This is a studio I’d like to research much further!
Kling Film Productions has an interesting history, although only spotty information seems to exist. I’m very much interested in researching this studio further, since it’s clear that many of the better animated drive-in ads were produced by this small shop. They were one of many industrial film companies producing promotional and educational films in the 40s through the 60s. This company is almost forgotten today, and it’s understandable that it’s quite hard to find much information on them.
The work of Kling’s industrial film neighbor to the east, Jam Handy, in Detroit, Michigan, has had many of its films saved and available, many thanks to Rick Prelinger’s preservation efforts. Evidence of Kling’s History is obscure at best, although Mystery Science Theatre 3000 did find one of their live action shorts… Mr. B Natural – and poked fun of it here:
Kling’s history seems to date back to the late 40’s, producing industrial films commissioned by mostly manufacturing companies. Like Jam Handy, many of these involved training for sales or were instructional in using industrial equipment.
A majority of the work done in Chicago by Kling into the 50s in both their Chicago and Hollywood studios concentrated on those industrial films. Besides Mr. B Natural, the few examples that seem to have surfaced of their work produced in Hollywood involve the farming industry and manufacturing equipment.
Food manufacturing equipment operation and maintenance films are some of the very few that were ever copyrighted. It seems to me that it was a catch as catch can operation. They produced live action commercials for the local markets, TV graphics, rented the studio space for public gatherings, and I’m sure many more things. This small company was located at 1058 West Washington in Chicago, the site of a former Roller Rink. Interestingly, Kling eventually sold it’s main production space to one of its former employees, Fred A. Niles, who operated his own production studio there into the early 1980s. He sold the building to Oprah Winfry’s Harpo Productions around 1984 – and the property remained in Oprah’s hands until it was sold in 2014. The entire Harpo Studios compound (built around this main building) was torn down in July 2016 to make room for the new McDonald’s Headquarters.
Although not their main bread and butter, Kling did produce some commercial material as well- most notably a series of recognizable classic Snack Bar Theatrical Advertisments from the early 50s through (at least) the very early 60s. It’s unclear at this point in the limited research I’ve done so far to know how much (if any) of this animation was produced directly in Chicago; it’s more likely that most if not all of the animation the studio produced involved bringing in freelance animators to their studio in Los Angles. That studio was located at at 1416 N. La Brea Avenue. For you history buffs, this is the old Chaplin Studio space, and is of course now owned by the Jim Henson Company.
Kling seems to have produced many of these ads directly for Filmack Studios, an old Chicago-based film ad company. Many of the classic ’snipes’ were made there over the years. Looking (and listening) to the many spots that Kling studio produced, I suspect that they actually were the production company for the classic Let’s All Go to the Lobby. My guess is that it may be one of the first animated shorts they made. On the Wikipedia Page for that short film, they list Dave Fleischer as being ‘the animator’. If Fleischer was indeed involved in the making of this commercial, it would be interesting to see what that involvement was. (Jerry posted a bit about this here)
Here are some of my favorite spots Kling produced:
CIRCUS SPOT. There’s actually a series of these that they made (perhaps they would be part of the same 10 minute intermission clock?)
The Intermission Quartet:
The Rodeo. May absolute favorite. Note that this and others have Thurl Ravenscroft on the track.
Another one of my favorites a spot for ‘Buttercup’ popcorn. at 1:11 on this youtube file:
While not all the animation here is produced by Kling, the films identified on this Youtube as being produced by Jay Ward are actually produced by Kling in the late 50s or early 60s.
The Butcher, The Baker, The Ice Cream Maker. Finally, here is a longer industrial film, animated at their Hollywood location. It was produced to sell packaging equipment to Ice Cream manufacturers. This print was purchased on Ebay from a place that bought a warehouse full of things in Chicago. There were multiple prints for sale, and I got lucky and bought a bunch of them since one of the cans they showed said ‘color’. I ended up with a Kodachrome print.
Have a good week everyone!