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The History of the NBC Peacock

Mike Clark runs a website devoted to the history of Tampa’s Channel 13 (WTVT, a former CBS affiliate, now a Fox station). The site has dozens of interesting articles about the history and local personalities of “Big 13”.

However one of his pieces, slightly off his given topic, should be of interest to most Cartoon Brew readers. Clark devotes an illustrated article, running several pages, to John Graham (NBC’s director of design) and the story of the animated NBC peacock logo. He cuts the story just short of the 1993 remakes by the likes of Al Hirshfeld, Peter Max and John Kricfalusi (see below), but it’s fascinating to read the story behind the iconic image we all grew up with.

  • Tissa Tack

    Wow, what a cool site!! Considering I’ve lived in Tampa my entire life, this is a great find, thanks so much!

  • I believe my classmate Elinor Blake animated this at Spumco. Just an FYI.

  • Gary Pearson

    It is interesting to learn that NBC considered the butterfly as an icon. CBC Television in Canada adopted a butterfly design, similar to the NBC Peacock as it’s colour launch logo in 1966 and continued to use it for about 10 years. Then they went with what became known as the exploding pizza logo. Both of these animated logos were influenced by the movement and colour of the original NBC Peacock design.

  • I was at a computer animation company called Xaos that worked on some of those logos, at the same time that John K. did his (much funnier) ones. They did a little making-of video with interviews with all the different directors, and John K’s commentary was priceless. I misquote:

    “As artists, we have to work from what’s true, to do something that expresses our core beliefs. And I believe in colorful things coming out of your butt.”

  • Elinor Blake (aka “April March”) was one of the absolute delights of the industry ! I worked with her at The Ink Tank before she moved out to California in ’90/’91 ? Very talented, very funny, and a natural performer both in front of the camera and behind the pencil !
    Another note – JJSP did 3 of the animated NBC Peacocks. The Al Hirschfeld, a spin painting, and the one titled “Historical” which traced the NBC logos from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. NBC/GE still uses it. . .

  • I suspect she’s still a delight-and what a lovely testimonial. : )
    I think she may well have been the only person in our class with pro experience(not surprising given the starting age of 1st years was 17-we were both a few years older than that). She had a lot of keen stories about NY studios-it made me yearn to have worked there. I was esp jazzed she’d just worked on the neat “Who’s That Girl” titles.

    JJ, do you know if your NBC spots are around anywhere for the public to see?

  • Christopher Cook

    Of trivial note, the NBC chime was first devised and used by WSB radio in Atlanta (750 khz). They were an NBC radio affiliate then and NBC liked it so much they acquired the chime from the station.

  • I’ll see if we can just post them on our site. . . drop me an email and i’ll bring you up to date with Elinor. . .as much as i know, anyway. . .

  • Brad Constantine

    I like the variation disney did in ’61 for the first wonderful world of color. Especially ludwig Von Drake’s line at the end…”..and confidentially, he Dyes his feathers”.


  • Pedro Nakama

    Doesn’t this remind you Donald Duck ringing the gong in the beginning of the Mickey Mouse Club and exploding?