The 1947-48 season was one of transition. The contractual arrangement with Marge, and the license for Little Lulu, had come to an end. The cartoons had not caught on with the public and by mutual agreement, the parties were willing to move on.
Popeye was still the star amongst the Famous Studio players – though new “stars” were being developed in the Noveltoon series. Herman the Mouse continued on (sans Henry), Buzzy the Crow and Little Audrey made their debuts; The Bored Cuckoo (by arrangement with “Funny Book Magazine”), Flip Flap (a Myron Waldman update of themes explored in Fleischer’s Playful Polar Bears), and We’re In The Honey (a mash-up of ideas already explored in Mr. Bug and Ants In The Plants) filled up the release schedule.
The Fall saw Paramount burning off the rest of their Little Lulu releases and to take her place, the studio readied its next shot at success – a full-fledged revival of the Screen Songs. Audience reception to the bouncing ball sing-alongs, which had been occasionally included in the previous seasons Noveltoons, was good enough to now warrant a larger platform.
As noted in the 1947 contract below – the new order for the season consisted of 24 cartoons, evenly divided (eight each) between Popeye, Noveltoons and Screen Songs. The new Screen Songs series began appearing in December 1947 with The Circus Comes To Clown. At the start of 1948, Paramount gave the series a boost with a fresh stock one-sheet (pictured, click to enlarge) and trade ads to theatre exhibitors (this one for the second entry, Base Brawl, embed below):
There’s no doubt that Paramount was thriving in the short subjects market – but not solely on Famous Studios product. The George Pal Puppetoons were their champs – and Speaking Of Animals had not worn out their welcome. Popeye is still an important factor in the mix (see the third page of the 3-page Showmen’s Trade Reviews annual piece below).
Little Audrey Department.
The Screen Songs replaced Little Lulu on the release charts, but another character replaced Lulu in the cartoons themselves. It was during the 1947-48 season that Little Audrey emerged publicly. Her debut was during the Christmas season, as a supporting player in the Noveltoon, Santa’s Surprise (12/5/47).
The studio was so high on Audrey, Paramount jumped right in to the lucrative licensing business; her theme song as sheet music and a series of comic books were the first out of the gate. Crafting a new deal with Archer St. John (his company was already thriving with Terrytoon comics acquired the year before), the first issue of Little Audrey hit the stands in the Spring of 1948, before the public really knew who she was. The cover of the first issue (pictured below) was an adaptation of this Bill Tytla gag drawing:
Little Audrey began making semi-annual Noveltoon appearances in mid-1948. Below is her first “starring role” as the new-Lulu: Butterscotch And Soda (7/6/48) – and dig that swing arrangement of her theme song.
For more on Little Audrey, please check this post from last December.
(Thanks to Don Yowp for assistance)