September 30, 2016 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #282

Perce Pearce in 1951

Perce Pearce in 1951

Mr. Mole’s Voice. From an April 13, 1982 short letter from animation legend Ollie Johnston: “(In Bambi 1942), the talent behind Mr. Mole who delivered the now famous line ‘Hmm, nice sunny day’ was Perce Pearce, the story director of the film.”

What makes this an anecdote is that most places list Otis Harlan as the voice of the mole and, in fact, list it as his last role since he died in 1940. He supplied the voice of the dwarf Happy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) so it is not inconceivable that he would have been around to do voice work while Bambi was in development.

moleSo I took a look at the book Walt Disney’s Bambi: The Story and the Film by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas (Stewart, Tabori & Chang Inc. 1990) and this is what they wrote: “The little mole who popped up out of his burrow at Bambi’s feet, squinted at the bright sky overhead, and commented ‘Nice, sunny day’ then plunged back underground to continue on his way. Perce said this line so well, and so often, that he was talked into recording it for the film. Pearce’s ad-lib acting and dialgoue was good for the picture, because it kept the characters alive for the story crew.

“Next to Walt, Perce was the best storyteller and actor. He knew how to characterize the specific traits of an individual. He loved to get up and perform for us and even became identified with many of the cartoon cast on each picture.”

Despite his many significant contributions to Disney animated and very first live-action films, very little is known about Percival C. Pearce. Perce started at Disney on February 18, 1935, left on October 2, 1953 and died on July 4, 1955

Pearce started as a cartoonist. Seaman Si’, The Adventures of a Blue Jacket on the High Seas of Fun and Trouble which is a 1917 book collection of cartoons originally drawn for and published for The Great Lakes Bulletin, the Naval Training Center newspaper featuring a character he created. Pearce also did editorial cartoons and political caricatures for his news agency, some of which appeared in the New York Evening Post, and were later included in a 1917 article in Cartoons Magazine called “Under the Big Dome” by Elisha Hanson (v. 11, no. 4, April 1917).


Rating NIMH. In the Minneapolis Star Tribune of July 16, 1982, animator Gary Goldman who was promoting the release of The Secret of NIMH (1982) stated, “We took the film in and let them make their own judgment. I know a G rating has the kiss of death in the industry but I don’t believe it. I think there are families out there who are mad as hell because they go to a film that’s rated PG and there’s swearing and semi-nudity and things that may be realistic to one genre of people but another genre says, ‘I didn’t come here to be demoralized. I came here to be lifted up.’

“We had arguments with the people marketing the film. They wanted a PG. We said, ‘We made this film for us. We’re entertained by it, so why shouldn’t a teen-ager or an adult like it?’ You’re aiming at the wrong audience, because there are going to be people that have to go out and get refunds because their five year old is frightened by the caves or the special effects’. Jerry Goldsmith wrote some very intense music.”


mercer-hinesPopeye and Olive Married. From the Florida St. Petersburg Times March 9, 1939: “Popeye the Sailor and Sweetie Wed. The voices of Popeye, the Sailor Man and Olive Oyl, his sweetie, were man and wife yesterday. That sounds odd, we know, but Jack Mercer, 24, who speaks for Popeye movie cartoons and Margie Hines, 21, who speaks the pieces Olive Oyl seems to say were wed March 3 in Ft. Lauderdale. They made the announcement at Fleischer studios where the animated films are produced.”

Mae Questel, of course was the voice for Betty Boop and Olive Oyl but did not want to move when the Fleischer Studios relocated from New York to Miami. Hines was hired to replace her as both Boop and Olive and continued to do so until 1943. When the now re-named Famous Studios returned to New York Questel returned to the role in 1944.

However, as publicity for the studio, the idea that Popeye and Olive got married finally (just as when Wayne Allwyne and Russi Taylor who had being doing the voices of Mickey Mouse and Minnie got married) was too good to pass up even promoting that the couple ate a “wedding breakfast of spinach”. Even Time magazine in its March 20, 1939 issue mentioned it. A short time after Mercer returned home from the service after World War II, they got divorced.

my-little-pony100My Little Pony. When asked by the L.A. Daily News January 2, 1989 what items from the 1980s will become collectibles in the future, cartoonist Garry Trudeau of Doonesbury fame answered, “My Little Ponies, with synthetic manes and tails that drive small girls crazy. Each comes encrusted with jewelry. It’s the only toy my daughter has. She also has a My Little Pony villa. It’s not a toy; it’s an entire lifestyle!”

bullwinkle_korkisBill Scott Talks The Bullwinkle Show. From the underground comix magazine STOP! #3 (1982) that was published in New York, here is an excerpt from an interview by Judy Wilmot of Bill Scott:

“Recently, I saw an award winning Charlie Brown special at UCLA and nothing happened. I was bored. A half hour of material we’d have done in three minutes. Hanna-Barbera won out. All smart people loved Bullwinkle. The Bullwinkle Show has the most loyal and most intelligent audience. But it was never Number One. It’s a special show for special people and it’s long-lived and always funny but never the number one grabber. And it was expensive. Jay was constantly mooching money. The later episodes were never reduced to 16mm and they were the most expensive. We put a lot of money into them.”

In the Arizona Republic newspaper for August 1, 1982, Phyllis Tucker Vinson who was then NBC’s vice president for children’s programs about why Bullwinkle was cancelled, “Bullwinkle really hasn’t caught on with today’s children. I think one of the problems is it’s a lot of verbal humor and younger kids don’t get it. Older kids do and I do.”


  • Margie Hines to me was a better Olive Oyl because she made her funnier the way she sounded especially when she wailed “Oh Popeye!!” And how she giggled.

    My favorite Popeye Cartoons featuring Margie Hines as Olive Oyl were….

    Aladdin and His Wonder Lamp (and it was the only time that Olive Oyl screamed in a comical fashion)
    Shakespearian Spinach (with Pinto Colvig as Bluto)
    Olive Oyl and Water Don’t Mix
    Kicking the Conga Around
    The Marry-Go-Round (Margie Hines final role as Olive Oyl)

    Margie Hines also did the voice of Swee’Pea, the little bunny crying “Mommy” in Olive’s Birthday Presink and as Buzz the Bee Scout in Mr Bug Goes to Town/Hoppity Goes to Town.

  • Kind of funny how the My Little Pony was popular even though the were muddled by the filler episodes The Glo Friends and Potato Head Kids in the first season of thier original run and The MoonDreamers in the final season of the original run. And how they came back in My Little Pony Tales and later in My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic.

  • Aside from Willard Bowsky and Pepe Ruiz, no one comes out looking worse in Shamus Culhane’s autobiography than Pierce Pearce (Culhane claimed Peace was stealing other people’s ideas and presenting them to Walt as his own during Shamus’ time at Disney).

    Since Hines’ age is listed as 21 in the story, and since she’s also listed as one of the early Betty Boop voice artists before Mae Questel got the job full-time, that would mean Margie would have to have been 13 or so when she was doing Betty’s voice in the early 1930s. Either there’s some significant age-shaving going on here, or the person writing the story on the wedding put a ‘2’ where the ‘3’ should be in her age.

  • I think Bill Scott summed it up best, regarding the current state of animated cartoons. I still get a good laugh out of the Jay Ward stuff, even when he decided to do a series similar in form to the half hours of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, “GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE”, where each character has his own theme song, etc. Those episodes still were funnier. And I’ll always say that it is a shame that none of this stuff is on TV anywhere. And, worst of all, I guess that HOPPITY HOOPER is off the map entirely.

    • I used to like Hoppity as a kid. I always wondered why it disappeared completely. I picked up a few episodes on a DVD from a 99-cent store a few years back. They don’t hold up particularly well because the characters aren’t compelling. Hoppity is kind of bland, and the others that travel with him, excepting Hans Conreid, aren’t memorable either.

  • Bullwinkle will always be the thinking person’s cartoon. When I watched as a child, sure some of the jokes went over my head while others were throwaway lines I got a kick out of (“I dunno, I heard it on ‘Meet The Press’!”). But the characters themselves won me over. Rocky was the hero I wanted to be.

  • Interestingly, I think Pearce shares two things with Jack Benny. Both were born in Waukegan, IL (Pearce on 9/7/1889), and both were at the same Naval Training Center in World War I. I wonder if they knew each other. (For the record, Waukegan had a population of 9400 in 1900, and 16000 in 1910, when Benny would have been about 16 and Pearce about 10.) There are a few family trees on which show things like Pearce’s entry in the 1900 census.

  • Thinking of NIMH’s “G” rating, I’m reminded of a recent video The Nostalgia Critic made asking a more important question, what does the PG rating even mean anymore? This is in reference to recent animated features like Frozen, Kung Fu Panda or Inside Out getting the rating over “G” these days.

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