ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 29, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #247

mel-olds-compositeOldsmobile. 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.

Tiffany (left), Janet Waldo (right)

Tiffany (left), Janet Waldo (right)

17 Comments

  • I remember that when Janet Waldo was cut from The Jetsons Movie in favor of pop star Tiffany doing both her speaking and singing voice it made headlines on the local media here from The Los Angeles Times to news station KNX AM 1070. Sadly this would of been the last time that the surviving cast members of The Jetsons would have been together (Daws Butler who was the voice of Elroy Jetson and Henry Orbit passed away before production but was replaced by Patric Zimmerman Daws’ protege .) both George O’Halon and Mel Blanc passed on during production and if Hanna Barbera allow Janet Waldo to reprised her role as Judy Jetson she would of , as they would say “One Last Hurrah” with her fellow surviving Jetson cast members. Now Janet Waldo is the only surviving cast member of the original Jetsons. And of course the real reason why The Jetsons Movie failed in the box office is because of Janet Waldo was unfairly cut in favor of Tiffiny to be the voice of Judy Jetson and many of the Jetson faithful fans were upset about Janet Waldo being cut from The Jetsons Movie.

    • Actually, I think the main reason The Jetsons Movie tanked was just how bad it was. I always enjoyed the show, but the movie was one of the worst animated movies I have ever seen.

      I am of a mixed mind on the decision to cast a flash in the pan pop start as the voice of Judy. She was far and away the worst character in the film. In the original show, she was a likable teenager, in the movie, she was a whining, annoying brat. As bad as it was that they made this decision, maybe it is a good thing that Janet Waldo was not connected with this piece of garbage, I always found it sad that the last things Mel Blanc and George O’Hanlon did was this film, it’s too bad they couldn’t have had a better ending to their careers than this lousy effort.

    • I am of a mixed mind on the decision to cast a flash in the pan pop start as the voice of Judy. She was far and away the worst character in the film. In the original show, she was a likable teenager, in the movie, she was a whining, annoying brat. As bad as it was that they made this decision, maybe it is a good thing that Janet Waldo was not connected with this piece of garbage, I always found it sad that the last things Mel Blanc and George O’Hanlon did was this film, it’s too bad they couldn’t have had a better ending to their careers than this lousy effort.
      The writing was pretty bland and it was probably a good thing Janet didn’t strain herself here acting that way in the film.

    • “I always found it sad that the last things Mel Blanc and George O’Hanlon did was this film, it’s too bad they couldn’t have had a better ending to their careers than this lousy effort.”

      Actually, as the post mentioned, the last thing Mel did was the Oldsmobile ad, which I found both fitting and bittersweet.

    • You obviously weren’t the only one asking “Where’s Waldo?” I recall Steve Carras ranting often on Usenet about the substitution of Tiffany, the epitome of ’80s mall-rat pop (parodied in that “How I Met Your Mother” episode where Robin confessed her past life as “Robin Sparkles”).

  • While we were story sketching TUMMY TROUBLE Disney arranged a field trip to St. Joseph’s Hospital ER. They suited us up in gowns, caps and slip covers over our shoes for our tour through the facilities to get ideas for gags from the equipment and apparatus.
    Didn’t really help much, as we created our own gadgets putting Roger Rabbit and Baby herman in their own unique cartoon world were outrageous things happened, mostly to Roger.

    http://www.patcartoons.blogspot.com/

    • Well, you got to waste precious time and budget on that field trip, Pat!

  • I see the Stooge cartoons in PD collections. What happened? Was the series profitable at all?

    • I get the impression it feel off the TV map after the 70’s. In the 1980’s, there were legit releases through Embassy Home Entertainment but that was about it, after that, I suppose the rights simply expired and that’s where all the PD copies showed up.

    • I’ve seen many of them at the dollar stores and at Walmart (of course I purchased several of them under the Cartoon Craze title both in English and in Spanish (Los Tres Chiflados). One of them had a neat little slideshow featuring scenes of The New Three Stooges cartoons.

    • I’ve seen many of them at the dollar stores and at Walmart (of course I purchased several of them under the Cartoon Craze title both in English and in Spanish (Los Tres Chiflados). One of them had a neat little slideshow featuring scenes of The New Three Stooges cartoons.

    • “I get the impression it fell off the TV map after the 70’s.”

      The New 3 Stooges cartoons aired on the Family Channel in the 1990’s. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut off the opening and closing titles, which is what the Family Channel did to the public domain theatrical cartoons they aired as “Funtown Funnies”.

    • Anything produced after 1964 will not become public domain until at least 2025, by definition, because all copyright renewals for anything copyrighted from 1964 through 1977 were extended automatically by the copyright act of 1976; for cartoons made in 1965, this extended Cambria and Normandy’s copyright on the Three Stooges cartoons through 2026. Either Normandy didn’t know this, or Cambria alone copyrighted the cartoons and no successors of interest were around to make sure their property wasn’t being bootlegged. (Obviously, cartoon bootleggers take advantage of small stuido releases all the time, with the hope that they won’t get caught. Some of the same public-domain DVD companies, for example, have bootlegged HOPPITY HOOPER, which can’t possibly be in the public domain.) Incidentally, anything produced after 1978 gets an automatic renewal of 95 years–by which time, Disney will have lobbied enough congressmen to again extend the law another 100 years or so. What has mystified me is why Normandy has not gone after the trademark violators who use their trademark for “The Three Stooges” more agressively. (Or perhaps they have, and we just don’t notice when the violators’ product disappears from store shelves.)

  • I seem to remember visiting Mark Kausler at Disney some time in the early 90s, and he showed me and my friends a storyboard for a Roger Rabbit short that never got produced. C’est la vie!

    • In 1990 I read a newspaper article about Disney’s Florida animation studio that mentioned the titles for 5 or 6 planned Roger Rabbit shorts, though the only ones I can remember offhand are “Waiter, There’s A Hare In My Soup”, “Drip Dry Roger”, and “Beach Blanket Bunny”.

  • Noel tells a slightly different version of Mel’s passing here, at 15:28:
    http://www.radiolab.org/story/248590-blanc/

  • That sequence from Oliver and Company was dark and throughly frightening-although the whole move was pretty dark. Kidnapping, threats of violence or death to pay back a loan, mafia(cement shoes were mentioned). It’s also shamefully underrated.

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