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Train from Fleischer cartoon "Play Safe"

Entertainment History

Many cartoons and short films from earlier decades were shown on TV in the 1950s, especially for children. From 1934 until 1941, Fleischer Studios produced a series of 36 short cartoons called Color Classics for Paramount Pictures Studios. Released in October 1936, the Color Classic cartoon “Play Safe” was among the first Fleischer cartoons produced in three-strip Technicolor, which up until then had been under an exclusive animation contract with Walt Disney Studios.

“Play Safe” is the story of a little boy who loves playing with trains, and gets the idea to drive a real locomotive. It features a surreal musical dream sequence, with animated locomotives singing the title song. The hero is the little boy’s St. Bernard who ultimately saves the day. This was one of the series that uses Max Fleischer’s Stereoptical process, a device which allowed animation cels to be photographed against actual 3D background sets instead of the traditional paintings. Please click here to view “Play Safe.”

The Color Classics series ended in 1941 with “Vitamin Hay,” starring Hunky and Spunky. Afterwards, Fleischer concentrated on producing Technicolor cartoons starring Gabby, the town crier from the 1939 Fleischer/Paramount animated feature film “Gulliver’s Travels.”

In the 1950s, these cartoons were given new life when distributor U.M.& M discovered a fresh audience of television-watching children. In 1955, Paramount sold all rights to the Color Classics cartoons to television distributor U.M.&M. T.V. Corp. U.M.&M. altered the original opening credits sequences for some of the films, to remove all references to the names “Paramount Pictures” and “Technicolor”, and to add their own copyright notices.  Instead of re-doing the opening credits, the distributor placed black bars over the original title cards and copyright notices.

In 2003, animation archivist Jerry Beck created a successful DVD box set “Somewhere in Dreamland: The Max Fleischer Color Cartoons.”  This DVD set features digitally-restored versions of these classic cartoons.

For More Classic TV and Golden  Oldies Music

The Rec Room TV has three selections — vintage TV series episodes, cartoons, and commercials. The Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the jukebox. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40 selections there. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo-Wop.

1 Comment

  1. Cool. I never saw anybody write about this cartoon before. Love TV and music from the 1950s. Sixties music, too.

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