|Written by||Clark Haas|
|Voices of||Richard Cotting|
|Theme music composer||Paul Horn|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||52|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company||Cambria Productions|
|Original release||March 9, 1959 –|
Clutch Cargo is an American animated television series created by cartoonist Clark Haas and produced by Cambria Productions, and syndicated beginning on March 9, 1959. The series was notable for its limited animation yet imaginative stories, as well as for being the first widely-known use of Syncro-Vox technology. It was a surprise hit at the time, and could be seen on 65 stations nationwide in 1960.
The series' stories centered on adventurer Clutch Cargo, who was sent around the world on dangerous assignments. Accompanying him on the assignments were his young ward Spinner and his pet Dachshund Paddlefoot. Live-action footage was used, as well, of a 1929 Bellanca C-27 Airbus; series creator Clark Haas was previously a jet pilot. Episodes were produced and serialized in five 5-minute chapters each. The first four chapters ended in cliffhangers, with the fifth chapter concluding the adventure. Haas explained that the show was formatted this way so that "the stations can run one a day on weekdays, then recap the whole for a half-hour Saturday show."
The show was the first to use the "Syncro-Vox" optical printing system because of budgetary limitations and the pressure to create animation within a tight time frame. Syncro-Vox was invented by Edwin Gillette, television cameraman and partner in Cambria Studios, as a means of superimposing real human mouths on the faces of animals for the popular "talking animal" commercials of the 1950s. Clutch Cargo employed the Syncro-Vox technique by superimposing live-action human lips over limited-motion animation or even motionless animation cels.
To further cut costs, Gillette and special-effects man Scotty Tomany supplemented Syncro-Vox with other tricks to save time and money. Haas explained, "We are not making animated cartoons. We are photographing 'motorized movement' and—the biggest trick of all—combining it with live action...Footage that Disney does for $250,000 we do for $18,000." Gillette and Tomany simulated action in the real-time movement either with the camera or within the cel itself. Other live-action shots were superimposed as a means of adding a certain degree of realism and to keep production costs down; for example, footage of real smoke was used for explosions. Traditional animation was also employed in the series on occasion.
The musical soundtrack to Clutch Cargo was also limited. Jazz musician Paul Horn provided a score using bongos, a vibraphone, and a flute.
The series consisted of 52 episodes.
- The Friendly Head Hunters
- The Arctic Bird Giant
- The Desert Queen
- The Pearl Pirates
- The Vanishing Gold
- The Race Car Mystery
- The Rocket Riot
- Mystery in the Northwoods
- Twaddle in Africa
- The Lost Plateau
- The Ghost Ship
- The Rustlers
- The Missing Train
- The Devil Bird
- Pipeline to Danger
- Mister Abominable
- Operation Moon Beam
- Air Race
- The Haunted Castle
- The Elephant-Nappers
- Dragon Fly
- Sky Circus
- The Midget Submarine
- Cliff Dwellers
- Jungle Train
- Space Station
- The Swamp Swindlers
- The Dinky Incas
- Kangaroo Express
- The Shipwreckers
- The Ivory Counterfeiters
- Dynamite Fury
- Alaskan Pilot
- Swiss Mystery
- Pirate Isle
- Crop Dusters
- The Smog Smuggler
- Global Test Flight
- Dead End Gulch
- The Missing Mermaid
- Flying Bus
- Road Race
- Feather Fuddle
- Water Wizards
- The Terrible Tiger
- The Circus
- Bush Pilots
- Cheddar Cheaters
- The Blunderbird
- The Case of Ripcord Van Winkle
- Fortune Cookie Caper
- Big "X"
|DVD name||Episodes||Release date||Additional information|
|Volume 1||26||March 22, 2005||
|Volume 2||26||March 22, 2005||
Talk show series Late Night with Conan O'Brien had a recurring segment where host O'Brien would Interview a famous news maker "Via Satellite". The newsmaker in question would be seen on a TV monitor predominantly as a stock photo, but the mouth of the photo (often played by writer/performer Robert Smigel) would be doing the talking. This bit was done periodically throughout the 16 year run of the show, and was colloquially known as a "Clutch Cargo" piece.
On November 22, 1987, a man dressed as Max Headroom who hijacked a broadcast of Doctor Who hummed the theme music of Clutch Cargo, and said "I still see the X" (in reference to the last episode of the show).
A clip from this series appears briefly in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction. Emil Sitka, who voiced some of the characters in this series, also is credited in the film for his appearance in a Three Stooges short being watched by one of the characters.
In 1996, a live music venue named after the series, Clutch Cargo's, opened in Pontiac, Michigan. In 2013, Clutch Cargo was featured on TruTV Presents: World's Dumbest where it placed #19 on the show's countdown of dumbest TV shows.
- MeTV Staff. "8 lip-smacking facts about Clutch Cargo". Me-TV Network. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
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- Markstein, Don. "Clutch Cargo". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
- Margaret Kerry: Memorabilia & Collectibles Archived May 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
- "Don't believe your eyes! How 'Clutch Cargo' cuts corners as a television comic strip." TV Guide December 24, 1960, p. 29.
- Perlmutter, David (2018). The Encyclopedia of American Animated Television Shows. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 130. ISBN 978-1538103739.
- Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. pp. 206–207. ISBN 978-1476665993.
- Collier, Kevin Scott (2019). Clutch Cargo's Adventure Log Book. ISBN 978-1092645546.
- Clutch Cargo's, metromix detroit
- Arceneaux, Noah. “Clutch Cargo, Space Angel, etc.” Outre #5 (1996).
- Collier, Kevin Scott. Clutch Cargo's Adventure Log Book. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2019. ISBN 1092645543
- "Don't believe your eyes! How 'Clutch Cargo' cuts corners as a television comic strip", TV Guide, December 24, 1960, pp. 28–29.
- Erickson, Hal. Syndicated Television; The First Forty Years 1947–1987. p. 119. ISBN 0-7864-1198-8
- Haas, Clark."Clutch Cargo" (comic strip).Jack and Jill magazine, Feb. 1961, pp. 56–61.
- Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials 1937–1973. New York, New York Zoetrope. 1986. pp. 96–97. ISBN 0-918432-69-3