Good To Know It Wasn’t Just Me

Who would have thought this would give me nightmares more than any movie or full-length TV show?

A TV logo of all things?? I used to see it at the end of practically every show I used to watch (The Monkees, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, etc; basically any Screen Gems show), and it would not necessarily scare me out of the room, but it would give me chills in the back of my head, and I’d freak out at night thinking of it. This actually still gives me chills to this day.

This logo, incidentally, was the one Screen Gems had used from 1965 to 1974 on most TV productions, and the creepy music had been created by Eric Siday, who was known for electro-acoustic music written for TV IDs and logos, and had also composed the Maxwell House coffee percolator music. His profile as a violinist is also something quite interesting but extensive; I will come back to it in a future blog-post.

People went as far as giving the logo several nicknames; “The S From Hell”, “The Spiral S”, “The Filmstrip S”, “The Creepy Screen Gems Logo”, “The Spiral S (From Hell)”, “Burning S”, “Scream Gems”, “Attack of the Killer S”, and “The Personification of All That Is Evil” (Now that’s stretching it a bit).

This and other logos, like the Paramount TV logo that sounded like music played when somebody’s about to reach their demise (Known as the “Closet-Killer” theme) were intended by the TV companies to make people pay attention while their brand was being drummed out in glorious name and fanfare. What they probably didn’t count on was that it might scare the children into possible years of extensive therapy.

Little did I know that there had been a whole generation of people that were equally affected by the closing logos of TV shows; It’s practically become a culture unto itself. There are many clips online of stand-alone logos, video blocks of scariest ones of all-time (Usually with Screen Gems at #1), and even mash-up videos with swapped-audio from other logos. I guess we all need a hobby.

There was a little documentary film made for the Screen Gems victims like myself (Wish they could have interviewed me for this–I could have used the money):
Film courtesy of Highland Park Classics
I forgot David Oistrakh had a little stock footage cameo in this piece–Ed.

There is a definite ethic to this day of the TV companies making logos louder than the shows. When I sometimes fall asleep with Jimmy Kimmel Live on TV, it’ll be very low in volume, and then I’m awakened by the clear-as-a-bell sound of both the Jackhole Productions logo and the ABC Studios one right after it.

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One thought on “Good To Know It Wasn’t Just Me

  1. Chris –
    I knew Eric Siday (and his wife Edith) back in the 1950s, when he was recording with my uncle, Irv Kaufman. I think the sessions were at United Recording (666 5th Avenue). Irv went on to found National Recording Studios with the Lustig Brothers.

    Most of my experience with Eric and Edith was social, at the Kaufman home, but I can round out the character from very pleasant memories, if that will be of any help.

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