June 9, 2017 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #317

Holli and the Hollywood Sign. To promote Ralph Bakshi’s Cool World (1992) distributor Paramount contributed $27,000 to the city of Los Angeles and another $27,000 to the Rebuild L.A. campaign in order to mount a seventy-five foot tall image of the character of Holli Wood (voiced by Kim Basinger) in a white mini-dress with legs crossed sitting on the letter “D” on the Hollywood sign.

As the song “Hooray for Hollywood” boomed out of speakerson on July 6, 1992, a helicopter pulled away a cover revealing the cartoon image that would remain in place until after the film’s premiere that Friday on July 10th. Paramount executives and guests applauded from a park about a half a mile away while a dozen picketers booed, honked noisemakers and waved signs in protest.

Emcee Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood, declared that it was all in the “Hollywood tradition of doing the unusual” and that the sign was originally a commerical gimmick itself to draw attention to a real estate development. Local homeowners filed a suit against the city of Los Angeles seeking a ban on all commercial use of the sign in the future.

“Originally, we denied Paramount’s request,” said Recreation and Parks Department official Linda Barth to the Los Angeles Times on July 7,1992. “We shared the concerns of the homeowners. These were special circumstances (eg. taking into consideration that it was a classic movie studio and a major employer). We weren’t trying to set the position that anybody with $27,000 can come up and do what they want with the sign.”

Philippe the Horse. In the 1992 Equus magazine article by Tracy Gantz, animator Russ Edmonds who had done the sheepdog Max in The Little Mermaid (1989) talked about his work on the horse Philippe in Beauty and the Beast (1991)

“The film’s directors said, ‘We’d like you to do the horse, Philippe. He’s basically a taxicab with personality’. I knew nothing about horses. I was totally ignorant on the subject. I started doing my researach and I started reading all kinds of horse books.

“The film was supposed to take place in France, so of course, the first thing I started looking at were Percherons but the coloring wasn’t going to work. To go with the blues in the snow, it would be best for him to be golden. I found a German horse called the Schleswig Heavy Draught that is often bay or chestnut in color and gave us some nice color separations through the body – a good design for animating because of the different colors that you can see when they move.

“He had to be a big horse because once you put a rider on the horse, the tendency is to focus on the rider, not the horse, and of course, you lose the horse.

“I’m always learning. You never stop learning, and this is one of the great things about being an animator. I’m always learning how to draw better, and I’m learning about different creatures because we’re always doing something different.”

Bluth and Morals. In The Orange County Register in its April 3, 1994 edition, animator and director Don Bluth said about how he designs a story for an animated feature:

“I think a picture without a moral is like a joke without a punchline. Why are you telling this? So I kind of like to have something in there so that after I listen to it, I take it home and think about it. It stays with you. You have to enter some of those realms otherwise there’s a little bit of dishonesty. Those are the issues that all of us really want to know about. ‘Tell me about life and what I’m going to run into it. I want to know what I’m going to have to fight against and what it’s worth.”

“It’s like the beginning of Pinocchio when Jiminy Cricket actually sings ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’. That’s a nice piece of philosophy but I bet you don’t think it’s really true. Then he proceeds to tell the story to help you understand that is true. I think Jacquimo singing ‘Follow Your Heart’ (in Bluth’s Thumbelina 1994) is basically the same thing. Here’s the philosophy and we’re about to tell you a story to illustrate the philosophy.”

Henry’s Cat. Writer Stan Hayward was a long time friend of animator Bob Godfrey and often supplied stories for his animated efforts. When Godfrey passed away, Hayward wrote an informative and loving obituary in the British newspaper, The Guardian for February 22, 2013 including some interesting insight into the popular series, Henry’s Cat.

“When the BBC wanted a new series of Roobarb (a BBC cartoon series about an inventive big green dog in 1974), Bob asked if I would write a series to suit the same audience. I put forward the idea of Henry’s Cat (which ran from 1982-1993 and won a Bafta award), and it was accepted, but this time he decided to finance it himself. The series enabled Bob’s studio to keep going during a difficult time for the animation industry.

“Bob’s love of ridiculing pretentious attitudes was the underlying theme of both Roobarb and Henry’s Cat. Henry’s Cat is never seen in profile, and he doesn’t have a name, as the first story was based on Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin. The boy, Henry, got lost in the second story and was never part of the TV series or the published books.

Henry’s Cat also sets out to achieve impossible goals, but has a group of friends who aid and abet him in his objectives. Unlike Roobarb, most of the Henry’s Cat stories have happy endings. The cat’s face is made up of an M (for the ears), two eyes (giving an I), an O (for the nose) and a W (for the mouth) to form the word MIOW.”

The Magic of the Magic Carpet. From Entertainment Weekly November 13, 1992: “A voiceless, faceless and limbless magic carpet that speaks volumes with only body language. ‘Three or four key folds in the carpet turned out to put across just about any attitude,’ says Disney animator Randy Cartwright whose earliest attempts to draw the character fell flat (‘It looked like somebody walking aorund inside a robe.”).

“Then story supervisor Ed Gombert sketched a series of poses emphasizing the carpet’s rectangularity, rather than trying to stretch his borders into a more humanoid frame, and the character came into its own. Once Cartwright drew the rug’s gestures for a scene, these handcrafted shapes were overlaid with an intricate, computer-generated surface design. ‘All that detail would be impossible to paint by hand,’ says Cartwright.”


  • I remember watching Henry’s Cat (not to be confused with Hungry Henry a animated series of shorts airing on Baby Tv) – on XEIPN Canal Once in the 1990’s via Big Dish satellite – and there was one episode (The Correspondence Course) which Henry was reading a magazine and saw a advert (ad) on how to get-rich-quick by sending £100 to a man named Clinton J. Priest who was wearing a Danger Mouse sweat shirt. And to me that’s a sneaky and unique way to promote (or should I say plug) another animated series, since Henry’s Cat and Danger Mouse both came out in the 1980s.

  • That Magic Carpet anecdote reminds me of the time Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnson appeared on The Tonight Show and showed sketches of a bag of flour, each one drawn with a different personality. Johnny Carson was amazed you could inject personality into an inanimate object.

    About that Cool World anecdote: Looks like all that publicity didn’t end up helping the film in the end. Pretty amazing they made a huge Holli Wood replica, though. Wonder where the statue is now.

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