The First Cartoon Made for
Generations have enjoyed the indescribable feeling of curling up
with a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning and watching the
antics of multicolored characters. Cartoons are, in a way, our
cultural fairytales and we owe the experience with which we
share them to a real estate salesman.
Alex Anderson was the nephew of cartoon producer Paul Terry
(Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle). Anderson was looking to
break into the Animation business just as television was
breaking into the culture. He looked at television and saw a
perfect outlet for his ideas. Of course he turned to his Uncle
for help but Paul Terry wasn’t interested (he felt television
would hurt his reputation). Instead he encouraged Anderson to
take his idea elsewhere.
Around this same time, Jay Ward was making a name for himself in
the California real estate business. He was successful, but like
many, he dreamed of showbiz. It was something his old college
roommate Alex Anderson knew. And was counting on.
Anderson went to Ward and shared his desire to create original
animated programming for television. Ward was ecstatic at
getting a chance to get into entertainment and he agreed
immediately to back the venture and so in 1948 they formed
Television Arts Productions, Inc (T.A.P.). Anderson had some
program ideas, Ward added to them and soon they had a demo reel
containing three potential series: Dudley Do-Right of the
Mounties, Hemhock Jones and Crusader Rabbit.
It was NBC who decided to take the gamble on this idea and
ordered 130, 5-minute episodes of Crusader Rabbit. Each episode
was to be a small part of a larger story. The hope was that this
would keep an audience engaged and eventually hooked into the
series. Each story played out over 15, 20 or 25 episodes and
dealt with Crusader (voiced by Lucille Bliss) and Rags (voiced
by Vern Louden) in adventures like helping tigers in India whose
stripes were being stolen to make India Ink, fighting a
leprechaun hating giant and helping Texas jackrabbits fight
deportation to the North Pole. The stories were told with simple
animation, charm, wit and quick timing.
After two years of development, sales and production Crusader
Rabbit made television history on August 1, 1950 at 6pm on KNBH
in Los Angeles when it became the first cartoon expressly made
for television to be broadcast. The series was a fast and wide
success. One that forced other producers and television stations
to recognize animation as a viable programming option.
the Fifties and all related Pages copyright
1997 - 2006