Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, February 13, 2012

Brought to You By the Letter T

Okay, animation geeks, what do Sesame Street and Piels Beer have in common? Ernie and Bert's legendary benders at Mr. Hooper's Ringside Tavern? Not exactly, but there is a clue in there. Tee Collins, that's what. Tee Collins was the animator who created Wanda the Witch, Nancy the Nannygoat, and other letter-sponsored shorts on Sesame Street. He got his start doing animated TV commercials for Piels Beer, introducing Harry and Bert, the Piels Brothers, who served as debonair if a bit clueless pitchmen for the brand in the early 1960s. Their voices were done by none other than Ray Goulding and Bob Elliott. Tee Collins was also a painter and the first African American to establish his own animation studio.

Harry and Bert became so well known that when Jimmy Breslin did his own commercial for Piels ("a good drinkin' beer"), he paid homage to them. Here's one of Tee Collins' Piels spots. Wonder if Jim Henson was thinking of them when he decided to give names to his own famous duo.

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