ANIMATION ANECDOTES
May 26, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #315

Gottfried Voice. In the March 26, 1994 issue of Entertainment Weekly, comedian Gilbert Gottfried talked about his voice over work in Don Bluth’s Thumbelina (1994) and Disney’s Aladdin (1992):

“In Thumbelina, I play Berkeley, an eight-legged or ten-legged beetle. You’ll have to call PBS to find out how many legs they have. He’s a loud, irritating Jewish beetle. He tries to pick up Thumbelina by inviting her to the Beetle Ball. He invites her there thinking she’s really beautiful. Because she’s not one of them, the other beetles think she’s ugly. There’s no accounting for taste in their world.

“The producers (of Aladdin) were looking for someone to be the parrot. At first, it was reversed, where the villain Jafar was completely crazy and the parrot was the logical one. They switched it and the parrot was the crazy one who exploded all the time. They had me come in and said (about me), ‘He’s annoying enough’.

“It’s very strange. When I watch the film, not only was the voice the same but the head animator watched a bunch of my tapes and drew the parrot with my personality. He had my teeth – I mean, not that many parrots I know have teeth – and my eyebrows and he moved around the way I move around on stage. That was very odd to watch.

“I guess I could be playing beetles and parrots for the rest of my life.”

And That’s The Way It Was. Walter Cronkite who was then 77 years old provided a voice for the elderly inventor Captain New Eyes (perhaps a reference to the eye symbol of CBS where Cronkite was an anchorman) in the animated feature We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story (1993). He told Entertainment Weekly at the time: “I gather (the character) is not too far from the real me. I haven’t seen the movie yet. The cartoon character must be recognizable…my five year old grandchild screamed, ‘There’s Granddad!’ when he watched it.” At the end of the movie when the character closes the museum door he says “And that’s the way it is!”, a reference to Cronkite’s famous closing line on the CBS Evening News.

Evil Animated Teenage Girl. In Emmy magazine for September/October 1992 writer Buzz Dixon, upset by the input of the Action for Children’s Television group into animated series, shared the story that “I wrote a script for Mr. T (an NBC Saturday morning television series from 1983-1986) in which a teenage girl was the villain. The point I tried to make was that malicious evil can appear in any guise. The network liked my script just fine – except for the evil teenage girl.

“It seems ACT claimed female villains led to negative sexual stereotyping. The network sought to forestall criticism by eliminating the villainous young girl – and gutting the premise of my script. Villains of any type irk the kidvid critics. Villains mean conflict and to them conflict means aggression and violence. When children display aggresivie traits, the critics claim they learned it all from Bugs Bunny.”

Don Messick Remembers The Flintstones. From the Asbury Park Press newspaper May 15, 1994 in a series of columns by Mark Voger, voice over artist Don Messick shared the following:

“They were planning for Pebbles to make her appearance on the show. On one of The Flintstones sessions, Joe Barbera said to me, ‘Don, you can do baby voices, can’t you?’ I said, “Oh, sure’. Of course, I’d already been doing the high voices like Ruff on Ruff and Reddy and Pixie Mouse on the Huckleberry Hound series. So, Joe said, ‘Well, we want Pebbles to have a playmate. So we thought the next door neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble, would adopt a little boy and he would become Pebbles’ playmate’.

“So it turned out to be this super strong little guy. Joe described the character that he’s carrying this club and playfully – because he didn’t know his own strength – he would maybe pick his dad up and swing him around going ‘Bam! Bam!’ That’s how it was born. Joe just gave me the idea the character, and I just ad-libbed an audition right then and there.

“Alan Reed was not one of those actors who always had to be the center of attention, always ‘on’. Alan was a very down-to-earth person. He came up through the radio ranks. He was very warm and very lovable, kind of like a big teddy bear. He didn’t lord his talent or importance over anybody.”

The Early Animated Life of Eric Goldberg. After finishing work on Richard Williams’ Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977), animators Eric Goldberg and Dan Haskett got jobs as assistants at a commercial studio called Perpetual Motion Pictures. Both quit and formed a short lived company called Second Generation with George Bakes, an animator who had been Bill Tytla’s assistant and who animated the Trix Rabbit and Lucky the Leprechaun for many years. The company flounderd not due to the quality of the talents but just the state of the industry at the time.

Haskett headed to Disney to work on The Fox and the Hound (1981) while Goldberg headed to England to work for Richard Williams where he spent several years designing and directing commercials before he left and started the London based Pizzaz Pictures with some partners. He tired of the pressures of doing commercials and then went to Disney to work on Aladdin (1992).

So he was not quite the “over night success” that Disney publicity tried to portray him as when he started getting attention for his work on the Genie. By the way, did you know Eric did the voices for Speedy Gonzales, Michigan J. Frog, Tweety, and Marvin the Martian in the Joe Dante feature film Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)?

Neutered Sven. When creator John Kricfalusi was removed from The Ren and Stimpy Show, there were several episodes that were in various stages of completion. One of them was entitled “Sven Hoek” about Ren’ moronic Scandinavian cousin Sven coming to town for a visit. One scene would have had Sven and Stimpy playing a game called “Circus” in Stimpy’s closet. From that closet, viewers would have heard Stimpy enthusiastically proclaiming “I’m a sword swallower!” followed by a gulping sound, the word “whoops” and then nervous giggling. When the episode was finished, that scene was removed entirely along with other changes like eliminating Ren saying, “I’m gonna gouge your eyes out!”

20 Comments

  • The ACT thinks that a female teenage villain led to negative sexual stereotyping?!?!? PUH-LEEZE!! I could name several teenage villains who are girls.

    Cree Lincoln sister to Abigail “Abby” Lincoln on Codename:Kids Next Door who was a ninja operative for the KND’s arch nemesis The Teens.

    Jinx,Blackfire,Kitten,Nya-Nya,Pink X,Nega Starfire,Marionette Daughter Blood,Joy Stick & Bumblebee from The Teen Titans

    And other countless female teen villainess that appeared on animé.

    Guess the ACT never watch Popeye,Superman,Tom & Jerry and Tweety and Sylvester along with others animated cartoons and condemned them on thier violent ways.

    • It was very short-sighted from an era when they probably only had Looney Tunes to compare things to, of course I’m sure what was coing out of Japan or the American comics scene was far from the ACT’s grasps, especially during the 1980’s. Wonder what they would’ve made of Sailor Moon had they scrutinized that program?

  • Strange. For some odd, odd reason, I don’t remember Nick cutting out “I’m gonna GOUGE your eyes out of your sockets!”

    • Maybe you’re thinking of “I’m gonna PULL YOUR ARMS out of the socket!” I do recall that part left in, but I think the eyes was another part.

    • They also left in the “Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence” board game, even letting Ren whiz on it for the finale. Would have enjoyed sitting in on the meeting where there were negotiating what got cut.

    • They also left in the “Don’t Whiz on the Electric Fence” board game, even letting Ren whiz on it for the finale. Would have enjoyed sitting in on the meeting where there were negotiating what got cut.

      Well thank goodness we got an ending at all given the circumstances.

  • I had no idea Eric Goldberg ever did even one cartoon voice, much less that diverse list! Including the deep Michigan J. Frog and definitey-not-so-deep Tweety voice.
    Even though I know they sped it up, I’m impressed, Mr. Goldberg.

    • Here’s a lil scoop! First of all, Eric is one of THE most brilliant animators in the history of animation. And one of the nicest guys in da biz!! A true legend in our industry!

      So, I was hired to voice Porky, Tweety, and Speedy in Back in Action. Eric was present at the recording sessions. It wasn’t until I saw the film that I found out I had been replaced as Tweety and Speedy. Hey-that’s show biz! That didn’t irk me as much as the fact I wasn’t invited to the premiere. But non-celebs have a hard time getting invited to film premieres – even to the ones we work on!

    • It’s cool to get your (self-deprecating) glimpse behind the scenes. It must be great to meet the people you’ve met.
      And yes, I greatly admire Eric Goldberg. For one thing, his book is just brilliantly crafted, and very strong in ways that most how-to animation books aren’t – even ones written by other great animators.
      Good to know he’s a nice guy on top of all that.

  • Alan Reed was the comic villain on the radio comedy “Life With Luigi.” The first time I heard an episode I recognized him immediately–from the Italian race car driver on “The Flintstones.” Reed was also great on “The Fred Allen Show.”

    • I always associate him with Falstaff Openshaw from Fred Allen’s show.

    • After Orson Welles lest “The Shadow” and Bill Johnstone took over the part, Alan Reed played a sort of sidekick cab driver and a lot of villains on the show.

    • The cabbie was “Shrevie” (Moe Shrevnitz), one of the few characters from the pulp Shadow to appear on the radio show.

  • Speaking of AlanReed, I remember the few times he’s made live action appearances, like on “THE DONNA REED SHOW”, although I can’t exactly recall the part he played. His is such an easily recognizable voice, not because of Fred Flintstone, but because of other voices he’s played within “FLINTSTONES” episodes…and he was a guest on the very first episodes of “HOPPITY HOOPER”. He played a great upper crust villain. As for censorship of “REN & STIMPY”, well, all I can say is that I wish that all the episodes could have been released at least on DVD in their entirety. I understand why there was censorship on TV, but home video release should be without censorship. The sets are great, though, for Krisfalusi’s commentary.

    • Alan Reed was also on The Addams Family as a Truant Officer.

    • Reed was also Dum Dum on TOUCHE TURTLE.

    • I think Reed was the narrator on the Goofy cartoon about teachers — the one Leonard Maltin prefaced with comments that Goofy’s dangerous students were an impossible exaggeration back then.

    • Reed is great as the manager of a hillbilly rock star on one of the black & white seasons of “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

    • His son Alan Reed, Jr. made several TV appearances.

  • Something I remember about Iago: When he’s first shown on Jafar’s shoulder, he seems to have eyes on the sides of his head like a real parrot and moves in a parrotlike way. Then when he begins ranting, all the parrot-ness falls away — the impression being he impersonates a real parrot when he has to.

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