SHOCKER! Never-Before-Seen 1964-65 G.I. Joe TV Commercials Discovered; Will Be Shown to Public For the First Time EVER Exclusively on Vintage3DJoes Site; Original Child Actor ID’d

In the first of 3 newly discovered vintage GIjOE commercials from 1964, child actor Paul O'Keefe reacts as "Dad" shows him a new GIjOE equipment set. The first of the three 1-minute commercials was recently premiered for the first time EVER (since it was last seen 50 years ago) on Matt McKeeby's "Vintage3djoes.com" website. (Screenshot: Matt McKeeby)

In the first of 3 newly discovered vintage GIjOE commercials from 1964, child actor Paul O’Keefe reacts as his “Dad” shows him a new GIjOE equipment set. This scene is from the first of 3 vintage (1-minute, b&w) commercials recently premiered for the first time EVER (since it was last seen over 50 years ago) on Matt McKeeby’s “Vintage3djoes.com” website. Absolutely AMAZING! (Screenshot: Matt McKeeby)

GIjOE fan, collector and Vintage3djoes.com "curator," Matt McKeeby. (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

GIjOE fan, collector and Vintage3djoes.com “curator,” Matt McKeeby. (Photo: MM)

Earliest Known GIjOE Footage Made For TV

Like a modern-day “Indiana Jones,” renowned GIjOE collector and curator of the famous Vintage3djoes website, Matt McKeeby continues to discover, restore and ultimately SHARE some of the earliest known examples of vintage GIjOE history with eager and insatiable fans. First it was the vintage figures themselves, displayed and photographed in full, glorious 360-degree “rotating” color photographs (see article HERE). Now McKeeby has announced the discovery of three “lost” GIjOE television commercials, which are quite likely the earliest ones to ever have been broadcast over the airwaves to the public. Of course, the last time anyone saw these commercials was over 50 years ago. Since that time, they’ve been hidden away by an unknown individual who now wishes to remain merely an “anonymous donor” to McKeeby’s unique online museum. According to Matt, the discovery of the three film reels proved to be quite fortuitous:
“These rare black-n-white commercials were very generously given to the Vintage3djoes website by an anonymous donor, who has earned the gratitude of Joe fans everywhere. When he was a teen in the 1970s, he found them (along with others, now in a private collection) as a salvage company demolished a building that had housed an advertising agency in Ohio.”
The first commercial opens with a wide shot of O'Keefe walking by a toy store window filled with racks of GIjOEs, equipment cards, and window-boxed uniform sets. As he walks, he sings "GIjOE, GIjOE, Fighting man from head to toe..." (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

The first commercial opens with a wide shot of O’Keefe walking by a toy store window filled with racks of GIjOEs, equipment cards, and window-boxed uniform sets. As he walks, he sings “GIjOE, GIjOE, Fighting man from head to toe. On the land, on the sea, in the air!” (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

An enthusiastic O'Keefe even pumps his fist while singing the famous GIjOE jingle, as the camera moves to a closeup revealing prototype packaging and early advertising graphics. (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

An enthusiastic O’Keefe pumps his fist while singing the famous GIjOE jingle, and this closeup reveals early GIjOE point-of-purchase advertising. (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

Can you imagine? If McKeeby’s mysterious “donor” teenager had not been on the ball, and if that wrecking ball had brought down that building in Ohio any faster, all of this important GIjOE advertising history would have been lost to the world—forever! Thankfully, the three B&W 16mm film reels are now in safe and secure hands. What do Joe fans have to look forward to? According to McKeeby:

“They are 1-minute spots produced by Hasbro’s advertising agency very early in the run. Careful viewers will be able to spot some great early issue and prototype items, along with a prototype footlocker which leads me to date these between mid 1964 and early 1965. These commercials have not been readily available to fans for nearly 50 years, and are shared exclusively on Vintage3DJoes.com!”
This superb screenshot from the first commercial shows an early prototype soldier with slightly different hand sculpts. Maybe we should call those "grenade-throwing" hands? (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

This superb screenshot from the first commercial shows an early prototype soldier with slightly different hand sculpts. Maybe we should call those “grenade-throwing” hands? (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

Keen-eyed Joeheads will be able to spot all the handmade prototype equipment in various shots of spot #1, including this Marine and his unique ammo-belt. OOHrah! (Photo: Matt McKeeby)

Keen-eyed Joeheads will be able to spot all the handmade prototype equipment in various shots from spot #1, including this Marine and his unique ammo-belt. OOHrah!
(Photo: Matt McKeeby)

The famous “1964 Toy Fair” sales film (HERE), of which we are all very familiar and which was produced for the eyes of major department and toy store buyers only, most certainly predates these three reels, but it was never actually shown on television. By contrast, Matt’s three films are all bona-fide commercials, created and intended to be seen by the vast, American viewing public. And at the time, 1-minute television spots were not uncommon. They allowed viewers to get better, longer looks at brand-new products.
Paul O'Keefe (left) appeared as Patty's "annoying brother Ross" in the Patty Duke Show. This promotional still from the show is dated 1963, which seems correct. When he appeared in the GIjOE commercial, Ross appears to be 1 or 2 years older. (Photo: ABC Television)

’60s child actor, Paul O’Keefe (left), appeared as Patty’s “annoying brother Ross Lane” on The Patty Duke Show. This promotional still taken from the show is dated 1963, which would be correct. When he appeared in the GIjOE commercial, Ross was about 2 years older. (Photo: ABC Television)

TV’s First “GIjOE Kid?”

The young actors seen in vintage 1960s-’70s GIjOE sales films and commercials were all largely “unknowns.” Originally hired by advertising agencies more as “child models” than for their acting ability, the names and identities of most are now lost to eternity. However, “the kid” who was to be cast in this first GIjOE TV spot would be required to sing the GIjOE jingle, clearly narrate the various scenes, and act convincingly alongside an onscreen “father.” That upped the ante quite a bit and required the skills of a real child ACTOR. But who?

Fortunately, an eagle-eyed fan over on the Trenches forum known as “toyfan” was able to identify the child actor featured in Matt’s first commercial, revealing:

“That kid is the actor that played the little brother ‘Ross’ on The Patty Duke Show. That is an awesome commercial, Matt. Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see the others.”

TV's first "GIjOE Kid," actor Paul O'Keefe, as he appears today at age 62. (Photo: IMDb)

TV’s first “GIjOE Kid,” actor Paul O’Keefe, as he appears today at age 62. (Photo: IMDb)

“Ross,” as it turns out, was actor Paul O’Keefe, who at the time, was 12 years old and playing the character “Ross Lane” opposite Patty Duke on ABC’s The Patty Duke Show. O’Keefe is now 62, and as far as we could determine, he is still acting. However, despite our best efforts, we could not reach him for comment (yet).

Bottom Line: What a wonderful gift to present and share with the GIjOE collecting community on our hero’s 50th Anniversary! We owe a great debt of gratitude to Matt’s unknown benefactor for preserving these film reels all these years, as well as Matthew McKeeby for assuming their current ownership and stewardship. For more information on this astonishing discovery, we highly recommend you visit Matt’s Vintage3djoes website. You can also view this first GIjOE TV commercial on Matt’s  Vintage3djoes Video Channel on YouTube.
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6 thoughts on “SHOCKER! Never-Before-Seen 1964-65 G.I. Joe TV Commercials Discovered; Will Be Shown to Public For the First Time EVER Exclusively on Vintage3DJoes Site; Original Child Actor ID’d

  1. Tim Weedn says:

    Excellent article! … Thanks for sharing!

  2. Omar says:

    Wow, now that really is an amazing piece of history! OMG!

  3. Barry Vedros says:

    Great article! Love the news coverage. I might have missed it if not for the Joe Report.

  4. ruby says:

    Sad too see all the cool stuff and what it used to look like (the 12-inch GIjOEs in the old commercials). WHAT A SLAP IN MY FACE! 😦 We can’t give up now, people. Let’s hope the original will come back. Please Hasbro, bring back the 12-inch version with the fuzz-hair and beard.

  5. Derek says:

    This was fabulous. I do collect paper goods, not so much from GI Joe. I just Love stuff like this, a glimpse into the past. Speaking of Joe paper goods, does anyone know where I can get a reproduction of the club kits?

    • Why settle for repros? I’m pretty sure you can find the various elements on eBay if you’re patient. The toughest piece to find appears to be the big manilla envelope it all came in. That’s typically thrown out quickly. But you occasionally see them for sale too. Happy hunting!

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