ANIMATION ANECDOTES
September 25, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #231

snow-white-germanHitler Loved Disney Cartoons. In 1939 the Nazi Propaganda Ministry purchased fifty American films for exhibition but they were never shown in Germany at that time due to growing anti-Americanism. One of those films was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) sold personally by Roy O. Disney to Germany.

Adolf Hitler had a copy of Snow White delivered to his private movie theater in Ubersalzberg and considered it one of the greatest movies ever made. Hitler also had in his personal collection eighteen Mickey Mouse shorts that had been given to him as a Christmas gift on December 22, 1937 by Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.


UnBearable. In Disney’s animated feature Brother Bear (2003) after Kenai is transformed into a bear, the film shifts from a 1.75:1 aspect ratio to the CinemaScope ratio of 2.35:1 to give the audience a sense of seeing the world differently. Songwriter Phil Collins wrote a ‘transformation song” that was translated into the Inuit language and then sung by a full Bulgarian choir. It was cut from the film.


Monster House Director. Gil Kenan directed the motion capture animated feature Monster House (2006) and at the time of its release told the media: “(Producer) Bob (Zemeckis) is filled with insight and enthusiasm. What I really learned from him is that so many questions could be answered by asking, ‘What story am I telling?’ It’s a magical question that opens a lot of doors. Animation allows impossible things to appear possible on screen. You can go places that you can’t go with live action. We still start with a script – and we had a really good one – but animation lets me use my voice to expand its possibilities. It’s like reading a novel and illustrating it in your head.”


The IRON GIANT (1999) returns to theaters next week. The "signature Edition" will also be on DVD and blu-ray (date TBA).

The IRON GIANT (1999) returns to theaters next week. The “signature Edition” will also be on DVD and blu-ray (date TBA).

The End of Iron Giant. In Brad Bird’s original storyboard for the animated feature The Iron Giant (1999), the film ends almost immediately after the giant’s death. Screenwriter Tim McCanlies (who went on ironically to be a writer on the tv series Smallville that featured Superboy) told Bird “You can’t kill E.T. and then not bring him back.” McCanlies was responsible for the final moments when the dismembered parts read the sonar signal and start to put themselves back together in the snow and ice. Bird’s concept for the film was “What if a gun had a soul and chose not to be a gun?”.

McCanlies on Iron Giant. Screenwriter Tim McCanlies who wrote the screenplay for the animated feature The Iron Giant (1999) stated in 2003, “(The Warner Brothers animated feature) Quest for Camelot (1998) did so badly that everybody backed away from animation and fired people. Suddenly, we had no executive on Iron Giant, which was great, because Bard got to make HIS movie… because nobody was watching.” Bird has described the film as having “one-third the money of a Disney or DreamWorks film, and half of the production schedule”.


Old Animators Never Die. The first weekend of June 2015, there was a Rock Art Show in Orlando, Florida and in attendance was retired animator Ron Campbell who now spends his time going to these type of events. Besides selling his art, he also does does drawings of the characters he has animated over the years in black ink and then fills them in with watercolor.

“I only do the drawings for little children,” Campbell explained. “If I do a drawing for an adult, I find quickly a line of thirty people or more waiting.”

Fifty years ago, Campbell was working as a twenty-four year old animator on television commercials in Australia when he got a call asking him to come to New York to direct a television show about beetles. He turned it down explaining, “I don’t think bugs will make very good characters.”

beatles-cartoonHe had misheard and the offer was to work on the Beatles animated series. “I wasn’t familiar with their music but I became a Beatles fan by directing the show,” stated Campbell. “Directing the cartoon show was not so much exciting as terrifying. It was very challenging. I was a very young man, only 24 years old. I had dumped on me a great deal of responsibility to hire a lot of people, to oversee the workflow, to see that six months hence the film would be delivered to New York, and one week after that, another film delivered. It was kind of like flying an airplane. It was very exciting but you might be scared if you stoped and thought about it. There was too much to do.”

Campbell then was contacted by producer Bill Hanna and ended up animating on The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons and The Flintstones. In 1968, he animated on the feature film Yellow Submarine. He later worked on Rugrats and Darkwing Duck.

When asked which was his favorite character, he replied, “You can’t do it. How the hell do you choose between the Beatles, Smurfette and Scooby-Doo?”

BELOW: What You’re Doin’ (1966) directed by Graham C. Sharpe and Ron Campell.


Little Slocum. The Van Nuys News newspaper on May 5, 1949 announced: “There’s a new little youngster coming to Van Nuys—a perky, happy little fellow in a big sombrero, and you’re going to see a lot of this happy chappy in the weeks to come, because he is going to be here and there and ‘round-about in the Valley to greet all present residents and newcomers. His name? ‘Little Slocum’!

“He is a pen-child created by Mel Millar, nationally known cartoonist and illustrator, and has been devised by Millar to tell the thousands of Valley residents about Slocum Furniture Co. at 6187 Van Nuys Blvd., and of the wide selection of home furnishings to be found there at attractive prices.

“Millar was with a film advertising firm, then came to Hollywood in 1931 and worked in animated cartoons at Warner Brothers.

“In 1944 he returned to free lancing and since that time has drawn illustrations for Talking Komics, and has sold to Collier’s, This Week, Argosy, New York Times, King Features, Fortnight and others. Also had his own cartoon business in Pasadena for a couple of years, and taught at the Hollywood Art Center School.”

Millar (who changed his name from “Miller” when he left Kansas for Hollywood) was a noted storyman at Warners. In the 1960s, Parade magazine asked leading comedians who their favorite cartoonists were. Ed Wynn picked Millar and Parade ran a page of his cartoons in the magazine.

Melvin died December 30, 1980, and was buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burbank.

A self-caricature that appeared in The Van Nuys News newspaper 1949

A self-caricature that appeared in The Van Nuys News newspaper 1949

14 Comments

  • Hitler loved Snow White. Did I need to know this?

    • Actually, it’s quite fascinating – and led to an important sidebar to world animation history. Hitler founded a state animation studio after his access to Disney cartoons (and features) were cut off during the war. Herman Goebbels established Deutsche Zeichenfilm in 1941 that was to be the Disney Studio of Germany. Animator Hans Fischherkosen and his studio also flourished, separately, under the Third Reich during this period.

      To read more about this fascinating story, I highly recommend the McFarland book Animation Under The Swastika by Rolf Giesen and J.P. Storm.

    • That said, Hitler HATED Mickey Mouse — at least according to the propaganda pouring out of the Nazi party pipeline:

      “Young people, where is your sense of self? Mickey Mouse is the shabbiest, most miserable ideal ever invented. Mickey Mouse is a recipe for mental enfeeblement sent over with capital from The Young Plan. Healthy instinct should tell every decent girl and decent boy that those filthy, dirt-caked vermin, the greatest carriers of bacteria in the animal kingdom, cannot be made into an ideal animal type…Down with Mickey Mouse, and up with the swastika!”

      – Adolf Hitler, via Garry Apgar’s highly enjoyable ‘A Mickey Mouse Reader’

    • It is a fascinating story Jerry, especially to see the fruits of Deutsche Zeichenfilm’s labor here.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WunpNJzqDkU

    • It’s quite interesting in separating Hitler’s personal tastes with what the Nazi Party line was suppose to say. This is true with most Hollywood/British product at the time which had an extremely strict embargo similar to Fascist Italy and Soviet Russia.

      Hitler was supposed to dislike Snow White, not only because it was the product of the decadent Americas but because it depicted “deformed”, silly people as both likable and heroic which bucked with the Aryan ideal. However, it’s undeniable that the Disney style in the 1930s was considered the pinnacle of the animation medium which, as Mr Beck pointed out, let to the Third Reich to attempt to copy its success and lead to the founding of a Nazi German animation studio which, needless to say, was a pale imitation that didn’t leave much of a footprint.

      Regarding that Mickey Mouse rhetoric, it’s also likely that many such influential individuals in the Third Reich had Disney cartoons privately screened. Such strict party embargoes on entertainment was routinely circumvented for personal use by higher ups and inner circle members who knew they could get away with it.

    • It’s too bad that Alberta Seigel’s studies on cartoons causing aggressiveness weren’t started until well after the war. Maybe if she found out which Mickey Mouse cartoons may have caused (if they caused) Hitler’s aggressiveness we could keep them out of the hands of other dangerous world leaders. Now, Disney itself is poised to be a dangerous world leader.

    • Regarding that Mickey Mouse rhetoric, it’s also likely that many such influential individuals in the Third Reich had Disney cartoons privately screened. Such strict party embargoes on entertainment was routinely circumvented for personal use by higher ups and inner circle members who knew they could get away with it.

      Ironic, but true!

      It’s too bad that Alberta Seigel’s studies on cartoons causing aggressiveness weren’t started until well after the war. Maybe if she found out which Mickey Mouse cartoons may have caused (if they caused) Hitler’s aggressiveness we could keep them out of the hands of other dangerous world leaders. Now, Disney itself is poised to be a dangerous world leader.

      Ha-ha!

  • The code name for the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day was ‘Mickey Mouse.’

    • The Nazis were well aware of the power of film and the popularity of Mickey Mouse, in particular, with young people wearing images of Mickey on buttons and patches instead of the Swastika which is one of the reasons for the ban on Mickey. Privately, Hitler loved Mickey Mouse cartoons which is why Goebbels gave him the gift of the cartoons after seeing him previously laugh loudly at Mickey Mouse cartoons. Mussolini was another huge Mickey Mouse fan and allowed Mickey to appear in newspapers long after other “foreign” comic strips were eliminated from Italian newspapers.

      “Mickey Mouse played a part in the invasion of northern France, it was revealed today. Naval officers gathering for invasion briefing at a southern port approached the sentry at the door and furtively whispered into his ear the password of admission: ‘Mickey Mouse’.” Press release from United Press dated June 8, 1944 from London. “Mickey Mouse” was not the code word for the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy (D-Day) as has been so often reported in so many different places but for the meeting where officers received their orders.

      All of this information from that amazing book, THE BOOK OF MOUSE (Theme Park Press 2013) by Jim Korkis.

    • One thing I forgot:

      In Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister’s diary entry for December 22, 1937, Joseph Goebbels wrote “I am giving the Fuhrer…18 Mickey Mouse films (as a Christmas gift). He is very excited about it. He is very happy about these treasures which will hopefully bring him much fun and relaxation.” The reason for this gift was that it is documented that during July 1937 in Hitler’s private screening room, the Fuhrer watched five Mickey Mouse cartoons and laughed loudly. There doesn’t seem to be a record as to which Mickey cartoons were shown.

    • “The code name for the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day was ‘Mickey Mouse.’”

      Actually, no.

      It’s supposed to be Neal Gabler that started that nonsense in one of his books but he never referenced his information.

      Basically, Operation Overlord wasn’t “code named” Mickey Mouse but, um “Overlord”. The code word for clearance about D-Day plans was BIGOT.

      To quote the official Navy history on the Normandy invasion:

      “Operation OVERLORD may be described as the planning, preparation and execution of the 1944 invasion of Europe via Northwestern France, together with the subsequent allied military advance into the heart of Germany and the destruction of the German armed forces. Operation NEPTUNE was the cross channel assault phase of OVERLORD.”

      Unlike Mr. Gabler and Mr. Minton I can direct you to a reference:

      http://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/o/operation-neptune-invasion-normandy/chapter-1-the-strategic-background-of-overlord.html

  • I don’t know about “Deformed”, but Nazi Germany had It’s own films showing silly people as likable and heroic. Ever see any Heinz Ruhmann or Hans Moser films from that time?

  • Talking Komics were some of the earliest children’s records. Tubby Millar contributed the stories and drew the comic books that were sold along with the records. Daws Butler and many other Hollywood radio voices contributed to the recordings. Years before Capitol records came up with the “Record Reader” concept developed by Alan Livingston, Tubby Millar tried to get the concept of children’s records with a book attached off the ground. It was a little too early (1944) and the big boom in kid’s records came after World War Two. Tubby also drew comic book stories for the Standard and Nedor publications, such as Giggle, Ha-Ha comics and Happy comics among many others.

  • Alleged drawings of characters by Hitler:
    I know the dwarfs were copied from the Snow White Sketchbook that was published:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1579629/Did-Adolf-Hitler-draw-Disney-characters.html

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