The Real Origin of Foghorn Leghorn. Most people believe that Warners’ overbearing Foghorn Leghorn character was inspired by Kenny Delmar’s Southern politician Senator Claghorn on the Fred Allen radio show. However, as voice expert Keith Scott has pointed out, the first cartoon featuring the character was recorded on January 13, 1945, a full tenth months before the debut of Senator Claghorn on the radio.
So the inspiration for the character was more accurately based on a character in several Los Angeles radio shows called “The Sheriff” voiced by Jack Clifford. The Sheriff would yell obnoxiously, talk over other people and repeat what he had just said beginning with “I say…” and “Pay attention, boy…”
By the release of the second Foghorn Leghorn cartoon (and he wasn’t called Foghorn Leghorn until his third appearance) Crowing Pains (July 1947), the Sheriff was long a forgotten character while the Senator Claghorn character who was first heard on radio on October 5, 1945 had become well known and popular. So elements of that character were now incorporated into the rooster.
By the way, Keith has also pointed out that the character of Miss Prissy, the lovesick hen, was lifted from a dizzy rich woman character who appeared on “The Milton Berle Show” radio show played by actress Pert Kelton who would always answer “Yeeeesss….”
Ralph Bakshi on Animation. Here is an excerpt from an interview I did with Ralph Bakshi in 1978 as the basis for an article in “The Comics Journal” magazine. He was just weeks away from releasing his animated feature The Lord of the Rings: “I love the medium (of animation) very much and when it starts to work, it’s fantastic. I’m now interested in building an animation company and I’m certainly amazed at the belief these younger guys had in me that we could do it. The crew is young. The crew loves it. If the crew loves it, it’s usually a great sign. They aren’t older animators trying to snow me for jobs next year.
“I think we’ve achieved real illustration as opposed to cartoons. Artistically, we can do anything we want. Maybe Frankenstein. Who knows? I’d like to see ten animated features a year. Ten live action films fail a month but if one animated film fails, there is the belief that it failed because it was animated.”
Always Check Your Sources. In a 2009 interview promoting her role as Ginormica/Susan Murphy in DreamWorks animated feature Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009), actress Reese Witherspoon said, “I had never really done voiceover work before.” That statement was only true if you ignored that she had voiced the role of Debbie in two episodes on “King of the Hill” (2000), Greta Wolfcastle on “The Simpsons” (2002) and Serena in the animated feature “Trumpet of the Swan” (2001).
Cartoon Kid. Animator and director Genndy Tartakovsky recalled in an interview in “The New Yorker” magazine (May 27, 2002), “In Russia, TV was very limited. There were a lot of news programs and one cartoon called, well, I guess a translation is something like “Wait Till I Get You Now”. It involved a wolf who chased a rabbit. A chain-smoking wolf with a gruff voice, and a cute little rabbit. It was a Road Runner type of thing, but hard and really uncomfortably violent. The wolf was like a real man getting hurt.” (NOTE: See Nu Pogodi! – Jim)
Once he came to America, each day before leaving for school, he would watch cartoons and on Saturdays, he would get up early, study the listings in the paper and plan a schedule for the morning, trying to watch as many cartoons as he could.
“Imagine you’re a high school kid and you get drunk on Friday nights or whatever high school kids do… only Saturday morning I would wake up early and watch cartoons. With a hangover. When I watched them, I wasn’t tired. I was very excited. I remember at sixteen sneaking off to watch animated film like ‘The Jungle Book’ (1967) sitting in a theater full of kids and being much bigger than everyone else.”
Hirschfeld and Gertie the Dinosaur. Artist Al Hirschfeld was an admirer of Gertie the Dinosaur as evidenced by this quote from “The New York Times” on January 30, 1938: “In the first animated cartoon ever made, Winsor McCay, through inventive drawing and magical line, took the papier mache dinosaur out of the museum and made it again walk the surface of the earth.”
Jesus Vs. Santa. Animation directors Trey Parker and Matt Stone first met Fox executive Brian Graden in 1993 at a screening of their independent live action film “Cannibal! The Musical”. They showed him a short they had made in college with construction paper cutouts of Jesus battling Frosty the Snowman.
Here is how the second “Spirit of Christmas” video called “Jesus Vs. Santa” about the battle between the religious and secular aspects of Christmas with the prototype kids of “South Park” happened.
As Parker remembered in an interview for Entertainment Weekly magazine (March 13, 2015): “Brian totally loved it and he’s like ‘Can I send this as my Christmas card to everyone?’ So he sent it to his friends. Then the next year Brian said, ‘Can you make another one?’
“He gave us, like $2,000. We were so stoked. The damn thing took a week of no sleep to make five minutes worth. We didn’t even put our names on it.
“Brian’s friends loved it so much that they were copying VHS-to-VHS and then giving it to friends. Months went by. We were at a party and these guys were like ‘You guys have got to see this!’ They made everyone gather around the tv and played ‘The Spirit of Christmas’.
“Matt and I are like ‘Dude, we made that’. And they’re like ‘No, we know the guys that made this and they just got a meeting with MTV’.
“We are like, ‘What?!’ Brian went to MTV and said, ‘No, no, these are the guys who made it’. It was the most surreal thing. We were at bars trying to pick up girls and being like, ‘We’re the guys that made The Spirit of Christmas’. We were kind of little rock stars.
“People would have these VHS copies where you could barely see the picture because it had been copied 400 times. Still to this day, every stranger that walks up to me usually says, ‘I have your original tape’.”