Unusual Clampett Credits. While most of animation legend Bob Clampett’s credits are for Warners cartoons and Beany and Cecil, here are a few unusual credits on his resume that he gave to me when I interviewed him in 1978
Bob said he directed the cartoon sequences in RKO’s When’s Your Birthday (1937) because the animation was done at Warners since RKO had no facilities of its own.
Bob directed a live action prologue to Bwana Devil (1952) featuring his tv puppet characters Beany and Cecil with actor Lloyd Nolan explaining the 3-D process. The sequence was cut when shown in Great Britain and on “flat” re-releases in the United States. Reportedly, Clampett’s 3-D prologue will appear on Flicker Alley’s 3-D Rarities Blu Ray disc this year.
Bob acted and directed a live action comedy short “The Golf Widow” while still in school.
While he directed Republic Pictures short It’s A Grand Old Nag (1947) to demonstrate their new Trucolor process, on the screen and in the Library of Congress Copyright Catalog, the direction is credited to “Kilroy”. However, the cartoon clearly shows on the title card “Produced by Bob Clampett”.
Under the title “Creative Consultant”, Bob supposedly “supervised” the following three 1947 cartoons at Columbia/Screen Gems: Boston Beanie, Cockatoos for Two and Swiss Tease.
Credit where Credit Is Due. On February 18, 1979, animation legend Bob Clampett was in Oakland, California at the Paramount Theater. The occasion was the Black Film Makers Hall of Fame Awards banquet. Bob (the first white man ever invited for the ceremonies up to that time) was there to make a presentation to successful black animators Leo Sullivan and Floyd Norman. When they were asked who they would like to present their award, they said, “Bob Clampett since he was the one most responsible for giving us the breaks that we needed to succeed.”
Clampett on Saturday Morning Animation. In an August 1979 interview with the Kitchener-Waterloo Record Toronto newspaper, Clampett said, “It’s not the limited animation that bothers me as much as the limited thinking. We tried to give people novelty, something new…the emotion in a character is important and the Saturday morning stuff just can’t get it. Animation is such a wonderful medium. It will survive.”
Bradbury’s Disney Deal with God. In 1980, author Ray Bradbury wrote the following for the “The Moving Image” catalog, “When I was seventeen ‘Snow White’ hit the theaters. I saw it eight or nine times in the first month. Which made me, in the eyes of most of male friends in high school, some sort of fragile butterfly best ignored, if not broken on the rack. My collision with ‘Fantasia’ was even greater. Selling newspapers on a street corner, aged twenty. I told God that if He allowed me to be run over and killed by a car before ‘Fantasia’ premiered, I would cease being a Baptist on the spot and find some other, more considerate, Supreme Being. Needless to say, I survived to run about telling the world that one of the greatest films ever made was right there before them.
Three Untold Animated Tales. At one point, Walt Disney considered having the pirate Long John Silver tell three short animated tales about Reynard the Fox in the live action movie “Treasure Island” (1950) in much the same format as Uncle Remus tells three animated tales in “The Song of the South”.
The first fable was to be “Reynard and the Golden Apple” which would show that even though Reynard had stolen the King’s golden apple and treasure, it was to protect it from the real thieves. The moral: things are not always what they seem. The second fable was to be told to the pirates to avert Jim Hawkins death and was the story of “How Reynard Saved Grimbert’s Life” suggesting that the pirates, by killing Jim, would be making their own deaths a certainty. Finally, the last fable would be told after Silver’s capture and the revelation that he was less honest than Jim hoped. “Reynard’s Death and Confession” showed that one should always use one wits for good, not evil.Animation Anatomy. At the 1976 NEWCON event, comic book legend Carl Barks answered questions about working at the Disney Studio. At one point in the discussion, he commented, “Mickey (Mouse) was the starter of the three fingered era. It was just easier to draw in animation to have three fingers and a thumb. When I first went to work at Disney’s, I remember I was curious about the anatomy of these animals so I asked one of the supervisors, ‘What would happen if in animation you had a gag in which Mickey’s shoes were pulled off? What would his feet look like?’
“The guy said, ‘Oh, he’d have socks on.’ I visualized them as being black and he’d have three toes and one big toe.
“Donald’s (Duck) hands are just extensions of his wing feathers. When they first started making Donald in animation we just had a sort of feather-like hand that stuck out there. So they kept refining it until they made real hands and a wrist.”
Tex Avery and Gags. Animation legend Tex Avery shared his view of animation gags in a Summer 1980 interview: “I never thought of kids when I was making my films. I made them for me. I tested them out on my friends. I always aimed at adults. I think this whole thing of aiming at children is very destructive. When I directed cartoons if an idea got laughs that was fine with me. I got stung once in a while, but a greater percentage of the time it would go over.
“If I felt it was right, we went with it. I am proud of my timing. I allowed three frames for gag registration. In the early days we’d allow eight feet for a gag. I narrowed it down to three feet, getting more gags in. If one missed, it was followed so swiftly by others that the audience didn’t have time to notice. I don’t sit on a gag, or stretch it out, or linger over it. You get a laugh, BANG! Go on to the next one.”