The Musical Flintstones. In 1988, The Screaming Blue Messiahs, a punk/new wave rock group, released a single titled “I Wanna Be A Flintstone” (peaking at number 28 on the charts). The music video which ran on MTV featured cartoon clips from the Hanna-Barbera series intercut with scenes of the real band. Another punk rock group, The Dickies, produced Bowling With Bedrock Barney. In the 1985 film documentary Bring on the Night, singer Sting sings the Flintstones theme song – and in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), comedian John Candy led a busload of passengers in the chorus of that famous theme song.
Credit Where Credit Is Due. In animation, sometimes the official credits are incorrect. Jack Hannah only worked on the Hare-cules Hare segments for the animated “Beany and Cecil” but received credit for working on the entire series. Tim
Bugard Burgard storyboarded sections of three different episodes of “The Simpsons” but only received onscreen credit for one episode. In the UPA “Dick Tracy” television series, voice artist Mel Blanc did the voice of Mexican stereotype detective Go Go Gomez but only for the pilot episode. Legendary Paul Frees did the voice on the one hundred or so other cartoons yet only Blanc is often credited with doing the voice of the character. Sometimes Clarence “Ducky” Nash who did the voice of Donald Duck gets credit for doing the similar voice for Hanna-Barbera’s Little Quacker (actually Red Coffee) and Yakky Doodle (actually Jimmy Weldon).
Princess Voices. Actress Jodi Benson, who supplied the voice of the mermaid Ariel in Disney’s animated feature “The Little Mermaid” and its sequel and other related projects, also voiced three other animated princesses: Princess Arabella in “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect” (1990) and Princess Tula in Hanna-Barbera’s “The Pirates of Dark Water” (1991-1993). Thumbelina with Benson’s voice becomes a fairy princess at the end of the Bluth animated film of the same name. Supposedly the producers of that 1994 film “Thumbelina” generated positive ratings during test screenings by playing the Walt Disney Pictures logo at the beginning, making viewers think they were watching a Disney movie. However, once it was released, it did poorly at the box office and was the only animated feature film to ever win a “Razzie” award, for worst song “Marry the Mole”.
Supervisor? Director! I once asked Warner Brothers director Bob Clampett in the late 1970s, why some of the early Warner cartoons used the term “supervisor” instead of a director credit. Clampett told me, “Leon Schlesinger called his directors ‘supervisors’ which I believe he took from Irving Thalberg, who called his key filmmakers at MGM ‘supervisors’. I think Leon was smart enough to know that if he called people ‘supervisor’ that the audience would think that the supervisor was just the bookkeeper or the pencil lead dispenser. So when Leon went to the racetrack, they’d say, ‘Hey, that was a great cartoon you drew last night, Leon’. And he’d just smile. Sometimes even people in the business didn’t know who was doing what. It has only been in recent years that some of these talented people have started to get credit for their work.”
Unique Wedding Vows. John Hubley had a long and varied career in animation, from work at Disney to time spent at UPA to work as an award-winning animator. Reportedly, when he married Faith, their wedding vows included the stipulation that they would always make at least one independent film a year and that they would always have dinner with their children.
Gene Kelly Inspiration. Singer and dancer Paula Abdul claimed to know every one of Gene Kelly’s movies by heart, and said she used his 1945 film “Anchors Aweigh” where he dances with an animated Jerry the Mouse as her inspiration for her “Opposites Attract” video in which she danced with an animated cool cat. The video, with animation directed by Chris Bailey (Runaway Brain, Kim Possible) is embed below.
Father or Mother? “The thing I wanted to do in ‘Luxo, Jr.’ was make the characters and story the most important thing, not the fact that it was done in computer graphics,” animator and director John Lasseter told writer Harry McCracken in 1990. “After the film show, Jim Blinn, who’s one of the pioneers in this (computer animation) field, came running up to me and said, ‘John, I have to ask you a question.’ And I thought, ‘I don’t know anything about these algorithms. I know he’s going to ask me about the shadow algorithms or something like that’. And he asked me, ‘John, was the parent lamp a mother or a father?’ Here’s one of the real brains in computer graphics was concerned more about whether the parent lamp was a mother or a father. That question keeps coming up. I always envisioned it as a father, but it’s based greatly on my mother. To me, if it was a mother lamp, she would never let the baby jump on that ball. But the dad is like, ‘Go ahead, jump on it, fall off and break your bulb. You’ll learn a lesson’.”
No Monkeying Around. When director Doug Wildey was involved with the Saturday morning animated series “Return to the Planet of the Apes” (1975), he ran up against NBC’s “Emulative Clause”. Basically, the clause stated that something from an animated series needed to be eliminated if a six year old child could physically emulate what he sees on the cartoon.
Wildey discovered that the network would not allow him to equip the war-like military apes with machine guns or knives or clubs or pistols or hand grenades because of the fear that a six year old child might be able to emulate the action. (The network did relent somewhat by allowing rifles to be strapped to ape soldiers’ backs but only if they were never used.)
Finally, in desperation Wildey asked if it would be okay to use Howitzers. The network agreed that they could not think of a way a six year old could operate a Howitzer so Wildey loaded the series with the weapon and said at the time, “we had them on cassions following jeeps and we had them blowing away mountain tops and we had Howitzers going all the time because the Emulative Clause stopped at a Howitzer.” A Howitzer is a big gun with a short barrel used by the army to fire a shell over a short distance. It can fire higher than a cannon and lower than a mortar.