eraproductions eraproductions

L.A. Bus Commercials (1956)

ERA Productions

Brew reader and longtime colleague Dana Gabbard (The Duckberg Times) has a side interest in the history of L.A. public transit, and that led to him finding these vinatge animated commercials on You Tube. Matthew Barrett at the Metro Library discovered the original film prints, arranged to get them digitized and placed them on the net.

Lantz veteran Milt Schaffer directed these spots, Bill Thompson (Droopy) does the voices and Disney artists Ed Aardal and Clarke Mallery animated them at studio “ERA Productions for Television” in 1956. Read more about their production in this PDF of an article from The Metro Coach News (June 1956), which includes photos of the people who worked on the spots plus some of the storyboards.

  • Ted

    I find the lack of music in animated commercials… disturbing.

  • Dr.Truth

    These were very cute, and well crafted!

  • Franklin

    The level of taste and skill in each of these spots surpasses anything being done for television today.

  • These are fabulous!

  • Gerard de Souza

    Yes, well done. Still relevant with gas prices and the environment.

    • Shawn’s Bro

      Perhaps not quite so relevant to today. To be so they’d have to include the advantages of sitting next to the people who are constant communication with Mars and waiting in the rain for the number 75 bus that broke down 3 blocks before.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        And this is why people hate on the concept of Public Transportation in this country, and it sickens me.

      • Oluseyi

        They have a point, though. Public transportation in this country is underfunded, inefficient (outside of a few cities like New York, Chicago, DC and San Francisco), limited in reach, unreliable and, as a result of all of the aforementioned, filled with less-than-savoury characters.

        Contrast with public transportation in Europe and Japan. Unfortunately over here it’s become a chicken-and-egg situation. (Also, let’s not forget that the US is less geographically concentrated, population-wise.)

        All that said, the spots are wonderful. I think they’d be effective applied to, say, New Jersey’s PATH (go to midtown Manhattan without your car), DC’s Metro or SF’s BART. NYCers don’t drive as much, especially Manhattanites, and reports I’ve heard say that LA’s bus system isn’t much good.

  • amid

    ERA Productions was founded by Brice Mack and Milt Schaffer sometime in the mid-1950s. Both were ex-Disney artists and they employed a lot of Disney guys, including some high profile talent like Ward Kimball and Tom Oreb. Also, Vip Partch designed an underarm deodorant commercial for an Era spot. Who wants to find that one?

  • Far more relevant today than then. People still need to be reminded that there are alternatives to driving–including moving to more population-dense areas where you don’t need a car.

    These pieces are so short, but convey the messages precisely, effectively, and with humor.

  • Marvo

    All 50’s hand inking should look as slick as these examples. Not even the best of UPA was inked as well.

  • James E. Parten

    When these ran, I was living in Chicago with my parents and siblings, and probably still drooling over strained rutabaga.

    I remember hearing radio spots in 1964 urging commuters to “relax with us on the big green bus”. Of course, I was living outside of Fillmore, some sixty-five miles away from the nearest stop on the Metropolitan Coach Lines, or whatever it was being called then.

    Now I live in the Los Angeles area, and take the current incarnation (the MTA) every day. Even allowing for the factors cited above, it beats walking! And I am able to relax on the buses, and have been known to catch a Z or two!

    Of course, you would not want me driving on the freeways anyway! I’d have the only car on the road with a long white cane sticking out the window, tapping out the Botts dots!

    I’d be willing to bet that there is lots of commercial animation out there waiting to be rediscovered. Get out your picks and your carbide lanterns, and start spelunking!

  • Holly Aardal Patton

    I was online looking for information on my grandparents, and found this. Ed Aardal was my grandfather! It is so cool to find things he did online!