Animated TV Show Titles Animated TV Show Titles

Animated TV Show Titles

I’ve always been fascinated by TV shows with animated titles. I was planning to compile some of these off You Tube, but my ol’ pal Michael Pinto got there ahead of me. He’s posted on his Fanboy blog a mini-history of the genre, collecting several well known ones from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

I’m not an expert on which studio did what – oh, it’s well known Hanna-Barbera did Bewitched, UPA The Twilight Zone, DePatie Freleng animated I Dream Of Jeannie, Ken Mundie The Wild Wild West, et al. – but if any experts out there want to chime in with their knowledge on the subject (such as who drew this terrific animatic-style Mr. Terrific open above), I welcome it.

(Thanks, Chris Pepin)

  • tom

    I have no proof, but the timing, the casting of the narrator VO, and the sensibility make me think it’s a Jay Ward studios production, or at least shares some creative DNA with same. Again: I’m just talking here.

  • Brian

    I’m surprised to hear you say the “I Dream of Jeannie” titles came from DePatie-Freleng. I always figured they were Hanna-Barbera, too, since HB “Jeannie” was a Screen Gems show, and HB was joined at the hip to them until a couple of years later.

    Most people don’t know that the original “I Love Lucy” titles were animated versions of Lucy and Ricky – not the “heart that draws itself” we’re all used to. I have heard lots of stories about who did those – all pointing back to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera doing them under the table while they were still at MGM. One or both of their books vaguely mention this but it all seems so cloudy.

  • Karl Wilcox

    I was thinking the same thing, as Tom. It looks like the work of
    Jay Ward’s artists and the voiceover definitely sounds like Paul

  • I believe the Mr. Terrific titles were designed by Corny Cole. Not sure who did the animation (maybe Corny)

  • Brian,

    I have heard that the “Jeannie” title was from DFE. Supposidly it was directed by Norm McCabe, who was a DFE animator at the time.

  • Alfons Moline

    My guess (only guess) is that these MR. TERRIFIC titles might have been done by Pantomine Pictures (makers of ROGER RAMJET, which is precisely often mistaken for a Jay Ward production because of similarities in graphic style and zany humor). By the way, another 60´s sitcom with a nice animated title sequence is IT´S ABOUT TIME (you can see it here: Does anybody know which studio animated this?

  • Mark McD

    Going “outside” the studio corporation for animation, as in “Jeanie,” must not be that rare: MGM used Disney to animate the “Monster from the Id” sequence in “Forbidden Planet.”

    We’re all surely aware that Nick at Nite “restored” the original animated opening for “I Love Lucy” a few years ago, simply minus the Philip Morris packs. Made me wonder how many more animated titles might be “lost” because they needed to cut out the sponsor mentions for syndication.

  • Greg Ehrbar

    Paul Frees did indeed narrate the first few episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie,” recapping the pilot and setting up the premise, but that was replaced by the animated title, first with the original Richard Wess theme song and them the more familiar Hugo Montenegro theme.

    UPA’s work on “The Twilight Zone,” I believe, was limited to the first season with the Bernard Herrmann music, which was followed later by the famous “Doo-doo-doo-doo, dooo-doo-doo-doo” by Marius Constant.

    Also, Format Films did the animated openings for “The New Phil Silvers Show” and “Honey West.”

    As for “Bewitched,” according to the great artist Ron Dias, who worked on the theme titles for H-B, they actually painted the black and white version in monochrome and remade it for color.

    In addition to enjoying all the animated titles of TV shows, I also liked when John Wilson would do those nice animated songs for “The Sonny and Cher Show” and “Tony Orlando and Dawn.”

  • beamish13

    The new Showtime series “The United States of Tara” has a really inventive animated opening sequence that utilizes cut-out paper. Terry Gilliam made a cool opening for “The Marty Feldman Comedy Hour” in addition to his justly famous Monty Python opening.

  • Nick

    Anyone know who animated the opening sequence to a Fistful of Dollars, I know it’s just rotoscoped but it was still pretty cool.

  • Joe

    I’d agree with Jay Ward, only because it style looks to be Gerard Baldwin to me.

  • For more on DePatie-Freleng’s involvement with the “I Dream Of Jeannie” titles, check out Steve Cox’ book “Dreaming Of Jeannie”. On pages 38 and 39 there’s a write-up on the titles and a brief bio of Friz Freleng. Barbara Eden mentioned that D-F sent her Pink Panther pictures and cut-outs when her son was born.

  • SchmuleyG

    I’d be willing to bet (not real money,of course) that Dick Gautier did the last few star caricatures himself…they kind of look like his style

  • The “Rhoda” titles are by Frank Mouris, 1973 Academy Award-winner for Best Animated Short, “Frank Film.” They are still very cool! This catalog of animated TV show opening titles is one of the reasons Cartoon Brew is so terrific! Thank you for tuning us in so regularly to the best stuff, and for connecting us with the Fan-Boy site!

  • Man, watching this stirs up the feelings of disappointment that would hit me as a kid when I’d see something like this on TV, and get totally into it, and then it would turn out to be a boring old grown-up show and not a cartoon at all.

    My personal epitome of this was PBS’ “Mystery”, with the Ed Gorey title sequence:

  • OM

    …I bounced this off of Jerry and Amid back when The Dark Knight premiered, but apparently got ignored in the shuffle, but who was responsible for the opening titles for the Batman TV series?

  • David Breneman

    “Mister Terrific” was not a “grown-up show” in any sense of the word. It was about as adult as “Gilligan’s Island”. Simple dopey 60s sitcom that lasted one season. I remember watching it as a kid. There was another superhero comedy on another network the same year, but the name escapes me now. Neither was very good.

  • David, I don’t doubt it, and assumed there was a good reason that I’d never heard of this show before this post. :) But when I was six years old, seeing the promise of a cool cartoon turn into only a bunch of live actors walking around was never anything but a total bummer!

  • captain murphy

    Anyone know who did the Thurber for My World and Welcome To It? Or the War between Men and Women?

  • Mike Kazaleh

    I just looked at the posted “Mr. Terrific” video and I agree with Dave Nethery. It looks like Corny Cole’s drawings. Paul Frees didn’t just work for Jay Ward. He worked for practically EVERYONE.

    To answer Captain Murphy’s question, Playhouse Pictures did the animation for “The War Between Men and Women”, and DePatie-Freling produced the animation for “My World and Welcome to It.”

  • it’s too bad fun animated sequences are considered passe and campy nowadays… seems, for better or for worse, they’ve gone the way of title songs that describe the premise of a show

  • Emilie

    I relate to what Jason is saying! I too, being a young kid, was very disappointed when the shows with animated openings turned out to be live action…

    Here’s an opening from a TV show that was very popular in Quebec in the 60s … A show about the lives of two roommates living in Montreal.

    The end title too had a bit of animation:

    I wasn’t born then…but all the people who watched it then seemed to praise it… :)

    Thanks for this post! Love it!

  • Emilie

    This post is fascinating!
    Here a contribution from Quebec: the opening of a very famous show in the 60s about the life of two roommates (two women) living in Montreal. The show was a great success and still is a favorite for many people who watched it.

    …oh yes, and I felt the same way as Jason when I was a kid watching those live action sitcoms with the greatest animated openings… :)