The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show. Actually, the first animated cartoon series broadcast in prime time was probably “The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show” (aka The Boing Boing Show)on CBS that premiered at 5:30pm in 1956 – but only lasted three months (although it was later shown at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evenings in the summer of 1958 making it arguably the first animated prime time show). CBS was so excited about the series that they took out a seven year option on the series. However, CBS hadn’t planned on the show confusing its audience and going wildly over budget resulting in each episode costing $60,000 per episode, more than a top flight variety show with live action stars.
Thoughts From Chuck Jones. In the November 17, 1979 edition of the “Des Moines Register” newspaper, animation legend Chuck Jones stated,”The way animated characters ‘carry the idea’ is the secret to success. All memorable movies are recalled for how well the actors presented the script, not for the intricate details of the plot. In cartooning, the most important element is defining characters’ emotions through movement.
“I’m glad I chose animation as a profession. It’s a job that you’re able to do as long as you can hold your pencil and your brain’s working. That’s kind of nice. As my mother got old, she felt like she was the captain of a sinking ship. She felt all right as the captain. It was the damn ship that was sinking.”
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. When comedian Bill Cosby teamed with Filmation to do “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” that debuted in 1972, there was already a sense of political correctness craziness not to “offend” black pressure groups. The thrust of that feeling being that the black characters should not look radically different than white characters. Artist Randy Hollar with the assistance of Michelle McKinney, under the direction of Ken Brown basically came up with character designs that looked like generic white children colored brown.
Cosby rejected those designs and insisted the characters have more distinctive characteristics that included large lips, broad noses, nappy hair, large feet and more that would have been considered racist if suggested by a white artist.
The Character of Mulan. Dean DeBlois, the co-director of “Lilo &Stitch” with Chris Sanders, also worked with Sanders on “Mulan”. “Neither of us likes slapstick humor very much and we don’t like cheap sitcom one-liners,” stated DeBlois in a 2002 interview. “In ‘Mulan’, we felt we created a character who was very accessible because she wasn’t particularly good at anything. She wasn’t born into the aristocracy. She acted on instinct. She made stupid decisions. She was often impulsive yet she had a kind of nobility.”
No Clobberin’. Commenting on DePatie-Freleng’s 1978 “The New Fantastic Four” Saturday morning animated television series, writer Roy Thomas talked about the restrictions compared to writing the comic book version. “The Thing cannot hit anyone, man beast or monster. In ‘The Phantom of Film City’ episode, I had the Thing punch a robot and that was cut. No ‘It’s clobberin’ time!’ NBC frowns on that sort of action. Every once in a while the Army turns up, but they aren’t allowed to have guns or tanks. They just have to rely on friendly persuasion I suppose.”
Monsters Vs. Aliens Vs. Rex Havoc. In the September 20, 2005 issue of the “Daily Variety” entertainment trade paper, it was announced that DreamWorks was producing an animated feature film based on a four episode comic series from Warren Publications featuring a character called “Rex Havoc”.
According to the description, the film would be about “a monster hunter called upon to battle aliens who have disrupted cable TV service. Rex assembles a team of monsters to help including Ick!, Dr. Cockroach, the 50,000 Pound Woman and Insectosaurus”. However, as the project developed, it was determined that too many changes needed to be made to the original “mature audiences” series. However, the basic premise did evolve into the original animated feature “Monsters Vs. Aliens”(2009).Jack Nicholson, Almost Animator. Animator Irv Spence recalled meeting Oscar winning actor Jack Nicholson at an Academy Awards ceremony. He tentatively approached the actor to see if Nicholson might remember him at all and his time as a teenaged go-fer at the MGM cartoon studio. Not only did Nicholson remember him but shared some of his memories of the pranks the animators used to play on him.
One of his chores was punching holes in paper for the animators. The animators concocted an elaborate scheme to send Nicholson off for new paper and then would rearrange the room to disorient him when he returned. Despite all of this, Nicholson told Spence he enjoyed working there. Hanna-Barbera saw some artistic talent in the boy and offered him an entry level position but Nicholson turned it down because he wanted to pursue acting.
Lucky Disappointment. In his Eighties, animator and comic book artist Jack Bradbury lived in Santa Rosa, California where he briefly met another resident, cartoonist Charles Schulz. “It turned out we shared the same idol in cartoonists: Roy Crane and his wonderful (comic strip) ‘Wash Tubs’,” said Bradbury. “Schulz also said that he tried to get on at Disney’s but was turned down. Was that ever a lucky disappointment for him!”
Bill Thompson. Most animation fans know voice artist Bill Thompson for his work doing MGM’s Droopy or Disney’s Mr. Smee, Alice’s White Rabbit and the little park ranger J. Audubon Woodlore. He left the business to become a business executive although he occasionally returned to do some performing.
In a 1968 letter, Thompson wrote, “For some years now (starting in 1957), I have been with the Union Oil Company in a community relations capactity, working in the area of youth work, safety and delinquency prevention but occasionally I get permission from the company to appear in some of the characters that I have portrayed in the past. (Thompson voiced Touche Turtle for Hanna-Barbera in 1962.) This past August 25th, I appeared in the Hollywood Bowl in Frank DeVol’s salute to the days of radio in both my character roles of Wally Wimple and the Old Timer”.
Thompson died July 15, 1971, one week after his 58th birthday of Acute Septic Shock, a complication of the flu. His final performing role was as the drunken gander relative of Abigail and Amelia, Uncle Waldo, in Disney’s animated feature The Aristocats (1970).