Animation History
February 5, 2018 posted by Jerry Beck

Warner Club News (1944)

Starting today, I’m going to regularly post the Warner Bros. Cartoons column from the studio’s in-house organ, Warner Club News.

This came about thanks to a query from our own Devon Baxter, which led me to the USC Cinematic Arts Library – whom I was aware had much of the Warner Bros. studio paper archive. Senior Librarian Ned Comstock has agreed to scan these for us – and I’m happy to post them here for all of our benefit.

These are a real time capsule, and contain interesting bits of information about the staff and their doings – personal and professional. Occasionally a special piece of art, caricatures and photos of the crew appear.

Ned says USC has these from the time Warners bought the Schlesinger studio (1944) all the way through the closing in 1962 (However, Ned warns, that not every issue is in their files – there will be gaps). Today we begin with the first four columns of 1944 (from September through December). The first one above is written by “Bugs Bunny” and has a nifty piece of original art. Who would you say drew it? McKimson perhaps, though the guard has a Freleng unit look…


OCTOBER, 1944

The second “What’s Up, Doc?” column, below, has no byline – but it features a letter to Eddie Selzer from Jack Warner congratulating him on being appointed to head the department. The studio on Sunset has been painted and spruced up; there’s acknowledgement that Bob McKimson is now a director; Chuck Jones is working on a Snafu, Bob Clampett is experimenting with television; Bob Cannon, Freleng, Ray Katz and numerous ink & paint gals are named.


NOVEMBER, 1944

Tedd Pierce takes credit (as “Bugs Bunny”). Click this one to enlarge. Nice photo of producer Ed Selzer with John Burton, animators Rod Scribner and Dick Bickenbach, inker/painters The Woods Sisters and my (still-with-us) friend Enid Denbo. Lots of tid-bits for us to read into. Among them: Hubie Karp joins the story Department; Fred Abrams is now animating for Bob Clampett; and take note that many inkers (women) became inbetweeners and assistants during the war era. Doris Caballero and Mary Scalzo joined the ranks this month.

A much clearer image of the photo posted above – courtesy of Enid Denbo (Wizig)


DECEMBER, 1944

Michael Maltese takes over the page this month – and writes it in that “Walter Winchell/dot-dot-dot” gossip column style. So what do we learn? Eddie Selzer is giving the staff twice weekly movie screenings; Herr Meets Hare and Odor-able Kitty are “going over with a bang”; Mention of Dick Nelson as the voice of Eddie G. in Racketeer Rabbit; first listen to Carl Stallings “new ditty” for Bugs, entitled What’s Up Doc; some bio info on Tedd Pierce; and perhaps the first mention of Mel Blanc’s allergy to carrots!

Next Week: 1945

12 Comments

  • Funny, they mentioned Conrad Cat as he was already retired by the time the first column was printed.

  • Character design on both Bugs and the nose of the studio guard in the drawing screams out Chuck Jones unit — not sure if Chuck himself did it, or one of his animators, like Ken Harris or Ben Washam (Bugs’ angular teeth look a little like the ones Washam would draw).

  • Never heard of Anne Hershenburgh. She’s not even listed on imdb!

  • Great idea for posts, Jerry…in their way these items are real cartoon history….forget dreary imdb, this stuff is the real deal, just like the earlier Exposure Sheet newsletter.

    I have that Dick Nelson anecdote in my WB chapter for my still to be completed voices book. He did a few cartoons for Lantz in this period, and had done the Eddie Robinson earlier in HUSH MY MOUSE, but for that cartoon I wish he had also done his impression of Archie the manager, which was very spot on. He also did it for Junior in the early George and Junior entries at MGM, and finally got a screen credit for the Lantz Grantray BROADWAY BOW WOWS (1954), which he narrates in that voice.

    (Several years ago, I was given a bound set of various Warner Club News What’s Cookin’ pages by Ned out of the blue while I was at USC. He is really one of the most valuable people to any historian.)

  • Will love to follow these postings. My father, Revalee Chaney, worked at Warner Bros. from 1937 to about 1950. Then he became production manager at UPA across the street..(Mr. Magoo).

  • Twice Michael Maltese spells Jones’ first name “Chuc” (but then when he mentions Chuck Burton, whoever that is, it’s with a “k”). Did Jones really spell it that way? News to me.

  • Research can be tricky. The Marine Corps Casualty Index claims Doerfler was killed overseas on Feb. 22, 1944. Yet other military records (in addition to the Warner Club News above) have him as being very much alive. It appears he was injured in the Pacific in 1944.
    Whether Doerfler ended up back at Warners after the war, I don’t know, but he was living in Whittier in the ’50s and engaging in his ham radio hobby. He died in 1982 in San Diego.

  • This is great stuff! Who knew that Treg Brown was a chiropractor? I didn’t know that Tedd Pierce was born on the east end of my stomping ground, Long Island.

  • Nice to know Jack Warner at least knew the names of his cartoon series. According to legend, he was quoted once as saying “All I know [about Warner Bros. cartoons] is we invented Mickey Mouse.”

    • I don’t think it was Jack Warner who was supposed to have said that, I think it was Harry Warner.

  • Yeah- THAT’S the basis of a visual gag in Clampett’s “Tick Tock Tuckered” (1944). As Porky and Daffy rush out of their car to get to their jobs, the sign across the street notes, “DR, BROWN Leap In — Limp Out”.

  • Yep- Brittingham’s was a watering hole across the street from “Termite Terrace”, and Tedd Pierce patronized the joint quite often. He immortalized it in “Rabbit Hood” (1949) when, as “King Bugs” belts the Sheriff of Nottingham with his scepter, he declares at one point, “Arise, Duke of Brittingham……”.

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