Schoolhouse Rock!

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Schoolhouse Rock!
School House Rock!.png
Created byDavid McCall
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes64 (List of episodes)
Running time3 minutes
DistributorDisney-ABC Domestic Television
Original channelABC
Original runJanuary 6, 1973 (1973-01-06)  – March 31, 2009 (2009-03-31)
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Schoolhouse Rock!
School House Rock!.png
Created byDavid McCall
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes64 (List of episodes)
Running time3 minutes
DistributorDisney-ABC Domestic Television
Original channelABC
Original runJanuary 6, 1973 (1973-01-06)  – March 31, 2009 (2009-03-31)

Schoolhouse Rock! is an American interstitial programming series of animated musical educational short films (and later, videos) that aired during the Saturday morning children's programming on the U.S. television network ABC. The topics covered included grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and civics. The series' original run lasted from 1973 to 1985; it was later revived with both old and new episodes airing from 1993 to 1999. Additional episodes were produced in 2009 for direct-to-video release.


Original series[edit]

Schoolhouse Rock! began as a commercial advertising venture by David McCall, half of the Madison Avenue advertising agency McCaffrey & McCall. The idea came to McCall when he noticed one of his sons, who was having trouble in school remembering the multiplication tables, knew the lyrics to then-current rock songs.[1]

The first song recorded was Three Is a Magic Number, written by Bob Dorough. It tested well,[clarification needed] so a children's record was compiled and released. Tom Yohe listened to the first song, and began to doodle pictures to go with the lyrics. He told McCall that the songs would make good animation.

When a print workbook version fell through, McCall's company decided to produce their own animated versions of the songs, which they then sold to ABC (which was already the advertising company's biggest account)[citation needed] based on a demo animation of the original "Three Is A Magic Number" for its Saturday morning lineup. They pitched their idea to Michael Eisner, then vice-president of ABC's children's programming division. Eisner brought longtime Warner Bros. cartoonist/director Chuck Jones to the meeting to also listen to the presentation.

The network's children's programming division had producers of its regular 30- and 60-minute programs cut three minutes out of each of their shows, and sold General Foods on the idea of sponsoring the segments.[citation needed]

The series stayed on the air for 12 years. Later sponsors of the Schoolhouse Rock! segments also included Nabisco, Kenner Toys, Kellogg's, and McDonald's.[citation needed] During the early 1970s, Schoolhouse Rock was one of several short-form animated educational shorts that aired on ABC's children's lineup; others included Time for Timer and The Bod Squad. Of the three, Schoolhouse Rock was the longest-running.

Thirty-seven episodes were recorded and produced between 1972 and 1979. The first season of Schoolhouse Rock, "Multiplication Rock," debuted in 1973 and included all of the multiplication tables from two through twelve, with one episode devoted to powers of 10 (My Hero Zero) instead of multiples of ten. This original series was followed in short order by a new series which ran from 1973 to 1975, entitled "Grammar Rock," which included nouns, verbs, adjectives, and other parts of speech (such as conjunctions, explained in "Conjunction Junction").

To coincide with the upcoming United States bicentennial, a third series, titled "America Rock," airing in 1975 and 1976, had episodes covering the structure of the United States government (such as "I'm Just a Bill") along with important moments in American history (examples include "The Preamble" and "Mother Necessity").

A fourth series titled "Science Rock" followed in 1978 and 1979, and included a broad range of science-related topics such as Do the Circulation and The Body Machine (a play on The Body Electric), The Energy Blues, Electricity, E-Lec-Tri-City, to the most well-known of the series, Interplanet Janet (which is about the solar system).

A fifth follow-up series, titled "Computer Rock," featuring the characters Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips (the only episodes in the series to feature any recurring characters), premiered in the early 1980s and comprised just four segments about home computer technology, then just emerging onto the scene. As the references and depictions became quickly outdated, due to the rapid advance of technology, the series was not shown after 1985.


After leaving the airwaves in 1985, the original team reunited to produce two more Grammar Rock segments ("Busy Prepositions" and "The Tale of Mr. Morton") for television in 1993 with J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. of White Plains, NY[citation needed]. This was followed in 1995 by a brand new series, "Money Rock," which discussed topics related to money management on both the personal and governmental scale. Episodes from the new series aired in rotation with the original segments from 1994 to 1996.

The Walt Disney Company acquired Schoolhouse Rock in 1996 along with its acquisition of ABC owner Capital Cities Communications; Schoolhouse Rock was one of only two children's shows (The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show being the other) to continue airing (albeit in reruns) after the transition to One Saturday Morning. The series as a whole ceased airing on television in 2000 with newer episodes released directly to home video.

21st century[edit]

Starting in 2002, the team once again reunited to produce a new song, "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote To College" for the release of the 30th Anniversary DVD. For the new song, Tom Yohe Jr. took over as lead designer for his father, Tom Yohe Sr., who had died in 2000.[2] Another contemporary song, called "Presidential Minute," which explained the process of electing the President of the United States in greater detail, was included on the 2008 DVD "Schoolhouse Rock! Election Collection," which centered on songs relating to American history and government.

As public awareness of climate change increased, a new series entitled "Schoolhouse Rock!: Earth"[3] was created by the original production team, premiered in 2009, and featured eleven environmentally-themed songs.

On Sunday, 6 January 2013, Bob Dorough appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as part of their ongoing series of free concerts on the Millennium Stage. He played five songs, accompanying himself on the piano: "Three Is a Magic Number", "Figure Eight", "Conjunction Junction", "Preamble" and "I'm Just a Bill". He also performed "Interjections!" accompanied by DC-area kids' band Rocknoceros. Rocknoceros also performed "Electricity, Electricity", "Unpack Your Adjectives", "Energy Blues" and "Fireworks".


Multiplication Rock[edit]

Episode titleSubjectMusic byLyrics byPerformed byAnimation & designFirst aired
My Hero, ZeroPowers of 10Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughFocus Design / Tom YoheJanuary 20, 1973
Elementary, My DearMultiplication by 2Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughPhil Kimmelman & Associates / Jack SidebothamJanuary 27, 1973
Three Is a Magic NumberMultiplication by 3Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughFocus Design / Tom YoheFebruary 3, 1973
The Four-Legged ZooMultiplication by 4Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob Dorough (and chorus of children)Phil Kimmelman & Associates / Bob EggersFebruary 10, 1973
Ready or Not, Here I ComeMultiplication by 5Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughPhil Kimmelman & Associates / Tom YoheFebruary 17, 1973
I Got SixMultiplication by 6Bob DoroughBob DoroughGrady TatePhil Kimmelman & Associates / Tom YoheFebruary 24, 1973
Lucky Seven SampsonMultiplication by 7Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughPhil Kimmelman & Associates / Rowland B. WilsonMarch 3, 1973
Figure EightMultiplication by 8Bob DoroughBob DoroughBlossom DeariePhil Kimmelman & Associates / Tom YoheMarch 10, 1973
Naughty Number NineMultiplication by 9Bob DoroughBob DoroughGrady TatePhil Kimmelman & Associates / Tom YoheMarch 17, 1973
The Good ElevenMultiplication by 11Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughFocus Design / Jack SidebothamMarch 24, 1973
Little TwelvetoesMultiplication by 12Bob DoroughBob DoroughBob DoroughPhil Kimmelman & Associates / Rowland B. WilsonMarch 31, 1973

No shows were produced featuring the numbers 1 or 10 explicitly, though "My Hero Zero" and "The Good Eleven" do include those numbers.

The Multiplication Rock soundtrack album

In 1973, Capitol Records released a soundtrack album of Multiplication Rock, featuring all 11 songs. Two tracks, "My Hero, Zero" and "Three Is A Magic Number" had been edited for TV to keep each video within three minutes. This LP features both songs in their full, unedited forms. Also, the album version of "The Four-Legged Zoo" has an ending slightly different from the television version.

Although "Three is a Magic Number" was the first song to be recorded, "My Hero, Zero" was the first song to be broadcast on ABC.

Grammar Rock[edit]

Episode titleSubjectMusic byLyrics byPerformed byFirst aired
Conjunction JunctionconjunctionBob DoroughBob DoroughJack Sheldon, Terri Morel and Mary Sue Berry1973
Unpack Your AdjectivesadjectiveGeorge R. NewallGeorge R. NewallBlossom Dearie1975
Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs HereadverbBob DoroughBob DoroughBob Dorough1974
Interjections!interjectionLynn AhrensLynn AhrensEssra Mohawk1974
Rufus Xavier SarsaparillapronounBob DoroughKathy MandaryJack Sheldon1977
Verb: That's What's Happenin'verbBob DoroughBob DoroughZachary Sanders1974
A Noun Is A Person, Place Or ThingnounLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens1973
Busy PrepositionsprepositionBob DoroughBob DoroughJack Sheldon and Bob DoroughOctober 1993
The Tale of Mr. Mortonsubject and predicateLynn AhrensLynn AhrensJack SheldonDecember 1993

This segment introduces Jack Sheldon as a regular vocalist and lyricist for the series. "Conjunction Junction" was Sheldon's debut on Schoolhouse Rock.

"Busy Prepositions" (aka "Busy P's"), "The Tale of Mr. Morton", and "Dollars and Sense" were produced for Schoolhouse Rock's return to ABC in 1993 with J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. producing the animation.

Science Rock[edit]

Episode titleSubjectMusic byLyrics byPerformed byFirst aired
The Body MachineNutrition and digestive systemLynn AhrensLynn AhrensBob Dorough and Jack Sheldon1979
Do the Circulationcirculatory systemLynn AhrensLynn AhrensJoshie Armstead, Mary Sue Berry, & Maeretha Stewart1979
Electricity, ElectricityElectricityBob DoroughBob DoroughZachary Sanders1979
The Energy BluesEnergy conservationGeorge NewallGeorge NewallJack Sheldon1978
Interplanet JanetThe solar systemLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens1978
Telegraph LineNervous systemLynn AhrensLynn AhrensJaime Aff and Christine Langner1979
Them Not-So-Dry BonesSkeletal systemGeorge NewallGeorge NewallJack Sheldon1979
A Victim of GravityGravityLynn AhrensLynn AhrensThe Tokens1978
The Greatest Show on EarthWeatherLynn AhrensLynn AhrensBob KalbanNot shown on TV [4]

Sometime after its initial airing, The Greatest Show on Earth, also known as The Weather Show, was pulled from broadcast rotation because the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus objected to its use of their trademark slogan (which was in the questioned title) and filed a lawsuit against the network for copyright infringement.[4] As a result, the 1995 VHS of the program (and subsequent VHS reissues) deleted the song. However, it was included in the 1987 Schoolhouse Rock VHS release, and in 2002 it was included on the bonus disk of the 30th Anniversary DVD (see below).

America Rock[edit]

Episode titleSubjectMusic byLyrics byPerformed byFirst aired
Elbow RoomU.S. territorial expansionLynn AhrensLynn AhrensSue Manchester1975
FireworksDeclaration of IndependenceLynn AhrensLynn AhrensGrady Tate1976
The Great American Melting PotImmigration/DiversityLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLori Lieberman1977
I'm Just a BillLegislative ProcessDave FrishbergDave FrishbergJack Sheldon1974
Mother NecessityAmerican inventionsBob DoroughBob DoroughBob Dorough, Jack Sheldon, Blossom Dearie, & Essra Mohawk1977
No More KingsAmerican independenceLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens & Bob Dorough1975
PreambleUnited States ConstitutionLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens1975
The Shot Heard 'Round The WorldAmerican Revolutionary WarBob DoroughBob DoroughBob Dorough1976
Sufferin' 'til SuffrageWomen's suffrageBob DoroughTom YoheEssra Mohawk1975
Three Ring GovernmentSeparation of powersLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens1979
I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to CollegeElectoral CollegeGeorge R. Newall and Bob DoroughGeorge R. Newall and Bob DoroughJack Sheldon and Bob Dorough2002
Presidential MinuteVoting For PresidentGeorge R. NewallGeorge R. Newall and Tom Yohe, Jr.Jack Sheldon2002

"I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College" and "Presidential Minute" were produced for DVD.

Money Rock[edit]

Episode titleSubjectMusic byLyrics byPerformed byFirst aired[4]
Dollars and SenseInterest and loansDave FrishbergDave FrishbergVal Hawk and Bob Dorough1994
$7.50 Once a WeekBudgetMark ChapalonisDave FrishbergDave Frishberg1995
Where The Money GoesPaying billsRich MendozaRich MendozaJack Sheldon1995
Tax Man MaxTaxesStephen FlahertyLynn AhrensPatrick Quinn1995
Walkin' On Wall StreetStock exchangeDave FrishbergDave FrishbergDave Frishberg1996
This For ThatBarter and the history of currencyGeorge R. NewallGeorge R. NewallBob Dorough1996
Tyrannosaurus DebtBudget deficit and United States national debtTom YoheTom YoheBob Dorough and Bob Kaliban1996
The Check's In The MailUsing checksBob DoroughBob DoroughLuther Rix1996

Earth Rock[edit]

Episode titleSubjectMusic byLyrics byPerformed byFirst aired
Report from the North PoleGlobal WarmingBob DoroughGeorge R. NewallBob Dorough, Jack Sheldon, Bob Kaliban and Barry Carl2009
The Little Things We DoEnergy conservationLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens, Jack Sheldon, Bob Dorough, Bob Kaliban, Val Hawk, Vicki Doney and Nancy Reed2009
The Trash Can BandRecyclingLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens, Luther Rix, Bob Dorough and Eric Weissberg2009
You Oughta Be Savin' WaterWater conservationSean Altman and Barry CarlGeorge R. NewallBarry Carl, Sean Altman, Elliott Kerman2009
The RainforestRainforestsLynn AhrensLynn AhrensTituss Burgess2009
Save the OceanOceansSean AltmanSean AltmanSean Altman, Inna Dukach, Jon Spurney, Patti Rothberg, Barry Carl and Eric Booker2009
Fat Cat Blue: The Clean Rivers SongMarine DebrisAndy BrickAndy BrickJack Sheldon, Bob Kaliban, Val Hawk, Vicki Doney and Nancy Reed2009
A Tiny Urban ZooGardensGeorge StilesAnthony DreweBarrett Foa, Shoshana Bean, and George Stiles2009
Solar Power to the PeopleSolar energyLynn AhrensLynn AhrensLynn Ahrens, Val Hawk, Vicki Doney and Nancy Reed2009
Windy and the WindmillsWind powerBob DoroughGeorge R. NewallBob Dorough, Jack Sheldon, Val Hawk, Vicki Doney and Nancy Reed2009
Don't Be a Carbon SasquatchCarbon footprintsBob DoroughBob DoroughBob Dorough2009
The 3 R'sReduce, Reuse, RecyclesBob DoroughMitchel MussoMitchel Musso2009

30th Anniversary[edit]

To coincide with the 30th anniversary, Walt Disney released a video in 2002 featuring the Top 25 songs of the series. The countdown, which was succeeded by I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College, ran as follows, in reverse order:

  1. Conjunction Junction
  2. I'm Just A Bill
  3. Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here
  4. Electricity, Electricity
  5. Interjections!
  6. The Preamble
  7. Three Is A Magic Number
  8. Interplanet Janet
  9. A Noun Is A Person, Place, Or Thing
  10. The Shot Heard 'Round The World
  11. My Hero, Zero
  12. Figure Eight
  13. No More Kings
  14. Unpack Your Adjectives
  15. Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla
  16. Ready Or Not, Here I Come
  17. Elementary, My Dear
  18. Dollars and Sense
  19. The Great American Melting Pot
  20. Mother Necessity
  21. Naughty Number Nine
  22. Telegraph Line
  23. Them Not-So-Dry Bones
  24. Verb: That's What Happening
  25. Elbow Room


Several tie-ins were released in 1996:

In addition to the above, Rhino Records also released Schoolhouse Rocks the Vote!: A Benefit for Rock the Vote, a tribute album containing covers and original songs in the style of Schoolhouse Rock, all with an electoral theme. It was released on August 18, 1998.

Video releases[edit]

A 1987 production of the series for VHS tape featured Cloris Leachman opening the collection and some songs with child dancers and singers. Three songs (namely "Three Ring Government," "The Good Eleven," and "Little Twelve Toes") were not included on the videos.[2][5]

In 1995, ABC Video and Image Entertainment released two volumes of Schoolhouse Rock on LaserDisc, "Schoolhouse Rock Volume 1: America Rock and Grammar Rock" (ID3245CC), and "Schoolhouse Rock Volume 2: Multiplication Rock and Science Rock" (ID3383CC). For both volumes the first side was in the CLV Extended Play format and the second was in the frame-accessible CAV format, and both contained CX-encoded analog and digital audio soundtracks. The "Grammar Rock" volume included the 1993 shorts "Busy Prepositions" and "The Tale of Mr. Morton."

In 1994, ABC/King Features sold exclusive licensing rights for apparel to Coastal Concepts, Inc. of Vista California, the first company to produce School House Rock Apparel. Tom Yohe worked with contemporary artist Skya Nelson to create over 50 new designs and update the School House Rock image for a new market which sold $1.1 million in its first year and exploded selling over $12 million the next year. A variety of bands working with Rhino Records were furnished with newly minted School House Rock T-Shirts for the music videos youth market. The licensing rights were expanded to include other manufacturers in 1996.

In 1995, ABC teamed with Paramount Home Video and re-released four segments of Schoolhouse Rock! on VHS with alternative covers and opening.

In 1998, for the show's 25th anniversary, Walt Disney Home Video released five segments on VHS.

30th Anniversary DVD cover

On August 26, 2002 Walt Disney Home Entertainment released a 2-disc DVD set to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the show. The set features 52 of the 53 episodes, including the lost "Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips" segments, with the exception of "Introduction". "The Weather Show" and "Presidential Minute" are found on the bonus disk, the former in modified form with the problematic lyric removed, and the latter viewable only upon completing the "Earn Your Diploma" Trivia Game. An abbreviated VHS, featuring the "top 25" episodes plus "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College," was released at the same time (see above).

In 2008, DVDs of individual Schoolhouse Rock series were released for classroom use.[6]

On September 23, 2008, the "Schoolhouse Rock-Election Collection" was released, including 14 songs about American history and the government and a "new to DVD" song.[7]

On March 31, 2009, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released "Schoolhouse Rock-Earth", including 11 newly written and animated songs as well as "Energy Blues".[3]

DVD nameEp #Release dateAdditional information
Schoolhouse Rock!- Special 30th Anniversary Edition52August 26, 2002
  • All 46 original episodes
  • Audio Commentary
  • "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College" Making Of
  • Long Lost Song "The Weather Show"
  • Top Ten Jukebox
  • Top 20 Countdown
  • "Earn Your Diploma" Trivia Game (plays "Presidential Minute" once you have earned your diploma)
  • Arrange-a-Song Puzzle
  • 4 Music Videos by Contemporary Artists
  • Emmy Awards Featurette
  • "Three is a Magic Number" Nike Commercial
  • "I'm Gonna Send Your Vote to College" in DTS 5.1 Surround
  • Three of the four Computer Rock segments
Schoolhouse Rock!-Election Collection14September 23, 2008
  • 10 America Rock songs, 1 Science Rock song, and 3 Money Rock songs
  • Bonus song: "Presidential Minute"
  • Map of the United States
Schoolhouse Rock!-Earth13March 31, 2009
  • 11 all-new songs about conservation
  • Bonus Song: "The Energy Blues"
  • Music video: "The Three Rs" by Mitchel Musso

Schoolhouse Rock Live![edit]

A musical theatre adaptation of the show, titled Schoolhouse Rock Live! premiered in 1996. It featured a collaboration between artists Scott Ferguson, Kyle Hall, George Keating, Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, and Kathy Mandry, utilizing some of the most famous songs of Newall and Yohe.[8]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]