October 11, 2014 posted by

Ail For Whatever Cures You


As television became a fixture in the American household, it was no longer necessary for the medicine man to ride his wagon across the country and give his pitch one town at a time. He was suddenly able to be in millions of homes at the same time, selling his wares with the help of motion pictures. Often animation was part of the spiel. Sometimes it was just a hammer hitting the anvil in your brain or letters swimming down the alimentary canal, but often there would be a suffering cartoon character who would be back on his feet an instant after using some pill, liquid, or spray.

Remember, this was in the old days when it was illegal to advertise prescription drugs on television, so you won’t hear any “ask your doctor if Hadacol is right for you” or “side effects include headaches, nausea, ingrown toenails, and sudden loss of life” disclaimers in these spots, just some good old fashioned hyperbole and prevarication.

Miles Nervine

Mostly live-action with some animation by Ed Love. Cartoon vocal by Mel Blanc.

Bactine Kid

More animation from Ed Love. These Bactine ads always say the stuff doesn’t sting. I’d ask for a second opinion on that one.

Sal Hapetica

Animated by Art Babbitt. Narrated by Cliff Norton.

Tums Tablets

Animated by Bill Littlejohn. Voices by Shep Menkin and Paul Frees. From Playhouse Pictures. 1956.


The turbaned narcoleptic is voiced by the ubiquitous Allen Swift. We also have a 20 second cut-down version in color, but the little faker has taken a vow of silence in that one.

(Hyperlink to color cut-down)

Curad Bandages

Late sixties spot from MGM Visual Arts. Directed by Abe Levitow and animated by Hal Ambro. Featuring the voices of June Foray, Mel Blanc and Daws Butler. This was a tie in with MGM’s Saturday Matinee-type show, “Off to See the Wizard.”

Speedy Alka Seltzer

From the Swift-Chaplin studio. Speedy voiced by Dick Beals


  • Wish they’d release at least a few episodes of “Off to See the Wizard.” The animated hosts would do film-specific openings and then some generic spot gags through the hour. It was a clever reworking of Disney’s hour, using Oz to frame two-part showings of MGM features and the odd TV pilot. Unlike Disney, they never drew on theatrical shorts or animation.

    Only ran one season. Among other things, I’m guessing the animation — even with very little new work each week — must have cost more than Uncle Walt on his office set (or at least once in front of a plain curtain).

    • “Wish they’d release at least a few episodes of “Off to See the Wizard.”

      That would make a great Warner Archive release right there.

    • Many, if not all, of the Chuck Jones OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD interstitials have been restored and are available as bonus features on several of deluxe MGM Wizard Of OZ dvd and blu-ray releases from Warner Bros. They are on this set (among others):

    • The “3 Disc Collector’s Edition” of a few years back has four bumpers, four preview intros, but no opening or closing credit sequences.

    • The “3 Disc Collector’s Edition” of a few years back has four bumpers, four preview intros, but no opening or closing credit sequences.

      I think an earlier DVD release from a decade back also contained the same set of bumpers/preview intros as well. It seemed kinda odd they couldn’t spring for both the opening and closing credits at all. If there ever was going to be a release of “Off To See The Wizard” in it’s intended form, I suppose releasing the two-part “Island of the Lost” episodes would be a good starting point (again, this could go as a Warner Archive Burn-on-Demand deal if that’s reasonable).

  • Mike:
    Another fantastic post! The Sal Hepatica spot was really good,and of course I always like the work of Mel,June and Daws,Not to forget Shep and Paul,Allen and Dick,too! Thanks!

  • Sominex used Max Fleischer’s “Bouncing Ball” concept along with ten million other commercials over the years…..I think there needs to be a “Screen Songs” DVD!

  • Speedy Alka-Seltzer as Liberace, candelabra and all? Yipes! Not quite sure, but sounds like Thurl Ravenscroft singing that Bactine ballad. I always thought “Miles Nervine” would be a funny name for a character, maybe a really annoying type of guy. (Pretty sure they haven’t made the stuff in decades…)

  • Miles Nervine and his partner, Sal Hipatica. They’re detectives

    • There you go, and I’m sure it’s all legal too if nobody complains at the use of such obscure product namesakes.

    • Call it “Hollywood and Nervine”?

    • Speaking of names……. Who could forget the great Silent Scream star
      ………Lance Boyle!

  • There was an antiseptic that when they new-and-improved it to have no sting, sales dropped. As much as consumers say they don’t like the sting, they want to feel it working.

  • That MGM Wizard of Oz ad was superbly animated. It makes me wonder why low-budget cartoons weren’t done this well.

  • Another fantastic post, Mike!

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