With the 1969 release of Diana Ross presents The Jackson Five, featuring the #1 single, “I Want You Back,” the Jackson Five were breaking down color barriers and becoming enormously popular with their own brand of “bubblegum soul.” Soon, the marketing machine was in full force – stickers, posters, coloring books – and in 1971, their very own Saturday morning cartoon, The Jackson 5ive. Produced by Rankin/Bass, the show featured Michael and his brothers in various comic misadventures, centered around each other as well as Michael’s pet mice, Ray and Charles (get it?) and Rosie, a snake.
Each show would feature two musical numbers as well – and that was the only time the Jackson’s actual voices were used in the cartoon, due to their numerous touring and studio commitments. Voice-over talent would handle the speaking roles, with legendary voice actor Paul Frees portraying Berry Gordy Jr. (Frees had already handled the roles of John and George in a similar cartoon, The Beatles.)
Seventeen episodes were aired in the first season of The Jackson 5ive. The show was renamed The New Jackson 5ive for the second season, which was somewhat ironic considering that it consisted of only 6 new episodes – the rest were reruns. The show would re-emerge in the 80s, thanks to the gloved one’s enormous popularity, and in January 2013, the animated series is scheduled to be released on DVD.
If you remember watching Jackson 5ive back in the day, we’d love to hear any recollections you’d like to share in our comments section, as we fondly recall the days when all of our favorite stars greeted us in animated form every Saturday morning.