December 7, 2013 posted by

Commercials Animated by George Nicholas and Don Williams

We have another twofer for you. Two of my favorite animators, George Nicholas and Don Williams are our topic for today.

George Nicholas had been one of the top animators for Walter Lantz before heading for a long stint at Walt Disney Productions. At Disney he worked on shorts, features and commercials, but he was caught up in the post Sleeping Beauty staff purge. Disney’s loss was Hanna-Barbera’s gain, and George provided them with brilliant animation for many years. He also picked up work from Pantomime Pictures and Fred Calvert Productions during that time. George ended up at MGM Visual Arts, working on The Phantom Tollbooth among other things. When MGM shut down he went to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. He also worked for Chuck Jones on his series of television specials, and Abe Levitow on the B.C. films.

Don Williams had a long career, working for Leon Schlesinger before moving to Disney. He also worked for MGM, Walter Lantz and Screen Gems before coming back to Schlesinger’s, which by now was being absorbed into Warner Brothers. After working for Bobs Clampett and McKimson, Don became a permanent fixture in Art Davis’ unit after he had moved into Clampett’s chair. It was Davis who allowed Don to go to town, and go to town he did, doing some of the most wonderful and crazy animation of that period. Studio politics scuttled the Davis unit, and Williams was sent packing. It was shortly after that that Williams left the business for almost eight years. Upon his return, Bill Hanna, his old pal from MGM brought him into Hanna-Barbera. When DePatie-Freleng set up shop, Williams was among the first animators hired, and he stayed there for the rest of his career. DFE and Williams’ life ended almost simultaneously.

Fresh-Up Freddie Clips
Here’s a short collection of scenes animated by George Nicholas and produced by the Walt Disney commercial department. Later Fresh-Up Freddie spots would be produced by the Ray Patin studio. Paul Frees is Fresh-Up Freddie.

Kellogg’s All Stars
Produced by Hanna-Barbera. Nicholas was always great at doing dances as you can see from this spot. Could this be Robert Morley on vocals? [Thanks to Comments from Yowp and Karl Wilcox, below, we can confirm the voice here is Cyril Ritchard]

Flintstones Vitamins
From the H&B commercial department. Nicholas did quite a bit of work on their spots in this period. Having worked on the original Flintstones series from 1960, he was no stranger to Fred and Dino. His expertise at drawing the Flintstones and animating dances came in handy when H&B produced their primetime Alice in Wonderland special.

BC – Action Turtle Bird
PSA from Levitow-Hanson productions. Nicholas also worked on the BC Thanksgiving special made by the same studio.

Francis the Mule Trailer Excerpt
Produced by Dave Fleischer for Universal Pictures with animation by Don Williams. This was probably the last thing he animated before he went on hiatus for nearly eight years.

Slowing down the sped-up vocals reveals that Frank Graham is speaking. Graham is also narrating the trailer, and this may have well been the last thing he did before his untimely death.

Frosted Flakes
This spot was among the first things that Williams animated upon his return to cartoon business. After this point he kept very busy until his death in 1980. Thurl Ravenscroft is Tony the Tiger. Art Gilmore narrates.

Green Giant
Odd little series of live action-animated spots for the merry mammoth of the tinned produce section. Animation by Don Williams.


  • The Wizard of Oats is Cyril Ritchard.

  • Cyril Ritchard (best remembered as Captain Hook in NBC’s “Peter Pan”) was the voice of Who, the Wizard of Oats, in the Kellogg’s All-Stars commercials.

  • And that’s Hal Smith briefly heard in the Green Giant commercial.

  • Short-sighted corporate nincompoopery caused the cutting loose of such a high level of animation skill. Fortunately George Nicholas found employment with producers other than Disney.

  • I’m pretty sure that’s Paul Frees in the GG commercial. He did voices for them for years, most noticeably “Little Sprout.” And that’s most definitely Cyril Ritchard.

  • Is the Francis spot using the Porky Pig voice? WB should have sued.

    • Sounded more like Gabby from “Gulliver’s Travels” to me.

  • That’s Lloyd Bridges doing the narration on the B.C. public service spot.

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