Thursday 22 September 2022

Promoting George and Jane

The Jetsons started life, according to Bill Hanna at a lunch at the Brown Derby, as a stand-by series just in case TV viewers didn’t warm to Arnold Stang playing a cat.

The lunch was with UPI’s Vernon Scott, likely in November 1961, who reported in early December that “Waiting in the wings should Top Cat become a fallen feline are The Jetsons, The Gruesomes and a medley show starring Cops and Roberts, Bill and Coo Coo, and Casey Jones. Hanna said ‘The Jetsons are the opposite of the Flintstones. They live several centuries in the future and suffer the same nutty family problems as Fred and Wilma Flintstone’.”

At the start, it wasn’t clear when the show was going to air. The Oakland Tribune of February 19, 1962 had it pencilled in on Fridays at 7:30 p.m. opposite Rawhide (CBS) and International Showtime (NBC). Daily Variety, on March 19, revealed: “Rest of the Sunday schedule is fairly well locked in. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon ‘The Jetsons,’ described as the ‘flip side’ of ‘The Flintstones’ and updated to the year 2,000, leads off at 7 p.m.” (A syndicated blurb in the San Antonio Express of April 1 said the series was set “a thousand years hence”). Broadcasting magazine on April 23 put it where it ended up—on Sundays at 7:30 opposite Dennis the Menace (CBS) and Walt Disney (ABC). It estimated production costs at $60,000 an episode, $10,000 less than Dennis.

Sponsors seem to have been found pretty quickly after that. Variety announced on May 2 the show “has been sold to Colgate-Palmolive and Whitehall Laboratories, both through Ted Bates [an ad agency], and Minnesota Mining and Mfg., through McManus, John and Adams [another agency].”

Now that a time slot had been set, it was time to start publicising the show. There was actually something specific to publicise; The Hollywood Reporter’s “TV Writing Deals” column of April 12, 1962 said Larry Markes had been hired to write two episodes. He received the story credit for the debut show with Rosey the robot and the sixth one where George leads a pack of cub scouts on the moon.

Newspapers would get news releases from networks, sponsors, producers, that could be printed verbatim as stories. Here’s one from May. Evidently the publicity department didn’t know George’s employer was “Spacely Sprockets.” I like the way Top Cat is played down, having failed in prime time. You’ll note nothing about the cast as Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll were still George and Jane when this release was written

‘Jetsons’ Offer Animated Look Into Comedy Future Next Fall
"The Jetsons," a new, half-hour situation comedy series featuring an amiable family of animated characters who live the good life about a century or so in the future, will make its debut on the ABC Television Network next fall as a prime time evening feature.
The program will be telecast Sundays, 7:30 - 8 p.m.
Hanna-Barbera Productions, producers of ABC-TV’s top-rate “The Flintstones,” and regarded as one of the most original production organizations in television, created the new all-family series.
"The Jetsons,” which has been in development for one year, is a light-hearted bit of futuristic fun. It deals with George and Jane Jetson, their cute, teenaged daughter Judy, her kid brother Elroy and the family dog, Astro. In their wonderously wacky world, the surroundings and gadgets have all changed — naturally for the better. But the problems we know and cope with are, to be sure, still around.
George works for Space Rockets Inc. [sic] The Jetsons live in the Skypads Apartments, which rise and fall on huge hydraulic lifts to stay clear of the weather. Jane Jetson dials the family's meals on a food console, solves the servant problem with robot maids. Son Elroy is packed off to school in a convenient pneumatic tube and Judy has her space-age singing idol, one Jet Screamer.
For 20 years at M-G-M, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera produced the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons which won 7 Academy Awards. In 1957, they set up their own studios to produce animated cartoons for television with Screen Gems. Their "Huckleberry Hound," now seen on over 150 stations through the nation, was the first half-hour series in TV to consist entirely of original cartoons.
In the fall of 1960, the H-B team embarked on the first animated series on TV network prime time, "The Flintstones," which returns in the fall with all the woes and fun of the Stone Age for its third season on ABC-TV. Last season, "Top Cat" was a prime-time animated series from Hanna-Barbera Productions.

Another release states: “It is understood that ABC has held open a network slot for ‘The Jetsons’ for a number of months, since the idea for the series was simple pencil sketch on a single sheet of paper. Sponsor interest remained strong during all the months in which Hanna-Barbera were busy putting together a presentation to show them.”

Next came the beloved network custom—The Junket, where entertainment reporters from all over the U.S. were given an all-expenses-paid trip to meet the stars of the coming fall season. Since it’s a little hard to meet cartoon characters, Hanna-Barbera brought out master salesman Joe Barbera and p.r. whiz Arnie Carr to promote, promote and promote The Jetsons. One reporter was from the Birmingham News.

Jetson cartoon this fall will make Glenn look stone age

News radio-TV editor
HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 21—From the first visits to the studios it appears TV is after the family in its entirety as viewers . . . The shows will be aimed at catching the adult audience and the kids as well . . . And if you think you've seen the fantastic, there’s more and more to come . . . We learned this while at the Harna-Barbera studios.
Their new project for this fall is the Jetsons, an animated cartoon in color . . . Col. Glenn’s exploits will look like old stuff as compared to the Jetsons . . . and Joe Barbera and Bill Hanna believe in it enough to think it can buck Walt Disney’s wonderful World of Color . . . Both will be on in Birmingham at the same time after Sept. 21 . . . There are George and Jane Jetson, a son Elroy and the dog, Astro.
When Arnie Carr, publicist, and Joe Barbera told about some of the exploits of this new some of the exploits of this new ABC cartoon series, TV editors were in stitches . . . TV reporters are here from Boston, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, San Mateo. Calif., and Nashville, Tenn., as well as Birmingham . . . But I thought while we were all laughing of how absurd space flights were several years ago until Alan Shephard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn came along.
IN FACT the only fear Joe Barbera has about the Jetsons is that it may be contemporary before the series runs its course . . . The Jetsons have skypool apartments you can run up and down, to let you out of the smog, as Carr and Barbera pointed out . . . And they do have smog out here as well as we do in Birmingham . . . Penny Singleton, remembered most for her role as Blondie’s wife, is thee wife in this one and her voice should be a riot.
There’s even a record coming out on the Jetsons, and Howard Morris, one of Steve Allen’s old funny men, (or was it Sid Caesar’s?) is the voice of Screamie Jet . . . It’s strictly for the bee-bops . . . And the dance for that era will be the solar swivel, so look out twist . . . The things the Jetsons have are “out of this world” and that is literally and figuratively speaking . . . One of them is a seeing eye vacuum cleaner which has two electronic eyes that seek out dirt and dust and even when the Jetsons aren't looking it sweeps the dust under the rug. And there's a shower that works like a car wash . . . You step on a slide-walk that moves you along, washes you off and puts on the powder and finishes the job at the end of the line. . . . There are many more innovations for the Jetsons, and it will be interesting to watch this show . . . Pretesting has brought out that it’s going to be one of the shows of the fall.
HANNA-BARBERA should be all right, if they can do better than Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quick Draw McGraw . . . Of course, I’ve said from time to time cartoons don’t appeal to me except when the grandchildren are around, but I’ll be on the lookout for the Jetsons.
George Jetson has a three-hour, three-day week (that’s bad huh?) and he still complains about a hard day at the office . . . And life is so wonderful in this Jetson age Grandfather doesn’t retire until he’s 110 and still there’s a lot of life left in the old boy . . . There are already by-products of the Jetsons, such as soap, towers, dolls, books and toys . . . And that’s a big item . . . In the year which ended June 1 gross sales from by-products of cartoon characters grossed $39 millions wholesale and Hanna-Barbera and Screen Gems had a take from that of 5 per cent.
Hanna-Barbera are learning about TV cartoons . . . They have moved from a small studio to a bigger one and now are getting away from animal cartoons . : . The Jetsons are the first series I learned about on this trip hut there's more in store. . . . Hope you stick with us on the trip and let us tell you more about this TV town. . . .
Had lunch . . . sitting at a nearby table was Morris [sic] Gosfield, the Doberman of Sgt. Bilko. and the voice of Top Cat [sic] . . . one of which Hanna-Barbera are not too proud . . . It flopped.

Mike Carroll’s column in the Hollywood Reporter on March 21, 1962 had an unusual little item about the show. He said Nanette Fabray had been signed to play a Martian maiden. If she had, the idea was scrapped. The series wasn’t like The Flintstones, which had already succumbed to the age-old ratings gimmick of celebrity guest stars. Additional voices were supplied by cartoon actors and commercial voice over people like Herschel Bernardi and Shep Menken.

By the way, there was a radio show with George O’Hanlon as George who had a wife named Jane and an overbearing boss who kept threatening to fire him. It was Me and Janie, a replacement show for Alan Young on NBC in 1949. You can hear an episode below.


  1. So why aren't we living like that now instead of hiding from a plague like welcome back to the 15th century?

  2. Because it's a cartoon, not a documentary.
    I can't speak for where you are, but no one is "hiding from a plague" where I live.