May 31, 2013 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #112


Time Paradox. In the Warner Brothers’ cartoon “Bear Feat” (1949), the gag involves the Bear family trying to put together an act for Mingling Bros. Circus after reading an ad in the newspaper. According to the cartoon, it is August 1949 and Bear family doesn’t find out until the end of the cartoon that the newspaper is dated April 1928 and the ad is no longer valid. However, the time paradox is that earlier over breakfast, Junior Bear is reading the comic strips in the very same newspaper and the comic strip he is enjoying so much is the Bugs Bunny comic strip that began in 1942 as a Sunday only with a daily version added in 1948. So the strip he is reading is in a paper published 12 years before Bugs was “born” and 20 years before Bugs popped up in the daily funnies.

Sad Times. When William DeMille (brother of director Cecil) was shown a 1935 poll revealing that children preferred Popeye to Mickey Mouse, he commented, “It is saddening to see Popeye, like the Hun from the North, threatening the more cultured supremacy of Mickey, Minnie and the intelligent and devoted Pluto.”

pluto_costumeThe Other Crying Game Secret. Jaye Davidson, who played Dil in the movie “The Crying Game” (1992) and garnered a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, had absolutely no formal training as an actor. Before he got the part, he was best known for dressing up as Pluto and welcoming visitors to Disney’s London office.

Panther Talk. In 1993, there was quite a furor when actor Matt Frewer provided the voice for the Pink Panther in a new series of cartoons. When director Friz Freleng was interviewed about it at the time, he responded, “Actually, since he (the Panther) was originally created for a main title and didn’t speak, there wasn’t any reason for him to ever speak.”

Unsound Effects. How did animator Terry Gilliam create those rather unique sound effects for the animated sequences on Monty Python’s Flying Circus episodes? He did them all himself. “I used to sit and put a blanket over my head and get as many kitchen utensils as I could get and bang them around and make noises,” remembered Gilliam. “I’d just sit there day and night with a blanket over my head doing noises.”

bullwinke_comic200MacGyver’s Favorite. In 1991, actor Richard Dean Anderson, then well known as the lead in the television series MacGyver, stated that “the most important thing to me growing up was Rocky and Bullwinkle…I still get off on it. It is the most brilliant piece of television ever.”

Animation Bonding. In 1991, Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons”, revealed a special affection for the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” show: “I remember watching it in what we used to call the TV room. My dad would come into the room to yell at me for watching too much TV and then he’d see me watching Rocky and Bullwinkle. He’d sit down and watch it with me. It was a show that suckered even my father. The show had different kinds of humor that appealed to different kinds of people at the same time. I can remember how wonderful it was to hear the sound of an adult laughing at cartoons. As animation, it was very primitive but what made it work was the great writing, the great voices and the great music.”

What’s In A Name? In the animated pilot (which never aired) and the early scripts, the mate of George of the Jungle, the popular Jay Ward character, was named “Jane”. ABC feared a lawsuit by the estate of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs and insisted the name of the character be changed. Actress Ursula Andress was a big star in 1967 so her name served as the inspiration for George’s mate, Ursula.

The Meaning of “We”. Disney storyman Bill Peet went on to an award winning career as the author and illustrator of a number of successful children’s books. However for about twenty-seven years, he worked at Disney as an animator and storyman. “Walt was very sensitive about credit. He would say, ‘Damnit, we are all in this together’. But what he meant was ‘the credit is all mine’. I knew that ‘we’ stood for ‘Walter Elias’ (Disney’s first and middle names.) Everything came out ‘Walt Disney presents’ and the rest of our names might as well haven been in the phone book,” stated Peet when I talked to him in 1991 when he visited the school district where I was teaching at the time to give a lecture about his books. He shared some other disgruntled remarks about Disney but did autograph a picture for me of the Dalmatians from the animated feature “101 Dalmatians” where he did exceptional storywork.

bugs_oscarA Little Late. In the Warner Brothers short, “What’s Cookin’ Doc” (1944), where Bugs Bunny attends the Oscars, an invitation is shown to the 8th Annual Academy Awards. Actually, the 8th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was held on March 5, 1936, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Disney won that year with his animated short, “Three Orphan Kittens”.

Everybody Sounds Like Mel Blanc. In the Warner Brothers short “You Oughta Be In Pictures” (1940), a live action Leon Schlesinger talks with Porky Pig, who is thinking of leaving the studio. Schlesinger talked with a lisp that inspired the voices of Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat. Mel Blanc dubbed in the voice of the live action studio guard who was performed by storyman Mike Maltese. Blanc also dubs sound man (Gerry Chiniquy) and whoever screams “Lunch!”. Of course, Blanc did the voices of Daffy and Porky in the short as well. In case you were wondering, that is indeed a toupee that Leon is wearing in this film….one of the only things that Blanc did not dub.

You Ought to Be in Pictures (Commentary) by CarlStallingEnthusiast


  • Comparing Popeye to Hun…Well, I haven’t ever heard that analogy before! Sort of an ignorant comment too, considering that the Fleischer Bros. were in the animation business before Disney was.

  • Yes, indeed. It always “comforted” me, TOO, to see Daddy laff at the films, too. Or ANYthing “kiddie-” like! It sorta “validated” him spending that “time,” be it tv or to the cinema!!

  • Jay Ward proved that cartoons were not just for kids. If I’m not mistaken, “ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS” and “THE BULLWINKLE SHOW” were really big on college campuses as well, and I believe the same goes for Bob Clampett’s “BEANY & CECIL”. The joy of the classic cartoon is that it almost always had adult references therein, and fans that enjoyed the toons as kids were discovering just what all that subliminal humor was all about! That is why we fans clamor for restoration of these with proper historical context. I’m watching “KIRWOOD DIRBY” now, and the references still are hilarious, even though dated! One would need a careful explanation as to where the title of the story arc came from, and it certainly provoked controversy in its day.

  • Speaking of animation inaccuracies, does anyone aside from me notice how pages are turned by Bugs Bunny in some cartoons? I think it is in “RABBIT TRANSIT” where Bugs is reading the Aessop Fable of the tortoise and the hare, and he’s turning pages as if reading the book in reverse. Whenever I’d see that on TV, I always thought that was rather strange and it should have been caught before the film was completed.

    • Maybe he’s reading it in Yiddish.

    • You would think they would catch that (or perhaps Bugs was like me when it came to reading department store catalogs backwards a lot the way I did, I couldn’t help it, the toys were always placed at the back). Now if this was in some Asian country like Japan, they wouldn’t think twice about that!

  • However, Jim, you should make it clear that Mel Blanc did NOT dub Leon’s voice in “You Ought To Be In Pictures”.
    That’s Leon talking for himself.

    • Nice Leon let himself be heard Mark.

    • I am working on a future column about “two more notorious animation myths”, about the one that Daffy Duck’s lisp was copied by Mel Blanc from Leon Schlesinger’s lisp and Schlesinger didn’t ever notice. Did Schlesinger ever lisp? You couldn’t tell it from his voice in “You Ought to Be in Pictures”, or from his few words in the Termite Terrace gag reels of 1939 and 1940. Mel Blanc said that he invented Daffy’s lisp out of his own imagination. Did anyone besides Chuck Jones who actually worked with Schlesinger before 1944 ever say that he lisped? I have heard that the old WB animators kept quiet after Jones publicized that story in “Chuck Amuck” in 1989 simply because they did not want to challenge him in public and start a public feud like the one that he had with Bob Clampett.

    • That’s a very good question Fred, one we may never know for certain.

    • Michael Maltese also said Leon Schlesinger lisped, in his 1971 interview with Joe Adamson (printed in the latter’s book on Tex Avery): “[…] Leon Schlesinger had brains enough to keep the hell away and go aboard his yacht. He used to lithp a little bit and he’d say, ‘I’m goin’ on my yachtht.’ He’d say, ‘Whatth cookin’, brainth? Anything new in the Thtory Department?'” (Tex Avery, King of Cartoons, p. 125). It seems unlikely that both Jones and Maltese would have come up with a story about Leon Schlesinger’s speech impediment (in spite of being closely involved) if it didn’t have any basis on fact.

      I’m no specialist on speech impediments, but I believe a lisp is the kind of impediment that can be more pronounced on some occasions than others, depending on how much the individual is trying to control it (note that even Maltese says Leon lisped just “a little bit”), so that could explain the apparent lack of the lisp in “You Ought to Be in Pictures” and the gag reels.

    • If Schlesinger lisped “just a little bit”, that might explain why he did not recognize his own lisp in Blanc’s exaggerated lisps for Daffy Duck and Sylvester Pussycat.

  • “In the Warner Brothers short, “What’s Cookin’ Doc” (1944), where Bugs Bunny attends the Oscars, an invitation is shown to the 8th Annual Academy Awards. Actually, the 8th Annual Academy Awards ceremony was held on March 5, 1936, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.”

    It also doesn’t help when some parts of that intro to the cartoon seem like they were cribbed from the 1937 feature “A Star is Bored”, though perhaps in those days before even the television medium flickered into people’s homes, audiences weren’t going to notice that at all.

    • I see it didn’t go through, so here’s just the link itself to two screengrabs to show what I was talking about!

    • The feature was called “A Star is Born”, though… “A Star is Bored” is the title of a 1956 Bugs & Daffy cartoon by Friz Freleng 🙂

    • Oh, thanks Veikko! I wish these comments had an “edit” function on them after you press the “post” button. That showed me off for not proof-reading my typing!

  • You make me realize that BEAR FEAT contains a Bugs Bunny cameo and ought to be included in my BUGS BUNNY Filmography!

    • You learn new things each day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *