December 12, 2014 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #191

Disney Artist Norman Rockwell. Famed Saturday Evening Post cover illustrator Norman Rockwell ended up painting a cover of the well-loved Dell comic book series Walt Disney’s Comic Book and Stories.

In one of Rockwell’s paintings, “Shuffleton’s Barbershop” that appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, April 29, 1950, in the lower-left-hand corner is a shelf with comic books.

Section of painting with Disney comic painted in

Section of painting with Disney comic painted in

Since Rockwell often worked using photographs, he had apparently snapped a shot of an actual comic on a shelf, Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories, issue No. 111 (December 1949) with a cover by Walt Kelly.

Donald Duck is leaning over a fence with an amused look on his face as he sees his three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, trying to give a hairy, sad-faced brown dog a home permanent with rollers.


Shut Up, Mr. Raven. In 1994 at the NFFC convention, actor Candy Candido shared the story that he was asked by the Disney Studio to do the voice of a raven (Diablo) in the animated feature “Sleeping Beauty” (1959).

Candido asked, “Which kind? A male raven or a female raven?” The bewildered studio executive asked if there was a difference. “Of course, there is,” replied Candido, “the female raven does all the talking. The male raven never says anything.” He got the role as well as supplying the voices for Maleficent’s goons.

Hearst Loses Money To Make Money. When Dick Huemer became an animator, he eventually made $75 a week salary for working five days a week and a half day on Saturday. “This was around 1920 and it was a lot of money! More than a lot of my relatives made. And I understand that at Hearst’s International, guys like Frank Moser did fabulously well. They told me he made about $400 a week just animating. But he was lightning fast and could really slash it out.

“Hearst had the International Studio, where he did all his King Features characters, like Happy Hooligan, the Katzenjammers, Jerry on the Job—all these things were done in animated cartoon form, as sort of a subsidiary to the newspaper strips. How could Hearst pay that type of salary in those poor times?

“He had organized the International Cartoon Studios and had money to throw away (because his papers were so successful) and he could run it as a losing proposition just so it would be publicity for the cartoon characters in his newspapers.”

bugs-bunny-200A Human Bugs Bunny. In 1990, animation legend Chuck Jones was asked what live action actor he would cast in the role of Bugs Bunny. Jones replied, “Steve Martin is probably as close as you get, or maybe Robin Williams. I think they would get inside of him. In a way though, the question is fruitless, because the very nature of Bugs is that he has to look like Bugs. The one person I’d never let play Bugs is Jerry Lewis. He’d just go running off with the gags.”

Clampett’s Brother. In 1978, when historian Reg Hartt excitedly told people that he was bringing up animation producer Bob Clampett for a film festival in Toronto, Canada, the reaction he got from most people was “Who’s he? Jed Clampett’s brother?” Jed Clampett was the fictional rural millionaire in the television series “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

Another Song and Dance. As I always say, nobody can know everything (definitely not me) and I sincerely appreciate all of the corrections and additions that readers send in to my columns so that the most accurate and complete information can be available.

Back in the August 15th edition of Animation Anecdotes (#175), I wrote about music and dance in some classic animated cartoons. Well-respected historian and musicologist Alex Rannie sent me some further information relating to those entries that I feel deserved to be shared with all of you.

“Regarding Jakob Gimpel and Tom and Jerry, Joe Barbera is misremembering slightly. While Gimpel did play piano for Johann Mouse (1953), the pianists for Cat Concerto (1947) were composer Scott Bradley and John Crown, the latter the longtime head of piano at USC.

“Having known composer David Raksin, and his fond recollections of collaborating with Art Babbitt, I always like to remind folks that he did the music for Giddyap (1950) and that he contributed a great deal to the routining (i.e., choreography) of the horse’s dance.

“Another UPA bit is that dancer Olga Ludnick was the live-action reference for Rooty Toot Toot (1951).

“Also worth mentioning is the work of dancer and pantomimist Lotte Goslar who can be seen as the Fairy Godmother in the Bobe Cannon Navy ad Goslar was in talks with UPA to collaborate on a project but, alas, nothing ever came to fruition.

“And regarding the Disney Dancers, Baronova, et al., were members of the Original Ballet Russe, not the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. (Note the singular spelling for both companies, despite what various Baronova biographies may say. The history of how the Ballets Russes [plural spelling] evolved into competing companies with multiple, yet similar, names is an historian’s nightmare!)

“In helping Mindy Aloff research her remarkable book Hippo in a Tutu: Dancing in Disney Animation it became apparent that the principal influence for “Dance of the Hours” was the George Balanchine-choreographed ballet sequence from Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 featuring Vera Zorina.

“Marge Champion (then Marge Belcher, soon to be Babbitt) suggested the sequence to Disney animators and served as the principal reference model for almost all of the movement in “Dance of the Hours.” Boronova, et al., were the icing on the cake, so to speak.”

I would like to personally thank Alex for his generosity in sharing this amazing information with all of us. Much of this information has never been previously documented and would have been lost without his sending it along.

Once again, I encourage all of you to do the same. In particular, in the past, Scott Shaw! has provided much appreciated new perspective and corrections to a couple of items I have posted where he was directly connected to the project.

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