On the Wall. In the Warners Brother cartoon My Little Duckaroo (1954), some newspapers are seen lining the walls in the backgrounds for Nasty Canasta’s cabin. They are from the April 19, 1947 issue of The New Yorker. Page 87, to be exact, the start of a short story A Case of Congestion by Evelyn Eaton.
Daws Butler Remembered by Stan Freberg. “You have to realize that Hanna-Barbera worked backward from characterizations that Daws (Butler) created to come up with Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. He was those characters long before they ever hit the screen. Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear were walking, talking, visual adptations of what he did for years. The fact that he doesn’t crave publicity in a business that feeds on it says a lot about him as a man. You cannot dislike Daws. You can get a feel for him the characters he created. They are warm and compassionate. He is an incredibly talented man, whose humor is both subtle and profound,” claimed the amazing Stan Freberg, a long time friend and collaborator with Butler, in a 1978 interview.
Jumbo. In 1978, Zelimir Matko, then chief of Zagreb Films, announced he was going to produce an animated feature entitled “Jumbo” about the great Barnum and Bailey pachyderm “including his sex life”. British animator Bob Godfrey was listed as co-director. The film was never made because shortly after the announcement, one of the backers passed away. Godfrey passed away in 2013 and his one unfulfilled ambition was to make an animated feature.
Dr. Seuss. Theodor Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”) claimed to an interviewer in 1979 that he never watched any of the animated television specials based on his work. “And I don’t read any of my books after they come out. If I did, I’d start re-analyzing.”
What Makes Animators Great? What makes animators like Grim Natwick, Ken Harris or Art Babbitt so great? Animator Richard Williams in 1979 was quick to answer, “They knew how to draw, that’s why. And I don’t mean Bugs Bunny. Natwick went to Austria in the beginning and learned from Gustav Klimt. I went crazy when I first saw the drawings of Ego Schiele. He drew like an animator. So did Edgar Degas. You see, animation is the science of drawing movement, the craft of movement. Degas knew it. An animator should be able to draw like a Degas. Animation is slow. It’s cold patience. It’s not speed. Fast is funny. Fast is cartoons. If the object is to make people laugh, okay, that’s for the cartoonists. My own favorite cartoons are Chuck Jones’ Road Runners.”
Williams Masterpiece. In 1978, Richard Williams’ legendary “The Thief and the Cobbler” had only a few minutes of finished footage plus another hour of rough artwork as well as scores of stored reels at the Soho facility filled with abandoned conceptions representing years of work. Williams who stated that everything else he had ever done had just been rehearsal for this epic film, declared, “I wanted to redefine the animation medium. And it took us years to get ready. Everything has existed to produce this one picture.” I know that Roy E. Disney when he was alive was an advocate to have Williams director’s cut restored and released. Did that project die with Roy?
Math Trouble. Lou Scheimer of Filmation in 1979 was defending his cartoons to TV Guide’s Ellen Torgerson by saying, “It’s a stupid charge that animation isn’t as good as it used to be. Kids don’t count the number of drawings.”
Geographically Attractive. Animation historian Joe Adamson once explained that the reason that Paramount used the Schlesinger Studio to do the animation in their film “Alice in Wonderland” (1933) (the walrus and the carpenter sequence) and not the Fleischer Studio where they already had a relationship was that the Fleischers were on the East Coast and Paramount felt that the Warner Brothers facilities on the West Coast were more convenient.
The Tears of Hanna. An animator once told me that when animation legend Bill Hanna completed the short “To Spring” (1936) for Harman-Ising, he was so disappointed in his work on it that he cried.
Gould on Tracy. Chester Gould, creator of the “Dick Tracy” comic strip had some strong feelings about the early 1960s UPA series. “I didn’t like that. That was made on a format I came up with and supervised the initial episode. But we were catering to very small fry and I think we would have been smarter to have taken a more serious view of the thing and played it more or less straight, like the strip.”
Chuck Jones Tribute. The Sunday episode of the “Rick O’Shay” comic strip for September 23, 1979 featured gunfighter Hipshot Perrcussion riding into New Mexico territory when suddenly two clouds of dust pass by him quickly. The reader gets a quick glimpse of a coyote chasing a roadrunner as Hipshot muses, “That crazy coyote ain’t never gonna catch that ol’ roadrunner…” as he dismount in front of the Acme Saloon, “C. Jones Prop.” At the time the strip was written by Marian Dern. In 1978, Jones’ wife Dorothy died; three years later, he married Marian Dern. Dern had worked in several capacities including assistant to the producer on several Jones’ half hour specials starting in 1973.
Guest Starring Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse was so popular in the 1930s that excerpts from Mickey Mouse cartoons appeared in movies from other studios. A short clip from Mickey Mouse’s “Ye Olden Days” (1933) is seen at the beginning of the Fox Films, “My Lips Betray” (1933). Republic Pictures Corporation film “Michael O’Halloran” (1937) features an excerpt from “Puppy Love” (1933). In the famous Paramount’s “Sullivan’s Travels” (1941) is an excerpt from “Playful Pluto” (1934) that convinces Joel McCrea’s character of the importance of laughter during the Great Depression.
Mickey Monkey. The actor playing Mickey Mouse in the 1934 Laurel and Hardy film version of Babes in Toyland (also known as “March of the Wooden Soldiers” after 1948) was a capuchin monkey in a Mickey Mouse costume and mask. See embed below. The New York Times review of the film December 13, 1934 identifies the character as Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney was friends with both producer Hal Roach and stars Laurel and Hardy.