September 6, 2014 posted by

Celebrity Impersonations Mostly Real


Back in the days when TV shows were sponsored, it wasn’t uncommon (in fact it was expected) for the stars to plug products on the program. In Previous posts we have featured commercials with cartoon versions of Groucho Marx, and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Toady we have some more animated spots featuring your favorite real-life TV stars.

Halo Shampoo

From Shamus Culhane Production. Starring Eddie Cantor and the whole Cantor clan! Designed by John McLeish.

Minute Made

With Bing Crosby. Ah, there’s nothing like vitamins!


Featuring the very exciting Nelson family. At least their likenesses.

Sugar Crisp

Not only do you get an animated Roy Rogers, you get an animated Trigger, too.

Grape Nuts

With Danny Thomas. This is probably from UPA.

Cain’s Potato Chips

Okay, this is the odd one out here. There’s a talking drawing of the Cisco Kid, but the voice isn’t Duncan Renaldo’s. Not even close. This is one of the first spots to come from Playhouse Pictures. There is no production number, but it’s likely from 1952. In these early Playhouse spots, producer Ade Woolery got the artists to pick up work on a freelance basis. Mostly moonlighting people from UPA. The little girl at the opening is animated by Phil Monroe. The Kid himself? Well, just the mouth moves so it’s hard to say. However it does look like Rudy Larriva’s lip-sync.


  • Was hoping to see Danny Thomas’ patented spit-take when he realizes he’s eating Grape Nuts.

  • Mike
    Thanks for another great post! Although the Cain’s spot was a trifle strange! I half expected Leo Carillo to pop in and say “Hey,Ceesco! What’s the matter with your voice?” Anyway,the spots with the Nelsons and Danny Thomas and Marjorie Lord were delightful! I never knew Ozzie and Harriet had gotten animated before.I liked Der Bingle’s spot and Ol’ Banjo Eues,too!

  • Man, that “Cisco Kid” commercial is awkward… While I haven’t been able to hear a replay of any of the episodes he did, Mel Blanc was the last actor to play Pancho on the Cisco Kid radio series, after the death of Harry Lang, who played the role for some years.

  • As one who just did a (daily) salute to the Animated Caricature (on fb…. from Jan.-Aug.), this was a reeeeeeeal special treat!! Thank you!

  • Bing Crosby’s 1948 investment in “fast freezing” technology led to a huge success in what became Minute Maid frozen orange juice. As part of the transaction, Bing got stock in the company and became the sole distributor of the product for the entire West Coast. He was also named Minute Maid’s Chairman of the Board. His production company created a 15-minute morning radio program that featured Bing as a disc jockey, playing popular records of the day, including his own. The show was sponsored by Minute Maid.

    When the company went public in 1956, Bing was invited to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. He began appearing in Minute Maid television commercials in the early 1950s and became synonymous with frozen orange juice for generations of viewers.

  • Wait, what? The mouth looks like it wasn’t drawn but filmed at the end of the Cisco Kid potato chip commercial. Sort of like Synchro-Vox. Scary!

    • It may look real – but the mouth is hand drawn animation.

  • And actually the animation on the Minute Maid commercial was pretty impressive. Great caricature work on the Ol’ Groaner too.

  • Do you think the Cisco kid one was a production mistake? Maybe it was just originally meant to be a picture with narration (The voice just says it’s the Cisco Kid’s chips, not “My Chips” Or “The chips of Me, the Cisco Kid” ) and the mouth animation was a last minute addition.

    • Cain’s was a favorite brand in New England…they are still around, offering mayonnaise, salad dressings, and pickles.

  • For my dough, the Bing Crosby spot has the most accomplished animation. Who did the CU scenes of Bing selling Minute Maid, Mr. Mike?

    • I thought it looked like Cliff Nordberg’s work, but I wasn’t absolutely certain. You are quite right, it’s very well done.

  • The Cisco is just meant to be a straight announcer wearing Cisco Kid insignia…I believe it’s Clarence Cassell.

    • I’m sure that was the thinking behind the ad for this being a typical announcer who simply went out with the hat for this purpose.

  • Re: The Minute Maid commercial. A doctor recommending vitamins??? Not in this century!

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