ANIMATION ANECDOTES
April 28, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #311

Tom Sito And Tummy Trouble. In the Los Angeles Times July 27, 1989, animator Tom Sito who worked on the weasels in the animated feature and the flying needles sequence in the short (Tummy Trouble 1989) talked about working on the short, “We really had a two-fold job to do (on Tummy Trouble). We wanted to show the audience that it was the same old Roger they enjoyed in the first film with no compromise in quality or taste, but we also wanted to delve into his character more deeply.

“On the feature, the live action had been shot before we began the animation which presented unique demands of staging and timing. If Eddie Valiant hit a weasel and the weasel fell and hit a table, Bob Hoskins would do the gesture and the prop table would collapse. We had to match our animation to those actions and try to make the scene look spontaneous. On the short, we didn’t have those restrictions so it was more open in terms of your ability to create jokes and play with the timing.

“I’d like to work on the other (Roger Rabbit short) cartoons. Roger Rabbit is such a fun character to throw around and do things with. When animators get a good character, they act like parking lot attendants when they get a hold of a Porsche.”


Floating Boop. Betty Boop motored through Pasadena during the January 1991 Rose Parade in her thirty-five foot long hot yellow convertible. It was from the City of Carson and entitled “Fun on the Move” and won the Governor’s Trophy for “best depiction of life in California”. According to the press release read while the float passed the reviewing stands, “Betty’s figure was patterned after Mae West”. Her head rotated flirtatiously during the trip, powered by a 16-year-old boy pedaling a bicycle chain underneath. There were four live people on the float, two from the Make a Wish Foundation and two representing the City of Carson. The license plate on the car was a vanity plate reading “B. Boop”.


We All Miss Jay Ward. When Jay Ward was asked if when he referred to Moosylvania as the 52nd state if he was deferring to Puerto Rico’s claim to become the 51st. “Land O’ Goshen, no,” replied Ward. “We’ve always considered Puerto Rico to be a state but we figure Texas might want to join up.” According to Ward, winter in Moosylvania lasts over eleven months, the state flower is the Moosylvanian Flytrap (“the only plant to belch”) and the favorite sport is farkling, “a cross between pinochle, Russian roulette, and lacrosse with perhaps a pinch of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre thrown in.” One of the many things not in my collection is a copy of the Secret Handbooks of the Moosylvania Swamp Rat Patrol that was available from Old London Foods, makers of Corn Doodles, Cheez Doodle and Dipsy Doodles.


Birth of An American Tail. In the L.A. Daily News, David Kirschner who came up with the concept for the story that later developed in An American Tail (1986) shared the following story about his struggles on getting the idea made. He said that he carted a steamer trunk filled with clay figurines of Feivel Mousekewitz and his family to the Malibu home of Steven Spielberg to pitch the story. The idea had already been nixed by Disney’s Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Kirschner recalled, “He said, ‘Who would want to see a film about a Jewish mouse?’ Kirschner made an emotional pitch to Spielberg (“my wife, who was behind Steven was crying”) and Spielberg signed on. After the film went on to great success, “Katzenberg sent me a note saying, ‘I guess now we know who would want to see a film about a Jewish mouse’.”


Charitable Work. Writer and actor John Cleese voiced the villain Cat R. Wahl in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991). He shared his memories of the experience with writer Kim “Howard” Johnson in the book Life Before and After Monty Python (St. Martins Press 1993). John Lithgow was originally going to play the role before Cleese signed on, after Cleese turned down the role of Cogsworth the clock in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991).

Cleese would later also turn down the role of Zazu The Lion King (1994) for the role of Jean-Bob the frog in The Swan Princess (1994) because the character was inspired by his French taunter character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

“I met one of the producers (for An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, 1991) at the Italian Oscars when I got my award (for A Fish Called Wanda, 1988). He mentioned this animated film coming up and would I do a voice. I said, ‘Sure, ask me closer to the time’. I enjoyed the first An American Tail (1986) and so I was very pleased to do it. I said, ‘Sure, a couple of days in the studio should be great fun’. I love sound studios anyway – there’s none of the hassle and boredom and time wasting you get in television.

“The only shock was the size of the fee, which was probably the smallest fee I’ve been paid in ten years. But I decided to do it anyway. Apparently, Spielberg is famous for his tight-fistedness but it’s the smallest fee I can remember earning in recorded history. I was a little bit ticked because I was asked about doing publicity and I said I was busy and couldn’t help. Then I got another more official request. I sent back a message saying: ‘Tell Mr. Spielberg that I always make it a point not to publicize my charitable activities’.”


Stranger Than Fiction. Rapper Ice-T told SPY magazine in its January 1994 issue that as a kid, “I watched cartoons like Winky Dink, where you had to get a special screen to stick on your TV and when Winky Dink got stuck in a hole, you’d have to draw him a rope. It had a song, “Winky Dink and you, Winky Dink and me, always have a lot of fun together!” Winky Dink, man! Winky Dink was some O.G. (Original Gangster). That was back in the days of Gigantor, Kimba the White Lion and Space Ghost. Eighth Man from the eighth dimension had this great theme song too.”

12 Comments

  • Surprised that John Cleese didn’t turned down the role of the king in Shrek 2,3&4 and as the King of the Bergans in Trolls. Guess he like to do Monarchy rolls.

    • Yeah, BIGG3469, John Cleese is really great in roles that required being petulant, like royalty roles. P.D. I read your comments on the original Latin American dub of looney Tunes. Do you have any recordings of those shorts with the original dub?

  • It is interesting to read a rapper’s memories of watching cartoons, especially since pop culture worms its way into rap lyrics so often…and so many of us were introduced to classic theatrical animation through their daring broadcasts on local TV. But the pop cultural references in rap usually turn out to be those within anime, like Astro Boy, Gigantor or Speed Racer…I guess that, when an actor is expected to “inter-act” with a cartoon character, it is best that the live actor imagines his or herself as a cartoon character and be able to comically react when the cartoon character “reacts”…hard to explain, but I think you get the idea. It involves something called imagination, the one thing that launches some of our best cartoons.

    • A couple of non-anime examples that sprang to mind:

      A Total Television reference/sample:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIggvDVt_eU#t=0m51s

      I believe a cut from Hanna Barbera, but I can’t identify which character off-hand (Mr. Jinks?):
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxyMqDj89LY#t=03m22s

    • In his recently published autobiography CHEECH IS NOT MY REAL NAME, Richard (Cheech) Marin has a good chapter on how he worked on playing the roles he voiced in OLIVER & COMPANY and the CARS films, and it sounds a lot like this method.

    • Some more citations of cartoons in rap are samples from George of the Jungle’s yell and the Mighty Mouse theme in Twin Hype’s “Do It To the Crowd;” a sample from the 1953-60 Woody Woodpecker theme in Doug E. Fresh’s “Greatest Entertainer;” the title of Del the Funkee Homosapien’s album “I Wish My Brother George Was Here” from the Looney Tune “Three Little Bops;” the Fat Albert theme in Big Daddy Kane’s “The House That Cee Built.”

  • Oops…”Greatest Entertainer” has the 1967 Spider-Man theme, and Doug E. Fresh’s “Guess Who” has the Woody Woodpecker sample.

    • Also in the Pingu cartoon where he’s was eggsitting he decided to play a record featuring the German Pop group Video Kids Woodpeckers from Space from the album The Invasion of the Spacepeckers with the famous Woody Woodpecker laugh. Sadly HiT Entertainment who bought out the broadcast rights for Pingu replaced Woodpeckers from Space for the song The Pingu Dance.

  • @Cartoonfans7

    If you go on YouTube there are several Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies in Latino Spanish both the earlier versions which had a different soundtrack and in the beginning you can hear ” Fantasías Animadas de Ayer y Hoy (Animated Fantasies From Yesterday and Today) and in the end you could hear the words “Está Cuento Sa Cavo (This Story has Ended) and the Ted Turner Redubs of the LT/MM some of which had the “dubbed edition and Turner Entertainment” lettering in the end and the words “Looney Tunes” and on the Merrie Melodies Fantasias Animadas de Ayer y Hoy. And I do have several versions of the Looney Toons/Merrie Melodies in its original Latino Spanish dub from the Cartoon Craze collection which they sold at Walmart for a $1 (and that was before the P.C Thugs started to go “B.S.C.” (Bat ᎦᏲᎥᏆ Crazy) accusing Walmart of racism because of the contents of those DVD that had so-called stereotypes on African Americans and Asian Americans but didn’t realize that those cartoons were enjoyed by many generations before Politically Correctiveness force many of these classic cartoons to be heavily censored or banned from television broadcast) including Bugs Bunny “El Héroe” (Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid) and my personal favorite The Dover Boys of Pimento University in its original Latino Spanish including Doris (Aurora) Standpipe wailing in Latino Spanish and that cad Dan Backslide crying for his mommy after getting trashed by Doris Standpipe. I also had VCR tapes with many of those Latino Spanish dubbed Looney Toons and Merrie Melodies cartoons that I recorded via satellite on XHGC TV 5 and the cable channel ZAZ but because of age (I recorded them over 20 years ago) and the magnetic strip on the VCR tapes wore out and the discontinuation of the VCR players caused my VCR collection was obsolete and worthless.

  • I’m surprised that nobody mentioned that Rowan Atkinson took over the role of ‘Zazu’ in “The Lion King” – from John Cleese – to add to his long resume of roles in movies and television (including “The Black Adder” and “Mr. Bean”…

  • There´s also this service at Walmart where the employees can repair your tapes and transfer them to DVD: http://www.dvdwalmart.com/Services_Pricing.aspx

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