The "Swing Daddy" of the piano, Artie Antlers was one of the early cabaret characters at Pizza Time Theatre. Artie sang with a deep soulful voice, and his style of music ranged from boogie-woogie, to swing, to early Rock and Roll. He often referred to himself as "moose-ical" and also played up the moose theme by making quotes such as "this Moose is loose"1.
Artie was used in the early 1980s, and was the final culmination of the proposed guest-characters of Elkton John and Glen Camel who were mentioned in the original 1977 PTT Program but never put into production2. He was originally announced in 19793, and debuted during the first half of 1980. He originally appeared at three of the earliest Pizza Time Theatre locations - San Jose (Kooser), Concord, and Sacramento, California4, replacing Dolli Dimples in the Cabaret (then known as the Piano Bar Lounge).
Artie Antlers was voiced by Jim Cunningham, a jazz artist whose band "The High Time Octet" had been written up in national papers. Jim was hired by the ad agency of Foote, Cone & Belding and flown from Denton, Texas to do the recording at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. The piano player on the tracks was a man who played for the Pointer Sisters, and the entire recording session happened over the course of only four days5.
Artie dressed in a flashy blue tuxedo, and originally had a black nose which was later removed. Mechanically, Artie was identical to Dolli Dimples (minus the breast movement) –- the duo can be seen together at the factory here. Shortly after his introduction, Artie required a retrofit for his antlers which were originally made of wood and broke easily. A styrofoam version was created that was more durable and did not break from the characters movements6.
During the very early 1980s, Artie was used widely on PTT merchandise, appearing in print on items such as calendars and annual reports7. He was also featured on items such as the “Chuck E. Cheese Cube” and other redemption items. Despite his prominent exposure and usage, Artie was never given a second showtape - in 1982 when Dolli Dimples was renewed for a second tape, a new character was introduced named B.B. Bubbles instead of new material for Artie8. Aspects of Artie Antlers were used in ideas for new retrofits, such as a Davy Crockett style retrofit for Artie, and a lumberjack character retrofit for The King, however neither materialized past the concept art stage9.
1 - SP.com Showtape Review - Artie I
2 - 1977 Pizza Time Theatre Program
3 - The Pizza Times (1979) - Vol.1 No.1 (Page 1)
4 - The Pizza Times (1980) - Vol.2 No.1 (Page 3)
5 - SP.com correspondence with Jim Cunningham
6 - Riordanco.com - Projects & Success Stories
7 - 1981 PTT Annual Report (Page 14)
8 - The Pizza Times (1982) - Volume 2 Issue 4 (Page 4)
9 - SP.com correspondence with Kathy Hopp