Sunday, 20 December 2015

R. O. Blechman's CBS Season's Greetings Spot From 1966

 Today it is not unusual for the American broadcast networks air interstitials in which stars of their various shows wish the audience "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings". There was a time, however, when the broadcast networks were a bit more creative with their "Season's Greetings spots. A perfect example (and quite possibly the most famous such interstitial of them all) was one first aired by CBS in 1966. This "Season's Greetings" spot would air for years on CBS, last airing sometime in the Seventies. It remains one of the best remembered "Season's Greetings" spots in the history of television.

If CBS's 1966 "Seasons Greetings" spot is remembered today, it is perhaps because of the talent who created the spot. It was designed by R. O. Blechman, who at various points in his career was an animator, an illustrator, a cartoonist, and a children's book author. His first book, The Juggler of Our Lady, was published when he was only 23. He later went to work for Storyboard Inc., a studio specialising in special effects and commercial animation. His cartoons were published in such magazines as Harper's BazaarPunch, and Esquire. He would go on to create a well remembered animated commercial for Alka-Seltzer in 1967 and found the commercial animation studio The Ink Tank. He produced the 1977 PBS special Simple Gifts and directed the 1984 PBS special The Soldier's Tale.

The actual animation for the spot was done by the legendary Willis Pyle. Mr. Pyle began his career at Disney, working on the classic films Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi. After his military service in World War II he went to work for UPA. There he worked on several classic shorts, including "Ragtime Bear" (1949--the first appearance of Mr. Magoo) and  "Gerald McBoing-Boing" (1950). He later did a good deal of work in television, including the special Halloween Is Grinch Night. He also worked on the 1977 feature Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure. Willis Pyle celebrated his 100th birthday on September 2 2014.

 R. O. Blechman's "Season's Greetings" message would be rerun for several years on CBS, running into the Seventies. It remains fondly remembered by many. Special thanks to Steve of MovieMovieBlogBlog for pointing this piece of classic animation out to me!

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