Animation History
April 2, 2018 posted by Jerry Beck

Warner Club News (1952 & 1953)

Good News/Bad News: First the Bad News – Ned Comstock, librarian of the Warner Archives at USC Cinematic Library, can only provide six months from 1952 – and only two months from 1953. The latter year was one of turmoil in the front office, as TV began to affect box office figures; theatrical screen shapes and size were changing – and 3D was now in demand. Warner’s closed much of the studio for six months of that year – reading the columns from this period would be quite illuminating.

I’m hoping that contributions from readers will help fill in the gaps for the missing issues in these columns (I already have a few sent in, which I will post as an addendum after this initial USC series).

The Good News is that USC has most of the Warner Club News issues from 1954 up. For example, I see ten months represented in 1954 and eleven months in 1955. And lots of drawings and photos therein. Good stuff ahead.


APRIL 1952

Friz and Tedd Pierce had surgeries… Rod Scrbner becomes a dad… and Treg Brown’s opening paragraph, a poem, is a must-read. Interesting that he refer’s to Foghorn as “Claghorn”. Freudian slip, perhaps?


JUNE 1952

Interesting trio of names I never knew before: Ray Young (assisting Ken Champin), John Patrick (assisting Ben Washam) and Woody Chatwood (inbetweener for McKimson). Ken Harris visited the set of Springfield Rifle in Lone Pine… and he took pictures. I’d love to see those!


SEPTEMBER 1952

The annual list of who’s going where on vacation. I doubt this a complete list of the entire staff – but fun to read nonetheless.


OCTOBER 1952

Great story herein about a Mexican restaurant (in Mexico itself) where the musicians are playing “She’s The Flower of Gower Gulch”… the studio gets a new paint job… and Freleng and Maltese pull an ink & paint gag on Chuck ….


NOVEMBER 1952

Freleng, Foster and Pratt were listening to jazz music for an end gag for cartoon in the works… Hmmm, for Pizzacato Pussycat, perhaps?


DECEMBER 1952

Painter Betty Wilcox was the niece of William Wilcox, producer of the low-budget B-Movie cult-classic Mesa Of Lost Women… Phil DeGuard had an article written about him in Fine Arts Magazine (anyone know this magazine?)… Frank Braxton (in Jones’ unit) was formerly with The Drifters(?). I’d never heard that before.


JANUARY 1953

This one contains an interesting list of verbal “slips” compiled by Warren Foster. He kept such notes perhaps to inspire or suggest gags… Smoking Marijuana, Quitting Animation and Income Tax Evasion are among the topics he overheard being discussed at the studio.


DECEMBER 1953

For a variety of reasons, including assessing the future of 3D movies, the studio was closed from mid-June till December. Only ten Cartoon Department employees were retained (including Freleng) during this period. Was Warner Club News published during those months? If so, what was said in those columns? Here’s our only glimpse – from December (likely published at the end of November) – written by Barbara Richards.

It’s apparent that most of the staff knew and understood that this “layoff” was a temporary hiatus. Artists were slowly returning. This month Robert McKimson, Art Davis, George Grandpre – and others – began coming back. Interesting quote by Jones (now at Disney) noting he’s on “temporary leave”. More about the returning artists – next month (posted here next week).

NEXT WEEK: 1954

6 Comments

  • Ray Young was in one of the Christmas gag reels at Warners.
    He later animated at Creston/TV Spots.

  • “Oh, yes, Friz dropped in on Las Vegas for a couple of days. Yeeeah, Las Vegas is still there intact.” That made me laugh.
    “Beep Bop” from the January ’53 issue sounds like a great Road Runner title.
    I’ve always wondered what Chuck actually did at Disney. Obviously he didn’t stay there long enough to make an impact, but what exactly did Disney have him do? Develop a short? Storyman on Sleeping Beauty?

  • Can’t wait to see that addendum. I wonder what they possibly COULD report on during th shutdown (well, there were ten people still there).

  • OMG! I once said “Look at that wave flagging”, instead of “flag waving”, too! I did catch myself and realize my mistake after a few befuddled seconds.

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