Crunch Bird Studio
Ted Petok (1917-2010)
Featuring the award winning animation of Ted Petok.
Ted Petok Studio’s was founded after World War II in Detroit, Michigan by Theodore M. Petok. Ted became the first animation producer based outside New York or California to win an Oscar when his film, The Crunch Bird (El pájaro crujiente), won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, the first son of Harry and Jenny Petok, Ted was fascinated by the funny papers. A budding artist at an early age, he would continue to pen cartoons into his nineties.
During the Depression he sold newspapers to help put food on the family table and eventually worked for the Detroit Times before being drafted for WWII. He fought in the European Theater, serving under Omar Bradley in the Signal Corps. A portion of his assignment allowed his work to be published in Stars and Stripes.
Detroit was a powerhouse of industrial production during Ted’s formative professional years. It not only produced autos, airplanes and tanks, Detroit also made industrial films. Prior to the war he worked for Jam Handy and made contacts in Detroit’s film community that would be lifelong associates.
After the war Ted opened a studio to create commercial artwork for clients that included the Detroit Lions and the Detroit Pistons. During the 50s and early 60s he represented Ernest Pintoff and Animation, Inc. Pintoff won an Academy Award in 1963 for The Critic, a short subject.
Ted became convinced that animation was the right direction to follow. As television became more universal the studio produced animated commercials for Faygo Beverages, Michigan Milk Producers and other local businesses. It was hard to take the cartoonist out of him and so he created a panel carton for the Detroit Free Press, titled Tom Swifty.
In the early 1970’s the studio business was experiencing a lull in revenue and Ted decided to speculate by making a theatrical production. Working with Len Maxwell for voices and Joe Petrovich for animation, Ted produced The Crunch Bird. It sprung out of Detroit and its punch line resonated with audiences, winning an Oscar.
Crunch Bird Studios was formed shortly after the Bird’s 1971 award. Commercials continued to be the staple product of the studio but other short subjects such as The Mad Baker, The Golfer and Stash were created there.
Eventually a feature length film debuted. It was a flop at the box office, but it was created as a series of shorts that are still available. Ted also did animation for the Children’s Television Workshop programs, Sesame Street and The Electric Company.
A cartoonist at heart, Ted was a talented artist who loved to draw and entertain. A limited number of original pieces, film reproductions, animation cells, drawings and associated works are once again available for collectors and enthusiasts to enjoy.
THE CRUNCH BIRD
A wife buys her husband a pet as a birthday gift. Her husband, Murray, can’t leave his business problems at the office and the CRUNCH BIRD who as he is commanded, gives hubby something to remember. This short is an Oscar winning Academy Award animated cartoon. Guaranteed to leave your audience howling.
A patient in the hospital who has had a throat operation is dying for drink. A helpful nurse solves this perplexing problem in an unconventional manner.
The CRUNCH BIRD and a singing frog are the stars of this musical fantasy set to the lilting tunes of Missing You. All this leads up to a hilarious funny ending.
Igor and Ivan having had one to many vodkas decide to relieve themselves in the snowy wastes adjoining the bar. In the midst of this activity it behooves one philosophize. Hilarious punch line
The army private who really is listening to the sergeant describe how to use a hand grenade –too bad math was never his strong suit.