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Screen Gems Television

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Screen Gems Television
Screen Gems S from Hell.jpg
Founded 1948
Dissolved 1974 (became Columbia Pictures Television)
Notable Works Route 66
I Dream of Jeannie
The Partridge Family

Screen Gems Television (identified on-air in its closing logos simply as Screen Gems) was the first incarnation of the television production company now known as Sony Pictures Television (a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment).



Screen Gems had its pre-television origins in 1939 when Columbia Pictures purchased the Charles Mintz animation studio, which had been notable for producing animated theatrical short series such as Krazy Kat, The Fox and the Crow and Color Rhapsodies. The newly-renamed Screen Gems continued production of its animated shorts until Columbia closed the studio in 1946, although Screen Gems had produced enough output to allow continued new releases until 1949.

Screen Gems was subsequently revived by Columbia when it acquired Pioneer Telefilms, a company which specialized in the production of TV commercials, in 1948 and renamed and repurposed it to serve as Columbia's television production and distribution unit. It became a prominent studio beginning with the Golden Age of Television in the 1950s as it produced shows like Father Knows Best, Dennis the Menace, Route 66, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and The Partridge Family for the American networks, and it syndicated old Three Stooges theatrical shorts and Universal Studios horror films (under the title Shock for that syndicated package, made available to local TV stations for use in their locally-produced horror movie shows) [1], leading to a revival in popularity for the Stooges and for Universal Horror (and the horror film genre in general) due to the new TV exposure. Screen Gems syndicated the Universal Horror film package as part of a larger overall catalog of 550 Universal films which Screen Gems had acquired TV distribution rights to in 1957 for a $20,000,000, ten-year lease [2] until the distribution rights for those films reverted to MCA Television (whose parent company MCA had purchased Universal Studios and its then-parent, the American branch of Decca Records, in 1962) when the ten-year lease period ended in 1967.

Screen Gems also formed a partnership with Hanna-Barbera Productions where Screen Gems provided working capital to the animation studio to produce its TV cartoons in exchange for the distribution rights. The first animated series to air under the H-B/Screen Gems partnership was The Ruff & Reddy Show, which debuted on NBC on December 14, 1957. Other shows produced by Hanna-Barbera under Screen Gems during the 1960s, both for the networks and for syndication, included The Huckleberry Hound Show, Quick Draw McGraw, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Yogi Bear Show, Top Cat, Jonny Quest, Magilla Gorilla and Peter Potamus. Hanna-Barbera became independent of Screen Gems in 1967 when Taft Broadcasting bought the studio, which then began producing and syndicating (through its distribution unit, Taft H-B Program Sales) its own output. Screen Gems (and successor Columbia Pictures Television) continued syndicating the pre-1967 Hanna-Barbera shows until the mid-1970s, when Taft H-B picked up the distribution rights; those were passed to Taft H-B's successor company, Worldvision Enterprises, in 1979.

Screen Gems also operated as a broadcasting company through ownership of several American TV stations, including KCPX-TV (now KTVX) in Salt Lake City, Utah (1959-75) and WVUE-TV in New Orleans (1965-77).

The Screen Gems name was retired in 1974 by Columbia, which then renamed its TV division as Columbia Pictures Television. Most shows produced under the Screen Gems banner (with a few exceptions noted below) were later distributed by Colex Enterprises (a joint venture of CPT and LBS Communications) from 1984 to 1988, but are now distributed by CPT's successor-in-interest, Sony Pictures Television. Most of Hanna-Barbera's output produced during its partnership with Screen Gems is now owned and distributed by Warner Bros. Television (through then-parent Time Warner's 1996 purchase of Turner Broadcasting, which had bought Hanna-Barbera in 1990), with the exceptions of Jeannie (an animated spinoff of I Dream of Jeannie) and Partridge Family: 2200 A.D. (a Partridge Family animated spinoff), which SPT owns the rights to due to the animated series' connection to their parent shows.

The Screen Gems name and logo were revived in 1999 and are currently used by the genre film unit of Sony Pictures.

List of shows produced by Screen Gems

Note: Shows produced by Hanna-Barbera are listed separately in that company's article.

Title Format Buyer Year(s)
Burns & Allen Comedy CBS 1953–58
The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin Adventure ABC 1954–1959
Father Knows Best Sitcom CBS 1954–1955
NBC 1955–1958
CBS 1958–1960
Although Father Knows Best was produced by Screen Gems and later distributed by its successor companies, Sony Pictures Television gave up full rights to the show in 2008 to the estates of Robert Young and show producer Eugene Rodney, the series copyright holders
Treasure Hunt Game Shows ABC 1956–1959
The Donna Reed Show Sitcom ABC 1958–1966
Although The Donna Reed Show was produced by Screen Gems and later distributed by its successor companies, Sony Pictures Television gave up full rights to the show in 2008 to the estate of Donna Reed
The Three Stooges Comedy Syndication 1958
Distributed after 1974 by Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television
Tightrope! Crime drama CBS 1959–1960
Dennis the Menace Sitcom CBS 1959–1963
Route 66 Drama CBS 1960–1964
Hazel Sitcom NBC 1961–1965
CBS 1965–1966
The Farmer's Daughter Sitcom ABC 1963–1966
Bewitched Sitcom ABC 1964–1972
Days of our Lives Soap Opera NBC 1965–present
Produced after 1974 by Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television
Camp Runamuck Sitcom NBC 1965–1966
Gidget Sitcom ABC 1965–1966
I Dream of Jeannie Sitcom NBC 1965–1970
Love on a Rooftop Sitcom ABC 1966–1967
The Monkees Sitcom NBC 1966–1968
The Flying Nun Sitcom ABC 1967–1970
The Johnny Cash Show Variety ABC 1969–1971
The Partridge Family Sitcom ABC 1970–1974
Bridget Loves Bernie Sitcom CBS 1972–1973
Temperatures Rising Sitcom ABC 1972–1974
The Young and the Restless Soap Opera CBS 1973–present
Produced after 1974 by Columbia Pictures Television, Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures Television
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Sitcom ABC 1973
Police Story Crime anthology NBC 1973–1978
Produced from 1974 to 1978 by Columbia Pictures Television


  • Screen Gems is remembered by many fans of classic TV through its 1965 introduction of its famous closing logo (see infobox above) and accompanying jingle, composed by Eric Siday and Van Alexander, consisting of six short notes followed by two long tones produced on violins and processed through a synthesizer. The jingle, combined with the rough animation of the logo, was disturbing to many TV viewers of that time period (particularly if they were children then), which later led to the logo being nicknamed the "S from Hell" on the Internet by those now-adult viewers. [3]
  • In the animated series Batfink, which Screen Gems distributed, the Eric Siday jingle is replaced in the Screen Gems "S from Hell" closing logo by a trumpet fanfare. [4]
  • In another version of the "S from Hell" closing logo, created by Screen Gems' Australian unit (and featured at the end of Australian talk show The Graham Kennedy Show), the words "A Screen Gems Australia Production" start out on a black background which then turns into a dot zooming away from the viewer toward the center of the screen as two boomerang shapes spin around the dot for a moment before transforming into the familiar "S" part of the logo with the Screen Gems name appearing in smaller font beneath it, while the logo's fanfare begins with the first five notes of the Australian folk song "Waltzing Matilda" before transitioning into the "S from Hell" fanfare, performed by a horn ensemble. This version has been nicknamed by fans of the logo as the "S from Australia" (a take on the original "S from Hell" nickname). [5]

External links