ANIMATION ANECDOTES
June 12, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #216

peter-pegusus-cel

Peter Peagsus. The Art of Disney Galleries was selling a limited edition Armani figurine of the little black baby flying pony from Fantasia (1940) and the base proclaims it to be “Peter Pegasus.”

There was a family of winged horses that frolicked in the fields and gracefully floated in the rivers during Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony segment of Disney’s Fantasia. The family consisted of a black stallion who was the father and a white mare who was the mother. The four baby foals were colored pink, blue, yellow and black.

If you check the many books about Disney animation history, there is no mention of a “Peter Pegasus”.

It takes some research to discover that during the 1940s in order to keep some of his animators working between projects, Walt Disney suggested developing some shorts featuring the flying black pony and it was at that time on the concept drawings and model sheets that the name “Peter Pegasus” first appeared.

One short would have brought back the dancing mushrooms from the “Nutcracker” segment of “Fantasia” while another involved Peter sneaking out of his nest and following a family of ducks and accidentally disturbing an angry bee. None of these stories progressed beyond the rough storyboard stage.

Why the name Peter? Well, besides the fact that it is alliterative like so many animation monikers, remember the Disney Studio was also developing at the same time the story of “Peter Pan”, the flying boy.

Pegasus is a generic name and would be difficult to copyright but “Peter Pegasus” is specific and can be copyrighted. (Similar to when Disney was developing “The Gremlins” during World War II and decided to focus on “Gremlin Gus” since the name could be copyrighted and recognized as an exclusive Disney character.)

noahs-shoesMax Fleischer. In July 1928, it was announced that beginning on August 3, 1928, animation legend Max Fleischer would deliver a talk on motion pictures on radio Station WLTH located in Brooklyn, New York. Was this talk ever broadcast and does a recording of it exists somewhere if it did?

Max, who held at least fifteen patents (including one for rotoscoping) used in the motion picture industry, also wrote a 160 page unusual hardcover novel published by S.J. Bloch Pub. Company in 1944 entitled “Noah’s Shoes” which basically told the story of what Max would have done if he were in the shoes of the famous biblical character.

Max Fleischer died from heart failure on September 11, 1972 in Woodland Hills, California, after a period of poor health. On the day of his death, Max Fleischer was cited as a great pioneer who invented an industry, and was named by Time magazine as the “Dean of Animated Cartoons”. Like Walt Disney, Fleischer was also cremated but his ashes were never interred.

genie-mikeFriend Like Me. Songwriter Alan Menken remembered for Entertainment Weekly magazine (January 23rd, 2015) writing the iconic song “Friend Like Me” for Disney’s animated feature Aladdin (1992): “We didn’t know who was going to play the genie when we (Menken and Howard Ashman) wrote the song. We were looking at the character as black, a hipster and I suggested a Fats Waller, Harlem stride-piano style for the 1940s.

“When Robin Williams was suggested, my first thought was ‘Can he sing like Fats Waller?’ Robin learned every note. He was working on (the Spielberg fim) Hook (1991) at the time and he would come in after being stuck in a harness all day and sit at the piano and learn.

“When we went into the studio, we got exactly the Fats Waller performance we wanted and then everyone said, ‘Okay, but now can we let Robin do his thing?’ He was amazing. That trumpet ‘wah-wah-wah’ was supposed to be from an instrument and he made it vocal.

“He took ahold of the creative process, both on that and ‘Prince Ali’. He went crazy on ‘Prince Ali’. He was doing the Thanksgiving Day Parade, Arab-style.”

JQ-ColoringTim Matheson at Hanna-Barbera. For most people, actor Tim Matheson is perhaps best remembered for his role in National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978) but for animation fans, he is best remembered for voicing Jonny Quest in the original episodes when he was about sixteen years old. He went on to do the voices in other Hanna-Barbera cartoons including Jace in Space Ghost and Sinbad Jr. in the series of the same name.

In Videoscope magazine #93 (Winter 2015), Matheson recalled for interviewer Don Vaughan, “It was sort of between my kid years as an actor and my young adult years. I wasn’t quite fitting into a lot of roles then, so it gave me a living for about two or three years. Joe Barbera allowed me to write a couple of ‘Sinbad Jr.’ which was fabulous. I went in and pitched stories to him and he was a great mentor and a wonderful man.

“Working at Hanna-Barbera sort of helped draw me into other aspects of the creative path and away from my high school life. I spent more time at home writing scripts for Joe and things like that than I did spending time with my peers. After Hanna-Barbera I went under contract at Universal. I think I was 19. So for three or four years I was under contract to them. That prevented me from doing any more cartoon work, so I sort of fell away from it at that point.”

Ultimate_Spider-Man_Howard_the_DuckAnimated Howard the Duck. Continuing legal battles between Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber and Marvel Comics during the peak of Howard’s popularity prevented several projects from being done including an animated television series that was being prepared in the early 1980s by Marvel Productions (the Los Angeles area animation studio arm of Marvel comics) that had prepared story and art materials.

In the animated television series, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. that ran on Disney XD included an episode on August 25, 2013 entitled “The Collector” that featured Hulk and Spider-Man trying to prevent the Collector from capturing every Earth hero for his collection. In one of the Collector’s pods is Howard the Duck whom the Collector states is an example of an “ultra rare hero” in mint condition. This may have inspired the funny tag at the end of the Disney live-action film Guardians of the Galaxy released a year later in July 2014.

2 Comments

  • I managed to come across a copy of Noah’s Shoes in a Los Angeles used book shop recently. I found it to be an enjoyable read. Max’s eagerness was highly contagious and I was entertained by his enthusiastic search for a logical way to accomplish Noah’s task.

  • Howard the Duck’s rant about lack of respect in the industry made me think that this is what Bugs Bunny would probably do if he heard about a sudden cessation in LOONEY TUNES reissue campaigns! Great post, as always.

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