Confident in Graham's proven abilities as an artist and executive, NBC deemed him "Director of Design" in 1966. In a memo to all employees, the president of NBC, Julian Goodman, stated, "(Graham) should be consulted for advice, guidance, and approval in all matters of design." Frequently the Peacock's chief defender, Graham put the kibosh on plans to superimpose Danny Thomas' face over the Peacock's, and a later attempt by Howard Johnson to have the Peacock 'spew' their products in a rainbow pattern. "My responsibility here is to remind ourselves of the importance of the tasteful use of the Peacock symbol," Graham wrote in a memo. "The prospect of our bird spitting Howard Johnson rainbows may start it toward a terrible case of the pip, making it not only dead, but inedible."
"Laugh In" gives The Peacock the bird
Although Graham was fervent in protecting NBC's corporate logo from this type of contamination through cross promotions, some humor slipped under the radar. Laugh In managed an end-run around NBC management when they animated the Peacock sneezing and blowing away his own feathers.
The animated Peacock billboard was retired in the late 60's. By that time, NBC and the other two networks were full color, and there was no need to banner it at the beginning of every program. The Peacock continued to appear in promotional items for NBC, but was largely unseen by the public in the 1970's.
Graham was consulted on a new corporate logo, but outside companies were also brought in. Much money and effort were spent developing the infamous corporate "N," which premiered in 1975. NBC was chagrined to learn that a similar N was already in use by Nebraska Educational Television, and paid another large sum to secure the exclusive use.
Graham sketched these variations of the new NBC logo
Graham left NBC in 1977, and served as a consultant to the network. After a few productive years of painting, illustration, and designing layouts for books, he died in 1994 at age 70. His legacy, the Peacock,staged a corporate comeback in the early 80's when NBC executives realized its value as a familiar brand.
The "N" recedes behind the Peacock in the early 1980s
This time, the Peacock shared space with the 'N'. Eventually the Peacock prevailed and the "N" quietly disappeared. The new Peacock lost a few feathers in the process, retaining only six representing each division of NBC (News, Sports, Entertainment, Television Stations, Television Network, and Operations & Technical Services). The tiny spray of feathers above the Peacock's head disappeared and the Peacock turned its head to the right.
This 1999 CGI follows the tradition established by John J. Graham's 1950's animation
The on-air Peacock usually appears in a solid color, or often in metallic brass above the NBC typeface, or as an ornament above the titles for special programs and sporting events. His print and merchandising self is still colorful and popular as ever, appearing in a myriad of products, including Beanie Babies, that are available through the NBC store. In the mid 1990's, NBC issued collectible Peacock pins that detail the icon's history from Graham's original design to the current 21st Century design.
NBC Collectable Pins
From top: 40's TV logo
"N" with Peacock (1980), Color Chimes (1954)
Current Logo (2004)
"N" (1975), Original Peacock (1956)
NBC "Snake" (1959)
In a lasting nod to its corporate logo, NBC is known by Variety, the 'bible' of the entertainment industry, as "The Peacock" network.
Special Thanks to Bruce Graham and David Schwartz
ALL GRAPHICS/IMAGES/LOGOS (C) 2005 NATIONAL BROADCASTING COMPANY
To see Peacock animations and lots of other great color television content, visit Kris Trexler's site at www.kingoftheroad.net/colorTV/colorTVlogos.html
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