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‘A Short Vision’: The gory anti-nuclear cartoon that traumatized an entire generation


 
A Short Vision is one of the most influential pieces of animation ever created; it is also one of the most disturbing and controversial. In 1952, the very first successful hydrogen bomb was detonated, and it was over 450 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Horrified at such potential for destruction, Hungarian-British animator Peter Foldes and his wife, Joan, began working on a short cartoon in their kitchen, and in 1956 A Short Vision was aired on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan attempted to prepare his audience for the horror of the film, but his introduction stopped short of warning viewers they were about to watch an interpretation of the nuclear holocaust, complete with bloody, melting faces:

“Just last week you read about the H-bomb being dropped. Now two great English writers, two very imaginative writers—I’m gonna tell you if you have youngsters in the living room tell them not to be alarmed at this ‘cause it’s a fantasy, the whole thing is animated—but two English writers, Joan and Peter Foldes, wrote a thing which they called A Short Vision in which they wondered what might happen to the animal population of the world if an H-bomb were dropped. It’s produced by George K. Arthur and I’d like you to see it. It is grim, but I think we can all stand it to realize that in war there is no winner.”

While the short received a lot of praise from audiences and critics, many were angry and disturbed by such graphic depictions of the apocalypse. To be fair, most viewers were probably expecting something more along the lines of Julie Andrews, or at least Señor Wences. Undeterred by the backlash, Foldes continued producing groundbreaking, socially conscious animation throughout his career, including the first computer-animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award, La Faim in 1974. The short is a violent tale of inequality in which a gluttonous man is eventually devoured by the starving masses—you know, for kids!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Garage Rock Madness with The Muppets first Ed Sullivan appearance, 1966
12.24.2014
08:30 am

Topics:
Music
Television

Tags:
Ed Sullivan
The Muppets


 
Garage rock and Muppet history was made on September 18, 1966 as this date marked the first television appearance on CBS-TV’s The Ed Sullivan Show of Jim Henson’s Muppets. This is long before the Muppets became an institution, this is back when they were just an act. They were thereafter featured on the show regularly until it ended in 1971. For this first appearance, Henson chose a demented and pretty savage pure 1966 garage rock song called “Rock It To Me” by a teen band comprised of four actual brothers (Alf, Frank, Mike, and Joe Delia) from Pearl River, New York, amazingly called The Bruthers. The Bruthers had a great 45 on RCA Records this same year called “Bad Way To Go” backed with “Bad Love.” The A-side was included on influential, early 80’s garage compilation LP Pebbles Volume 8 and was a big hit with the new generation of sixties garage fanatics.
 
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The Bruthers were managed by famous New York promoter Sid Bernstein, and also rumor has it, Ed Sullivan himself. Either way it couldn’t have been more perfect. This insane song has never surfaced outside of this clip, not even on the compilation of unreleased Bruthers material on Sundazed Records.

Sullivan introduced the sketch by showing the audience a present that the Muppets had given him, an instant rock and roll group in a box. He takes it out and places it on a table where the group grows from a small fuzzball into the three-headed rock and roll monster (with built-in guitars and drums). After the monster plays the song, it shrinks back to its original form and is eaten by the character Sour Bird.

In the original footage, Ed Sullivan intro’d this as “Jim Newsome’s Puppets,” but this was later overdubbed.
 

 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Check out Muhammad Ali’s Broadway chops as he performs a number from a Black Power musical, 1969
11.13.2013
10:34 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Ed Sullivan
Muhammed Ali
musicals

 Muhammad Ali
 
I use the term “chops” a little loosely here. When Muhammad Ali was banned from boxing and stripped of his heavyweight title in 1967 after refusing the draft, he began a lecture tour to pay the bills. Ali’s money troubles during this three and a half year blackball may be the reason so many cynical, cynical people assume his participation in the musical, Buck White was a ploy for cash, and not a reflection of his legitimate love of Broadway!


 
Below, you can see Ali performing the song, “We Came in Chains,” on The Ed Sullivan Show. Buck White is actually a pretty cool concept for a musical; based on Joseph Dolan Tuotti’s play Big Time Buck White, the show centers on its namesake, a militant Black Power leader who invigorates and focuses a group of radical black activists. Unfortunately, it only ran for seven performances, and full footage of Ali’s “musical talent” is near impossible to find.

Maybe if they had hired a lead with a musical background the show would be a classic?
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Children honor Fidel Castro by donning creepy doppelgänger beards, 1959
01.17.2013
09:18 am

Topics:
Amusing
History

Tags:
Ed Sullivan
Fidel Castro

Castro with kids
Dictators can be so cute when they’re not committing mass human rights violations…
 
The children in the picture are actually classmates of Castro’s son, who secretly attended a school in Queens prior to his regime. The photo was taken at a press conference, mere months after the end of the Cuban Revolution.

Below, Ed Sullivan interviews Fidel Castro on January 11, 1959 in Cuba shortly after the Batista regime was overthrown (I love how he refers to Castro’s men as “a wonderful group of revolutionary youngsters”! That’s so in character for Ed Sullivan.)
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Ladybugs: Hooterville’s riot grrl Beatles
07.27.2011
12:03 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Television

Tags:
Ed Sullivan
The Ladybugs


 
Jeannine Riley, Pat Woodell and Linda Kaye Henning from Petticoat Junction & Sheila James of Dobie Gillis make an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show (March 22, 1964) as The Ladybugs covering The Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There.”

In his introduction, Sullivan refers to The Beatles as “our stars The Beatles,” as though he invented the Fab Four. No question he helped launched their success in the States, but, with or without Ed, The Beatles’ world domination was predestined.
 

 
Via Bubbling Over

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The Kim Sisters: Rat Pack-era Vegas headliners, fierce Korean divas


 
The beautiful and talented Kim Sisters were one of the most popular acts of all in Las Vegas during the 1960s, although they are little remembered today. The group was comprised of three of the seven children of well-known Korean classical music conductor, Kim Hae-song. Their mother, Lee Nan-Young, was one of Korea’s most famous singers, best-known for her version of “The Tears of Mokpo,” a traditional folk song.

When their father was killed by the North Koreans during the war, their mother had Sook-ja, Mi-a and Ai-ja (then 11, 12 and 13-years old) form a vocal trio to entertain the U.S. troops and to help support the rest of the family. Speaking no English at the time, the girls sang phonetically and were given gifts of beer and chocolate bars which they could then trade on the black market for real food. The G.I.s would also gift the girls with American pop records that they would learn to perform.

When news of the singing Kim Sisters reached America after the war, the girls were invited to become a part of the “China Doll Review” at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas. Eventually the Kim Sisters became accomplished musicians playing a dizzying array of instruments in their glitzy stage show. They were the act on The Ed Sullivan Show more than any other performer, a total of 22 times. Sullivan made the Kim Sisters a nationally known act and soon they were making $13,000 a week. When Sullivan became aware that their mother was still in Korea, he generously intervened and helped her get a visa, the catch being that she had to perform on his program.

During the 70s, all of the Kim sisters got married and the act ended. Ai-ja Kim died of lung cancer 1987, but Sook-ja and Mi-a are still alive and living in America. They are rumored to be working on a documentary about their lives. I hope that’s true.

You can read a fascinating oral history of the Kim Sisters here.
 

 
None of the Ed Sullivan clips have made it to YouTube, sadly. Below is a clip of The Kim Sisters on the Hollywood Palace television show. Stay with it for when they all three start playing the xylophone together (or go directly to about 3:22 in). It’s pretty cool:
 

 
Thank you Douglas Hovey and Billy Beyond!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment