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Western Animation / Linus the Lionhearted

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Linus the king, Linus the star, Linus the Lionhearted!
Linus the Lionhearted may very well be the only food mascot to have his own television show.

Created in 1959 to promote Post Cereals' short-lived Heart of Oats, Linus (voiced by Sheldon Leonard) originally used the Roger Rabbit Effect to showcase his cereal to human actors. However, he did not hit his stride for another four years, at which point he was reassigned to Crispy Critters. Now interacting solely with animated characters, his new shtick was that whenever someone mentioned the cereal's name, the pieces would turn into a stampede, leaving Linus to take the brunt of the damage.

Luckily for Linus, the best was yet to come. Less than a year after the campaign started, Ed Graham, who created Linus, contacted Post Cereals about the possibility of giving their cereal mascots their own show. They agreed, and on September 26, 1964, '''The Linus the Lionhearted Show" made its debut on CBS. Like many animated shows of the era, the series contained multiple segments, surrounding them was the main plot of the episode, often involving Linus and one of his friends going on an adventure.

  • The main segment was Linus, King of Beasts, which featured Linus as the king of a jungle filled with Funny Animals that would occasionally inconvenience him. While he would often be annoyed by their antics, at the end of the day Linus cared for his subjects, and always found himself saving them whenever they needed his help.

  • “Sugar Bear”, mascot of “Sugar Crisp”, was a happy-go-lucky jazz singer with the voice of Bing Crosby. When not singing a relaxing song or strumming his banjo, he often found himself facing off against Granny Goodwitch, a not-so-wicked witch.

  • Occasionally, “Rory Raccoon, Hometown Hero”, of “Post Toasties” and “Sugar Sparkled Flakes” fame, would fill in Sugar Bear’s slot on the show. Rory often guarded a huge cornfield from a scheming crow, who would stop at nothing to get a taste of an ear of corn.

  • The third slot of the show went to the mascot of “Alpha-Bits” of the time, a friendly mailman named “Lovable Truly”. Together with his dog Lawrence, Truly would stop Richard Harry Nearly, silent movie star turned dogcatcher, from enacting whatever sinister scheme he had on his mind.

  • Rounding out the show was a young Chinese boy named “So-Hi”, the spokesman for “Rice Krinkles”. So-Hi’s segment had him recite a tale (often a Chinese take on a classic story) and show the viewers what kind of moral it contained.

The series was an instant hit, in part due to the show avoiding promoting the cereals outside of commercial breaks. The show’s success resulted in toys, comics, a vinyl record, and even a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.The series aired new episodes until the end of 1966, at which point it began airing colored reruns on ABC. Three years later, the FCC called for a ban on characters advertising products on their shows, resulting in the messages produced for the show being removed. The show quietly left airwaves in early 1970, appearing afterwards only in syndication.

With almost no ads and the show off the air, most of the cereals were either discontinued or retooled to no longer feature the show’s characters; So-Hi was off boxes by 1969, Lovable Truly by 1971. As for Linus himself, his advertising ventures ended in the 1970s, with his parade balloon remaining until 1983. Sugar Bear, however, proved to be a lasting character, and can still be found on boxes of the now-renamed “Golden Crisp” today.

"Linus the Lionhearted" and its segments provide examples of:

  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: A recurring trait of Linus is his inablity to pronounce certain words (i.e, crocodile as CROC-oh-dil-ee)
  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Dinny Kangaroo only wears a hat - and is still the most well dressed character in the "Linus" segments.
  • Animal Stampede: The result of either the words "Crispy Critters" being said in the ads, or Linus's roar in the cartoons.
  • Beary Friendly: Sugar Bear is about as friendly as they get.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Linus is a mellow fellow, but irritate him enough and you'll find that he's the king of the beasts for a reason.
  • Coconut Meets Cranium: "The Birds" is about a dance craze being made out of this. Also used in "Who Am I?", see Easy Amnesia below.
  • Damsel in Distress: Granny Goodwitch and Leslie Bear have both fallen victim to this, courtesy of Mervyn.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Richard Harry Nearly.
  • Easy Amnesia: The episode "Who Am I?" has the Mockingbird lose his memory from a coconut to the head. Upon this discovery, Linus and Billy Bird use this technique to have Sasha Grouse lose his memory.
  • Feathered Fiend: Downplayed with Sasha Grouse, who's just a grouch.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The episode "Exercise" has Billie Bird train Linus to become stronger. Billie only finds out it works, however, after he presses Linus to his Rage-Breaking Point.
  • Guttural Growler: Crocodile's voice is extremely throaty.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: Linus gets the hiccups in, well "Hiccups", leading Billie Bird to try a multitude of solutions.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: Dinny Kangaroo.
  • Killer Gorilla: Albino gorillas showed up on occasion, and they were often quite hostile.
  • King of Beasts: Guess.
  • Mighty Roar: Linus has one that he rarely uses - it has the nasty effect of causing a stampede.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: What a kangaroo is doing in an African jungle is anyone's guess. Or a lion, for that matter.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Sugar Bear's voice is a pastiche of that of Bing Crosby.
    • Lovable Truly's voice, meanwhile, is one of Jim Nabors.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The episode "The Sinking Island" occurs thanks to this; Linus knows the island isn't actually sinking, but is not able to tell his subjects that the tides are coming in, causing them to believe otherwise.
  • Satiating Sandwich: The titular character of "The Fisherman and his Wishes" eventually decides to wish for one, much to the irritation of his genie.
  • Savage Wolf: "The Wolf Who Changed His Spots" involves So-Hi trying to get one to change his ways. He succeeds, only for it to turn out that everyone he tormented was fine with it because it allowed them to have excitement in their lives.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: One of the most depressing in animated history
  • Stop Copying Me: One of the most common ways to deal with the Mockingbird.