky with glittering little stars (I watched on a black and white TV set)…was this show produced originally in color? What was the actual color scheme? If this was just a test reel to sell the idea to the network, I wonder how an actual airing might have gone. I only recall the show as a half hour of animated episodes, and that was enough for me. The only existence of episodes from this series that I know of is unfortunately in the public domain, on a larger set called GIANT 600 CARTOON COLLECTION or something like that, and I missed my chance at the VHS tape you mention, here, but it sure would be nice if many episodes could be located and released in high quality…in color if that is how it was originally conceived. I never had my Mom or Dad around to watch shows like this with me. Cartoon time was strictly my own, even though I was monopolizing our house’s one TV set. Yay, Colonel Bleep!

    Oh, and who came up with those “riddles”…”a militant cow of the opposite sex…”?

    • “..unfortunately in the public domain, on a larger set called GIANT 600 CARTOON COLLECTION or something like that”

      I know you’re not knocking these, but they shouldn’t be dismissed. There’s many CRAZY treasures to be found on them.
      I have a Christmas-themed one that I torture people with every year. I cherish it!

    • Very good..last time I saw it on TV was.oh..55 years ago when I was two..

  • Makes me wonder how much Bleep and Quisp are cartoon spaceman archetypes?

  • Wow. Just, wow. I really love this.

  • This is, truly, a great treat. And SO rare! TY!!!

  • I think it being a pilot is a good guess, given the paltry count of four in the studio audience, the simulated phone calls, and the fact it seems to have been shot and edited on film, rather than this being a kinescope of a live TV broadcast.

    • “given the paltry count of four in the studio audience”

      Yeah, that’s the saddest ‘peanut gallery’ I’ve ever seen.
      I think he was on to something, but it needed a little more (I’d say 20%) verve.

  • Who was this locat host (Captain Star) in Buffalo?

  • Col. Bleep was such a part of my growing up. I loved it and still do. As a matter of fact, I have used the name as a “handle” on a couple of online games.

  • SPOILER ALERT!! I want my phonograph, Captain Star! The answer to the Colonel Bleep riddle is….”The Battle of Bull Run”!
    I love that “Futomic” Telephone machine, it’s a futuristic adding machine. Must have been very modern in 1956.

  • You gotta love the Futonic Memory Energizer (patent pending)!

  • I’d give my eye teeth for a look at those additional listed TV spots. I presume “Animated S.O.F. Weather Reports” are the Soundac “Weather Man” spots, but I wonder if any of the others still exist. “Melody Mileage”? “Watch the Birdie”? Gotta know!!

    (and what are “eye teeth” anyway?)

  • Talk about an obscure find! It’s been about 60 years since I last saw Colonel Bleep. I had long forgotten these cartoons even existed. When I was six or seven I couldn’t appreciate the uniqueness, the intelligence or the charm of them. Having watched this, I certainly can now. (There are other episodes online as well.) Schleh certainly had a fertile imagination. The fact that he could make the concept work on so minuscule a budget says a lot for him too.

  • Since production took place in Miami, anyone know if any former Fleischer Studios personnel were involved in production?

    • Seeing as the Fleischer Miami studio closed in 1942, it doesn’t seem likely. Still, it might be intriguing to study what effect, if any, the studio had on film production in Miami.

  • Absolutely amazing .

  • I somehow remember this, Clutch Cargo, and a few others as always being part of something else, never their own shows. I remember the look of the show vividly. When I found a DVD I was surprised by the educational bits; didn’t remember them at all (so much for their pedagogical power).

    Was there ever any merchandising?

  • Having this “Captain Star” go into a cartoon with “Stand by for count-off” helps to explain the ticking, beeping opening of each cartoon.

    One shouldn’t be too surprised by the “educational” content of this program.
    Years later, wouldn’t Soundac be involved in the “Mighty Mister Titan’ series of animated exercise videos?

    Both in Chicago and in Los Angeles, “Colonel Bleep'” was simply dropped into a pre-existing kiddie show. In Los Angeles, that show did not even have an on-screen host.

    It was logged in contemporary issues of “TV Guide” as simply “Babysitter’, and was sponsored–as much as it was sponsored–by the International House of Pancakes restaurants.

    Besides ‘Colonel Bleep”, this program had “Spunky and Tadpole”, “Q, T, Hush”, the Guild Films/Seven Arts package of black-and-white “Looney Tunes”, the one-reel M-G-M “Our Gang” shorts, “Herge’s Adventures of Tintin”, some odd UPA shorts, “The Mighty Mister Titan” and a fifteen-minute “King and Odie Show”, drawn from off-network “King Leonardo” elements.

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