Jack Sidebotham, American (1927 - 2010)

Jack Sidebotham

For more than 25 years Mr. Sidebotham, known as Jack, had been a resident of Bridgehampton and before that New York City. Following his discharge from the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II, Mr. Sidebotham became a celebrated advertising art director during the heyday of print advertising and the dawn of television.

Selected to create the first-ever television commercial department at Young & Rubicam Advertising in New York City, in 1955, he helped set the standard for creative television advertising with his iconic Bert and Harry Piel animated commercials for the Piels Brothers Brewery of Brooklyn. The voices of the animated characters were portrayed by radio comedians Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding, and the commercials have become a mainstay in collections of vintage television advertising.

While at McCaffrey & McCall Advertising in the 1970s, Mr. Sidebotham was a major contributor to ABC Television’s popular program, “Schoolhouse Rock,” designing characters for educational songs written by composers Bob Dorough and Lynn Ahrens. In 2008, already into his 80s, Mr. Sidebotham designed a new version of “Interplanet Janet,” explaining the advantages of alternative energy sources for the Disney Educational Productions 2009 DVD release, “Schoolhouse Rock! Earth.”

In 1966, he made his first foray into the world of books, doing cartoon illustrations for “How To Give Away Your Faith” by Paul E. Little. In 1976, he authored “The Art of Cartooning” for Grumbacher Art Publishing.

From 1986 to 1996 Mr. Sidebotham was a volunteer for the International Executive Service Corps as a consultant in advertising techniques in Kenya, Egypt, Thailand and Costa Rica. In the late ’90s, Mr. Sidebotham was executive art director for the Land’s End catalogue; he subsequently served in the same capacity for the Duluth Trading Company catalogue.

In a profession that celebrates puffery and hyperbole, survivors said, Mr. Sidebotham was a man of selfless understatement and endearing wit, so often self-effacing. In an age of hand-drawn storyboards and advertising layouts, Mr. Sidebotham’s cartoon characters came to resemble his co-workers and himself. On the reverse side of ordering pads at PJ Clarke’s restaurant, he regularly sketched cartoons to tease, charm and lampoon his lunch companions.

As his professional work helped guide the fortunes of Exxon, Mercedes-Benz, ABC Television, Quaker Oats and other major corporate enterprises, survivors recalled that he would frequently confess to one and all his complete bewilderment at being paid for having so much fun every day.

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