November 9, 2013 posted by

Commercials Animated by “Those MGM Guys”

Okay, maybe it isn’t quite accurate to call them “MGM guys” since they all worked for other studios as well. But these are some of the animators that come to mind when you think of MGM in its heyday, when Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, and Tex Avery were cranking out shorts. And like almost everyone else in animation, they did a lot of commercial work.

Future posts may delve more deeply into the individual careers of these same cartoonists, but for now here is a small sampling of their spots…

I Love Lucy
Here are three of the many pieces of animation produced by MGM for the popular “I Love Lucy” show, complete with cartoon caricatures designed by Gene Hazelton. The first two clips were animated by Ken Muse, and the third one by Mike Lah. The announcer in the first clip is John Stephenson, the future Mr. Slate! Sponsor Phillip Morris may be the reason that Lucy’s voice went from a falsetto to a baritone.

One of Tex Avery early successes after entering the advertising field was this Pepsodent toothpaste spot. Ken Muse animates the first bit, while Grant Simmons animates the balance.

Kroger Eggs
Animated by Irv Spence for Animation, Inc. in 1961. Shep Menkin is the announcer, while June Foray provides the chicken’s voice.

Bonomo Turkish Taffy
Animators in order of appearance are Ray Patterson, Mike Lah, Robert Cannon, and Grant Simmons. Everyone is showing some restraint here, probably a client thing. Still, I find Mike Lah’s bit to be hilariously insincere. I’m guessing that was produced by the GrantRay studio.

Ruff and Reddy for Alpha-Bits

Animation by Mike Lah, with voices by Daws Butler and Don Messick. Dick Tufeld is the announcer. Produced by Hanna-Barbera for the Ruff and Reddy show. The program itself had very simplified animation, but like so many television cartoons, the sponsor spent more money on the ads.

Kool Aid – Indians
Another Tex Avery spot, with animation by Ken Muse. Featuring Thurl Ravenscroft as a pitcher of Kool-Aid.

Raisin Bran with Mr. Jinks
From Hanna-Barbera. Animation by Ed Love and Irv Spence with some wonderfully over the top vocals by Daws Butler and Don Messick. The Beach Boys meet The Beatles?


  • Mike, when I used to watch “Crusader Rabbit” every day in late 1950 and ’51, the TV channel ran the same cute animated TV commercial for Dr. Ross Dog Food on it every day. I liked it almost as much as the program itself. I always wondered if it was made by the same people who made “Crusader Rabbit”, Alex Anderson’s & Jay Ward’s Television Arts Productions? When I interviewed everyone I could find connected to “Crusader Rabbit” in 1981 and asked them that, Jerry Fairbanks didn’t remember what TAP did in its “spare time”, and Lucille Bliss said that she had only been connected to the recording of Cru’s voice. The nearest that I came was somebody, I think Bob Ganon, who said, “Yeah, when we finished with the first series of “Crusader Rabbit” episodes and were waiting for NBC to renew it in 1951, and then after the second season of the last 65 episodes, Alex and Jay had us making all of the TV commercials that they could get contracts for, just to keep TAP in business until NBC renewed Cru for the next season. It wasn’t until NBC definitely turned down a third season that Alex & Jay shut down TAP.” But he couldn’t remember specifically if Dr. Ross Dog Food was one of the animated commercials that they made. Dr. Ross Dog Food was made by the Carnation milk company, which was the main sponsor of “Crusader Rabbit”, which is one reason that I’m guessing that it was. Do you know?

    • I’m sorry I don’t know. But you’ve piqued my curiosity now. The Carnation connection makes total sense. If we can track down any of the TAP spots we will present them here. At least I hope we can find them.

  • Thanks for highlighting the MGM guys, Mike. They really did a lot of fine work before getting sucked into the TV machine and it’s great to see it on display here, credited properly.

    Interesting how with the “Lucy” spots, you’ve got the T&J animator (Muse) handling the “cute”/Tuffy-like stuff, and the Avery animator (Lah) gets something a little more “risque”. And I’m pretty sure the Beatles/Beach Boys Mr. Jinks ad is probably the best the character was ever animated.

  • Love it!

  • Joseph Barbera talks about the I Love Lucy spot in his Archive Television interview (it’s at the 11:19 mark).

  • That Kroger spot doesn’t have any of the obvious hallmark’s of Irv Spence’s style to my eyes. How do you know he animated this one, Mike?

  • The quality of the I LOVE LUCY leads is excellent! It was my understanding that Bill and Joe were “moonlighting” when they did this since Fred Quimby wanted nothing to do with television in spite of Bill and Joe’s suggestions about getting into it. When Quimby saw these segments on I LOVE LUCY he made reference to Bill and Joe about seeing them and liking them, no knowing that he was addressing the fellows behind them. The story also goes that these moonlighting assignments were the foundation of H-B Enterprises, which as we know went into full swing after MGM closed and Bill and Joe produced THE RUFF N’ REDDY SHOW for NBC in 1957.

  • Wow, I know the surgeon general’s warning hadn’t been issued yet, but it still seems odd to start a family comedy show with a giant pack of cigarettes.

  • Here are two beer commercials from Argentina that I repaired yesterday. They are from 1963 and I don’t know who made them.

    I will later bring you some Bardahl commercials from Mexico and Argentina that are feel similar even when they are not.

    • much thanks for sharing these! they are very amusing, and I love though I don’t speak Spanish fluently I love the voice work and the jingle!

  • VERY strange to see an HB cereal commercial for Post, rather than Kellogg’s.

  • Hello, Mike. I’m sure you’re busy, but the majority of these links and the ones on other posts have been set to private, as YT has set all videos from 2017 and before to private. I would love to have seen most of these commercials but can’t due to this new update. Do you, by chance, still have them lying around?

    Thank you for reading,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *