CONELRAD Atomic Hygiene: Cold War Short Subject Films

Puppet with Civil Defense pamphlet


Keith MorrisonRURAL CIVIL DEFENSE TV SPOTS from 1965 presents 10 marionette--yes, marionette (!)--"acted" PSAs advising farmers on how to protect their livestock and their families in the event of a "natural or nuclear" emergency. Just when you thought civil defense artifacts from the Golden Age of Homeland Security couldn't get any stranger, this collection was handed to us by Skip Elsheimer of the wonderful AV Geeks organization.

The star of these bizarre commercials is a blonde, lantern-jawed marionette who bears a striking resemblance to Dateline NBC's Keith Morrison. The puppet's co-star in one of these spots is a hay-eating cow who is gently prodded to a livestock shelter (The narrator informs the audience that "a good animal shelter is a two story basement-type barn with a hay-filled loft").

In other spots, we see our civil defense Pinocchio in a variety of odd poses:
Puppet descent
Entering his own fallout shelter after caring for his cow ("In any emergency, shelter your livestock and then take shelter yourself"--note the PETA-centric order of this advice)

Puppet clean upWatching television


Reading a book on American history

Admiring himself in a mirror

Wearing a variety of sandwich boards promoting civil defense awareness

One of the more hilarious spots in this collection depicts the marionette throwing away peelings of fruit skin into a radioactive waste can. The narrator has just asserted as fact that "This fruit would be perfectly safe to eat if you just peel it. In disposing of the peelings, remember that they may still contain radioactive material."
Puppet prepared
The theme unifying all of the spots is that a survival-minded family equals a strong America or, as the announcer puts it: "Remember--a strong defense begins with a prepared family and ends with a protected nation." Ironically, our conscientious spokes-puppet appears to be a confirmed bachelor whose paternalistic impulses are reserved solely for his livestock.

RURAL CIVIL DEFENSE TV SPOTS can be viewed at the Internet Archive
Puppet dreams... of CD warden roles

30 and 60 second TV spots / B & W


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