Clutch Cargo took the term limited animation literally. In fact, in a creative cost-cutting measure, there was almost no real animation at all. But it didn't matter to the viewers. This cleverly written, and beautifully drawn series is fondly remembered by many of it's original fans.


Clutch Cargo was produced by Dick Brown's Cambria Productions and first appeared in syndication in March, 1959. It was created by artist/writer Clark Haas, who had illustrated the newspaper comic strip Buzz Sawyer. The series was the first to utilize the patented Syncro-Vox system, which had been invented by cameraman Edwin Gillette for "talking animal" commercials in the 1950's. A few years ago he left an entry in my guest book. His entry read:

"I am the fellow who invented the Syncro-Vox system used in the Clutch Cargo series. Yes, I am still around. I am turning 90 this summer. You may reach me via my daughter's site at"

 Mr. Gillette passed away on September 30, 2003 at the age of 94. Mr. Gillette's daughter, April, informed me of his passing in an email message. The message is as follows:



You may wish to know of the passing of Edwin "Ted" Gillette, age 94, on Tuesday, September 30, in Los Angeles. Ted was the inventor of the Syncro-Vox device used to produce those unique "talking lips" in the original Clutch Cargo cartoons. The effect is also used from time to time on "Late Night With Conan O'Brien."

It would be a pleasure to hear from you in time for Ted's memorial service next Tuesday at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. The family would get a kick out of it during their time of grief. Ted had a wonderful sense of humor and would have enjoyed that we did this for him.

As it happens we've received many e-mails as a result of your web site. I want to thank you for that. I read them often to my father in his final years and he truly enjoyed hearing from fans of his work. In fact, if you could get the word out in time, it would be a pleasure to see his fans at the service.

April Gillette (daughter)




You can view Mr. Gillette's obituary, in PDF format, by clicking HERE.         

Those Crazy Clutch Cargo Lips!  

Spinner Has Them Too!

Mr. Gillette's Synchro-Vox system was used in Clutch Cargo to combine live-action human lips with animated drawings. To make the characters speak, the lips of a live human actor were filmed and then superimposed over the motionless drawings of the character's face. To further cut costs, action was simulated using clever wiggling of the camera or the drawing itself. Walking or running was accomplished by showing the character from the waist up, to eliminate complicated leg animation. The use of real live objects, again superimposed, also helped to keep costs down. Real smoke was used for explosions and an actual balloon substituted for a bubble-gum bubble (see pictures below).


The stories involved the adventures of Clutch Cargo, a writer and pilot with a muscular build, white hair and rugged good looks. He flew his plane around the world on assignments that took him to exotic locales where he usually faced impossible obstacles and deadly perils. He was accompanied by his young, freckle-faced ward, Spinner and his floppy-eared pet dachshund Paddlefoot.

John M. Uscian wrote me to say:

" the title character flew one of my favorite airplanes, the 1929 Bellanca C-27A Airbus. Only about 20 or so of these planes were actually ever made and the fact that Clutch Cargo flew this plane is testimony that the person who made the cartoon sure knew his planes."

Richard Cotting provided the voice of Clutch, and Margaret Kerry was the voices of both Spinner and Paddlefoot.

Hal Smith, who portrayed drunk Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show. supplied the voice of Clutch's grizzly-bearded pal Swampy.


There were 52 Clutch Cargo adventures. Serialized in five five-minute chapters, they made up 26 half hour shows. The first four chapters ended in cliff-hangers, with the fifth chapter wrapping up the adventure.



1. The Friendly Head Hunters
2. The Arctic Bird Giant
3. The Desert Queen
4. The Pearl Pirates
5. The Vanishing Gold
6. The Race Car Mystery
7. The Rocket Riot
8. Mystery in the Northwoods
9. Twaddle in Africa
10. The Lost Plateau
11. The Ghost Ship
12. The Rustlers
13. The Missing Train
14. The Devil Bird
15. Pipeline to Danger
16. Mister Abominable
17. Operation Moon Beam
18. Air Race
19. The Haunted Castle
20. The Elephant-Nappers
21. Dragon Fly
22. Sky Circus
23. The Midget Submarine
24. Cliff Dwellers
25. Jungle Train
26. Space Station
27. The Swamp Swindlers
28. The Dinky Incas
29. Kangaroo Express
30. The Shipwreckers
31. The Ivory Counterfeiters
32. Dynamite Fury
33. Alaskan Pilot
34. Swiss Mystery
35. Pirate Isle
36. Crop Dusters
37. The Smog Smuggler
38. Global Test Flight
39. Dead End Gulch
40. The Missing Mermaid
41. Flying Bus
42. Road Race
43. Feather Fuddle
44. Water Wizards
45. The Terrible Tiger
46. The Circus
47. Bush Pilots
48. Cheddar Cheaters
49. The Blunderbird
50. The Case of Ripcord Van Winkle
51. Fortune Cookie Caper
52. Big "X"


Click HERE to see
the Clutch Cargo opening in RealVideo!

Or see a clip, in RealVideo, of

Clutch Cargo "Cliff Dwellers"

Cambria Productions (syndicated) 1959

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Updated August 5, 2007


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