Helen Seth-Smith - spiritual mother of 'duck and cover'

PART I: DUCK AND COVER: The Citizen Kane of Civil Defense
BEFORE BERT: Dog Tags vs. Tattoos
BIDDING ON BERT: A Little Sales Job

PART II: "ATOMIC FLASH": The Birth of Bert
INTERMISSION: "Our Terrible Mistake"
SHOOTING BERT

PART III: PUTTING THE JINGLE IN BERT: Post Production
BERT'S PREMIERE: "The Darling of the FCDA Boys"

PART IV: "THE COMMUNIST PARTY LINE": Critics of Bert and the Fall of Archer
BERT'S LEGACY

SUCCESS! BERT INDUCTED INTO NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY!
CONELRAD celebrates the success of its DUCK AND COVER campaign

THE WORLD OF BERT
Dramatis personae

RAY J. MAUER:
A CONELRAD interview

REVIEWS AND QUOTES
A roundup of selected reviews

CHRONOLOGY
At the pace of a tortoise

BERT THE TURTLE
The companion radio program

YOUR COMMENTS
Submit your comments and read others' comments

RESEARCH NOTES
Notes and acknowledgements

MIA FARROW
The original Duck and Cover Kid!

CONELRAD LEGACY PROJECT
Inducting Bert into the National Film Registry

HELPING BERT
Campaigning for DUCK AND COVER

CONELRAD LEGACY PROJECT
DUCK AND COVER Press Release March 1, 2004

CONELRAD LEGACY PROJECT
DUCK AND COVER Press Release March 1, 2004
[PDF 62K]


RELATED LINKS

ATOMIC SECRETS
Lost and found from the CONELRAD Collection

THE EISENHOWER TEN
Secret war plans revealed

VIEW AND DOWNLOAD
View and/or download DUCK AND COVER from the Prelinger Archives

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Research Notes and Acknowledgements
The End - and then some... our research notes and aacknowledgements

Excavating the sub-atomic minutiae of a short subject civil defense motion picture produced over half a century ago was not the easiest endeavor CONELRAD has ever embarked upon. There were many dead ends encountered during our two years of research as well as several lucky breaks. Leo Langlois with a 16 mm print of his DUCK AND COVER - 2003Chief among these lucky breaks was being able to track down Bert the Turtle's maestro, Leo M. Langlois barely a month before his passing. Mr. Langlois's insights, recollections and archival records were invaluable in piecing together not only the history of DUCK AND COVER, but that of Archer Productions, Inc., the powerhouse ad agency that made the film. This article could not have been written without the cooperation of Mr. Langlois who was kind enough to welcome us into his home where he sat for an extensive interview. We would also like to thank Mr. Langlois's wife, Eileen, and the rest of his family who understood and supported this project.

Another source who was essential in the research for this article was the screenwriter of DUCK AND COVER, Ray J. Mauer. Mr. Mauer was very generous with his time in explaining the delicate nuances of writing a government film about a turtle. He also helped fill in some of the gaps left by other interviews and documentary records.

Lars Calonius's surviving wife, Jeanne Calonius, was also extremely helpful in "coloring in" the life of her late, beloved husband, the art director for DUCK AND COVER in her interview. We wish to thank Mrs. Calonius again for her time.

The surviving children of DUCK AND COVER's director Anthony Rizzo, Karen and Ken Rizzo, actually sought CONELRAD out (not the other way around!). We are immensely grateful for their taking the initiative to contact us regarding their father's contribution to cold war pop culture history. This article would have been significantly less than whole without the late director's children's insight into his work and life.

Maria Graceffa, Director of Alumni Relations, The Potomac School (McLean, VA). Ms. Graceffa was invaluable in helping CONELRAD flesh out the educator who provided the "theme" for DUCK AND COVER all those decades ago at the government conference that was held to develop the storyline for what was then known only by its working title "Civil Defense for Schools." Without Ms. Graceffa's willingness to assist CONELRAD, "Miss Helen Seth-Smith," would have remained just a name on a yellowed newspaper clipping. Thanks also to Katharine "Tinky" Ostermann, a surviving colleague of Miss Smith who took the time to speak with CONELRAD about her friend.

What follows is a selected inventory of the many resources CONELRAD relied upon in creating this feature.


ARCHIVES [ GOVERNMENTAL ]

National Archives Records Administration (College Park, MD): Records of the Civil Defense Administration, motion pictures

Harry S. Truman Library (Independence, MO): White House Records & Spencer R. Quick Files


ARCHIVES [ NON-GOVERNMENTAL ]

Georgetown University: Department of Defense Film Collection

Leo M. Langlois: Personal records (textual and photographic)

Ray J. Mauer: Personal records (textual)

Ken Rizzo: Personal records of father Anthony Rizzo (textual and photographic)


BOOK

The Imaginary War
Oxford University Press; 1994; pp.47-51.
Author: Guy Oakes


INTERVIEWS

Jeanne Calonius
May 31, 2003

Mia Farrow
July 28, 2003; July 29, 2003

Leo M. Langlois
March 8, 2003

Ray J. Mauer
March 13, 2003

Karen Rizzo
June 4, 2004


MAGAZINE ARTICLES

"Civil Defense Film for Schools"
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL JOURNAL; September 1951; pg. 12

"Identification for School Children"
THE NEA JOURNAL; February 1952; pg. 91
Author: William M. Lamers

Duck and Cover Film Review
EDUCATIONAL SCREEN; March 1952

"Cleveland Holds 5th Film Festival"
BUSINESS SCREEN MAGAZINE; June-July 1952 issue; Issue no. 4; Vol. 13; pg. 36

"A is for Atom, B is for Bomb": Civil Defense in American Public Education, 1948-1963
THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY; Vol. 75; June 1988; pp.80-81
Author: JoAnne Brown


NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

"Bert the Turtle Originated As Method Of Showing Kids How to Act In Atom Attack"
INS (International News Service) Wire Story dateline Washington, Dec. 2, 1951
Author: Felix Cotton

"New Film to Help in Bomb Training"
NEW YORK TIMES; Jan. 25, 1952

"Alert Not Alarmed"
LOS ANGELES EXAMINER; Feb. 6, 1952

"City Film Shows Pupils What to Do in Atom Raid"
NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE; April 14, 1952 (dateline, Columbus, OH: 4/13/52)

"Film on Atom War Bad For Children"
NEW YORK TIMES; Nov. 21, 1952
Author: Dorothy Barclay

"Schools, C.D. Defend Atomic Safety Film"
THE LEVITTOWN (NY) EAGLE; May 1, 1952

"LEA Aware of 'Definite Fear Reaction' to A-Bomb Movie"
THE LEVITTOWN (NY) EAGLE; May 15, 1952


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