This week, I dug out of Mark Kausler’s closet this rare episode (or pilot?) for Colonel Bleep. To be clear, it’s not the cartoon itself but live action wrap-arounds for a hosted Colonel Bleep kiddie show.
Colonel Bleep was designed and directed by Jack Schleh, whom I had the pleasure meeting and getting to know in his final years. Schleh was quite proud of the show (as well he should, I find them quite entertaining – and the artwork is fantastic); the cartoons were produced in Miami Florida back in 1956. He told me that he had no money to produce Col. Bleep, so he decided to simply have one narrator (a local Miami newscaster) and characters based on sound effects (Bleep, Squeak and Scratch)! He was a proud that his cartoon was the first one produced in color for television (on 16mm). And he beat Hanna-Barbara to the tube by a year.
Schleh started his TV animation career in upstate New York in the early 1950s, providing graphics for the emerging TV stations around the country. He began animating those graphics (particularly generic weather reports) and Richard Ullman (his producer/salesman) found there was a need for five minute cartoon fillers in the mid-1950s – and that’s how Bleep was born. Schleh later produced the infamous Mighty Mr. Titan and produced the first Mountain Dew TV spots.
Don Yowp wrote about this proposed TV Bleep show on his blog in 2014: “By mid-1957, (Colonel Bleep) was ready for syndication by Richard Ullman of Buffalo (Weekly Variety, June 19, 1957). …(The show) debuted on WGR in Buffalo on September 23rd.”
Is this 13 minute film one of the episodes telecast by the CBS affiliate in Buffalo? Loblaws Supermarket chain was operating there at that time. Or was this a test episode created by Schleh and Ullman to help sell the concept?
Below is a five page “pitch” piece which I suppose was sent to local stations. Interesting to note that they were trying to create more than a “kiddie show”… but a children’s Quiz Show, as well as an ‘animated adventure’ series; all new ideas at the time — ideas that would later come to be, from other hands.
(Thanks to Mark Kausler and Mike Kazaleh)