ANIMATION ANECDOTES
January 19, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #346

Fred Moore. Legendary animator Fred Moore died November 23rd, 1952 of injuries suffered in a car accident on Mt. Gleason Drive, three miles north of Foothill Blvd. Moore’s second wife Virginia (35) was driving and the driver of the other car was Roy W. Sowles (48) of Tujunga, California.

Here is the obit for Moore from the Los Angeles Times November 25th, 1952:

“Funeral services for Robert Fred Moore Jr., 41, of 144 No. Pass Ave., Burbank, who died in St. Joseph’s Hospital Sunday of injuries received the previous day in an automobile accident on Mt. Gleason Drive, will be conducted at 3 p.m. tomorrow at the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Mortuary. Interment there will follow.

“Mr. Moore had been engaged as a Walt Disney Studio animator for more than 20 years and won fame for his picturization of ‘Three Little Pigs’. Mr. Moore started his art career as a youthful contributor to the old Junior Times Magazine. He attended John H. Francis Polytechnic High School and an art school before going to Hollywood.

“Besides his mother and father, Mrs. Susan Moore and Robert Fred Moore Sr., he leaves his widow, Mrs. Virginia Moore; two daughters, Susan and Melinda, and two brothers, Denny and Earl Moore.”

Is anyone familiar with Junior Times Magazine and can find samples of Moore’s early artwork? For that matter, did he have any artwork in his high school yearbooks? There are so many Moore fans out there (myself included) that I am surprised none of this work has ever surfaced.


The Wisdom of Joe Barbera. In New York Times Magazine November 23, 1969, producer Joe Barbera said, “I haven’t got time to get fat. We have the largest animation studios in the world. It’s a little sad. Other cartoon studios in their anxiety to grow, love to run us down, to call us a factory or a sweatshop. But when Bill and I started in 1957, our industry was finished.

“Disney wasn’t making any shorts. We had been together at MGM for eighteen years, making Tom and Jerry when they closed their doors. The factory reputation came about because we employed different methods of production. We never belittle our competitors but a competitor who makes only five cartoons a year and calls us a factory is forgetting how many people we give work to.”


Vanessa Coffey Remembers. In Entertainment Weekly August 12, 2016, Vanessa Coffey remembered the birth of Nicktoons that debuted Sunday morning August 11, 1991, “I was leaving the business because I just didn’t like the concept of doing TV as toy commercials for kids. But because I was into animation, I looked up Nickelodeon, the only game in town (New York) for kids and I cold-called them. They said, ‘We’re going to hire you as a consultant to find original programming’. I basically started hunting. I put the word out to animators: ‘I’m looking for ideas. The less developed the better’. Nick gave me an hour and a half to fill as a block. I didn’t want a consistent look, like Disney. I was desperate to have three projects that looked completely different.

“It was all about ratings, and it was a success. I remember them saying ‘We need a five year plan for Nicktoons in case these three (Rugrats, Doug, Ren and Stimpy) don’t work’. And maybe I was just young and dumb but I said, ‘You don’t need to because they’re going to work. I’ll make sure of it’. Twenty-five years later, guess what? I was right.”


Boris and Natasha. “What makes the characters loveable is a naivete,” said actress Sally Kellerman who played Natasha Fatale and served as associate producer on the 1992 live action film Boris and Natasha (with her husband Jonathan D. Crane as producer) in the Daily News April 12, 1992. “The challenge was to make it so the people who loved the cartoon would recognize the things they love about it and those who didn’t know about the cartoon would like it.”

“They are kind of moronic. That’s my theory I am espousing these days. Audiences love stupid comedy characters,” said actor Dave Thomas who played Boris Badenov. “It gives them someone to feel superior to and they are not threatened by them. They can relax and laugh at them.”


Don Bluth. In L.A. Daily News April 2, 1992, animator and producer Don Bluth said, “I am very glad I left (Disney). It was the right thing to do and I think we were part of getting Disney to wake up. They were not going to keep sleeping while we made An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988)and be reduced to Number Two.

“The competition that has happened is what has caused them to get good. I try to remember that it’s the grain of sand that irritates the oyster and makes the pearl. We’ve been enough of an irritant to them that it’s caused them to work very hard to make something fine.

“I’m very thrilled by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991). It’s a triumph not just for the Disney Studio…but it’s a triumph for the whole industry. We have created enough interest in animation by making good pictures that the audience is responding in such a way and that the academy is finally recognizing a feature length animated piece (with a Best Picture Oscar nomination).

“Animators were never paid very much. They had trouble making ends meet and now, the demand for animators is so great that they can almost name their price. The danger, of course, is if a studio jumps into animation and they really aren’t heart-and-soul ready prepared to do it. If they aren’t passionate about it, they’ll make a faux pas of it and the picture probably won’t grab and audience.”


Fish Police. David Kirschner, president of Hanna-Barbera Productions that developed a prime time animated series called Fish Police (1992), told the Los Angeles Times February 28, 1992 about pitching the series to CBS Entertainment President Jeff Sagansky in 1991: “What happened as we presented the series to him, he’s laughing and hitting his knee and he said, ‘Just do it! Just do it! How fast can you have a script?’ We turned it around very quickly and brought it back and he said, ‘How fast can you have a pilot?’ I explained the process to him, which I’ve done almost every week since. Every time we have to go through it again and again.”

8 Comments

  • One of the more livelier animators at the Mouse Factory

  • I remember on third segment of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode 3 “Dial “Z” for Zombie” where Bart and Lisa was trying to resurrect the body of their deceased cat Snowball II. In the opening to the scene shows the entryway of the Springfield Pet Cemetery and during the scene you see three tombstones on was marked Family Dog, the second Capital Critters and the third. Fish Police. Those were the three prime time animated series that tried to challenge The Simpsons and failed.

    • I remember Burger King offering “Capitol Critter” happy meal toys after the show was already off the air.

  • The fellow who runs the Stripper’s Guide website, which is devoted to comic strip history, has often shown extracts from the Junior Times, and in fact showed one earlier this week, drawn by an artist he was profiling. Contact him; I think he has done a lot of microfilm research, and may have Moore material.

  • In Steve Moncuse’s “Fish Police” comic book on which that show was based, Inspector Gil was modeled on Mick Belker, the aggressive “Hill Street Blues” detective. In the cartoon, he was changed into more of a ’40s gumshoe (voice by John Ritter).

    • And the character Catfish looked like the comics’ Gil.

  • Hey Jim! I’ve posted several of Fred’s Junior Times covers on my blog Blackwing Diaries, starting back in 2006. There are quite a few posts about him there. I originally discovered the Junior Times things he did by laboriously soinning through LA Times microfiche at the library downtown. The Junior Times was a weekly kids’ supplement to the Sunday paper.

    • Many thanks! I will go revisit your site this week. Devon Baxter also let me know that Mark Kausler on his blog has been posting some of Moore’s early work as well. Maybe it is time for YOU to write a book about the early Fred Moore with this artwork. You certainly are an articulate writer, a knowledgeable artist who could offer some great perspective on his work and definitely have a passion for Fred Moore.

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