Who’s That Voice? From singer Peggy Lee’s autobiography Miss Peggy Lee (Dutton 1989), Lee talked about an incident when in her later years she was doing some promotional work for the film Lady and the Tramp (1955) where she not only provided voices for the mother Darling, Peg and the two Siamese cats but also supplied the songs. “I was doing an interview one day on CBS radio in San Francisco and had just finished a long, detailed description of what it was like to be originating a duet with myself; one voice singing the first part and then overdubbing myself to get the effect of the Siamese cats singing as Siamese twins. ‘There are no finer cats than I am’ to rhyme with ‘Siam’.
“The engineer put the needle down on the record and two strange voies came out singing, ‘There are no finer cats than WE are’ which of course does not rhyme with Siam or I AM. I was shocked. I named these cats Si and Am and that wasn’t even me. How could they do this? At this point the show’s host told the engineer to stop the record and we briefly discussed the possibility that this was a bootleg record. It wasn’t. I was number 1234, I believe, which is no longer released by Disney. I received an apology, sort of, from the product manager at Disney.”
Katzenberg on Merchandising. From the Boston Globe November 25, 1992 Jeffrey Katzenberg, then chairman of the Disney Studio said, “We’re extremely careful not to allow the tail to wag the dog. The merchandising evolves, following the success of the movie, not the other way around. For example, Beauty and the Beast will have its strongest showing merchandise this Christmas, not last year, when it opened. You really can’t plan for succes. You can try and anticipate it a little bit but when you plan for it, you don’t get it.
“Three of Disney’s nine old men are serving as consultants. We call upon them to critique, advise, lecture but I think the new generation has learned for itself. Today’s artists have found their own path. Roy E. Disney explained to Michael (Eisner) and I how important animation was historically for the company and under his leadership, one of our highest priorities became restoring animation, re-building it to the same prominence.”
The Betty Boop Situation. How did Betty Boop get in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)? The filmmakers approached King Features about using Betty Boop and Popeye but were turned down. The filmmakers then tried approaching the Fleischer family directly who were incensed the KFS had turned them down without contacting the Fleischers because KFS does not own Betty Boop but only had a license from the Fleischer family. Richard and Ruth Fleischer owned the copyright to Betty Boop and Koko the Clown. The Fleischers made their own deal with the filmmakers and Betty ended up in the milestone film but Popeye who is fully owned by KFS does not.
Rasputin. From Film & Video magazine July 1997, co-producer/co-director Gary Goldman of Anastasia (1997) said, “Don (Bluth) created a lot of the original designs as well as the final designs and we started a lot of research on Rasputin. We even had another villain, Molotov, who was instrumental in the assassination of the family. After many meetings we realized that the film needed magic, an element that would make it an animated movie, so we just kept working away on (Rasputin).” Rasputin was already dead when the Romanovs were assassinated but the studio wanted to stay away from politics and not involve the real killers like Lenin. Bluth also created Bartok, the albino bat, to be a comedy sidekick for Rasputin.
Munro. Cartoonist Jules Feiffer was responsible for writing the story for the animated short Munro (1960), a whimsical story of a four year old boy who is inadvertently drafted into the army that won the Academy Award. It was directed by Gene Deitch. “Munro is my reaction against the mindless authority of the United States Army,” Feiffer told Video magazine May 1987. “I don’t think it’s anti-war. It’s anti-authority. It’s my first animated cartoon and it will be my last. Once you get into the habit of writing about real people and real situations, and get first-class actors to do your work, it’s hard to go back to animation.”
Designing for Filmation. “Heroes have to be pretty yet still distinctive,” said Filmation art director John Grusd (an industrial design major from Cal State Long Beach who joined Filmation in 1977) in an article in L.A. Times Magazine (December 28, 1986) that discussed the then-new animated series BraveStarr. “When you get an idea for a character in your head, it’s based on your intuition of what is going to work. That, combined with your experience of how animation works technically, is how you come up with an idea that’s not formula or run-of-the-mill.”
The Real Life Tom and Jerry. In the U.K. 1961 Picture Show Annual, animation producer William Hanna explained the real life inspiration for Tom and Jerry, “On the MGM backlot there was a whole colony of cats to keep down the population of rats. Although the studio supplied them with food, water and even milk, those cats were vicious and like wild animals. From them we got the idea of adding Butch, the alley cat. Butch’s counterpart was on the back lot and this also is true of Tom.
“Jerry, the mouse was a little creature that turned up at our office from nowhere. I guess he was after scraps. We encouraged him to have the run of the office by putting tidbits of cheese and other tasty morsels for him to nibble. We used to watch him for weeks in all his movements and antics.
“When kittens were born to the alley cats, the girls in the inking department mothered them and made pets of them. Here we added models for the behavior of Tom and Jerry.
“The bulldog idea was actually created from a little pup we called Tike. In our department we had an animator, the father of a small boy, who continually bragged about his son’s smartness. Day in and day out we had to listen to this devoted father and son relationship. My partner and I thought it a good idea to use the same formula with dogs and so Spike came into being.”
Reprint below – courtesy of Booksteve’s Library (Steven Thompson) – Click to enlarge.