This week, while Mike takes a break, we pay a little tribute to one of our favorite cartoon advertising icons: the Trix Rabbit. This post isn’t a history of Trix cereal per se, but simply a look back at the origin of character who is now over 50 years old and still thriving in new commercials being produced today.
Trix was introduced by General Mills in 1954 as a sugar coated fruit flavored variant to its corn puff cereal Kix. As early as 1955, the company began experimenting with a rabbit mascot (a rabbit being part of a magicians act – one of his “tricks” – get it?). A hand-puppet version of a white “Trix” rabbit first appeared on TV to introduce various “Big G” sponsored kids shows like Rocky and his Friends and Captain Kangaroo – and was used on several versions of the cereal package.
This recently discovered letter (below) from Chet Stover, of the Dancer Fitzgerald and Sample ad agency, is fascinating, as it is proof that artist Joe Harris came up with the Trix Rabbit character – and is a perfect example of how lowly the artists were considered by the copywriters and executives back then.
Joe Harris went on to supervise the animation of that first commercial spot (see storyboard below, click thumbnails to enlarge – and final commercial, embed below), which produced at New York’s Kim & Gifford (Paul Kim and Lewis Gifford). The Rabbit was voiced by Mort Marshall (“Stanley Livingston” on The Tennessee Tuxedo Show) who regularly provided the voice well into the 1970s. Harris continued doing much commercial work for Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample and later joined Chet Stover and Buck Biggers as a creative force behind Total Television, the New York-based studio created to keep General Mills’ Mexico-based Gamma Studio (Jay Ward) humming.