In 1971, animation producers Rankin/Bass put together the cartoon personifications of Michael, Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito with the ABC-aired Saturday morning show the Jackson 5ive. The half-hour program ran for 23 episodes, including a kick-off episode with Motown legend Diana Ross voicing herself. The actual Jacksons weren’t part of the regular voice cast, though, as their busy musical schedules prevented it.
However, it’s interesting to note that the voice actor who played Michael Jackson in this show, Donald Fullilove, is still active today (unlike most of his “brothers” in this show), and has been heard recently in American Dad!, Wall-E and Up. The group’s musical producer in the show’s adventures (a personification of Motown founder Berry Gordy), was played by Paul Frees…a voice well known in film and TV (including the original War of the Worlds, Steve Canyon, Mister Magoo, “Boris Badenov” in Rocky & Bullwinkle & Friends, “Ignatz Mouse” in Krazy Kat, “Colossus” in Colossus: The Forbin Project , “narrator” of Hardware Wars, various characters in the animated productions The Hobbit, The Return of the King, and “K.A.R.R.” in Knight Rider…he had also been the original Pillsbury Doughboy!). Other on-screen characters in the cartoon included Michael’s pet mice, “Ray” and “Charles”, and pet snake “Rosie”.
Why the trip down memory lane? Well, nothing is official, and we’re not even certain how accurate this is. NOT to cast doubts on the website who gets the credit for this info, or anything like that. It’s just that during the past couple of years, especially as many of this sort of show come to DVD via manufacture on demand programs, and those programs often make plans to release an old show like this one, but then some sort of obstacle comes up and the title doesn’t see the light of day. However, while we should take it with a grain of salt until the official studio announcement comes through (whenever that may be), we’re pleased to pass along word from historian Rick Goldschmidt’s “Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass” blog, posted there yesterday, that “RANKIN/BASS’ THE JACKSON FIVE SHOW coming to DVD in 2012! ” Our thanks to reader Phil Satterley for the heads-up! Stay tuned, of course, and we’ll fill you in as further information becomes available to us.