How Scrappy Saved Early TV

I tend to assume that nobody who isn’t an obsessive cartoon fan knows Scrappy. That isn’t quite true, though — if you’re old enough, you may have watched Scrappy on TV, back when the airwaves practically buckled under the weight of vast quantities of old black-and-white theatrical cartoons.

This fascinating article from Billboard, from December 4, 1954, reports on the deals that brought Scrappy — and Krazy Kat, Oswald the Rabbit, Pooch the Pup, and others — to television. As the story explains, the medium was starved for animated content, and still reliant largely on silent cartoons starring Felix the Cat and others. Scrappy cartoons, despite being up to twenty-three years old, were fresh and exciting by the era’s standards.

Hygo, the company mentioned as distributing the Scrappy cartoons to television, owned Samba Pictures, the company whose name pops up in the opening titles of most of the prints of Scrappy cartoons I’ve ever seen (such as this one). I believe that Samba may have technically owned the television rights to the shorts, but Hygo did the actual distributing.

The article also says that fifty Mintz cartoons were rejected for poor print quality or objectionable content. I wonder which ones they were, and what you had to do to be too offensive for 1950s TV?

Billboard article

2 comments on How Scrappy Saved Early TV

  • Yowp

    Billboard provided detailed coverage of how the old theatricals came to TV, as well as various mergers and attempts at mergers among the syndication companies that worked out deals with the studios for their old cartoons.
    Someone should dredge up the stories from Billboard about AAP, which basically swept the old silents off screens and replaced them with Popeye and Bugs Bunny.

  • I don’t think 50 cartoons were rejected, I believe the number was somewhat lower. Scrappy’s FARE PLAY and THE BEER PARADE, both of which feature drinking, were never sold to TV. Several of the earlier Mintz titles (like Krazy Kat’s RATSKIN) were missing film elements – based on what I know now, Columbia was very sloppy back then with its negatives and most likely they couldn’t find some (many of which have turned up since).

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