Linus the Lionhearted is a 1964-1969 American animated television series about a jungle-dwelling lion king who ruled from his personal barber's chair.
The character was created in 1959, by the Ed Graham advertising agency, originally as a series of ads for General Foods' Post Cereals. At first, Linus the lion was the spokesman for the short-lived Post breakfast cereal, "Heart of Oats" (a Cheerios imitation). Eventually, the lion was redesigned and reintroduced in 1963, to sell Crispy Critters, which featured Linus on the front of the cereal box. The ads were so popular that a television series was created in 1964, with General Foods as sponsor. The show ran on the CBS network until 1966, and reruns aired on ABC from 1966 to 1969.
History with the Macy's Parade
Throughout the early 1960's, Linus the Lionhearted became an advertising icon, promoting Post Cereals including "Hearts of Oats" and "Crispy Critters". The latter's ads proved to be so popular that in 1964, a television program entitled, "Linus the Lionhearted" debuted on ABC.
To help promote the television show, Post Cereals commissioned Goodyear to make a balloon based on the titular lion for the 1964 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Constructed in the Goodyear Headquarters located in Akron, Ohio, the Linus the Lionhearted balloon measured in at 55 feet tall, 65 feet long, 25 feet wide, and he was filled with 10,300 cubic feet of helium. All told, it took three men, a week, and 70 gallons to paint the 500 square yards of fabric used to make the larger-than-life lion. Altogether, it took 1,000 man-hours over the span of 8 months to produce.
To announce the balloon, Ed Graham Productions and General Foods produced an episode in which Linus, Sugar Bear, and Billie Bird help to inflate the balloon, with Billie Bird having trouble inflating it. Linus eventually helps him fill the balloon, which ends in success. The three characters hold the balloon, as the balloon prepares to make its debut flight.
After a successful test flight in early November 1964, Linus made his first march down the Great White Way on Thanksgiving Day 1964. The balloon almost instantly became a crowd favorite, and would become a frequent flyer over the next two decades, despite the show ending in 1969. The balloon had a temporary retirement after the 1983 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and made an appearance at the 1985 Macy's-Egleston Christmas Parade.
As part of the Parade's 65th anniversary celebrations, a variety of previously-retired balloons were re-inflated for the first time in years. Among the group of returnees was the lovable lug of lion known as Linus. Other returning balloons included Raggedy Ann and the Happy Dragon. Linus was permanently retired shortly after this appearance, and the parade has since been without a Linus balloon.
Sometime after the balloon's retirement, the balloon was destroyed due to the aging and overall wear-and-tear after many years of use. A small portion of the balloon's neck was saved and framed at a Macy's Office. The framed piece of fabric was later used in the Macy's Parade on Parade Tour in late 2006.
Below, you will find the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearances on the NBC annual telecast.
- Linus the Lionhearted Theme Song (1964)
- In 1971, winds gusting up to 40 mph caused all of the giant balloons to be removed from the Parade's line of march, including the Linus the Lionhearted balloon.
- In 1973 and 1980, his right foot was a bit bent.
- In 1978, his muzzle was deflated.
- In 1983, Linus's right foot was a little deflated.