June 23, 2017 posted by

Animation Anecdotes #319

Maggie Speaks. Actress Liz Taylor supplied the voice for Maggie Simpson’s first word in The Simpsons episode Lisa’s First Word that aired in December 1992. Writer Mike Reiss thought it would be cute for the speechless Maggie to say the word Daddy when no one was around to hear it.

According to an article in TV Guide from November 28, 1992, Simpsons executive producer Al Jean saw in a tabloid that Taylor had signed on to do the voice of Maggie Simpson. It was completely unture at the time, Jean said but decided to see if casting director Bonnie Pietila who had previously gotten big name celebrity voices might get Taylor to do the part.

It turned out that Taylor was a fan of the show and agreed to to it for a fee significantly beneath her stature. She showed up to the recording studio in slender jeans, high boots and carrying a puppy. She immediately impressed the crew with her knowledge of the show and its characters. Pietila added that She couldnt have been more gracious and left the crew awestruck when she departed.

The taping took less than an hour and over fifty people showed up to see it. According to legend, Taylors voice was too sexy and they had to do twenty-four takes with a frustrated Taylor finally saying f*ck you to creator Matt Groening. Groening shared the story several times including in 1994 on Late Night with Conan O’Brien but later denied it. Producer Jean later claimed that Taylor had said it but only in jest.

Just One Big Radio Family. From the Asbury Park Press newspaper May 15, 1994 in a series of columns by Mark Voger, voice actress Jean Vander Pyl shared the following:

The interesting thing is that Bea Benaderet, Mel Blanc, Alan Reed and myself were all from radio. I think the success of (The Flintstones) had a great deal to do with the chemistry of that whole cast. All four of us had worked together on and off for twenty years. So when we were put together in the show, it was not like new people. We were old friends.

Bea was one of my best friends before we ever even started. I used to take my little girl over to visit her. We used to sit in the sun around her pool back in the early days. Im talking about the 1940s when our kids were little. These same children are now 52.

I loved Alan. Al was one of my favorite people. He was kind of like Fred. He was a very warm, big, gentle man when you saw him, but bombastic too. Like Fred.

Disney Animated Teenagers? In the Los Angeles Times for December 11, 1992, Art Director of Disneys Aladdin (1992), Bill Perkins stated, If you look at TV programs like Beverly Hills 90210, BayWatch and Melrose Place, you see that teen-agers are blooming a little earlier and revealing a little more. Aladdin is the super-handsome dream guy and Jasmine is the sexiest character in any of the films weve done as far as Disney animated heroines go.

Rising to the Challenge on Tummy Trouble. In the Los Angeles Times July 27, 1989, Tummy Trouble (1989) director Rob Minkoff said, Trying to make a short cartoon like the ones we grew up watching was a thrill and an enormous challenge. The whole crew was forced to do their best work, as the thought of the short being anything less than the feature just curdled our blood. We were also aware that the whole animation industry was watching to see how it came out. The feeling that so much was riding on our work created a tremendous pressure.

More On Belle’s Philippe the Horse. In the 1992 Equus magazine article by Tracy Gantz, animator Russ Edmonds talked about doing research on the horse Philippe for Beauty and the Beast (1991). He went to Disneyland to study the horses that pulled the Main Street Trolley and then went to the The Circle D Corral backstage where he shot videotape of the horses especially next to his wife Angie as a stand-in for Belle.

He looked through the Disney studios film morgue at artwork for previous Disney animated horses like Sampson from Sleeping Beauty, The Captain from 101 Dalmatians and Cyril from The Wind in the Willows.

Annheuser-Busch sent him a videotape of all the television commercials featuring their Clydesdales as well as video of them in parades and at shows.

A lecture given at the studio by Dr. Stuart Sumida of the University of Chicagos Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy made a huge impact on understanding horses and especially the differences between how and why horses move in a certain way and wolves move in a different way for a key scene in the final film.

In order to animate, you have to animate from the inside out, said Edmonds. You cant just draw a horse. It wont have any soul. You have to put that soul into it. In order to do that, you have to understand how a horse thinks, what a horse is all about. You also need to know what the rider thinks, and the connection between the rider and the horse. Phillipe in the movie is never alone. He always has a rider with him.

So with his wife, Edmonds took riding lessons at a ranch called Homestretch in Saugus, California. I learned every horse has his own personality. Theyre all different. One of the horses would nudge people with his head if they turned their back to him and so Edmonds put it into the film. At the castle, as the Beast looks on, Belle and Philippe play in the snow, Philippe nudges Belle who turns around and huges him.

Finally Edmonds drew up a sheet called How to Build a Horse showing how the tail works, the back legs work and how all the parts work together.

Edmonds experience in drawing Philippe gave him a love for horses so he and his wife bought a pair of Quarter Horses, Cinnamon and Bubba. After his work on drawing the sheepdog Max for The Little Mermaid (1989), they bought a sheepdog. His wife only got concerned when she found out Edmonds next project was to work on The Lion King (1994).

1 Comment

  • Guess Philippe was the inspiration for future horse characters like Khan in Mulan and Angus in Brave.

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