November 30, 2013 posted by

This Has Been a Public Service Announcement

Brush your teeth twice a day. Take the doors off your old refrigerator. Stay away from blasting caps. How many times have you heard those phrases emanating from your television set? These public service messages were produced so that the world would be a nicer one to exist in.

Here now is a selection of classic animated public service commercials.

American Cancer Society – Yogi Bear

During the late sixties and early seventies, the Hanna-Barbera studio had a commercial unit headed by Art Babbitt. They produced some of the most lavish commercials of that time. This spot was animated by the great Irven Spence.

Anti Drug PSA

Another spot from Hanna-Barbera. Babbitt himself animates.

American Heart Association – Tin Woodsman

Directed and animated by former Fleischer animator Myron Waldman. From 1974.

Action – B. C.
One of a series of PSA’s featuring the characters from Johnny Hart’s famous comic strip. Produced by Levitow-Hanson Films.

Highway Users Federation – Chicken Little

Sorry for the poor picture quality, but this was too good too leave out. The ubiquitous Paul Frees narrates and also provides the voice of Chicken Little.

Navy – Rock and Roll

Playhouse pictures produced many spots for the US Navy. This one is from 1960, with Peter Leeds narrating. Animation by Bill Littlejohn.

Forestry Service – Jack the Flipper

Third in a series of fire prevention spots produced by Playhouse pictures in 1955. Jerry Hausner is the voice of Jack. A large stack of letters pertaining to these spots still exists, and they would indicate that the Forestry Service was a particularly difficult client. The oldest letters are from 1953, nearly two years before the spots were actually on the air.

Here is the recording script for spot above:


The spots went through a lot of re-writes. Here Daws Butler takes a stab at writing the first of these spots. Daws was one of the regular writers at Playhouse.


Here is a telegram from the forestry service rep to Playhouse producer Ade Woolery. The date is about two months before the actual completion date of the spot.



  • In the Art Babbitt Hanna-Barbera anti-drug PSA, the animation immediately after the first toke (about 00:06) kinda reminds me of the H-B “Swirling Star” logo!
    (They even sound slightly alike!)

  • I certainly remember that AMA PSA with the Tin Woodsman.

    • There’s a longer version of the PSA you can see here.

    • Speaking of the AMA though, and the American Dental Association too, what about all their very distinctively designed (characters with HUGE heads) PSA’s of the 70’s; I believe Rick Reinert Productions in Ohio animated them. Haven’t been able to find them on You Tube either…

    • Yeah, I doo too, right down to the song.,Whaddaya want a heart for, a heart for, a heart for!

  • I meant AHA. That looked lime something that might have been made a few years earlier at the defunct Paramount Cartoon Studio (cetainly from Myron Waldman’s long career there, dating back to the Fleischer Brothers days).

  • The sad/interesting thing about those PSAs is the fact that they were better animated than the shows that HB and other studios were doing.

    • Anything done as a commercial or PSA tend to be well done over the show itself as a fact of the business (and where the money typically goes).

      I recall the Smokey Bear PSA above showing up among clips of other Playhouse Pictures commercials included in the old FHE video release of “Speed Racer: The Movie”, if anyone remembers that.

  • Here’s a few I’ve enjoyed personally….

  • Almost animated: In my distant youth Pacific Gas and Electric Company distributed little comic books on kite safety.

    Each year the comics covered pretty much the same material (how to make a kite, how to fly it, safety rules), framed in a story with a few puzzle pages thrown in. Every year was a different cartoon character. Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, Secret Squirrel and Magilla Gorilla are the ones I remember. A quick search reveals that Popeye, Donald Duck and the Pink Panther were among the many stars.

    The Fonz and “Eight is Enough” were featured in later years. I almost never see kids flying kites any more. Coincidence?

  • Am I remembering correctly that the Tin Man PSA was slightly changed later so that instead of saying, “That’s a good start,” the woodsland animals said, “Don’t smoke,” and the Tin Man replied, “Don’t start!” ?

  • The Chicken Little ad indeed had the unmistakable Paul Frees, and it sounded and looked like a Jay Ward production (but if it was, Keith Scott’s excellent 2000 book The Moose That Roared doesn’t mention it.) Hanna-Barbera did that anti-(tobaccy) smoking from 1968 with Yogi and Boo Boo with that smoking; guy’s head bein’ smoked and bounced off and I THINK an anti-littering one in 1971 (well, it did have early Hoyt Curtin music) with a kmoon stting and aliens looking Jetsons-people, and one with three arms, who, when uirged on, says he only HAS..yuk..three arms.

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