A Real Pussycat. The 1970 Hanna-Barbera television series “Josie and the Pussycats” about an all-girl pop music band was the result of the success of Filmation’s “The Archie Show” and Action for Children’s Television wanting less violent cartoons on Saturday morning. The Josie characters came from an Archie comic book created and drawn by artist Dan DeCarlo. DeCarlo’s wife was named Josie and she claimed, “We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a [cat] costume for the cruise, and that’s the way it started.” DeCarlo put together samples for a newspaper strip called “Here’s Josie” with the character but it didn’t sell to a syndicate so he offered it to Richard Goldwater who took it to his father who was publishing Archie comics. On the television series, even though DeCarlo is given a “created by” credit (along with Richard Goldwater, Joe Ruby and Ken Spears), he never received any additional payments or royalties. When the comic book was optioned by Hanna-Barbera, the Archie company dropped Dan DeCarlo’s credit in the Josie comic books and used just “Dick and Dan” instead. Dick referred to Richard “Dick” Goldwater.
What Might Have Been. Today, comedian Charles Fleischer is known as the voice of Roger Rabbit but when the Disney Company first optioned the project, it was to be directed by talented Darrell Van Citters who had hired Paul Reubens, better known today as “Pee Wee Herman” to supply the voice of Roger. “Paul had both an excitability and naïve quality to his voice that we felt was essential to the character’s personality,” stated Citters. “Despite his firmly established role as Pee-Wee Herman, Paul is an excellent vocal actor and gave us exceptional readings.” Reubens did end up supplying a voice for a Disney character, Captain RX-24 (“Rex”) in the original version of the popular Star Tours attraction at the Disney theme parks.
Talking Cat and Mouse. Publicity for “Tom and Jerry: The Movie” (1992) claimed that it was the first time the two characters had ever spoken. Most animation fans know that Tom spoke several times in the MGM shorts including using four different voices in “Solid Serenade” (1946). Jerry also spoke, most notably in the film “Anchors Aweigh” (1945) with Gene Kelly. In the 1992 film, Richard Kind gave voice to Tom and Dana Hill did the same for Jerry.
Talking Cat and Mouse Part Two. Although comedian Chevy Chase has denied ever being involved in a proposed live action version of Hanna-Barbera’s “The Jetsons”, he did reveal in a 1992 interview that “MGM had this idea of doing Tom and Jerry with Dustin Hoffman as the voice of the mouse and myself as the cat. We both liked the idea but ultimately, nothing came of it.” At the time, one project that was under development was a movie with the working title “Bugs Bunny and Chevy Chase” to be directed by Richard Donner. It was to be simliar to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.
The Zemeckis Touch. The talented Mike Giaimo was the original designer for the Disney character Roger Rabbit when director Darrell Van Citters was handling the project. Years later, when Robert Zemeckis took over the project, Zemeckis felt the design was a little broad and “clown-like” and called in Giaimo to redesign the character. Giaimo remembers the suggestion he kept getting from Zemeckis was to “make (Roger) a little more like Michael J. Fox” whom Zemeckis had just finished directing in the movie “Back To The Future” (1985).
The Devil Made Him Do It. Writer Stephen King wrote a horror short story “The Crate” which was later adapted for the 1982 movie, “Creepshow”. Inside a long forgotten crate stored in a university is a horrible monster that seems to be all teeth. King based the creature on Warner Brothers’ Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. “One day, my kids were watching one of these cartoons, and I thought, that’s not funny; that’s horrible!” When King’s agent tried to sell the completed story to Playboy magazine, the story editor reluctantly turned it down with the comment, “I think it’s really scary but every time that creature pops up, I think of the Tasmanian Devil in the Warner Brothers’ cartoons!”
Pig Out. In 1992, the Chairman of the Malaysian Censorship Board screened Disney’s animated feature “Beauty and the Beast” and demanded that a five second scene of a little pig scurrying around in the background be eliminated before the film could be shown. The Chairman felt that Malaysia’s fundamentalist regime would “find the pig offensive”. Disney executive Kevin Hyson responded, “I guess we won’t ever be releasing the ‘Three Little Pigs’ there.”
Just A Hair. When writer Linda Woolverton wrote the screenplay for Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, her physical description of Belle was minimal. “The only thing I wrote was ‘she has a little wisp of hair that keeps falling in her face’. Why? Because I wanted her not to be perfect. It was important that not every hair be in place,” remarked Woolverton.
Destroying the Minds of America. In 1992, John Kricfalusi, who was then the producer-director of the “Ren and Stimpy” show, told Time Magazine that he knew the show would be a success because “I figured there had to be millions of kids out there as sick of Ducktales, the Flintstones and My Little Pony as we were. I think we are destroying the minds of America. And that’s been one of my life-long ambitions.”
It Ain’t Cricket. Many films contain obscure animation connections. In the RKO mystery, “The Falcon Strikes Back” (1943), villain Edgar Kennedy is performing a marionette show when the assistant of the detective The Falcon falls on to the stage during the show. That assistant was portrayed by Cliff Edwards, the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s “Pinocchio” (1940). Kennedy continues the show despite the interruption by bringing out a marionette of Disney’s Goofy.
Animation Connections Part Two. In the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961), Audrey Hepburn’s character decides, for a lark, to steal something from a five-and-ten cent store. At one point, she almost takes a children’s Huckleberry Hound Halloween mask but decides to take a generic cat mask instead.