Who Was That Masked Man? The first Lone Ranger animated television series ran on CBS from September 10, 1966, to September 6, 1969. It was produced by Format Films and included work by Art Babbit and Bill Tytla as directors and Virgil Ross as an animator. Much of the work was produced in England and Australia. The opening theme song of the William Tell Overture was recorded in London with a forty piece orchestra including members from both The London Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras.
“The thing we brought to The Lone Ranger,” said producer Herb Klynn, “was a totally new graphic.” Multi-layered montaged backgrounds featuring shapes of luminous color held together by cels featuring illustrations that used grease pencils on the acetate instead of ink to get strong compelling black lines was used.
“Creative talent cannot be contained,” stated Klynn. “It must be allowed to breathe, to try new avenues…you have to experiment and go through a creative evolutionary process. That’s what we did. We were a team, a family with no boundaries.”
Why Woody Woodpecker Was Successful. “There’s a little of Woody in everybody,” said animation legend Walter Lantz in 1992. “(My wife and voice of Woody) Gracie did so much for the character. She gave Woody something that no one else could—a lot of heart.
“I wanted to make the kind of pictures that appealed to all ages. I didn’t depend on a lot of dialogue. Gags were more important—the things that real people would want to do if only they had the nerve. Woody along with Mickey and Bugs will go on forever.”
Translating Eddie Murphy. In a 1993 interview, Gumby’s creator Art Clokey said, “I think Eddie Murphy expressed it best when he said, ‘I’m Gumby, damnit!’ Which means Gumby’s okay, I’m okay. I identify with Gumby, so I must be okay too. That’s what I think Eddie was expressing. I’m Gumby, damnit!’ You can’t put ‘em down. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m Gumby!”Porky the Boy Scout. Warner animator and director Norm McCabe said in 1992, “Porky (Pig) was someone I was never crazy about. He was always trying to be the good guy. It was like trying to do a cartoon about a boy scout. I never really cared for those spot gag cartoons (“Porky’s Snooze Reel”, “Who’s Who in the Zoo”). The story guys really loved them, though. They never had to worry about relating the scenes. It was just one joke after another. I liked the cartoons I did with Daffy (Duck). I liked his attitude… a real wise guy and a great actor.” Difficult Mel Blanc. In 1993, voice artist Stan Freberg who had been teamed with legendary voice artist Mel Blanc for Warner Brothers cartoons featuring the two mice Hubie and Bertie as well as the Goofy Gophers and the dogs Chester and Spike recalled, “I had tremendous respect for Mel. He had this incredible voice box. He could do things that nobody else could. But when I first came to Warner Brothers, I think he resented them bringing in another voice artist.
“He was very possessive about what he did and he often wouldn’t let me get close enough to the microphone when we were recording. Treg Brown (film editor and sound effects wizard) would have to say, ‘Do it again, guys, and Stan, get closer to the mike.’ Later on, after I had great success as a Capitol recording artist, Mel gained new respect for me and things became less difficult.”
Frank Thomas and the Snow White Premiere. Disney Legend Frank Thomas told an interviewer in 1993, “When we went to the preview showing (of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in December 1937), we were just floored by the reception. We thought, at best, it would be like ‘The Drunkard’ where everybody hissed and booed the villain. We thought the audience would take it that way. We hoped they wouldn’t but we couldn’t believe that they would believe in this whole thing as completely as they did.”Live Action Reference. When Disney Legend Frank Thomas was asked in 1993 why use live action reference models in animation after his statement in his 1981 book “Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life” that “no matter how good they are, actors can seldom give you what you want. You can talk to them and get them thoroughly immersed in the character, but when they do the action, it’s not what you have in the back of your mind”, Thomas took a moment and replied:
“It gets you much closer. If you’re starting from scratch without any help, you have an awful time digging out that kernel in the back of your mind. If you have something that’s nearly there that reminds you specifically of what’s missing, it’s a much easier step to come closer to that dream which is seldom if rarely achieved.
“That’s why an artist is driven to drink and everything else because he cannot capture that thing that is in his mind. I think it would be a tedious, terrible job to try to do it all by yourself without any help.”
Big Bucks. It was reported that in 1924, Walter Lantz was the highest paid employee in the field of animation, making $250 a week for his work on series like Dinky Doodle and Col. Heeza Liar.
Jay Ward Laughs. Voice artist June Foray in a 1993 interview remembered Jay Ward as “a jovial, avuncular young man who knew precisely what he wanted. He laughed easily. When I met him (in 1958), he was ready to face the world with all his mordant humor. I did so many characters for Jay. We had wonderful writers. They wrote jokes that made them laugh and made Jay Ward laugh. Whatever was funny, that was it—no condescension. They used big words all the time. It was not written for children.”
High Design. On the Warner cartoon “High Note” (1960), designer Maurice Noble cut up theatrical gels into various shapes and devised a way of suspending them in front of the camera lens to create overlaps of color and a distinctively different series of background. “Sometimes I would just come up with ideas that had never been tried before,” said Noble in a 1992 interview. Noble said that he designed and painted all the backgrounds in “Duck Amuck” (1953).