Animated Smokey the Bear. Jackson Weaver who was a long time Washington, DC radio personality was the voice of Smokey the Bear from 1950 to 1992 when he passed away.
The character also headlined his own Saturday morning television series produced by Rankin-Bass that ran on ABC during 1969-1970 with Weaver doing the voice. Produced by Rankin Bass as a co-production with Toei Animaton, the series ran for seventeen episodes. Each half-hour show included two cartoons featuring the adult Smokey living in a village of animals like Freddie the skunk and Gabby the mountain lion, with a cartoon of Smokey as a bear cub (voiced by Billie Richards) in between.
Rankin-Bass also did a half hour stop-motion animated TV special The Ballad of Smokey the Bear in 1966 narrated by James Cagney. Steve Stanchfield shared some great animated Smokey the Bear PSAs here.
When we decided to make Planes: Fire & Rescue, our team of filmmakers made several research trips to meet the brave men and women whose job it is to fight wildfires, says Bobs Gannaway, Planes: Fire & Rescue director. Those research trips changed us and forever impressed upon us the importance of wildfire prevention. To have our character, Dusty, take part in the legendary Smokey Bears campaign to prevent wildfires and encourage safe outdoor fire practices is one of the highest honors we could have.
Created pro bono by Disney in 2014, the new English and Spanish television, digital and radio PSAs feature leading characters from the film, including air racer-turned-fire-fighting plane Dusty, spirited air tanker Dipper, veteran fire-and-rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and loving tourists Harvey and Winnie. The PSAs encourage audiences to be Smokey’s Wingman and do their part in preventing wildfires.
Whats Her Name? Did Miss X ever get a name? As part of a promotion for his 1944 animated short The Greatest Man in Siam (based on a Spike Jone’s song written by his clarinet player Del Porter), Walter Lantz sent out a picture of Pat Matthew’s sexy brunette dancing girl with the following information:
She’s “Miss X” – And She Needs a Name. This curvaceous cutie is Miss X who will be seen on the screen in Walt Lantz’s latest Swing Symphony Cartune film, titled Great Man in Siam. Since Miss X has no other name, Producer Lantz is looking for one, and has offered a $100 War Bond for the best name submitted to him by mail at Universal Studios, Universal City, California on or before April 15. Inspiration for the sultry siren, says Producer Lantz was Maria Montez in the Technicolor Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
Interestingly, while the deadline is April 15th, the short came out in March. Film Daily, on Jan 12th 1944, stated Lantz also has ambitious plans for Miss X, his newly-created character who will first be seen in The Greatest Man in Siam. The character also appeared, again with Pat Matthews dancing animation in Abou Ben Boogie (1944).
Plympton and the Tune. In the Boston Sunday Globe October 4th, 1992, animator Bill Plympton talked about his animated feature film The Tune (1992).
“I did a strip for a while and sold gags to Penthouse and Rolling Stone and National Lampoon and places like that. So I always had the sense of humor and I always jotted down funny ideas that I had, so I have a real backlog of gag ideas. I felt when I started animation that this was a chance to use all those gag ideas. In fact 20 Ways to Quit Smoking was originally going to be a book called 101 Ways to Quit Smoking, which I thought would sell like crazy, which I thought publishers would really get excited abou. But, no, they didn’t. No one bought it. So I took the gag ideas and made a film out of it.
“They were basically my assistants (referring to the six artists listed in the credits for The Tune). What they would do is take my drawings when I was done with them, xerox them and paint in the colors with watercolors, the flat colors, cut them out with Exacto knives and paste them on cels. And then I would go in with my color pencil and do all the detail work the shadows under the nose, the shadows under the ear, the fabric shadows, outlines and things like that. And then wed shoot it and match it to the sound, and that was basically it. Roughly 30,000 drawings.
“That’s fun. Its real stream of consciousness concept and I wanted people to just get lost in it. You get sucked into this thing and you start seeing all the stuff – theres no chance to realize whats going on. It’s almost unconscious. It was totally fun throughout the thing. I ever had a hard time at all. I would get up at eight oclock every morning, put on my Walkman, listen to the music and just draw these characters all day long until midnight. And it was just a total ball.
“I admit it. It’s flat-out entertainment and nothing else. Theres no artistic pretense. It looks normal to me. That’s the way Ive always done my drawing so I figure thats real. Thats reality to me.
The Simpsons Halloween. In the October 10-23, 2016 issue of TV Guide magazine, “There are no rules with our Halloween shows,” said The Simpsons staffer Joel Cohen, “But there are certain times when we’ve gone, Whoa! This is getting a little too gross! Then we pull back on the mangling a bit just to the edge of bad taste.”
Katzenberg on Aladdin. From the New York Times November 8, 1992: When asked about Steven Spielberg’s success with animated features, Disney’s Jeffrey Katzenberg responded, “It does scare us to think that somebody else is going to come along and do better. Animation has totally seduced me.
“Our business is laid out so far into the future, if Aladdin tanks on us, if we have made some terrible miscalculation here, which is possible, its going to be years before we get it fixed. Whatever the movie gods decide is the fate of Aladdin, the die is already cast.
“For the last year and a half having Robin’s performance as strong as it was and not knowing whether we had a beginning, a middle and an end there is no question the potential was there for him to completely overwhelm the movie. But now when hes not on the scrren, theres enough storytelling and enough of a romance that Im not sitting there tapping my foot saying, O.K. this is nice but whens he coming back.”