Blanc Memorial Ad. When voice artist Mel Blanc passed away July 10,1989, Warner Brothers bought double-truck ads (two facing pages) in both Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter that ran on July 13, 1989. Warners ran an extra hundred copies to distribute but the color illustration of characters like Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and other WB character voiced by Blanc with their heads respectfully bowed near a standing microphone and the word “Speechless” proved even more popular than anticipated.
Both trade papers received multiple requests for unstapled copies to frame. Director of marketing at the time Lynne Segall said, “Both papers pretty much sold out. I’ve worked here for ten years and it was certainly one of the more tasteful memorial ads that ever ran. It definitely had an impact.” Kathleen Helppie, the vice president of Warners animation, had artists Darrell Van Citters and Chris Buck do the now famous ad.
Katzenberg on Roger Rabbit. From Los Angeles Times Calendar section June 22, 1998, Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of Walt Disney Studios talked about the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit: “This was one of the most difficult, time-consuming and challenging projects ever to come across our desks. Although we hope to do more with the technique, we haven’t really had the time to catch our breaths and understand just what it is that’s been done.
“But whether Roger Rabbit proves a success or a failure on the marketplace, I think it has been a pioneering effort by this company – one that defines the type of venture Walt Disney himself was famous for. We like to think this film is at the center of the grandest tradition of innovation in technology and storytelling that we inherited from him.”
A Blank Sheet of Paper. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “The only weapon I have is this: a blank sheet of paper. When I finish a film – Boom! – there’s that damn blank thing staring at me again. Our tools are a flurry of drawings and a pencil. The rest is just additional stuff – ink, paint, backgrounds – all of that. They contribute to the film but they’re not what makes the film.”
Melendez On Peanuts. From Woman’s Day magazine February 1968, animator and director Bill Melendez said, “I was doing some work for the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and they asked me if I was willing to do the Peanuts animation for the Ford commercial. That’s when I got together with Sparky (Charles Schulz’s nickname) the first time. He’s very sensitive about how his material is handled. He got the notion that only I can do it. I’d like to do every bit of the animation myself but it would take me forever. By spreading out the work load we can produce a half hour Peanuts special in about five months.”
Over Melendez’s drawing board was an original comic strip in which Charlie Brown, giving street directions, refers to “Melendez Boulevard”. The black moustache Snoopy uses to disguise himself in the film He’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown (1968) bears a strong resemblance to the one worn by Melendez. “Sparky likes to bait me,” laughed Melendez.
Wilma Flintstone Speaks. In the L.A. Daily News for May 9, 1994, actress Jean Vander Pyl, the voice of Wilma Flintstone, talked about what it was like doing the popular Hanna-Barbera animated series, “All four of us had worked in radio together in the very beginning so we were all friends. Bea (Benaderet) being one of the best. We just had so much fun in the studio. The guys would tell jokes. Some they would let the girls hear and some they wouldn’t. In those days, they were gentlemen.
“You didn’t talk that way in front of ladies… say those naughty words! It was so casual and such fun. Joe (Barbera) would call me up and say, ‘Jean, I got a little character. Do you think you have a voice for this?’ And then I’d give one and he’d say, ‘Oh, that’s good. Come in tomorrow morning’.”
Vander Pyl was paid $15,000 when she taped the last episode of original run of The Flintstones. “We were paid for six runnings of each show. Nobody ever dreamed in the early days of TV that any show would last longer than that.”
Freleng’s Star. Friz Freleng got his star (the 1,962 one awarded) on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on August 20, 1992, one day before his 86th birthday. It is located at 7000 Hollywood Blvd. in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This location is not as random as some placements. The hotel is where Freleng and his wife Lily had their wedding reception sixty years earlier.
At the time of the installation, an Associated Press reporter asked if it were true that he was the inspiration for Yosemite Sam. “I have the same temperament,” Freleng told the reporter. “I’m small, and I used to have a red mustache.”
Magoo Controversy. Henry G. Saperstein, President of UPA Pictures Inc. wrote a fiery letter to the Los Angeles Times that was published October 25, 1993 in response to an article by Rob Wishart,”A Word to Disney: Pass Up Rights to ‘Mr. Magoo,’ ” in the L.A. Times Calendar section October 16, 1993:
“Mr. Magoo is myopic, but so is 52% of the U.S. Wishart ‘sees’ Magoo as a pathetic buffoon. Yet, Magoo films have been honored by the motion picture academy, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Kennedy Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and many others. He’s been a very successful spokesman for GE, RCA, Timex, Blue Shield, NutraSweet, the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. Navy, the American Cancer Society, the National Safety Council and the American Heart Association.”
Some Things Never Change. In 1991, Warners got in trouble be re-releasing theatrically an old Bugs Bunny cartoon entitled A Lad And His Lamp (1948) about Bugs’ involvement with a genie and Mad Man Hassan. Warners responded in a publicity statement reported in Variety (February 25, 1991) that it was “simply a classic cartoon, produced 43 years ago, satirizing a classic children’s fairy tale, intended – as all our cartoons are – only as good-natured fun”.
However, radio personality Casey Kasem (the voice of Shaggy in the Scooby-Doo series) who was of Arab descent and an activist for improving the image of Arabs led the vocal protest and denounced the cartoon as “perpetuating Arab stereotypes and could dehumanize the populace as a whole” as he told the Los Angeles Times on February 25, 1991. “It was never intended to be a racist cartoon,” stated Vivian Boyer a Warners Brothers executive.