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.
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…