Animation History
April 17, 2017 posted by

Network Status Reports 1956-1964

There seems to be no end to finding new information on classic cartoons – things I’ve never seen or heard of seem to pop up every day on blogs (I’m looking’ at you, Yowp), Facebook, Instagram, etc.

I have a pile of miscellaneous production clippings – reviews, press releases and raw data – that I’d like to put out there, for no other reason other than its just interesting, or its another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of animation history. I think you’ll find my new Monday Miscellaneous posts a great way to start the week.

First up from the archives at the USC Cinematic Library: Network Status Reports. These internal memos date from 1956 to 1964 – I believe these are from the files of CBS (regardless of what network the shows eventually appeared on, all three networks kept track of all pilots and competing shows in production or preparation) – any additional information on these documents or the shows discussed is welcome.

UPDATE: Eric Costello (in the comments below) makes the case that these memos could be from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency.

Hanna Barbera

By the 1960s Hanna Barbera dominated television with many many shows on the air, network or syndicated; Saturday morning and prime time. And of course we know they developed and pitched probably three times as many shows that never made it. What did the network execs think of the Hanna Barbera product? Let’s take a look:

The Flintstones

Apparently the execs at CBS weren’t very excited about The Flintstones: “…failed both in story content and its promise of pre-historic elements>’ and noted the show was a “…a take-off of “The Honeymooners”. Yabba-dabba-doo, these guys just didn’t get it.


In case you didn’t know: Top Cat was co-sponsored by Kelloggs right off the bat – and The Jetsons was replaced by Leave It To Beaver. (click to enlarge)

Unsold Hanna Barbera Pilots

Hanna Barbera was certainly ready to follow up on Jonny Quest with a different, perhaps more adult cartoon show with Danger Plus Two. Beyond the Doug Wildey storyboard below I know nothing about this show. I know even less about 5-4-3-2-1 Pfft – which was to star Rowan & Martin (before Laugh-In). Was it live action or animated… or a combination?

Doug Wildey, storyboard concept art for “Danger Plus Two”.

Jay Ward

Fractured Flickers (syndicated 1963)

I believe this note refers to Jay Ward’s Fractured Flickers

The Nut House (CBS, 1964)

This infamous live action show (with some animation), was a bit ahead of its time – a precursor to Laugh-In. It was taped on 11/27/63 – the day of JFK’s funeral.


The Boing Boing Show

There is much still to be written (and researched) about The Boing Boing Show – the first network half-hour animated series.

Calvin And The Colonel

Here we learn that the original title for Calvin & The Colonel was “The Animals”.


Shot in October 1961… the pilot got an “unfavorable reaction” at a February 1962 screening. It was eventually released theatrically, as a featurette, on April 6th 1963.

Mr. Hugger-Mugger – Dave Fleischer

And finally, Mr. Hugger Mugger – I know nothing about this beyond what is reported here. Dave Fleischer created it in 1960 for Universal. A ten-minute pilot was produced and shown in November. Years before Jonny Quest, it was to be an adventure cartoon half hour “in which the title character has (a) computer brain which he operated with a push-button in his hat.” By April 1961 the project was “dead”.

Thanks to Ned Comstock, Senior Librarian at USC’s Cinematic Arts Library, for providing these to Cartoon Research.


  • Dan Seymour was a top executive at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency from 1955 to 1974. This might be a copy of his papers that are in the Duke University library.

    The “Devine” mentioned in the McBoing Boing item might be John F. Devine, who was JWT’s administrator of radio and television in the 1950s. His papers, too, are at Duke.

  • Interesting that the CBS go-though on “The Flintstones” memo was William Dozier, who ended up half a decade later as executive producer for the show that ended up being ABC’s big hit among the kids as Fred and Barney were getting ready to leave the air — “Batman” (Dozier was also the show’s narrator, so it would have been interesting to imagine him turning down Joe Barbera’s stone-age concept using that voice).

  • The memo regarding 54321 is referring to a story in Daily Variety the day before. Bill Hamilton (who wrote for Jonny Quest) and William C. Anderson were writing the pilot. The same story referred to Danger Plus Two.

  • The Danger Plus Two blonde in the black leather suit resembles the protagonist in Doug Wildey’s presentation art done for the ABC “Honey West” series.

  • Okay, I’m confused by the “Jetsons” memo – either the date or the program is incorrect.
    Date transcribed for dumping THE JETSONS is 2/28/62, yet it premiered that fall, on September 23rd.
    It also aired Sunday, not Friday evenings. The H-B program that aired on Fridays in the 1961-62 season was THE FLINTSTONES (TOP CAT ran on Wednesdays).
    Where’s Snooper and Blabber when you need them?

  • That’s a awesome picture showing the cast of Top Cat and the characters that they portrayed. Kind of rare on seeing this photo and makes me wonder if other animation studios did the same with their characters and the stars who did their voices.

    And the Flintstones were originally known as the Flagstones in the pilot episode with Daws Butler as Fred and Barney and Jean Vander Pyl as Wilma and Betty. Daws Butler also used his Ralph and Morton impersonation in Warner brothers’ animated series The Honeymousers which was a parody of The Honeymooners.”

  • One further ID:

    The “Thurm” in the Top Cat reference may be Sam Thurm, who was an executive at Lever Bros (VP-Advertising). Ironically, AdWeek’s obituary of him credited him with advancing African-Americans in TV roles. Irony, given the Amos ‘n Andy tie to Calvin.

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