February 15, 2014 posted by

Playhouse Potpourri

This week we bring you an assortment of miscellaneous goodies from the Playhouse files.

Playhouse Pictures was founded by Ade Woolery in 1952. Ade had worked at Disney, Screen Gems, and was also the production manager at UPA prior to this. I had the pleasure of working for Playhouse from 1988 to their final days in fall of 2002. I had worked with Ade, and his sons Ted and Gerry, not to mention an assortment of other wonderful veterans. There was artwork and films all over the place, much of it the work of my cartoon heroes like Bobe Cannon, Rod Scribner, and Bill Littlejohn to name just a few. I felt like a kid who had just discovered buried treasure. It was a happy time for me, and I’m happy to be able to share some of these great spots with you folks out there.

Playhouse Pictures was located in Hollywood, at 1401 North La Brea, just south of Sunset Blvd. for most of its existence. These old photos, below, of the studio show the view from De Longpre street (click to enlarge). In the first picture you can see part of the Chaplin studio, directly across La Brea Street. The garage in the back was eventually used to expand the studio space.


Reel Opener

Produced in 1955, this demo reel opener features photos of several Playhouse staff members including Ade Wollery, Mary Cain, Bill Melendez, and Daws Butler. Daws does his impression of Ed Sullivan on the soundtrack. The simple but clever animation looks like the work of Bill Melendez.


Three spots from 1954 featuring a plainclothes cop who bears a striking resemblance to Fearless Fosdick (Al Capp’s unsubtle parody of Chet Gould’s Famous Detective.) There’s some real creative limited animation here.

Ford Show – Sign Painter

This 1957 opening for the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show was unusual because the Playhouse publicity director George Woolery (oddly enough, no relation to studio head Ade Woolery) actually sent out a set of six separate stills (below; click thumbnails to enlarge). Playhouse made an astounding number of these Ford Show openings between 1956 and 1961.


Old Pro – Rain


Another Falstaff Beer spot featuring Eddie Mayehoff as “The Old Pro”. Animation by Bill Littlejohn.


IBM commercial designed by Saul Bass, and narrated by Marvin Miller. This is the long form version clocking in at a full three minutes. From 1961

Western Airlines – Champagne Music

Playhouse produced numerous spots for this long running campaign. This one was produced in 1967. Shep Menkin is the Western Airlines bird. The band leader is… well… you know…


  • They were all very interesting and creative. I especially liked the Playhouse demo reel with Daws Butler!

  • by chance, were they the ones who did the Bardohl commercial[s]??

    • Most of the Bardohl spots were made at the Ray Patin studio.

  • Great stuff! Any personal photos from inside the studio you’ll be sharing?

  • Liked the last little bit of Daws, too. Reminded me of an early, early Max Headroom.

  • About how many different openings did Playhouse Pictures do for “The Tennesse Ernie Ford Show”?

  • “It was a happy time for me, and I’m happy to be able to share some of these great spots with you folks out there.”

    No doubt a craving for an online Playhouse Pictures Shrine was never sought. I remember time in the 90’s picking up the video of “The Speed Racer Show” movie that Streamline put out that featured several of Playhouse’s ads that were sprinkled throughout, at the end of the whole thing they did leave in a nice credit to the studio for having provided said ads for the release on home video. Someone reminded me one of the Bondex ads was on there.

  • I’m really enjoying these posts. Those Bondex commercials are great.

  • Hello,
    Actually I’m researching the comic strip series DINKY which is signed by ADE. In the LC catalogue, it credits Ade with Playhouse Pictures as being responsible for this comic strip with the date mentioned as 8/12/63. Could you tell me anything about this and if you might have some images of the strip that I could see by email. I would greatly appreciate this. Thank you. Steve.

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