October 23, 2015 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #235

Joe Barbera and Godzilla and Popeye. In the book “Inside the TV Business” (1979) by Paul Klein and Steve Morgtenstern, Hanna-Barbera legend Joe Barbera talked about two 1978 shows he had just sold, Godzilla and the All New Popeye Hour.

Popeye_show250“We’ve resurrected Popeye. And why do you resurrect Popeye? Saleswise, when you walk in somewhere and say, ‘I have a new series with a green elephant and I have Popeye’, they always seem to go for Popeye. They’re not going to buy anything new if they can help it. It’s show biz. For instance, you’re thinking what NBC might want, what CBS might want, and you try to come up with something, and you wake up one morning and think, ‘No one has touched Godzilla’.

“An article in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ about eight months ago mentioned that Godzilla has never lost money in the theater. Every single picture that’s been made. So when I say, ‘Let’s do Godzilla’, I find a receptive ear.

“You have to keep thinking of these kinds of projects or someone will beat you to it. Then, after you think of it, you know something like Godzilla is going to be a tough sell. So, how do you handle it?

Godzilla_power-hourFirst, he’s a superhero. Second, he’s going to help the environment. Third, he’s going to come to rescue us from incredible menaces that are going to ruin the earth. Fourth, we include a new character that’s a small version of him, which was once used in the movies, called Godzooky. He’s an eager beaver who wants to become like Godzilla and serves as comic relief.

“In this way, I’m getting around the programs and practices departments who will stop everything that’s violent. I can assure you that we’ve been on a nonviolent kick for over ten years no matter what anybody says.

“If I do a show like Popeye or Godzilla, we don’t own it outright. We participate with many partners. On Popeye, we have the toughest partners in the world, King Features. That’s why we prefer to do something original.

“I met a fellow at breakfast one time who was head of King Features and I said to him, ‘What are you doing with Popeye?’ and out of that came the deal to do Popeye. They weren’t doing anything but they were thinking of doing something.

“Godzilla was just waking up one morning with an idea and calling the guy who controls the project who involved with Toho in Japan. I said ‘What are you doing with it? Why don’t we take a run at it for Saturday morning?’

“We have a man from Toho who is guarding the property so we meet with him once in a while, as little as possible. He reads the scripts and tries to give us some advice. It’s a lot of juggling.”

Disney_Pinocchio_half-sheetLeica Story Reels. It has been suggested that the first full blown Leica story reels at Disney were probably first used during the production of Disney’s animated feature Pinocchio (1940). In notes from a meeting on January 18, 1939, Walt Disney tells storyman Joe Grant “While the (musicians) are working on a new handling of this, why don’t you start making a Leica reel so we can run it with the sound.”

Many of the Pinocchio meeting notes contain references to Leica reels (a subject absent from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ notes). At this time the Leica reels seem to have been used only after the story was somewhat locked down to aid in timing. It wasn’t until much later that reels with storyboards intercut with various stages of completed animation evolved.

Hayao Miyazaki never produced reels for his films. He went right from the boards and exposure sheets and then handed out the scenes to his animators. One of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s favorite phrases when he worked at Disney was “If it doesn’t play on reels, it won’t work in animation”.

Mammal of the Year. For its December 29, 1941 cover, Time magazine planned to feature Dumbo as “Mammal of the Year” (parodying Time magazine’s annual “Man of the Year”) but the idea was cancelled due to the attack earlier that month on Pearl Harbor and Time used a photo of General Douglas MacArthur on the cover instead. However, the story about Dumbo still ran in that issue with the title “Mammal of the Year”.

moonlightingMoonlighting with Van Partible. Van Partible did a Johnny Bravo episode that aired in August 2004 that was an homage to the popular live action ABC television series Moonlighting (1985-1989). Partible was quizzed about the episode at this link. although he doesn’t mention that he had the full support of Glenn Gordon Caron who was the creator of the show.

Partible was able to unite actors Allyce Beasley and Curtis Armstrong for the episode playing similar characters to what they did in the original series but Bruce Willis (although supportive) was too involved with producing a pilot. Cybill Shepherd just cost too much for the budget so actress Lori Loughlin (from the television series Full House) stepped in to fill the role of the faux Maddie character. Partible ran into some time crunches so was only able to do one draft of the script but the episode turned out okay but not as great as he wanted.

Double Your Pleasure. While doing the voice of Ludwig Von Drake for Disney, voice artist Paul Frees was just being paid scale (the minimum payment established by the union for services). One day at the studio, a beaming Walt invited Paul into his office just to catch up and see how he was doing. In a mournful voice, Paul hesitantly told Walt that doing the voice of Ludwig was roughing up his vocal chords and he didn’t know how much longer he would be able to do it. Walt paused and said, “what if we gave you more money?” Paul agreed that might help and that is how Frees was the first vocal artist working for Disney to get double scale.

Frozen Disclaimer. In Disney’s animated feature Frozen (2013), members of the audience may not have read the credits carefully and missed this disclaimer: “The views and opinions expressed by Kristoff in the film that all men eat their own boogers are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Walt Disney Company or the filmmakers.”



  • Reading Joe Barbera’s quotes, then seeing that dismal Popeye clip is more than a bit dispiriting. I wonder if, when Joe woke up and said Hey, we could do Godzilla, he didn’t simultaneously think to himself, where did I go wrong?
    (Are those tired old Hanna Barbera sound effects still being used by anyone?)

    • Dismal is right, turning Popeye (in my opinion) into a jealous insensitive jerk towards Bluto and going overprotective over Olive Oyl when Bluto tried to woo her (see the episode Frankenbluto). At and the real “coffin in the nail” was the disaster Popeye and Son” where Popeye finally Olive Oyl and gave Popeye a son but in that process H-B got rid of Popeye’s nephews and Lil Swee’Pea. The only bright spot on the entire run was Olive’s solo segment in H-B’s Popeye was Private Olive Oyl.

    • Yup. In the Japanese anime Chibi Maurku Chan the sound effect from El Kabong’s guitar ( where El Kabong’s aka Quick Draw McGraw clobbers his enemies with his guitar) was used in several episodes as well as in the British animated series Teddy Trucks (The crazy sounding bugle sfx) and in several other non H-B cartoons as well.

    • Sound Ideas has marketed the HB SFX library for years (as well as the SFX libraries of Warners, 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm). A couple of decades ago, a radio station I worked at received a demo disc of the Sound Ideas HB library, with narration by Fred Flintstone (Henry Corden).

  • H-B Popeye : “embarrasskin,” to say the VERY least. Disclaimer….shame on people leaving a film before it’s over!!!

    • At least Private Olive Oyl had its moments.

    • And about the best redeeming grace The All-New Popeye Hour probably had was the Dinky Dog segment (which aired in its own right in foreign markets, usually as an entr’acte between shows). Cute, in its own way–even if the dog was likely a mix of Irish Wolfhound and Old English Sheepdog).

    • And about the best redeeming grace The All-New Popeye Hour probably had was the Dinky Dog segment (which aired in its own right in foreign markets, usually as an entr’acte between shows). Cute, in its own way–even if the dog was likely a mix of Irish Wolfhound and Old English Sheepdog.

    • Perhaps the worst bits were those “educational” interstitials with Popeye’s nephews being led astray by a wolf character – for instance, the wolf tries to persuade them to smoke, but Popeye sets them straight, and says “I only use me pipe fer tootin’!” (Yeah, I’ll bet you do.)

    • “Hey kids! Want some DRUGS?”

  • When cartoon studios in the 70’s used established characters in new series, the usual arrangement was that after their network run, the cartoons would revert to the characters’ owners in a buy-back deal. Because of this, Hanna-Barbera in particular would couple the star-character shows with an original of their own as an hour-long series. Godzilla was paired off with Jana of the Jungle, Popeye with Dinky Dog, etc; and when the Godzillas and Popeyes went back to their respective owners, H-B retained Jana and Dinky. When H-B stacked up enough of these secondary-character series, they would syndicate them in large “package deals” like the one that formed the basis for cable’s “USA Cartoon Express.”

    • And don’t forget Fred and Barney Meets The Thing where H-B turned Craggy war hero/BMOC Football hero Ben Grimm and Benjy Grimm and scrawny nerd who uses two rings to summon and turn into The Thing.

  • I remember the H-B version of Popeye with its Disco theme version of I’m Popeye the Sailor Man, and how Allen Melvin replaced Jackson Beck as Bluto and Daws Butler was the voice of the hamburger loving Wimpy and in the first season that they had a cartoon which wasn’t related to Popeye called Dinky about a small pup growing up into a ginormous dog ala Clifford the Big Red Dog with Frank Nelson as the voice of Uncle Dudley.

    • Jack Mercer had moved west, but Beck pretty much remained in New York till his death. Butler preformed Wimpy a la W.C. Fields.

  • I found it laughable that Joe Barbera would speak so glowingly of adhering to the non-violent restrictions…and then speak so glowingly of picking perhaps two of the most violent characters ever devised. Like it or not, the core of POPEYE is his face-off with Bluto, at least as far as the theatrical cartoons are concerned, unless you were going to bring out more of the original comic strip, bringing back that whole look, neither of which Hanna and Barbera did. I never gave the series a chance and, by that time, I’d probably long given up on Saturday morning!

    • I think some of the things they did in the Hanna-Barbera Popeyes were actually worse than having Popeye and Bluto punch each other. In one of the “Popeye’s Treasure Hunt” segments Bluto disguised himself as an Italian Ice vendor, then covered Popeye and Olive with syrup and sprinkled bird seed on top. And then, with a flock of birds heading for Popeye and Olive, they cut to a commercial! And one of the regular Popeye cartoons that had Popeye and Bluto driving 18-wheelers ended with Popeye leaving Bluto stranded in the desert with vultures circling overhead.

  • FROZEN “PRODUCTION BABIES” TROUPE AND PROSPER: “Mom! Dad! Our first day of school was horrible! Everyone made fun of our names!”

    PARENTS: (singing) “Let It Go, Let It Go…”

    • Don’t forget WEDNESDAY

    • Aw, come on, Matthew – she’s neat…sweet…petite!

  • I always found Kristoff’s line in that film disgusting…. and partially true (I’ve seen some people actually do that).

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