ANIMATION ANECDOTES
June 6, 2014 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #165

Original newspaper ad (Click to enlarge)

Original newspaper ad (Click to enlarge)

Coonskin. “Everyone’s so terrified of the name (Coonskin). I feel a slight pain in me. Coonskin (1975) was the first “Bakshi Production”. Before that, I had worked with Steve Krantz. And the first film with my first production company never made it to the screen. Had Coonskin made it, you would have seen a different company. Coonskin did not make it, and it also cost me Hey, Good Lookin’ (1982). The film you saw later called Hey, Good Lookin’ was not the same as what was originally planned. It was the same thing that Roger Rabbit did. It was a totally live action film with only four animated characters. Coonskin was the deciding picture of my career, and if I never come back and get the kind of budgets I need, it’s because ‘Coonskin’ never made it.”

Coonskin has a very good level of animation. But still no pencil tests! What I had on Coonskin was a hell of a lot of the old Warner Brothers guys and MGM guys. Great guys who just couldn’t believe they were being allowed to do stuff they always wanted to do and deal with ideas,” stated animator and director Ralph Bakshi to writer Mike Ventrella in 1988.

Chuck Jones Quote. Here is another Chuck Jones quote about how much he hated Saturday morning television from 1989: “There’s a dreadful paucity of ideas on Saturday morning television that really drives me nuts. I really object to the idea in those Saturday morning shows that the only way we can solve problems is in groups. Our whole history has evolved from individuals, not from group behavior.

Richard Williams on “A Christmas Carol” (1971). “We worked from the original Dickens illustrations…we went to the British Museum and Xeroxed everything down to Scrooge’s socks. Unforutnately, we goofed with the nephew. What are you going to do with a normal, good-looking fellow? We tried bushy eyebrows…everything…and he still ended up looking like a stuffed shirt. You know, a critic in Los Angeles said he didn’t like ‘A Christmas Carol’ and was right. It’s too realistic. You can do it in live action and that’s why it doesn’t suit animation,” stated animator and director Richard Williams in 1975.

Never Work With Animated Animals or Children. In the July 1938 issue of “Modern Movies”, actor Alfred Lunt, one of the outstanding stage performers of all time, was asked why he rejected an offer to appear in motion pictures. Lunt’s reply: “Sorry! I wouldn’t mind competing with Gary Cooper or Charles Boyer, but I’ll be damned if I can quack a better monologue than Donald Duck or pantomime a neater turn than Dopey the Dwarf. No thanks. I’ll stay on the stage where I still have only humans to out act!”

Violence on Saturday Morning. A 1977 study showed that children’s television programming on Saturday morning averaged an act of violence every two minutes. The worst offender? “The Pink Panther Show”.

jay-criticThe Price of Fame. Noted voice artist Maurice La Marche in 1997 pondered the situation of the voice artist. “On one hand, it’s a blessing because I can sit in any restaurant in Los Angeles and eat in peace but on the other hand I want to say, ‘Oh! By the way, I’m the Brain!’ (from the Warner Brothers cartoon series Pinky and the Brain). One night I was out with Jon Lovitz (who performed live on Saturday Night Live but at the time was doing the voice for the character on the cartoon series The Critic) and a guy came up to the table and stood next to me and just stared at Jon for awhile. He was staring and cocking his head like a German Shepherd.

“Then the guy comes back with his two kids. ‘This is him! This is him! This is the Saturday Night Live guy. Go ahead, ask him for his autograph.’ You can see the kids are embarrassed and uncomfortable but Jon very nicely signs the autographs and he’s very pleasant to the children. John watches him walk away and after a beat, he looks me dead in the eye and goes, ‘Well, that’s what it’s like to be famous. Still want it?’”

Casey Kasem, Superhero. In 1967, Filmation’s Superman/Batman Hour premiered on CBS. Olan Soule was the voice of the Caped Crusader and Casey Kasem was Robin, the Boy Wonder. As Kasem remembered in 1997, “We did 75 shows and right after that, everything just clicked. Within three months, my agent told me I was the most sought-after voice-over actor in town. All the other characters on the Batman series, with few exceptions, were played by Ted Knight. He was brilliant. He could do Mr. Freeze and the Joker, and he also was Alfred the Butler and even the narrator. I used to say to him,’Would you like me to help out with a couple of characters?’ He would tell me, ‘What are you trying to do, horn in on me, Casey?’ He had a lot of that character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show in him.”

The Forgotten Challenge of Voice Acting. Jim Gallant was a disc jockey for many years and a voice artist (Bullet #3 in Who Framed Roger Rabbit) but he was surprised when he went to an audition and the copy said “Jim Gallant type voice”. After reading that statement, he smiled, thinking the audition would only be a formality. He was even more surprised that someone else got the job because they thought Gallant didn’t sound enough like himself.

Who Was That Animated Character? Animator Bob Givens said, “I remember we did the patriotic Porky Pig film Old Glory (1939). We shot live action and rotoscoped it. I was the guy with the lantern and I think (Rich) Hogan was the guy on the horse.”

wackiki-wabbit550

Those Guys Look Familiar. In the Warner Brothers short Waikiki Wabbit (1943) directed by Chuck Jones, two human castaways have to battle Bugs Bunny. The castaways are caricatures of long-time Warner storymen, Tedd Pierce (the tall, thin one) and Mike Maltese. They even supplied their own voices and Pierce, incidentally, wrote the short which has fallen into public domain.

12 Comments

  • When I was growing up, it seemed like I’d see “Wackiki Wabbit” at least once a week, on TBS, WGN, or the local station’s Looney Tunes show. Yet I’ve never lost my fondness for that cartoon.

    • Same here! And the funny part is, I like it more for the castaways than for Bugs.

    • When I was growing up, it seemed like I’d see “Wackiki Wabbit” at least once a week, on TBS, WGN, or the local station’s Looney Tunes show.

      Or the umpteenth VHS release that had to have it highlighting their “Bugs Bunny” tape. Usually they don’t draw the castaways off-model as much as they do Bugs.

  • “You know, a critic in Los Angeles said he didn’t like ‘A Christmas Carol’ and was right. It’s too realistic. You can do it in live action and that’s why it doesn’t suit animation,” stated animator and director Richard Williams in 1975.

    Oh my God, WHAT. Williams and Jones’ A Christmas Carol traumatized me as a child and it’s the only version I can stomach today. It was made for television yet won an OSCAR. It’s obscene that you can’t get it on commercial DVD today (thankfully there’s a gorgeous rip from 16mm film floating around out there on the Internet).

  • Williams’ “A Christmas Carol” also won an Emmy and may be the sole animated special to take both the Academy Award as well as the Television Academy trophy. The rules were later changed to prevent such a thing happening again. One would think that the fact that it took top prize in theatrical film animation as well as for animated television programming might surely merit it a decent DVD release. Not yet!

    • I have a (slightly faded) 16mm print of “A Christmas Carol” and I’d love to have scan and restore it, but these services are so expensive. :(
      The this is, I also don’t know who have the rights, certainly not a big studio, otherwise, there would already be a dvd/bluray release.
      Anyway, I’m glad I glad to have this print and the opportunity to watch it when I want. I think this is Richard Williams’ greatest achievement.

    • I have a (slightly faded) 16mm print of “A Christmas Carol” and I’d love to have scan and restore it, but these services are so expensive. :(

      I had a 16mm print too but sold it thinking it wasn’t going to do me good given it’s Eastman Red color as well.

      The this is, I also don’t know who have the rights, certainly not a big studio, otherwise, there would already be a dvd/bluray release.

      I assume the rights are with ABC/Disney personally.

  • Jim Gallant’s story kind of reminds me of how Joe Barbara had to keep directing Paul Lynde on how to sound while making the Penelope Pitstop series saying he didn’t sound enough like himself.

  • *Gasp!* Protruding nipples in a movie ad!? – Quick, alert the MPAA!

    Eva Green, you now have precedent.

  • Those were some wild background colors – pink sky, goldenrod forest. Where did the pink pier come from at the end? lol

    • For years I didn’t realize how great those colors were because of how constantly dull they appeared on Public Domain tapes.

  • And another “not sounding enough like themselves” story:
    The original voice for Doctor Who’s K9, John Leeson, once entered a K9 sound-alike contest at a convention, without identifying himself. He came in second.

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