March 24, 2017 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #306

Don Messick Speaks. From the Asbury Park Press newspaper May 15, 1994 in a series of columns by Mark Voger, voice over artist Don Messick shared the following: “Most of it is in my head. I don’t catalog them (his many voices) in writing or by computer or anything else. I just pull it out when the character is called for. I worked up a ventriloquist act when I was 13. That interested me when my voice changed. I discovered its flexibility.

“I’d been working under contract to Bob Clampett who had several live television puppet shows which were as near to a cartoon as you could get. We’d move from set to set — three sets with different backgrounds – and create all of this action. This wasn’t just a thing like a Punch and Judy. It was expensive to produce. But that era was coming to an end because it was cheaper for independent stations to buy or rent old theatrical cartoons – such as the Popeyes and so on – and hire just one person in the emcee of the afternoon kiddie shows instead of doing what we were doing.

Daws Butler (left), Don Messick (center) and Doug Young (right, voice of Doggie Daddy)

Daws Butler (left), Don Messick (center) and Doug Young (right, voice of Doggie Daddy)

“Hanna-Barbera were talking to people such as Daws Butler. And then I came along. I had known Daws since about 1944. So it turned out that Daws and I became the first two voice men for Hanna Barbera Prodcutions. At the time Hanna and Barbera began depending much more heavily on voice characterizations rather than a lot of action. So that’s why there was simplicity in those early series such as the Yogi Bears, the Huckleberrys, etc.

“Actually I like them. When I see those old ones, there is a charm, I think, in the simplicity, the backgrounds. And the characters come through in spite of the lack of rapid animation. On The Flintstones I did the role of Arnold the paperboy who always got the best of Fred and voices for most of the unnamed one-shot characters like the cops, the bystanders, the little animals that doubled as appliances. I was on just about every episode being kind of a roving fielder you might say.”

nimh-owlBeginnings of Bluth. According to The Orange County Register in its April 3, 1994 edition, as a four year old in El Paso, Texas, Don Bluth was taken to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. “I came home and probably was changed from then on. I began drawing the picture. I vividly remember making those drawings and collecting all the books I could. I went back and back and back to this film to see it. And then as the next ones, Pinocchio and Bambi came out, the same magic experience happened for me. Finally I concluded that even at a young age, that was what I wanted to do.

“After Filmation, I returned to Disney and started animating almost immediately on Robin Hood (1973). I was having a great time. The first bump happened when we looked at Robin Hood finished and colored and we said, ‘Wait a minute, something’s missing here; it looks a little flat and there’s no heart in this’. When we did The Rescuers (1977), I thought, ‘Well that’s better but not quite the glory of Camelot’.”

No One Noticed. Animators Don Bluth and John Pomeroy mentioned that in The Secret of Nimh (1982) that both Nicodemus and the Great Owl both walked with a limp and had glowing eyes to suggest that they might be “the same character in different forms”.

mickey-copyright100Disney Magic. From TIME magazine May 2, 1994, an article stated, “The greatest of all Disney magic is the magic of copyright. More remarkable than Mickey or Dumbo or any other creation, pre- or post- Walt has been the company’s success in exploiting established franchises and accumulating new ones. Perhaps the most cunning Disney trick is to take fairy tales in the public domain and reinvent them as corporate property.”

tiny-homerSimpsons Thoughts. In TIME magazine May 2, 1994, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening said, “For some reason, a lot of Hollywood big shots are curious to see how they’d be drawn with bulging eyes and no chin. There are jokes (in the show) you won’t get unless you’ve actually attended a few classes in college. Animated characters don’t get busted and they don’t get old.” Jim Brooks told the writers, “If you steal from a black-and-white film, it’s an homage.”

rocko-125Rocko’s Modern Life. From an Associated Press article of February 17, 1994, artist and producer Joe Murray (Rocko’s Modern Life) said he was fearful when Nickelodeon approached him in 1991 to develop a cartoon series. “When I heard ‘television’ a shake went through me. There was nothing there for me. What television had done to animation destroyed it for me. There was no way my work would be a children’s morning cartoon.

“With Rocko as a wallaby, we have the personality of a smaller species. He is very humble. He keeps to himself. Sometimes I feel that (I am) the only sane one, and I think everyone else is crazy. We are exploring not only life as it is happening but our back stories – when we grew up and developed our neurosis. None of our gags are done for shock value. This is a show to kind of explore the dark thing in life.”

c-jones344Animation Movement. Chuck Jones, interviewed in Business Screen magazine (Aug/Sept 1982) said, “To me, the essence of all fantasy is logic. You’ve got to believe it. And you have to remember that we’re not starting out with drawings. As Norman McLaren said animation is not a bunch of drawings that move – it’s a bunch of drawings of movement, movement that already exists in the director’s mind. There’s a big difference there.”

Secrets of Leonard Maltin. In TV Guide November 17, 1993 author and historian Leonard Maltin said, “I’ve always loved breakfast food. The only real cooking I do is with my seven year old daughter. We make Mickey Mouse waffles on the weekends with our Mickey Mouse waffle iron. When I was a child, I had a collection of Grimm’s fairy tales. And like most kids, I would scribble in my books but at the end of one of the stories where it said ‘The End’ at the bottom on the page, I drew a little frame around those words in crayon and wrote ‘A Walt Disney Production’.”



  • I wonder if the movie theater in El Paso Texas that Don Bluth went to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the Plaza Theater which is one of the largest movie (now preforming arts) theater in the Borderlands had had one of the largest Wurlitzer pipe organ between Dallas and Los Angeles and the first public theater in the US that had air conditioning.

  • Wait, Bluth worked at Filmation? I didn’t know that.

    • You learn new things each day.

      His name gets displayed pretty massive on this 1969 TV special, “Archie & His New Pals”.

      During that time, he mostly was a layout artist rather than an animator and his credits included Sabrina & The Groovie Goolies, an animated adaptation of Fantastic Voyage and the movie “Journey Back To Oz”.

    • Knowing Don’s interest in “The Wizard of Oz”, I’m not surprised that he worked on the Filmation feature.

      I sometimes wonder if Don himself ever planned his own Oz animated feature, particularly around the late ’80’s when the MGM live-action film celebrated its’ 50th anniversary. I can almost see his distinct designs for the characters.

  • And like most kids, I would scribble in my books but at the end of one of the stories where it said ‘The End’ at the bottom on the page, I drew a little frame around those words in crayon and wrote ‘A Walt Disney Production’.”

    Wonder how many children ever did something that ornate in theirs? I recall once sticking in roman numeral copyrights and “Color by Technicolor” in my books!

  • When I was a kid, I use to scribble “THE END: A M.G.M CARTOON” in the back of my books (some of them Dr. Seuss)..

  • I’m tired of the “evil corporation stealing PD stories just to make money” argument to the point of annoying.

    • Tell me about it. That argument still stands today. And I really want Disney to do a live-action version of “Rip Van Wrinkle”. To me, it’s a better move than reliving their past ( which is on their large plate right now).

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