October 16, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #234


Mr. Frees. Paul Frees. For a recording session at the Disney Studio in Burbank, Paul Frees showed up dressed meticulously. He had his chaufeur pull up to the guard gate in his Cadillac and rolled down the back window. The guard smilingly looked at his clipboard and asked for Frees’ name. In his distinctive voice, Frees said, “Paul Frees”. The guard looked and couldn’t find the name and asked Frees to spell it but still couldn’t find it on the list of people to have access. “Should I call someone?” asked the guard. “Don’t bother” replied Frees and told his chaufeur to turn around.

As he was leaving, Frees picked up his massive car phone that was in his vehicle and phoned his agent Don Pitts. He explained what had happened. He told Pitts to call the studio and explain what happened, reschedule the session and that he expected to be paid in full for the day. It was 10:00 am in the morning and Frees said he was going to see a movie.

Pitts got involved with something else and didn’t call the studio but he was reminded a half hour later when someone at Disney phoned him frantically wanting to know where Frees was. Pitts explained what had happened and rescheduled the session. Frees did get a check for that day.

When Frees showed up for the rescheduled session, he pulled up to the guard booth and it was a different guard. He rolled down the back window and gave his name to the guard.

“Oh, yes, Mr. Frees,” said the eager guard. “We have been expecting you. Thank you so much. Here is your parking sticker. Is there anything else I can do? Do you know where to park and how to get to the recording building?”

Frees assured the man that he knew where to go and drove on to the lot.

Disney and Technicolor. In Variety January 6, 1965 Walt Disney said, “I had the great honor in 1932 of being the first to use the famous three-color Technicolor process. To me it was a new door to film greatness which had been opened. I am very grateful to Technicolor. Since 1932, all Disney color films have been in Technicolor. This is from my heart.”

Another Dumbo Fan. Movie producer Brian Glazer began interviewing people he found fascinating in the 1970s and continued to do so over the decades until he had interviewed 450 people from LAPD Chief Daryl Gates to astronaut Jim Lovell to singer Mick Jagger. He recently released a book with fourteen of those interviews. One interview not in the book was with Edward Teller, the Manhattan Project scientist who dismissed Glazer’s attempts by saying “I don’t see movies. The last movie I saw was 50 years ago. It was Dumbo (1940)”.

RAY-GUNNRay Gunn. Director and writer Brad Bird has been involved with a lot of projects that never developed. Bird along with co-writer Matthew Robbins (Dragonslayer, Mimic, Don”t Be Afraid of the Dark) scripted a 112 page draft for a PG-13 animated feature June 28, 1996 entitled “Ray Gunn”, an homage to 1940s Film Noir but set in a futuristic world. Reportedly, Bird had wanted actor Michael J. Fox to voice the lead character in this mixture of Raymond Chandler and Buck Rogers.

Raymund Gunn is a human private eye in a future world where usually people get a cheaper and more effective spybot to do the job. Ray is the last of a dying breed.

However, the eccentric and very rich Arnold Dom offers Ray the job of finding out if his pop star wife, Venus Envy, is cheating on him. Ray finds out that she is involved in an affair but with an alien and gets pictures to prove it.

However, it turns out to be Venus’ body double. Ray had missed an important detail that a spybot would have caught. Arnold purposely chose Ray knowing he would do so and uses Ray’s “proof” to finalize his divorce settlement to his advantage.

Wandering around town in depression, Ray runs into and falls in love with Venus who has been sneaking around the city in disguise singing her own songs under her alter-ego named “Red”. When Venus’ body double is murdered, Venus becomes the main suspect and it is up to Ray to find the real murderer.

The Art of Terrytoons. From Film Daily, December 28, 1931, in an article titled “Cartoon Comedies Gaining New Importance”, animation producer Paul Terry was interviewed:

“Few people, Terry claims, realize the amount of research which enters into the preparation of Terryoons. In the matter of costumes, backgrounds and dances, everything must be authentic, down to the last detail. In addition to this, all music is especially composed by Philip Scheib, Terrytoon’s staff composer and musical director.

Terrytoons have had much influence in educating people to enjoy musical films by giving them the highest type of music against the element of the cartoon … Terry believes.”

Here’s a fine example of Paul Terry’s musical theories from 1931 – music by Philp Schieb.

H-B Rejected. In 1997, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission rejected cultural-historic status to the Hanna-Barbera studio buildings on Cahuenga Pass because “the structures are not architecturally distinguished”. By that time, H-B had moved into studios with Warner Bros. Animation in Sherman Oaks.

The Big Advantage. In US Weekly in 2003, “The Simpsons” writer Matt Selman revealed the primary advantage for working on the show: “(We) have girlfriends now. We would never have gotten girlfriends working for a mediocre show.”

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes. While it still irks me to this day that Disney removed the cigarette from Pecos Bill (1948) in the U.S. re-releases of the classic featurette beginning in 2000, in 2006 Turner Broadcasting had to re-cut 1,700 episodes of its cartoon library for the United Kingdom after the Office of Communications (Ofcom) received a complaint about two Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tennis Chumps (1949) and Texas Tom (1950).

Ofcom ruled that the two cartoons featured smoking and were inappropriate for the Boomerang children’s television show. Ofcom emphasized that “smoking must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorized before nine p.m. on television.”

Turner issued the statement: “Turner recognizes that it is not suitable for cartoons aimed at children to portray smoking in a cool context and has additionally pledged to review the entire Hanna-Barbera catalog to remove scenes that appear to glamorize or encourage smoking.”


  • 4Kids Productions was also notorious for removing the smoking sequences from the anime One Piece by either eliminate the offending scenes or replacing the cigarettes with lollypops.

    Also the scene from the classic Goofy cartoon How to Play Football where the coach for Taxidermy Tech swallowed a mouthful of cigarettes after his star running Swivel Hips Smith was injured.

  • how reeee dickulous. I was brought UP on toons smoking….not a ONCE did it give me inclination to want to start. The shit stinks…..end of sentence!!

  • “In the matter of costumes, backgrounds and dances, everything must be authentic, down to the last detail”
    To this day, historians watch Terrytoons to see the history of mouse couture.

  • I feel sorry for the guard.


  • Kinda weird how The Flinstones was once sponsored by Winston cigarettes and during the commercial break of The Flinstones as well as the bumpers after the opening and the closing credits of The Flintstones.

  • I don’t know what they did in the UK, but the Pan-European version of Boomerang TV (which I get here) simply doesn’t air these two Tom & Jerry cartoons. It is also broadcast from the UK, as far as I know.

  • Gee, I didn’t know Frees was such a self-important ****. (Self-censored)

    • gd0:
      Frees apparently had more than enough talent to back up acting like a self-important **** !

    • He did directed “The Beatniks” which ended up as MST3K fodder.

  • So was the proposed “Ray Gunn” feature done before or after Brad left “The Simpsons”?

  • Yes, Paul Frees had an ego, but so what? Many actors and directors did. If you knew anything about the up and down, uncertain lifestyle of a freelancer (brought up in the Depression years) who was short and brilliant you would begin to grasp a little of his lifelong insecurities. Yet he also had a highly developed sense of humour about himself and could be as self-deprecating as anyone. He was a complex genius, and remains one of the top five cartoon voices of all time for his versatility and range. He was far from a “self-important **** ” even if that’s how he strikes some people…they need to read the Ohmart book and, I must immodestly add, my own THE MOOSE THAT ROARED to get a fuller picture of Frees. Also, the video above is a pretty good sampler but the tiny clip of Aesop and Son needs deleting (that’s Bill Scott and Daws Butler as the lion and mouse, not Frees).

  • Let me echo my distaste for the PC Nazis. I don’t know how many cigarette and cigar smoking cartoon characters I’d seen in my time, but it never lured me to smoke, and I’m also including all those cigarette commercials that are now history in television, and we can all see how ludicrous those were!! Stop trying to change history in animation, especially when we’re talking about theatrical toons that simply had to appeal to a wide audience! I totally understand the reasons for doing those edits, but really, it is cartoon fandom that buys the carefully prepared DVD sets and know all the comedy references and we’re not looking for reinventions of what we already know.

    • Not only did Popeye cartoons convince me to smoke, they also convinced me to deliberately gouge out my right eye and begin dating anorexics.

  • And Bugs Bunny cartoons convinced me to munch on raw carrots, crossdress, and always take the left turn at Albuquerque.

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