Colorized Oswald. In 1984, Fred Ladd and Entercolor Technologies Corp. did a colorization test on the Walter Lantz Oswald the Rabbit cartoon The Toy Shoppe (1934). Universal rejected it and any further plans to colorize the Oswald cartoons. How did Fred Ladd get into colorization? ‘We owned the black and white “Gigantor” series and originally tried to develop, in 1967, a feasible way to convert the series to color. Our early experiments were observed in the film laboratory – which we both used – by people at Warner Brothers, and that led to our being requested to set aside “Gigantor” for the moment, and go ahead, instead, with ‘Porky Pig’ and colorizing 78 Looney Tunes cartoons,” recalled Ladd in 2002.
The Birth of Futurama. Cartoonist Matt Groening described his inspiration for the animated television series Futurama in a 1999 interview: “There’s certain conceptions of the future which I think are more interesting than others. You know, my older brother had a pile of science-fiction magazines and books and I loved those covers. I just thought it would be really cool, as a kid, if those covers could come to life. I love the look of the 1940s and 50s and early 60s. In the 1970s, things got kind of grim and in the 1980s, it was like, dark and drippy. You know pipes were always dripping in (films like) Blade Runner. We decided what we wanted to do was kind of a Jetsons universe with drippy pipes, basically. Our show takes place in the year 3000 and it’s amazing.
“We’ve created a world, I think, more like we think it’s going to be, not how we wish it. For instance, in the future, one of the great things is there’s going to be 5,000 networks, but UPN will still be in last place. The NRA is still around, but they’re now crusading for the right to bear death rays. You know, gadgets don’t work right. I think the fun thing is to create these gadgets. People get around in New York City by pneumatic tubes. I don’t know exactly how the technology works. It’s very fast, but you end up often hitting a brick wall when you come out at the end.”
Where’s Speedy Gonzales When You Need Him? A New York Times article dated July 5, 1944 discussing racial sensitivity stated that “The Motion Picture Society for the Americas convinced [Lantz] that the title of this cartoon (originally The Mad Matador) should be changed to The Hollywood Matador (1942) and that he should re-film 200 of the 600 feet in the short to eliminate a number of Mexicans shown without shoes and another comic Mexican shown sleeping blissfully with a sombrero over his face. The fear was that Mexican audiences would resent the implications of national laziness.” It cost Lantz $15,000 to make the changes after the complaint from the Mexican consul.
Gopher Gibberish. In one scene of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon Wicket Wacky (1951), J. Goofer Gopher (“Goofy Gopher”) speaks in what audiences thought was just gibberish. Slowing the track down, phrases such as “Cohen is trying to call off the manager of a certain bank, who happens to be his landlord” or “Hello? What? What number do I want? Well, what numbers have ya got?” can be clearly heard. The second time when the gopher appears, slowing down the track, the phrases “Are you the bank?” or “This is not a telescope? It’s a telephone?” can be heard. The track actually comes from an early comedy monolog, “Cohen on the Telephone”, performed by comedian Joe Hayman and recorded in 1913.
What’s In A Name? Many animation fans have assumed that the title of the first Andy Panda cartoon, Life Begins for Andy Panda (1939), was a take-off on the title of the popular Mickey Rooney live action film, Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941). However the live action film appeared roughly two years after the cartoon. The title may have been inspired by the 1932 self-help book, Life Begins at 40.
Why Was Scooby Doo a Success? According to Don Messick who did the voice of Scooby Doo from
1972 1969 until his death in 1997, “It’s because he embraces a lot of human foibles. He’s not the perfect dog…in fact, you might say he’s a coward. Yet, with everything he does, he seems to land on his four feet. He comes out of every situation unscathed. I think the audiences…kids and more mature people as well…can identify with Scooby’s character and his imperfections.”
The Harlem Globetrotters Win. Guest stars in The New Scooby Doo Movies made from 1972-1974 had guest stars that generally fell into three categories: Fictional characters like the Addams Family and Batman, Dead like The Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy, or living celebrities like Jonathan Winters, Don Knotts and Sonny and Cher. The most frequently featured guest stars were The Harlem Globetrotters who appeared in three of the twenty-four movies.
Captain America Never Was. The animated series Captain America scheduled to air in February 1998 on Fox Kids’ Saturday morning lineup never made it to air. It was to be set during Cap’s early days in World War II and plans included the use of Nazis and guns.
“All of us who were developing the show tended to agree that he works as a World War II character,” said producer Will Meugniot in 1998. “We decided we would approach it more like it was Indiana Jones, a period adventure, big stakes, high adventure, one man against the world.”
Fox’s Broadcast Standards and Practices were concerned about the Nazi content and the series was retooled not to feature any Nazis (except for The Red Skull who was not identified as a Nazi) and to include Bucky and a team of commandos outfitted with futuristic technology. Captain America’s real identity was made “Tommy Tompkins” with the name “Steve Rogers” a cover name assigned by the U.S. Army.
It all became moot when Fox and Saban put all production on all Marvel Entertainment shows on hold – although a promo reel was made utilizing some CG elements: