Oldsmobile. The Leo Burnett agency shot an Oldsmobile commercial with Mel Blanc and his son Noel. The gag would have been Mel in the car with animated versions of Warner Brothers characters and the tag line: “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile”. During the filming, Noel noticed that his father, a long time heavy smoker, was coughing badly very and took him to the hospital where a doctor recommended he stay overnight. Soon afterward, Mel suffered a stroke and passed away on July 10, 1989.
The commercial was to be part of the beginning of the big kick-off for Bugs Bunny’s 50th anniversary beginning fall 1989 and there was debate to pull the commercial. The Blanc family gave the company permission to air the commercial, re-edit it or re-shoot it.
Is Magoo Here Yet? Here’s an anecdote about Jim Backus and Mr. Magoo that writer Mark Evanier shared on his website: The U.P.A. cartoon studio, where Backus most often recorded his Magoo dialogue, was next door to the Smoke House, a still-extant Burbank restaurant where animation folks were known to gather. Before a recording session, voice director (and occasional co-actor) Jerry Hausner would take Backus over there to the bar for a few drinks. Hausner would ask him after each one, “Is Magoo here yet?” and Backus might answer, “I think he might arrive after one more one more gin and tonic.” When Backus was sufficiently Magooed, they’d go over to the studio and record, and would sometimes return to the bar area of the Smoke House afterwards for what Backus called “the wrap party.”
Computer Chase. After the release of Oliver and Company (1988), the subway chase sequence went on to win the 1989 National Computer Graphics Association (NCGA) Special Award for the Application of Computer Graphics to Theatrical Animation when submitted independently as a four minute short called “The Chase”.
The official description of the submission: “In the chase sequence, the director and animators elected to use computer modeling and animation to enhance the thrill by putting the audience into the high-speed subway tunnel chase with the characters. To do this, most of the environment (the tunnels, subways, bridges, tracks and other elements) and computer-generated, and the character vehicles (Sykes’ limo and Fagin’s rickety moped/shopping cart) are computer-modeled. All of the characters – Oliver, Jenny, Fagin, Skyes and their four-legged friends – are drawn and animated by hand. The segment is intended to demonstrate enhancement of a story through an appropriate blend of mediums –conventional and computer animation.”
Tummy Trouble. On the release of the Roger Rabbit short Tummy Trouble, Jeffrey Katzenberg told the press in 1989, “Disney, as a whole, has made a commitment to try and really grow Roger into what one day may become a classic Disney character. The only way you can do that is if you look back historically at the way it was accomplished. You have to continue to make product – movies, animated shorts, television shows, whatever format you can to keep these character alive and growing in front of the American public.
“One of our goals is to really stretch the creativity and originality of our animation department and there is no better format that they can work in than the short format. In the original feature, Bob Zemekis and Richard Williams created a rich and textured interesting Toon world where almost anything can happen. It’s a great training ground and we have a lot of new ambitious animating talent who are cutting their teeth on these shorts.”
The short was directly spliced into the beginning of the feature film Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). Disney inserted detailed warnings preventing exhibitors from removing the animated short or running it out of order. Spotters, the instructions read, would be sent out to make sure the rules are adhered to the letter.
No Justice. The New Three Stooges (1965-1966) animated television show that featured animated versions of the current Three Stooges and their voices was not a comfort for the comedy trio. Cambria Studios’ distributor was supposed to forward quarterly statements to Normandy Productions to show profits. When they did not receive those statements, the Stooges sued and the judge ruled in favor of Cambria with the Stooges receiving no money for the work they had done. The Stooges refused to discuss it but the decision was appealed in 1975 and won but by the time of the judgement both Larry and Moe had passed away.
All Dogs Don’t Make Money. In Variety June 26, 1989, it was revealed that All Dogs Go To Heaven cost $13 million to make and foreign sales had already yielded seven million dollars. According to an agreement with distributor United Artists (who was releasing the trailer for the film with the release of the James Bond film License To Kill), if All Dogs Go To Heaven hits a domestic box office of $35 million, UA guaranteed to pay Goldcrest Films (the official producer of the film and who put up ten million dollars of its own money for publicity and advertising the film) a minimum of eight million dollars for the home video exploitation. Interestingly, the article mentions that Japan will not commit because it “wants to see the finished film first”.
Judy Jetson Speechless. Janet Waldo recorded all of the dialog for Jetsons: The Movie (1990). Recording artist Tiffany was brought in as a publicity ploy to do the singing for Judy Jetson’s three solo songs to attract a young audience. Then MCA decided she should also do the actual voice as well and re-recorded all of the dialog with Tiffany. “I am totally devastated,” said Waldo to reporters in 1989. “It’s like part of me has been killed. I can’t think of her as Judy Jetson. I think of me as Judy Jetson, and so do millions of Jetson’s fans. There’s already been a tremendous interest in the movie. I don’t think the fans will like this at all.”
Waldo was discovered by Bing Crosby when she was a high school student in Seatlle and eventually came to Hollywood and did a few cameo appearances in some of his movies. She really made her mark in the radio show “Meet Corliss Archer” and other radio comedies. Voice director Andrea Romano asked that her name be removed from the finished film credits in protest of the replacement of Waldo.