January 13, 2017 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #296

Reason_emotion_posterDon’t Get Emotional! Reason and Emotion (1943) was a wartime short made by the Disney Studio depicting a nerdy professor-ish character and a caveman as cartoon examples of the two aspects always battling in our minds when making decisions. The point was to keep emotion in check by not getting carried away by rumors or Hitler’s war mongering while still having emotional pride in the U.S.A.

“That’s right, emotion,” insists the narrator (Frank Graham), “go ahead, put reason out of the way. That’s great, fine — for Hitler.”

A censored version with all references to World War II cut out of the short, including a scene with “Reason” and “Emotion” in a Nazi concentration camp was shown on the weekly Disney television series “Man Is His Own Worst Enemy” (10/21/62),. The short directed by Bill Roberts with animation by Ward Kimball and Ollie Johnston was nominated for an Oscar. Joe Grant and Dick Huemer supplied some of the gags.

The character of Emotion was modeled after animator Ward Kimball who confessed to author Richard Shale in an interview on January 29, 1976: “Emotion was supposed to be Ward Kimball. I weighed a lot more then…had sort of a bluish, Nixon five o’clock shadow, more hair – it was black –and in those days, partly through basic insecurity in my character, I was a little gruff.” A Disney publicity release dated November 23, 1943 verifies that Kimball was indeed the model but added that Ward was really “a quiet, unassuming person who reasons things out before acting.”

JIM-BACKUS-magooBackus on Magoo. In the May 27-June2, 1961 issue of TV Guide magazine, Jim Backus who was forty-eight years old at the time was promoting his new television show The Jim Backus Show – Hot off the Wire playing Mike O’Toole who ran a seedy Press service. However, he kept getting asked about Mr. Magoo. “Isn’t that a ridiculous way to make a living?” he responded when on press junkets people kept asking him to do the voice of Magoo.

“My mother was a string saver,” Backus stated. “She told me never to waste anything. When UPA approached me I thought of her advice and of a character I’d used earlier. He was the type you meet in club cars. He talks loudly, shows family snapshots and tells jokes – always ruining them. I revived the voice for Mister Magoo and…well, I’ve been chuckling ever since. Mr. Magoo is a fine old gentleman. But after 12 years of association, I’m tired of him – everywhere but at the bank. If you write about me, please don’t play up the Mister Magoo bit.”

Ironically, the same issue had an article on Walt Disney who said, “Mister Magoo was based on a single gimmick, Magoo’s nearsightedness and unless you’re Jack Benny you can’t sustain one gag like that on TV for very long.”

Richard Williams (left) and Robert Zemeckis (right)

Richard Williams (left) and Robert Zemeckis (right)

Finding Richard Williams. From the Los Angeles Times Calendar section June 22, 1998, director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit Robert Zemeckis said, “I was getting very depressed looking for someone to do the animation. I knew the script for Roger Rabbit had a premise that could make the viewer suspend disbelief if we could find an animator with the right sensibility.

“I didn’t want to do something flat and boring and I was struck by the way Richard twisted the perspective in that segment of The Cobbler and the Thief (Co-producer Robert Watts showed Zemeckis the footage from the still in production film.) I decided I would only do the film if Richard worked on it. There was no second choice.

“I demonstarted to him how actors and animated characters could work together. The change that came over Richard’s face was amazing. If he had been a cartoon character, a light bulb would have appeared over his head. He said, ‘That just might work!’ and immediately started embellishing the idea.”

bobclampett-150Clampett Speaks. Animator and director Bob Clampett being interviewed by Walt Trott for the Capital Times Chicago newspaper in 1978 said, “(At Warners), we had limited budgets, fewer animators (than Disney), less film, but we tried to overcome all that with ideas. (Schlesinger) was not a cartoonist but he was a smart showman and he gave you this wonderful freedom. We were able to try things. When I heard of animation by computer, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s great!’ A lot of fine things are being done today, but hardly much use is being made of this technique. I think it would have been better if they had released (Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings) as a live-action film.”

chuck100International Character Animation. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “Very few writers have ever noticed that this style of animation – that is character animation – is unique to the United States. I’m not saying this jingoistically – but it is like jazz! And it’s come mostly from Southern California. No other country has come up with any sort of cartoon character than can safely cross borders.

“There is no such thing as a French international character or a British international character. And yet, although we didn’t plan it that way, all of ours are international. It’s very curious. In Japan, Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry are recognized. And recently, we got a tiny royalty payment from one of those little republics that Nixon was always buttering up! I forget which one but their $18 check must have been the equivalent of an $18 million check from the United States.”

Tron_smallThe George Lucas Connection. With the computer graphics heavy Disney film Tron set to open in 1982, Variety reported that Disney vice-president Tom Wilhite and CEO Ron Miller went up to Marin County to view George Lucas’ facilities at ILM. “He (Lucas) took us on a tour of his research and development facilities,” said Wilhite. “They are doing very innovative things in computer graphics and electronic editing. A lot of people talk about doing things but he is doing them.”

The article reported that Disney was putting into production a live action film that would include computer graphics as well entitled “Einstein” about the famous mathematician from the age of 18 to 35 that would film in Germany and Switzerland and be directed by Steven Lisberger.

Apparently, the lukewarm reception to Tron cancelled that project. By the way, “Tron” is a debugging command in the BASIC command language. It is an abbreviation of TRace ON. It is used primarily for debugging, line-numbered BASIC GOTO and GOSUB statements.


  • There are several other animated characters that went “international” status (popular in their homeland but became superstars around the world) that I recall,

    Tintin, The Smurfs & Musti (Belgium)

    Asterix & Obilex, Lucky Luke (France)

    Mío & Mao (Italy)

    Reskio (Poland)

    DangerMouse, Paddington Bear, Noddy, Simon and the Land of Chalk Drawings (Great Britain)

    Pokémon, Astro Boy, Speed Racer, Gigantor, The Princess Knight/Choppy and the Princess (Japan)

    Pororo (South Korea)

    Pingu (Switzerland)

    Popeye, The Simpsons, The Flintstones, Charlie Brown, Betty Boop, The Jetsons, Mickey Mouse (United States),

    And many others too numerous to mention

    • May I suggest some other countries?
      Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Russia, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    • First, I’d dispute some of the characters you mentioned as being “internationally popular” in the same regard as Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny, and several you named were popular as comic strip characters before they were ever animated. And second – most of the stuff you named came along after the interview Chuck was quoted from, which was in 1982…!

  • There were quite a few characters modeled on Ward Kimball…Lampwick in Pinocchio, Ludwig von Drake, perhaps…

    • Ludwig von Drake was based on both the flamboyance and engaging personality of Wernher von Braun and the condescension of Heinz Haber (who Kimball told me had an encyclopedic knowledge of many different topics besides science and would regale the Disney staff without hesitation on any and all of them) and I don’t discount a touch of Sid Caesar’s popular television German professor “expert” who bluffed his way through interviews with Carl Reiner which is probably why the Disney character was labeled a professor.

    • Recall reading that Lampwick was a Fred Moore caricature.

      “Nifty Nineties” offers side-by-side caricatures of Kimball and Moore as a vaudeville act.

    • Hiawatha in the Bugs Bunny vehicle “Hiawatha’s Rabbit Hunt” was a Kimball caricature, also.

    • I’m aware of Von Braun’s influence on Ludwig, character-wise. One of the artists drawing post-Barks Uncle Scrooge comics was doing a feature on Scrooge’s family tree, where Ludwig was his brother-in-law; the artist was asked (by one of the European publishers of Disney comics) not to include Ludwig. The editors were aware that Von Drake was based largely on Von Braun, who had worked for the Nazis.
      But when I see one of those later photos of Ward with his big glasses and wild hair, it’s hard not to think of Ludwig.

  • @AARON

    Noddy was around in the 1930’s which had a character that now banned from the book called The Golliwogs since the 1990’s the Golliwogs ceased to exist due to Politically Correctioness. Smurfs (who first started in the Adventures of Johan and Peewit) & Asterix were around for over 50 years first as a graphic novel album before hitting it big in animation (1965 the Fake Smurf and 1970’s Asterix The Gaul)


    You’re right! How could I forget…

    Katy la Oruga (Katy Caterpillar) (México)

    Brazil (Monica and her Gang)

    Argentina (Patoruiz [Argentina’s first toon star], El Mono Relojero,Hijitus and Manuelita la Tortuga)

    Germany (Fixi und Foxi, Phillip Maus, Paul+ Lisa & The Mainzelmanchen mascots for the ZDF Network)

    Russia (Mischa the Bear, Cheurahka, Hedgehog in the Fog & Well,Just You Wait!(Nu,Pogodi!))

    The Netherlands (Miffy & Dr Snuggles)

    Canada (The Racoons)

    Australia (Blinky Bill,The Toothbrush Family,Around the World in Eighty Days & Pearlie)

    New Zealand (The Wot Wots)

    & Wales (Wil Quack Quack & Sali Mali).

  • “Reason and Emotion” looked like an inspiration for “Inside Out”.

    • I thought the same, and the ’90s Fox sitcom “Herman’s Head.”

    • AL and RNIGMA nail the two where emotions run the show. But little pilots inside the head are fairly common.

      I think Chuck Jones did something similar for a Bell Labs-type program about the brain.

      The old Cranium Command show at Epcot offered a little pilot coordinating various body parts (Jon Levitz as right brain, Charles Grodin as left brain, George Wendt as stomach, etc.).

      Artist Saul Steinberg drew a cutaway of a man’s head, revealing a nervous rabbit peering out through the eyes.

      Tim Eagan’s “Subconscious Comics”, a weekly alternative press strip, was set inside the psyche where a faintly monkey-like guy tried to run a man’s brain and body.

      Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex” featured a NASA-type control room.

      And the tiny angel and devil who try to persuade a confused character can be taken as predecessors.

  • The ” innovative things in…electronic editing” that Miller (or Wilhite? it doesn’t attribute) refers to would be the EditDroid, which was later spun off and became the Avid Media Composer.

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