Walworth at Fleischers. John C. “Wally” Walworth Jr. is perhaps best known for creating memorable premiums (sometimes in cereal boxes) for a variety of characters and firms. However, he got his start in animation including time at Fleischer/Famous beginning in 1938 and lasting through 1944. He married Fleischer receptionist Mildred Barth who was the first girl he met in Miami. When he quit Famous in 1944, he entered the premium business working for Robert L. Weil of Advertisers’ Service Division, later Specialty Advertising Services and Advertising Specialties.
“I was back to being an in-betweener. I started working on Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons with people like Dave Tendlar and Shamus Culhane. They had fired a guy who had been assistant animator and they gave me the job in Dave Tendlar’s group. That was around the time of Gulliver’s Travels (1939) and I worked on that film. I soon became an assistant to Culhane and worked on Nix on Hypnotricks (1941) about Olive Oyl sleepwalking through a construction site barely missing beams. Culhane helped me be a better animator. I helped him on his sequences for Mr. Bug Goes To Town (1941).
“My good friend Joe Oriolo drafted the concept of the character of Casper, the Friendly Ghost. He was paid a small amount for the initial plot but Paramount made plenty off of the idea. It was made into the film The Friendly Ghost (1945) for which I did the majority of animating in 1944. I drew Casper as a kind of ectoplasmic plastic bag but his features are more humanized now. It was to be my last big animation job. My daughter Joan was a new born and the premium business was more lucrative than animation. When I left animation I was paid $5,000 a year. I started in the premium business at $7,500 a year.”
Jean Vander Pyl. From the Asbury Park Press newspaper May 15th, 1994 in a series of columns by Mark Voger, voice actress Jean Vander Pyl shared the following:
“It’s been wonderful for me and I’ll tell you why. When I was young, I wanted to be a famous dramatic actress like Katharine Cornell or Helen Hayes, the first lady of the theater. My only disappointment – though I’d worked through the years and had a wonderful career – was that I was anonymous. I wasn’t recognized on the street. But that was okay because I really ended up having the best of both worlds. If I wanted to appear famous, I could just tell people I was Wilma Flintstone.
“But I didn’t have to suffer through some of the hard part that stars really have to go through today where they can’t go to a restaurant without being besieged. When I meet people today of all ages, they say, ‘I grew up with you’. I’ve had so many people come up to me and say that. And the most charming and touching thing is that so many of the baby boomers were latch-key kids and I’ve had people say, ‘You were my mommy and daddy. I came home every afternoon after school and watched you’. I’ve had people thank me for all the years of pleasure and fun. I’ve never thought of myself as having that kind of effect. It’s so gratifying to me now. I think, ‘Gee Whiz, maybe I did do something after all’. So it has been very gratifying but mostly it made me feel good that maybe we made a portion of the children of this last century feel good about something and enjoy something. And laugh.”
The Fastest Pig. In the New York Times August 9th, 1992, animator and director Chuck Jones said, “When I was younger I was so ashamed of my drawings despite the support of my uncle. I told him ‘It’s no good. You can’t make a race horse out of a pig’. He replied, ‘No, but you can make a pretty fast pig.’ I decide to become the fastest pig in the world.”
Lost Daffy Duck. When we talk about “lost” animation, how many commericals and public service announcements featuring familiar animated characters have disappeared over the decades? In 1992, an animated Daffy Duck decides to go on vacation and discoves that his favorite marshes are being developed, degraded and despoiled. “This is des-picable!” he fumes. Daffy appeared in a series of television, radio and print ads called “Support Fowl Play” done in partnership with an environmental organization in West Palm Beach, Florida and the federal government. Over 700 television stations across the U.S. ran a copy of the video.
Ken Harris and Pink Panther. In the U.K. magazine article “The Screen Magic of Richard Williams” by Iain F. McAsh, animator Ken Harris talked about animating the Pink Panther: “Blake Edwads was the creator of the Pink Panther as the film’s writer, producer and director. The layout for the cartoon character was done by Hawley Pratt who worked for the DePatie-Freleng Studio in Hollywood. He did the original drawings and came up with the design and style of the character, which was then approved by Blake. This was 1962-23, which was my last year there before Warner Brothers closed their cartoon depatment and it was taken over by another studio.
“In England, for The Return of the Pink Panther, it was Dick Williams’ idea to do Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, George Raft, Cyd Charisse, Esther Williams, Noel Coward, Groucho Marx, Cagney, Cooper, Carmen Miranda and all those other old-time move stars.
“We even had Cecil B. DeMille. It was my idea to have the Panther dancing and jiggling his rear end. We ran some reels of their old films and looked at books with typical poses of Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly. If anything, I think it turned out we were most influenced by Gene.
“The Pink Panther credits last about four minutes and took about twelve weeks to animate. For The Return of the Pink Panther, I did most of the animation myself working with one assistant, John Ellis.
“I didn’t particularly like the character of the Pink Panther at first. He’s long and lanky with that tail, which makes him difficult to draw. He’s also very uppity by nature, although he’s suave and debonair but now I’m used to his tricks and enjoy drawing him.”