“Coonskin has a very good level of animation. But still no pencil tests! What I had on Coonskin was a hell of a lot of the old Warner Brothers guys and MGM guys. Great guys who just couldn’t believe they were being allowed to do stuff they always wanted to do and deal with ideas,” stated animator and director Ralph Bakshi to writer Mike Ventrella in 1988.
Chuck Jones Quote. Here is another Chuck Jones quote about how much he hated Saturday morning television from 1989: “There’s a dreadful paucity of ideas on Saturday morning television that really drives me nuts. I really object to the idea in those Saturday morning shows that the only way we can solve problems is in groups. Our whole history has evolved from individuals, not from group behavior.
Richard Williams on “A Christmas Carol” (1971). “We worked from the original Dickens illustrations…we went to the British Museum and Xeroxed everything down to Scrooge’s socks. Unforutnately, we goofed with the nephew. What are you going to do with a normal, good-looking fellow? We tried bushy eyebrows…everything…and he still ended up looking like a stuffed shirt. You know, a critic in Los Angeles said he didn’t like ‘A Christmas Carol’ and was right. It’s too realistic. You can do it in live action and that’s why it doesn’t suit animation,” stated animator and director Richard Williams in 1975.
Never Work With Animated Animals or Children. In the July 1938 issue of “Modern Movies”, actor Alfred Lunt, one of the outstanding stage performers of all time, was asked why he rejected an offer to appear in motion pictures. Lunt’s reply: “Sorry! I wouldn’t mind competing with Gary Cooper or Charles Boyer, but I’ll be damned if I can quack a better monologue than Donald Duck or pantomime a neater turn than Dopey the Dwarf. No thanks. I’ll stay on the stage where I still have only humans to out act!”
Violence on Saturday Morning. A 1977 study showed that children’s television programming on Saturday morning averaged an act of violence every two minutes. The worst offender? “The Pink Panther Show”.
The Price of Fame. Noted voice artist Maurice La Marche in 1997 pondered the situation of the voice artist. “On one hand, it’s a blessing because I can sit in any restaurant in Los Angeles and eat in peace but on the other hand I want to say, ‘Oh! By the way, I’m the Brain!’ (from the Warner Brothers cartoon series Pinky and the Brain). One night I was out with Jon Lovitz (who performed live on Saturday Night Live but at the time was doing the voice for the character on the cartoon series The Critic) and a guy came up to the table and stood next to me and just stared at Jon for awhile. He was staring and cocking his head like a German Shepherd.
“Then the guy comes back with his two kids. ‘This is him! This is him! This is the Saturday Night Live guy. Go ahead, ask him for his autograph.’ You can see the kids are embarrassed and uncomfortable but Jon very nicely signs the autographs and he’s very pleasant to the children. John watches him walk away and after a beat, he looks me dead in the eye and goes, ‘Well, that’s what it’s like to be famous. Still want it?’”
Casey Kasem, Superhero. In 1967, Filmation’s Superman/Batman Hour premiered on CBS. Olan Soule was the voice of the Caped Crusader and Casey Kasem was Robin, the Boy Wonder. As Kasem remembered in 1997, “We did 75 shows and right after that, everything just clicked. Within three months, my agent told me I was the most sought-after voice-over actor in town. All the other characters on the Batman series, with few exceptions, were played by Ted Knight. He was brilliant. He could do Mr. Freeze and the Joker, and he also was Alfred the Butler and even the narrator. I used to say to him,’Would you like me to help out with a couple of characters?’ He would tell me, ‘What are you trying to do, horn in on me, Casey?’ He had a lot of that character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show in him.”
The Forgotten Challenge of Voice Acting. Jim Gallant was a disc jockey for many years and a voice artist (Bullet #3 in Who Framed Roger Rabbit) but he was surprised when he went to an audition and the copy said “Jim Gallant type voice”. After reading that statement, he smiled, thinking the audition would only be a formality. He was even more surprised that someone else got the job because they thought Gallant didn’t sound enough like himself.
Who Was That Animated Character? Animator Bob Givens said, “I remember we did the patriotic Porky Pig film Old Glory (1939). We shot live action and rotoscoped it. I was the guy with the lantern and I think (Rich) Hogan was the guy on the horse.”
Those Guys Look Familiar. In the Warner Brothers short Waikiki Wabbit (1943) directed by Chuck Jones, two human castaways have to battle Bugs Bunny. The castaways are caricatures of long-time Warner storymen, Tedd Pierce (the tall, thin one) and Mike Maltese. They even supplied their own voices and Pierce, incidentally, wrote the short which has fallen into public domain.