Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Classic Television: "Great Stories - Bible Stories"

Great Stories - Bible Stories [a.k.a. Great Bible Stories, Children's Heroes of The Bible] 

Children's animated series
Syndicated: 1969 - ????
Production:  John Rydgren, (writer); Betty Garth, (executive producer);
Paul Ballentyne, Robert Pastene, Niki Flacks, John Rydgren, John Lewin, Dale Waddell, Donald West, (voices);

Title Card for Great Stories - Bible Stories.
"Great Stories
Bible Stories
Stories that are true
They tell of God and his love for us
And his power too"

This was a series of 65 four and a half minute cartoons underwritten by the American Lutheran Church Department of TV/Radio/Films for $500,000. They were released in cooperation with the Broadcasting and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches. These cartoons were offered to TV stations for free, provided that they air them as part of a weekday series for children.

Title Card of "The Story of Moses"

Moses and his staff.

Moses and the Burning Bush
The shows were created by Cameo Productions, a Chicago based producer of TV and educational films that formed in 1962. Production on the series was announced as early as 1965, was promoted for distribution in 1967, but not copyrighted until 1969.

The opening title reads "Great Stories - Bible Stories" (also its copyright title) but in the end credits it is announced as "Great Bible Stories"
The timing for a color animated Bible series for children was very good. 1966 was the year that all networks began broadcasting in color, and the late 1960s is still famous for the domination of animation in children's programming. The limited animation is quite good for a 1960s series depicting realistic looking human characters and difficult visuals like massive armies, crowds, and the parting of the Red Sea. The voice work is also good and provided by seasoned actors. I found myself enjoy "The Story of Moses", "The Story of Jesus" and "Story of The Apostles" as told in multiple short episodes.

End credits logo for Cameo Productions, Inc., Chicago Ill.

The episodes were written by John Rydgren (1932 - 1988), the president of the ALC from 1962 to 1968, more famous for his unconventional Lutheran radio programs.

This series continues to entertain and teach after more than 40 years. Many episodes of Great Bible Stories were released on VHS in the 1980's and 1990's & more recently on streaming media and DVD under the title "Children's Heroes of The Bible". The DVD was given a "Faith Friendly All Ages" rating by the Dove Foundation. 

Sources & Citations
Information in this post is cited from various issues of Broadcasting magazine, the New York Times, other media magazines and the Catalog of Copyright Entries. Contact the author or leave a comment for a complete bibliography. 

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