MacDonald’s Magic. In the L.A. Times obituary February 6, 1991 for one-man sound effects genius Jimmy MacDonald, it mentioned “MacDonald credited his engineering studies – through a correspondence course – for much of his success, citing in particular the time that he used clusters of duralumin to simulate the tones of the Western chromatic scale. This was to reflect the sound a spider makes when spinning a web. He once was asked if the spinning of a web could really make a sound. ‘When Walt Disney said it could, you made it have a sound,’ was the reply.”
D’Oh Homer. In 1991, The U.S. Council for Energy Awareness, a public interest group, complained to Fox’s The Simpsons about its portrayal of Homer Simpson and his fellow nuclear plant workers as “bumbling idiots”. Executive producer Sam Simon conceded that in real life, Homer “would not be employed at a nuclear-power plant. On the other hand, he probably wouldn’t be employed anywhere.”
Enriching Animation. “As a kid, I always wanted to work at Disney. When I finally got there, I spent most of my time fighting about things instead of creating. I just want to put something on flilm that will enrich society,” said animator/director Don Bluth in PREVUE magazine (Feb/March 1981).
Fuzzy Little Animals. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “We keep coming back to the idea that people want to do fuzzy little animals. Is Fantasia (1940) fuzzy little animals? Some people are always talking of fuzzy little animals as though they were all that we or Disney ever did. None of our characters was fuzzy. Indeed until Xerox came along you couldn’t even make a fuzzy animal.”
HeppCatt Animated. I Want To Go Home (1989) was a film by Alain Resnais about a veteran American cartoonist played by songwriter Adolph Green who visits France for an exhibition. The film was written by Jules Feiffer who created the “vintage” character of HeppCatt supposedly done by the cartoonist. Feiffer did up six daily strips and a Sunday page but they are shown only briefly in the film.
HeppCatt, however, does appear throughout the film in limited animation as the cartoonist’s conscience. As Feiffer told Graphic Story Monthly in its May 1990 issue: “Resnais wanted the cartoon characters in (the film) there some way. We intended much fuller animation but then Roger Rabbit came out and he realized that there was no way of competing with their time, money, and brilliance. It seems to me that is the ultimate. He was wary of anyone drawing any comparisons so he moved in a different direction. I had a wonderful time. I made four or five trips to Paris in the making of the film.”
Who Created Casper? In The Peg-Board (May 1976), a publication of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union, animator Isadore (Izzie) Klein wrote “an imaginary conversation” between a grandfather and his grandson about how Casper was created: “Casper was thought up by some fellow whose name I don’t know. [Editor’s Note: That writer would be Sy Reit] He sold the first Casper script to a man named Joe for twenty-five dollars. [Editor’s Note: I’d assume the man he’s referring to is Joe Oriolo] Joe sold the original Casper script to Mr. Sam Buchwald, who was the manager of Famous Animated Cartoon Studio for Paramount Pictures.
“Joe sold the script for one hundred dollars, making a clear profit. I was on the story staff at Famous. I was also animating for the studio. Sam called all of the story men into his office for a big story meeting. For hours, we were up against a stone wall. It looked like Casper was a one-shot idea. Then late in the afternoon, someone made a suggestion that cracked the stone wall. We all started to bounce around the new thought and plot number two for Casper sort of jelled up into an outline.”Animator and producer Chuck Jones responded in the July 1976 issue of Peg-Board: “I suppose you could call it retroactive plagiarism, because we stole Izzie Klein’s idea of a little boy ghost ten years before he created Casper (Ghost Wanted (1940) about an inexperienced little silent boy ghost scared by a bigger ghost). Speaking for Rick Hogan, Tedd Pierce, Dave Monahan — sincerest apologies to old Iz. Somehow, after this first one, we couldn’t see the vast merchandizing potential in a dead six year old.”
Of course, Klein responded in the August 1976 issue of Peg-Board: “Nowhere in my article did I claim credit. As I said, the original story was created outside Famous Studio. I did not know until now that you were one of those “ME, TOO!” guys – that you, could have done the thing but couldn’t dirty your hands for the money or some other excuse. That is all very noble or whatever – but all I was pointing up was that the Harvey outfit did NOT create Casper the Friendly Ghost. I would suggest you re-read ‘An Imaginary Conversation’.”
Animator Dave Tendlar also had a letter in that issue: “About Chuck Jones’ letter in the last issue of The Peg-Boad, commenting as how ghosts were around his studio years before Casper. Yes, there were a lot of mice around years before Disney thought up Mickey. And also a lot of cats and rabbits and dogs and birds and even Gertie, the Dinosaur. They were all here before us cartooners were around and they’ll be here long after we’re gone.
“Remember, Casper was a very successful long run cartoon series for theater and TV and not a one-shot idea, as at Schlesinger’s studio. No ‘lifts’ were involved here. So, Chuck, let’s give those Casper writers and animators the credit they deserve, instead of the cheap shot, aimed at our hard-working fellow cartoonists who still take pride in their creative endeavors of the past.”