Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Southern Baptist Radio-Television Commission
First appeared: 1965
Creators: Ruth Byers and Ted Perry
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There isn't a known direct connection between Smiley Face, that little, round, yellow toon that took the world by storm in the early 1970s, and Jot — but they have a similar mission, i.e., the …

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… spreading of good feeling, and the two certainly do show a remarkable resemblance — if Smiley had more of a facial range, and could sprout hands and feet when needed, they could practically be twins. And while he hadn't yet ascended to his height of popularity, Smiley had been gathering strength for a couple of years by the time Jot made the scene. So a measure of inspiration isn't entirely out of the question.

Jot first appeared in 1965 on Peppermint Place, a locally-produced show for WFAA in Dallas, TX. He starred in very short cartoons (4½ minutes), designed to help children make the right ethical and moral choices. He'd bounce happily around, tuning in to kids' thoughts and feelings, and would respond joyfully or sadly, depending on what he found. Tho ordinarily chalk-white, he'd change his color as well as his facial expression according to the situation. By helping his friends clarify their consciences, he played a role in setting them on the road to responsible adulthood.

Jot didn't espouse any particular denomination, but he clearly saw the world from a similar Christian point of view to that of the better-known Davey & Goliath, who had been around five years by the time he appeared. Still, his message usually had value to children of all faiths.

He was the creation of Ruth Byers, who worked in the Dallas area as a director of dramatic presentations for young viewers, and her associate, Ted Perry. The cartoons were produced by The Southern Baptist Radio-Television Commission, which syndicated them to local stations all over the world. His voice was usually done by Lou Kelly, who isn't known for any other voice work. In 1967, the role was temporarily handled by Colleen Collins, who may or not be the same Colleen Collins who played "Red" in a couple of cartoons Tex Avery made for MGM in the 1940s.

The character's name is probably a reference to the phrase "every jot and tittle", which pertains to completeness and exactitude in reading the Bible. If you're among the millions who wonder, a jot is the dot of an I and a tittle is the cross of a T.

Jot remained in production steadily until 1974. A few additional episodes were made for the 1980-81 TV season. There are about 30 altogether, but they've seldom been seen in recent years.


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Text ©2005-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Southern Baptist Radio-Television Commission.