Laughing Robin Williams. In USA Weekend for November 1992, animator Eric Goldberg said one impersonation by actor Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin really stood out for him. Goldberg said, “My favorite is Ed Sullivan. You have Robin Williams impersonating a genie impersonating Sullivan.” Goldberg said he got great satisfaction by making an animated reel of the genie doing one of Williams’ stand-up comedy bits to lure him into doing the film. “Right away, he just started laughing,” Goldberg said. “What a great feeling – to be able to make him laugh.”
Walt Disney as Katzenberg’s Guardian Angel. From the Boston Globe November 25, 1992 Jeffrey Katzenberg, then chairman of the Disney Studio said, “To this day, Walt Disney touches every frame of every movie we make. He’s like a guardian angel sitting there, guiding us…We never ask if this is something he would have liked, but his values, the themes, the kind of fundamental ingredients I’m talking about – those are templates laid down that continue to be valuable today. Disney was a technical pioneer who constantly used new technologies to make his movie better and we continue to do that.”
David Tendlar. Animator David Tendlar recalled in the 1980s: “Living and working in Los Angeles for the past thirteen years has been a rewarding experience. I’ve really forgotten what an overcoat and galoshes are for, not to mention hats, scarves and earmuffs. They were required dress back East. I started in the animation business way back there, when Popey the Sailor first hit the movie screen with Betty Boop as his sidekick. The old sailor wore well. He never gets older.
“I spent many years with Paramount and CBS. writing, directing, designing and animating. I have wound up with ten years at Hanna-Barbera Production in Hollywood. At that studio, I was an instructor of animation in the training class for aspiring young artists. This, too, was a rewarding experience for me. Our supervisor, Harry Love, was always present to give us his experience and keep a tight ship. It was hard work…but lots of fun too.”
The Wisdom of Fred Silverman. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, Fred Silverman then vice-president of CBS daytime programs said, “We have dealt primarily with Hanna-Barbera and Filmation because these studios have consistently delivered hit shows for us. Really, it’s done on an assembly line basis but there are ways to get good results by reuse of material and judicious editing.
“Our dealings with the studios in California are cooperative efforts. For instance, Dastardly and Muttley was originally called Stop the Pigeon. Just in looking at it, I saw that it needed a little more top spin. The network came up with the idea of substituting Dastardly and Muttley, the stars of Wacky Races for two other characters that Hanna-Barbera showed us.”
Hanna on Limited Animation. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, producer William Hanna said, “When we first started the limited animation, it disturbed me. And then, when I saw some of the old cartoons on TV, I saw that, actually, limited animation came off better on the dimly lit television screen than the old fully animated things.
“But the degree of limited animation has changed in the past ten years. Today, limited animation is a lot less limited than it was ten years ago. TV seemed to demand a little bit more than we were giving it. In the beginning, we would put a character into the pose and animate the mouth only. Now we animate the entire head. We also change the body position more.”
Hurtz on Hanna-Barbera. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, animation director Bill Hurtz said, “Seventy-five percent of the people in animation are tired out, anyway. They don’t give a damn about advancing the medium. Hanna-Barbera are real estate agents. They move animation like real estate. It’s very competent. Very professional. But somehow or other, there’s the odor of death about it.”
The Wisdom of Culhane. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, animator Shamus Culhane said, “Twenty years from now, whom will you hire? They hire all the years a man spent learning how to make a figure move and then have him do skeletal animation – no bones, no meat, no blood. So the young animators learn only what is cheap and fast. This is the way an art form dies.”
Bakshi Characters. I got to talk with filmmaker Ralph Bakshi at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention at the Shrine Auditorium on February 2, 1992. One of the things he shared was “A lot of people think that the character they see is the first drawing that the cartoonist drew, which usually is wrong. Some characters you do nail the first time but most of the time they take eight, ten or fifteen tries to develop.”
Ted Nugent on Bambi. Singer Ted Nugent is also known for his strong support of hunters. In Entertainment Weekly February 14, 1997, he wrote about Disney’s animated feature Bambi (1942): “It blows my mind that Walt and his boys could accomplish something like this more than half a century ago. The animation was way ahead of its time and is just as impressive as ever. Bambi doesn’t lose a bit of its power, even next to the more modern high-tech Toy Story.
“As soon as fluffy little Thumper the rabbit opens his cute mouth, all thinking people should come to the bold realization ‘This is only a f**king movie!’ If you want nature, turn on the Discovery Channel. I’ve heard Bambi’s name raised at state wildlife hearings, and I’ve wanted to hang my head and weep. Only an idiot would attempt to establish policy based on a cartoon character. It’s like using Elmer Fudd as a role model.
“Since 1969, my family has dined solely on game we’ve killed, none of which played tag with skunks or received hysterical warnings from songbirds. Hunters are not the enemies as we are depicted in Bambi. We are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters who believe in the balance of nature.
“When in that recent classic (The Lion King), Mufassa explained the circle of life to Simba, I stood up in the theater and cheered. It’s called life and death, kids.”