One thing that was really cool about the 70’s was the fact that there were Black cartoons on TV. I love cartoons and every Saturday morning you would find me right in front of the tube watching Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids, The Go Go Globetrotters and my favorite, The Jackson 5ive.

Years later I would meet someone who hipped me to collecting the original animation cels that were actually used under the camera to create these cartoons. As cartoons today are computer generated, hand drawn and painted animation cels are rare and represent a lost art form. I now have a very funky collection of original and limited edition Black animation art from all of my favorite cartoons.

The Jackson 5ive Cartoon Facts

The Jackson 5ive cartoon was the first positive Black cast Saturday morning cartoon series featuring Black musicians, the second positive Black cast cartoon to appear on Saturday Morning and Motown Productions’ first television series. Motown executives had to “approve every aspect of the series” and they rejected a number of writers’ scripts before things met their approval.

The Jackson 5ive cartoon was also the first positive cartoon that featured Black musicians. Prior to this, animators regularly used jazz musicians Cab Calloway, Thomas “Fats” Waller, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson as archetypes for a host of animals and people in animated features. Many of these caricatures reinforced stereotypes about Blacks’ natural ability to dance and sing and their supposed animalistic nature.

Between 1932 and 1955 twenty different film shorts featured a caricature of or reference to Cab Calloway. Racist and racialized caricatures of other Black entertainers appeared in at least a dozen films including: six with Fats Waller, six with Bill Robinson, seven with Louis Armstrong and two with Ethel Waters.

The Jackson 5ive premiered on ABC on September 11, 1971 and ran through September 13, 1973. The series was produced by Rankin/Bass and was animated mainly in London at the studios of Halas and Batchelor. Some of the animation was done at Estudios Moro, Barcelona Spain. The director was Spanish American Robert Balser.

The show featured all five Jackson brothers: Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie. Other than appearing in the introduction, the actual Jackson brothers themselves were unable to contribute to the show in any way due to scheduling conflicts. Only their music was used. During the music montages, a clipping of the Jackson 5 appearing in concert would air occasionally to blend in with the cartoon.

The Jackson Five did not lend their voices to the cartoon. They were voiced by: Donald Fullilove (Michael), Edmund Sylvers (Marlon), Joel Cooper (Jermaine), Mike Martinez (Tito) and Craig Grandy (Jackie). While Diana Ross added her voice in the debut episode, Barry Gordy’s character was voiced by actor Paul Frees.

Like most animated comedies of the time, The Jackson 5ive contained a laugh track. However, the chuckles were not edited onto the soundtrack smoothly. More than likely, Rankin/Bass did the editing themselves as a cost-saving measure (a la Hanna-Barbera), recycling about 10 to 12 different guffaws. It was less expensive to add the laughs themselves instead of hiring Charley Douglass’s company, who added the giggles to all the major network shows. Interestingly, Rankin/Bass “limited” chuckles were actually culled from the same tapes Douglass used.

The Jackson 5ive featured the band in a series of comic misadventures, usually sandwiched around two songs per show. Young Michael was usually the focus, along with his pets mice Ray and Charles, and snake Rosie. A specially recorded medley of the groups three #1 hits – “I Want You Back”, “The Love You Save”, and “ABC” – served as the show’s theme song.

Diana Ross Original Production Cel

There were 17 episodes that aired in 1971. In the second year, 6 original episodes aired and the rest of the season consisted of reruns.

Season 1

  • It All Started With…
  • Pinestock U.S.A.
  • Drafted
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Bongo, Baby, Bongo
  • The Winner’s Circle
  • Cinderjackson
  • The Wizard of Soul
  • The Tiny Five
  • The Groovatron
  • Ray and Charles: Superstars
  • Farmer Jacksons
  • Jackson Island
  • The Michael Look
  • Jackson Street, U.S.A.
  • Rasho-Jackson
  • A Rare Pearl

Season 2

  • Who’s Hoozis?
  • Michael White
  • Groove To The Chief
  • Michael In Wonderland
  • Jackson and The Beanstalk
  • The Opening Act

Jackson 5ive Cartoon Original Animation Art

Jackson 5ive animation cels are extremely rare and can be expensive. There are no limited productions cels or serigraphs for this cartoon.

The Original Production Cels and Drawings of the Jackson 5ive, Berry Gordy and Diana Ross featured on this page are from the Black Animation Collection of The Museum of UnCut Funk.

This Jackson 5ive Board Game is also a part of the Museum Of UnCut Funk Collection.


Jackson Five Board Game 2


The Museum Of UnCut Funk offers an exhibition that features animation art from the Jackson 5ive cartoon, available in a 70 piece configuration.

Click here to learn more about and to see the art included in the Funky Turns 40: Black Character Revolution Jackson 5ive animation exhibition.

For more information on our traveling exhibitions please contact the Curator, Sista ToFunky.

The Jackson 5ive © 2017 © Comcast-NBCUniversal


  • Black Cinema At Large
    February 8, 2011

    I love your blog! 🙂 Are you on Twitter? If not, please get there post haste!

  • July 27, 2011

    wow J5ive cartoon cels!!! How much are they? I remember saturday mornings my family didn’t have a color TV yet so I would knock on the door of whoever of my neighbors had color TV to view this show. Today I am producing these types of animations.

  • Pueblo Domingo Dumisani Aventura ''El Burruchaga''
    June 26, 2020

    where is the re-vamp of this show hopefully this time it should be based on Negritude and how Micheal Jacksons look-alikes have been stealing his limelight and not paying royalties and only his brothers can tell who is the real Micheal.

  • Jabar
    September 12, 2021

    Happy 50th to the J5 cartoon

  • EDEM
    July 13, 2022


  • Ron Lewis
    October 23, 2023

    I am so happy that you’ve provided this information. I LOVE the Jackson 5 and I remember as a little boy, we began seeing black people drawn as tasteful caricatures (CosbyKids, Harlem Globetrotters, etc.) rather than the poorly depicted drawings of pickininnies and blackface.

    It was refreshing and it was a powerful statement to have Motown directly involved in controlling the “look” of the show. I am an animator and would love to know if there will ever be a physical traveling exhibit of Jackson 5 cartoon cels and production art. There has to be surviving content somewhere.

    Love your blog!!! Keep up the good work.


Add Your Comment

Related Posts