December 27, 2014 posted by

Playhouse Pictures Re-Revisited


Today we’re taking yet another look at commercials from the Playhouse Pictures. This lot is from the mid to late fifties, and covers a variety of products. Amazingly, I was able to make a post without using any more beer commercials. Anyways, I hope these will all be new and wonderful to you. Now, on with the show…


Early and inexpensive production from 1954.

Cragmont Soda

Daws Butler narrates. From 1955. Butler did a lot of work for Playhouse, both as an actor, and as a writer.


A lot of the Playhouse regulars are featured in these spots including actors Billy Bletcher, Paul Frees, Herschel Bernardi, and Shep Menkin, as well as animators Bill Littlejohn and Gerard Baldwin. From 1956.

Heinz Vinegar

Paul Frees and Stan Freberg can be heard in this jazzy spot from 1956.


Bobe Cannon animates and directs. Paul Frees and Herschel Bernardi do some of the voices here. From 1957.

Langendorf Bread

Another one from Bobe Cannon. From 1958.

Little Bill

One in a long running series of spots made for Commonwealth Edison. From 1958.

Of course there were variations on the theme…



  • I’ve seen pics of the Coppertone spot, and the Heinz plug, in “Cartoon Modern”.

  • Great stuff. I especially like the Coopertone ad- nice to see the spot that cel setup is from after all this time! I think I have a ‘Big Bill’ squeezie from the late 50s, back when you could take your blown lightbulbs in and they’d give you new ones free….

  • The Department of Water and Power of southern CA should start using that ‘Big Bill’ character about now. It couldn’t be more appropriate than now.

  • Any plans on doing a post about Fred Crippen’s Pantomime Pictures?

  • Does anyone know the history of Chaplin’s involvement with Playhouse? Was he an original investor? And did he sell his shares after being exiled?

    • The studio that Charlie Chaplin invested in was Swift-Chaplin, with veteran animator Howard Swift. They produced the early Hamms Beer spots as well as Speedy Alka-Seltzer. This was around 1948. Ade Wollery started Playhouse in 1952 with the money he got from selling his UPA stock to Steve Bosustow.

  • The “Don’t Be A Paleface!” campaign for Coppertone pre-dated by several years their more familiar symbol of a barefoot girl with cheeks of…uh, not quite tan.

  • I remember those “Little Bill” spots from when I lived in Chicago back in 1959. The first two lines of the jingle stuck with me through all these years, as well as the “tweet-tweet. . . Little Bill!” codas. It is amazing what sticks in the memory after all these years!

  • Is it just me, or does the chef in the cartoon at the beginning of the article look like Fry from “Futurama”?

  • It’s too bad ALL these cartoons are now “unavailable.” So much for using these as reference.

    • Yeah, this is pretty sad. Apparently many of these were pulled from You Tube within the last year. I wish I had time to monitor the embeds on the 2000+ posts we’ve put up since 2013. It’s also why I still champion serious researchers to hang onto your physical media.

      One ray of hope (or two): both Greg Ford at Kino and Steve Stanchfield of Thunderbean are compiling blu ray collections of vintage commercials (much from Playhouse Pictures). Stay tuned for that in 2022.

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