First off, let me say thanks to whoever is selecting the films for SUNDAY NIGHT CARTOONS on MeTV+. Those quality prints are bringing me toons I’ve never seen before. Normally at this point I’d raise a thumb and say “Duuude!”, but these days I let everyone choose their own pronoun.
While researching another article I stumbled across HOLIDAY IN MEXICO, a live-action feature from M-G-M, produced by Joe Pasternak, known as Hollywood’s ‘king of musicals’. In the silent days Pasternak had been with Universal Pictures as an assistant director on Lon Chaney’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. At M-G-M he produced ANCHORS AWEIGH in 1945, which had Gene Kelly dancing alongside Jerry Mouse. George Sydney, director of ANCHORS AWEIGH, helmed HOLIDAY IN MEXICO a year later. That movie starts with a short animated sequence. Naturally, William Hanna and Joe Barbera were involved.
It’s sage advice not to believe everything you read on the internet. Ah, but where to draw the line? The IMDb page for HOLIDAY IN MEXICO is riddled with anomalies.
On top of which, mostly everyone I’m interested in is listed as “uncredited”, so I have no way to double-check the info. William Hanna is named as a co-producer. Fred Quimby is named as Production Manager. William Hanna is listed again, this time as an Assistant Director, along with Joseph Barbera and eight other animation professionals. This is where it gets weird . . .
First we should examine the brief animated segment that opens Holiday In Mexico:
And that’s all the animation in the movie, only one-minute-and-twenty-seconds of it. So why would the animation crew – according to IMDB – need ten assistant directors? Hanna and Barbera, who were employees of M-G-M, makes sense. Let’s look at the other eight.
Charles Nichols was from Disney. He’d animated on both shorts and features. His IMDb page lists no work at Disney in 1946.
Don Lusk from Disney was pretty busy there in 1946 animating on a short for Kotex and two features.
Wolfgang Reitherman was one of Disney’s “Nine Old Men”, but also has no credit listed at that studio in 1946.
Don Patterson had been in the thick of it at Disney for a decade, but was just moving over to M-G-M.
Irv Spence was actually with M-G-M, but did one Pluto short at Disney in 1946.
Iwao Takamoto had been taken to a Japanese internment camp from Disney during the war, and was just returning to Hollywood and Disney.
Tom Ray was an old M-G-M hand just returning from military service.
Jay Sarbry was an animator from Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems, which was just starting to use UPA to make their cartoons.
This all seems top-heavy to me for such a short segment. Added to this are seven Animation Directors:
Robert Clampett left Warner Brothers in 1946 to start his own shop, so he may have been available.
Chuck Jones directed half-a-dozen cartoons at Warner Brothers in 1946.
Judge Whitaker was a character animator on Donald Duck shorts at Disney.
Ed Friedman had been with Ubbe Iwerks’ studio, and in 1946 wrote a cartoon for Columbia’s Screen Gems.
Václav Bedrich lived in Czechoslovakia doing stop-motion.
Joe Barbera again.
William Hanna again.
The impression of this all being a hoax heightens. Frank Tashlin was kicking around Hollywood’s smaller animation studios during this period. Tashlin is listed as a storyboard artist for HOLIDAY IN MEXICO beside Iwao Takamoto and Joe Barbera.
Backgrounds are attributed to Disney artist Maurice Noble, who’d just done military toons and was on his way to Warner Brothers. Gerald Nevius had been a background painter at Disney, while Richard Bickenbach was then animating for Warner Brothers. The Effects Animator is listed as Bob Bemiller, who previously held that job at M-G-M and just came off some war work.
Seventeen animators are listed, which is overkill for a project this size. William Hanna is one, along with Irv Spence and Tom Ray. Jack Zander makes sense. Zander recently returned to M-G-M after doing military work in New York. He didn’t stay long. Zander went back to NYC to kick-start the animated television commercial industry.
Other animators listed for HOLIDAY IN MEXICO are: Emery Hawkins, then moving from Lantz to Disney by way of Oscar Productions; Robert Bentley just came to M-G-M from Lantz; George Germanetti was then in New York at Famous Studios; Carl Urbano was working for Hugh Harmon; Ed Barge, Kenneth Muse, Ray Patterson, and Bill Littlejohn were then at M-G-M; George Gordon left M-G-M a year before for John Sutherland Productions, where George Grandpré was settled in; Stan Quackenbush had been with Disney and then Fleischer in Miami; Warren Schloat had been with Disney; and Grant Simmons was at Screen Gems. Assistant Animators Barney Posner and Mike Lah were M-G-M guys. Inbetweener Robert Gentle was an M-G-M Background Artist.
Added to all that fire power is an impressive roster of Ink & Paint ladies. Mary Tebb is named as I&P Supervisor. Tebb had been Disney’s ink and paint department early on, then to Ubbe Iwerks’ shop and Warner Brothers. Now Mary Tebb held the title Color Models Supervisor back at Disney. Ida Greenberg, once at Fleischer Studios, and Martha Sigall, once at Warner Brothers, were both at M-G-M in 1946. Mary Blair’s name rings less true because she and her husband Lee were in New York setting up Film Graphics.
Women in the business are generally harder to track. But this list is a whose who. Mary Jane Cole had been with Disney I&P, at least until the 1941 strike. Rita Giddings, Flornce Heintz, and Colene Gonzalez were with M-G-M. Raynell Day was originally with Warner Brothers, had taken a break to join Fleischer in Miami, then returned to WB as ink and paint supervisor for Bob Clampett’s unit. Buf Nerbovig did I&P at Disney, where her sister Helen ran the Cel Setup Department. Carmen Sanderson had just started out at Disney. Ruth Thompson had worked her way up the ranks at Disney from inker to Scene Planner.
Obviously, these IMDB credits are bogus. But why would someone go to the trouble of faking credits on an obscure movie? Bringing us to this next bit.
Researching these bios led me to Aldo Boomer Productions. According to my internet, such a company exists. The historical record says different. Aldo Boomer Productions doesn’t appear anywhere in the Media History database. It has no IMDb or BCDB page. It only shows up on a series of recently posted pages at Cartoonideas Wiki.
Okay! If researching old animation weren’t already challenging enough, some geniuses started a fan fiction sight for people to create fake information about the subject.
What the Hell, (insert preferred pronoun)!?!?!