ANIMATION ANECDOTES
November 10, 2017 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #337

Tony White and the Pink Panther. In the U.K. magazine article “The Screen Magic of Richard Williams” by Iain F. McAsh, twenty-nine year old animator Tony White who worked at the Richard Williams Studio shared his thoughts on the Pink Panther.

“In The Return of the Pink Panther we sent-up old-time stars but for The Pink Panther Strikes Again, we decided to send up old movies. Among the films included were King Kong, Singin’ In the Rain, The Sound of Music and the ‘Big Spender’ number from Sweet Charity. We also had Buster Keaton and Dracula as well as a spoof of the famous Hitchcock silhouette.

“For instance, we showed King Kong snatching at planes on top of the Empire State Building then Clouseau snatched off Kong’s mask and underneath it was the Pink Panther’s tiny head. Then we had the cartoon Clouseau swimming underwater with Panther as a shark suddenly appearing and bearing down on him as a send-up of Jaws. Clouseau is becoming more of a central character, but the Pink Panther is responsible for lousing up everything he does.

“The back of the Panther’s head is very difficult to draw. If I ever have any problems I usually sleep on them and everything turns out all righ the next day. I spent about twelve weeks working on the titles for The Pink Panther Strikes Again with Richard Burdett as my assistant. I love drawing the character and hope to animate him again some day.”


How a Dog Gets Its Name. From singer Peggy Lee’s autobiography Miss Peggy Lee (Dutton 1989), Lee talked about an incident while working on the Disney animated feature film Lady and the Tramp (1955):

“One day Walt asked to speak to me priately. ‘You know, we have a delicate problem and I wonder if you’d help us with the solution?’…’Yes, Walt, what can I do?’…’It isn’t what you can do…it’s really your permission I’d like.’…’My permission?’…’Yes, you know the little dog Mamie from the dog and pony circus?’…’Yes.’…’Well, Mrs. Eisenhower, our first lady’s first name, as you know is Mamie, and I wondered if you’d mind if we would name the little dog after you instead.’

“Mind? I was thrilled to have him name that dog ‘Peg’. The animators had me lip-sync He’s A Tramp and do a little undulating walk. I enjoyed being a dog so much I decided to try being two cats, Siamese cats. Walt let me have all the freedom one could possibly have. No question, every person that worked on the film was touched by Mr. Disney’s genius. An Italian award was given to Lady and the Tramp that read: ‘In this troubled world, a visible island of poetry’. Well said.”


Bluth’s Anastasia. From Film & Video magazine July 1997: “Anastasia (1997) was one of about ten projects we had line up when we started about three years ago,” said producer Don Bluth. “We wanted a story with a big emotional punch that the whole family could connect with and this story about the lost Russian princess had both that and a great fairy tale aspect, along with the sweeping background of the Russian Revolution.

“Everyone loved the story but it wasn’t automatically our first choice. Then it turned out that Fox already owned the rights and it seemed to just inch its way up the list. What we choose to do is also partly dictated by what the other studios are producing,” said co-producer/co-director Gary Goldman. “For instance, we had a project that turned out to be set in the same era and locations as Disney’s Hercules and that would have had a release about the same time.

“So we had to abandon that, even though we’d alredy done a lot of work on character design, outlines and several scripts. So it’s vital to know what the competition is inovlved in. So that’s when Anastasia moved into first place and we just began rolling with it. It’s an evolving process.”


Disney Says “No” to Maltin. Several weeks before the release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), historian Leonard Maltin who was working on the television show Entertainment Tonight called his usual contacts at the Disney Studio to borrow some footage from The Three Caballeros, Song of the South and Mary Poppins to put together a feature on Disney’s history of combining live action and animation.

Disney refused. He was told, “We don’t want this film (Roger Rabbit) to be associated with Disney because audiences will think it is something like Bambi. We don’t want it referred to as an animated film. It’s a live-action film with animation in it.” Animator and director Richard Williams told Maltin it was Roy E. Disney who insisted the film be released as a Touchstone film because he did not want the adult situations and gags associated with Disney.

So Maltin ended up using a clip from MGM’s Anchors Aweigh (1945).


Gold or Blue? Filmation’s BraveStarr animated television series only went into production after a deal with toy manufacturer Mattel. However, Mattel demanded some changes as detailed in an article in L.A. Times Magazine (December 28, 1986). Filmation had the main character wearing an all-gold outfit which contrasted with the planet’s mauve-and-blue sky. “I thought it was glorious and shining, like sunlight,” said president of Filmation Lou Scheimer. Mattel’s market research suggested that boys wouldn’t “buy a sissy color like gold” and wanted it changed to blue.

The compromise was a butter-yellow Western shirt and mustard-colored trousers but with a blue vest and blue-and-brown boots. Filmation also had the character with a ponytail but Mattel pointed out that it complicated the molding process for an action figure so suggested a ducktail instead. Mattel also eliminated the town’s cantina (they refused to use the word saloon) in the playset because research showed that boys didn’t know what to do in a cantina and it was inappropriate for the age level. Other changes to the original BraveStarr bible were made to satisfy the needs of the toymaker.


How to Sell a H-B Show. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, producer Joe Barbera said, “For Dastardly (and Muttley), our designer Iwao Takamoto created 100 to 150 airplanes, each with a different function, just as we created brightly colored cars for Wacky Races the year before. I flipped them on the floor and that’s the way we sold the shows. When network people come in, they walk on a carpet of eye-catching art. This plane, for instance, is a flying vacuum cleaner.”

3 Comments

  • Another anecdote regarding the titles for “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”. The first time I met Tony White, he mentioned that the reason the titles don’t really have anything to do with the plot (as most title sequences do), is because Blake Edwards, for unknown reasons, never sent Richard Williams a copy of the script.

    Willimas was also apparently inebriated when Edwards approached him to do the titles for “Strikes Again”.

  • Dik Dastardly is my favorite cartoon villain. I loved that show. I use to be in the cereal premium club.

  • The credit sequence for “The Pink Panther Strikes Again” always fascinated me because of the black-and-white backgrounds showing the interior of an art-deco theater. For years I tried to figure out what theater it was until, thanks to YouTube, I could do a close study and discovered that they weren’t photos, but photo-realistic art! Amazing!

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