Seuss Specials. When asked how involved Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was with the television specials done by DePatie-Freleng using his characters, David DePatie told Charles Brubaker in 2010, “He was a very hands-on guy. He lived down in La Jolla and he would fly over here. During the course of the production it wasn’t unusual to see him once a week. He was very instrumental in the creation of the series. Friz (Freleng) and I had a very good rapport with him. We enjoyed working with him and he enjoyed the studio and it was a far-cry from the bad experience he had with Chuck Jones on the earlier Christmas special. It was a very good relationship and everybody was pleased. I have sitting here in front of me three Emmys that we won for Dr. Seuss specials, with Friz and I as producers.”
Disney Dinner. Jack Bradbury began working at Disney in 1934. Here is an excerpt from his unpublished autobiography about what it was like working there:
“A number of times when a (cartoon short) picture was nearing completion, we were asked to put in an evening of overtime. And though we did not get paid extra for this, everyone cooperated cheerfully.
“We were given a voucher for our evening’s work, one that bought us a 50 cent dinner at Leslie’s, a restaurant on Vermont just north of Hollywood Boulevard. At that time, believe it or not, Leslie’s served a good T-bone steak dinner for only 50 cents. We’d also have a glass of good California wine before dining and return to the studio full and happy, sometimes singing old Negro spirituals while we worked.”
LumberJack Chuck. Chuck Jones in a 1975 interview with Greg Ford and Richard Thompson remembered: “I was called a ‘lumberjack’ by Disney people who thought I was a Communist. Well, they used to say that Communists took ‘little hairy Jewish people’ along when they had a speech to make at a union meeting. When I spoke at a meeting, one of the Disney animators said, ‘How come they’re using these big pink lumberjack types now?’ and pretty soon everybody was saying it. So I went home and took a look at myself. I was twenty-five and sure enough, I was a big pink lumberjack type. And I was a fat lumberjack—two hundred and five pounds.”
Why Not Less? During Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), director Richard Williams was pulled aside by Disney management and told that he was too much of a perfectionist and they weren’t going to let him do that on this picture. Williams responded that if he got 85% of what he wanted, he would be happy. Disney replied that on this film he could only get 35% to which Williams sarcastically responded, “Why not less?”
Dead Dog. In the November 19, 1994 issue of TV Guide magazine, director Steven Spielberg was asked what happened to the animated television series Family Dog. “It was an experience I’d love to forget,” laughed the director. “Basically, we couldn’t afford to do the kind of shows we wanted and it deservedly bit the dust.”
Bad Popeye. Abdullah Al-Ateeqi wrote in the Kuwati paper Islamist Almujtama in 1995 that the animated Popeye cartoon sets a bad example for children because it “propagates the concept of abnormal friendships between men and women, since two men fight during the whole episode for the love of a woman”.
Ken Harris. Initially, animation legend Art Babbitt didn’t care for animator Ken Harris, dismissing him by saying “If he was any good, he would have been working at Disney’s”. However, Harris turned out so much footage for Richard Williams and it was so good that Babbitt had a hard time reconciling that thought with what he actually saw. By the way, Harris timed out Williams’ short film A Christmas Carol (1971) and when asked about it, he said he timed it like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
B.C. Animator Carl Bell was one of the animators on ABC-TV’s Curiosity Shop. In April 1972, he became associated with Levitow/Hanson Films as animator for Sesame Street segments and production manager for television commercials. In a 1973 interview, Bell talked about working on Johnny Hart’s B.C. comic strip characters: “B.C. is a very popular strip. There was a segment of B.C. in Curiosity Shop which Abe Levitow directed. Apparently, cartoonist Johnny Hart was satisfied with the working arrangement so Levitow/Hanson got the ‘Action’ spots using the B.C. characters and B.C. The First Thanksgiving (1973). Hart did the storyboards for Action and the special, and is in direct contact with the studio. Tony Rivera is doing layouts in the Hart manner. Hal Ambro and George Nicholas are keeping the animation consistent to the strip, very important when the public knows the characters so well that they can tell when the drawing goes off by a hair.”
Making of The Incredibles Documentary. In the New York Post March 19, 2005, animator and director Brad Bird talked about why the “making of” documentary on “The Incredibles” (2004) was not a love fest: “My children have trophies for seasons where they tried really hard in sports and seasons where they didn’t. Which makes the trophies worthless. The nice, kind intention is that everyone will be happy every single moment of their life. But life isn’t that way. Life has disappointments and we can learn from them but not if every single fall is cushioned with a pillow.
“A lot of documentaries are shot afterwards, but ours (The Making of ‘The Incredibles’) was actually made while we were making the film. It’s not always a harmonious process. There are people with different feelings about what’s the best way to go. Conflicts arise and that’s a good thing to show. These films are a struggle to make. They don’t happen from people sitting around being happy. Making it look that way is like giving away meaningless trophies.”
What’s In a Name? It was not unusual for Warner Brothers to hide names of its artists in the background of cartoons but Speaking of the Weather (1937) offered a plethora of opportunities with its magazine stand setting to showcase everyone from Tubby Millar to Ray Katz. A copy of Mystery Magazine even headlines a story entitled “Vengence of the Inbetweeners”. However, Detective Fiction Weekly includes Melvin Millar, I. Freleng, (animator) Volney White and R. (Ralph) Wolfe.