August 27, 2018 posted by Mike Kazaleh

Cartoon Actors In Live-Action Spots: Automotive Edition

If you’re like me, you spend way too much time looking at youtube. As an auto enthusiast, I sometimes look at car commercials, partly because a lot of the old spots used animation to sell cars, but also to see film of brand new shiny examples of cars that have long been absent from the American road. I am always delighted when I stumble upon a live-action car commercial featuring one of my favorite cartoon voice actors on camera. Commercials like these…

Allan Melvin for Dodge Polara

See Allan Melvin (Magilla Gorilla) pilot the big, full-sized Polara (with optional air conditioning).

Dave Ketcham For Chevrolet Impala

Ketcham narrated over 100 Roger Ramjet cartoons (and also appeared in a few of Pantomime Pictures’ “Sesame Street” cartoon films.) He can be seen here touting the lovely, mildly restyled 1967 Impala. Carefully listeners may notice the Roger Ramjet sound effect near the end.

Arnold Stang For Chevrolet Laguna

The Chevy Chevelle was all new for 1973, and this was also the first year for the Laguna trim level (Distinguishable by it’s urethane nose, an unusual thing at the time.) Arnold Stang points out some of the advantages of this model.

Robert Ridgley And Dal McKennon For Ford F100

For years, the J. Walter Thompson agency and the Ford Motor Company would often employ humor to peddle their wares. Sometimes they used cartoons. Sometimes they used funny men. This time they used cartoon funny men.

John Erwin For Hot Wheels

1975 was actually the second year for the Hot Wheels “Flying Colors” line up. By Flying Colors, Mattel meant that they were printing designs right on the car bodies to try to make the dull new enamel colors (introduced without the printed designs in 1973) look more exciting. Erwin was, of course, the voice of Filmation’s He-Man, Reggie on The Archie Show, among much else.

BONUS: A John Erwin spot with a real car instead of a toy. Erwin appears here as a Ford salesman. By 1973 the Ford Mustang had grown from a pony to a mastodon. The 1974-1978 Mustang II was smaller, had attractive styling, and sold extremely well. Unfortunately the driving experience was far too Pinto-like.

Sid Raymond Drunk Driving PSA

Classic public service spot featuring Sid “Katnip” Raymond.

Paul Frees For Taster’s Choice Coffee

Paul Frees portrays an inspector (Inspector Fenwick-type) reviving his Eric Blore inspired voice to sell the new Frees-dried coffee.

Paul Frees For Opel Kadett

Sorry that last one wasn’t a car commercial, but it was too good not to show. This next one is an actual car commercial, although Paul Frees does not appear on camera. He does his George of the Jungle narration voice here. The elephant looks familiar too. Could this be Shep?


  • Sid Raymond’s in this spot along with Sid Melton. You can to cue past the silent tag at the start.

  • Is that Lennie Weinrib as the customer in the Mustang II commercial?

  • Interesting that the poster of the Ford pickup only listed Pat Morita on the title, even though he only appears in one shot.

  • Loved the Dave Ketchum ad. I pictured it being filmed exactly like one of those ROGER RAMJET cartoons, only with live action–thus, the car drives past the camera and you hear the shattering of glass and the camera shakes; I guess it wouldn’t do any business in today’s movie market, but I still think it would be fun to make a live action “ROGER RAMJET” movie. Also like the Pat Morita ad and that featuring Paul Frees, but who played the female part? She sounds like she would have done voice over work at one time or another.

    These are the kinds of strange commercials that I like, and some of these were done for many, many other products, but you don’t see many of these showing up on DVD compilations of classic TV commercials. They often go for the ad that genuinely sells the product. I was always drawn toward the Stan Freiberg variety, the ones that almost lampooned the fact that one is doing a commercial at all. Great stuff, here, though.

  • Allan Melvin aka Barney from All in The Family !

    • And Sam the Butcher on The Brady Bunch.

    • Kids.
      Boomers know-Melvin was Cprl. Henshaw in Bilko, Imdb. lists 143 episodes(he was in all but a handful). Some written by Neil Simon-R.I.P.

  • Ron Masak the character actor played the customer in the Mustang commercial. He was Sheriff Metzger on Murder She Wrote and notable enough that he had at least one stint on the classic 70s Match Game.

  • Great to see you –and your encyclopedic knowledge — back here, Mike!!

    • I’d give anything to see and spend time with you again, Dave. It’s been over a decade. Don’t know how we lost touch but please get in touch with me at

  • This was a fun post… and I love the top drawing, Mike!!

  • Even a guy like Arnold Stang gets a beautiful babe!

    • The end of the Stang ad reminded me of Casey Kasem-Amazon Wife Syndrome.

  • I believe John Erwin was also the voice of Morris the cat in the old 9 Lives cat food commercials. I recently got a bootleg dvd of all the Atom Ant cartoons and the seller had put some old 60’s commercials on the discs too, including some of the 9 Lives Morris ads. At first I couldn’t place the voice, but I knew I knew it from somewhere. After I looked it up and knew who it was, it became oddly disturbing, because it was like listening to He-Man talk about how much he craves the taste of yummy Kidney and liver.

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