April 6, 2018 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #357

Starchaser. In November 1985, animator John Sparey said, “I have been involved for two and a half years with Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (in 3-D). Following in the footsteps of Star Wars, the picture was unrealistically started as a six month quickie. With my brand new scientific calculator, I was plunged into the manipulation of our computer-stored space ships, to make them look like animation. My thirty years in animation, capped by a decade with Ralph Bakshi was the prelude. The finished picture has warts but we have the additional dimension of entertainment. We should certainly rate a hefty footnote in the movie history books.”

Paul DeKorte. Paul DeKorte passed away in October 1985. He was associated with Hanna-Barbera for twenty years after he met William Hanna when they were both members of a barbershop quartet. Hanna hired DeKorte to head the company’s children’s records division and gradually, DeKorte built up a full, in-house music department. He was active in all aspects of music at Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears including singing. He sang on the main titles to The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Challenge of the GoBots and the new Jetsons. He sang as a group singer of soloist on 300 albums and radio and tv commercials. He also performed on many religious albums and shows and years earlier had toured with Ethel Waters.

Don Rickles. From TV GUIDE magazine April 17-30,2017, comedian Don Rickles was quoted from a 2013 interview about gaining a new generation of fans as the cranky voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise. “This is the job that won’t quit! But, hey, at least my grandchildren finally know what I do for a living.”

DuckTales. In Entertainment Weekly magazine June 16, 2017, the new Duck Tales co-producer Francisco Angones said, “This is a big blended family of adventurers so it should feel like a combination of Indiana Jones and an Arrested Development-style sitcom where every character has a different relationship to one another.”

Executive Producer Matt Youngberg added, “Huey has Scrooge’s brains, Dewey has his guts, Louise has his love of treasure and Webby has Scrooge’s heart. As we started casting, we realized this was a dream job for many, many more people than just us.”

Basil’s Voice. In the October 1986 issue of American Cinematrographer magazine, animator Mark Henn talked about Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective (1986): “We wanted to make Basil’s voice appealing. But because Ratigan was so strong and dominated the picture, we had to struggle to get Basil on an equal basis. We considered a Bing Crosby type of voice but that came out too mellow. Finally, it was Leslie Howard’s performance as Professor Higgins in the 1938 film version of Pygmalion that seemed to work best.”

Ratigan’s Voice. In the October 1986 issue of American Cinematrographer magazine, animator Glen Keane talked about Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective (1986) where the original design for Ratigan was thin, weasely and ratlike making his design too similar to the character of Basil.

“We found the voice for Professor Ratigan while watching the 1950 movie Champagne for Caesar,” recalled Keane. “We had originally decided to view the film since it starred Ronald Colman and we were considering his voice as a possible model for Ratigan’s voice. Vincent Price played one of those bigger-than-life cads and as soon as he came on, we all said, ‘That’s our guy’! I cut out a scene where Price was yelling at some flunkie in the movie, and I did a drawing of Ratigan yelling at Fidget (his assistant) using the same dialog. It worked perfectly.”

Wisdom of Chuck Jones. From L.A. Daily News December 1, 1989, animator and producer Chuck Jones said, “We couldn’t be topical because cartoons we’d make in 1936 wouldn’t hit theaters until 1939. We were forced to deal in universal humor, not humor tied to the news. That made the work universal and timeless. There were no demographics then or Nielsen ratings. We didn’t have to draw to fit a mold. We just drew what we thought people would like. We made funny cartoons and they will be funny 100 years from now. Kids today are just like the kids in the 1940s and 1950s and their kids will be just like them. Kids love animals and funny stories. Always will.”

Russians Prefer Hanna-Barbera. From the National Enquirer December 3, 1991, “During a recent week long test by a Soviet research center, a selection of American television programs were shown on Moscow television and a survey was taken of 500 viewers to see which shows captured the largest audiences. Viewers were also asked to rate each program’s entertainment value. In the top ten were two animated series: The Flintstones and The Jetsons.”

Andreas Deja. In the Daily News, February 3, 1985, animator Andreas Deja said, “To be a good Disney animator, you have to be pretty enthused about the past but you also have to take an interest in what’s going on today. You have to watch how people in films and real life now act. You have to see what contemporary cartoonists and illustrators are drawing. You can’t just look at old films.”

The Voice of Principal Lewis. Voice artist Kevin Michael Richardson was interviewed in Videoscope magazine (Spring 2017) and revealed, “I love playing Principal Lewis on American Dad. I love playing him because he has this studious demeanor but his motives are completely evil. Originally, the role of Principal Lewis was for the late James Avery. No one gave me the specifics as to why, but I was asked to come in and read.

“I just had a sense of him because as far as the principal role, the first thought that came to mind was my Captain Gantu (Lilo & Stitch) voice with a similar delivery. I figured, ‘okay, let me apply that to him’. I realized as I was reading the script that this guy is pretty bad; he’s kind of an asshole. So I just went with it, keeping that studious sound to him.

“And when he really wants to get down and dirty, he’s from the hood. So that’s how that role came to be. One of my favorite memories of playing that character was when Angelica Huston played his wife in the episode where they get together and he’s supposed to marry her. She was at the table read and she was very, very sweet and fun to read with. That’s one of my favorite moments.”


  • How does Jones saying, “We couldn’t use topical humor” gibe with all the references to radio and movies, from Bingo Crosbyana to Bacall to Arms to Jones’ own Rocket Squad? Not to mention all those catchphrases from Fibber McGee and Amos & Andy.

    • Could’ve had a brain fart!

    • He could be mistaking the 30s for the 40s. I think it was in the late 40s when WB cartoons began to get noticeably delayed, for example with cartoons released in 1949 with a 1947 copyright. There were some cartoons with celebrity caricatures, but in most they seem to have avoided that, at least as far as I can see.

    • Chuck spouted many “words of wisdom” in later interviews where the facts weren’t necessarily correct. The point always seemed to be, ‘how we made cartoons in the old days was THE BEST!’

    • Chuck spouted many “words of wisdom” in later interviews where the facts weren’t necessarily correct. The point always seemed to be, ‘how I made cartoons in the old days was THE BEST!’


  • While I suppose John Sparey’s words on Starchaser: The Legend of Orin fell of deaf ears at the limited box office, the film did get some appreciation a few years back when a digitally restored release found it’s way to Korea, where the film was co-produced from. Not sure if it was done to coincide with the film’s 30th anniversary but it’s a nice though, best I found about it is this website listing this film along with a few other properties.

    Interesting, the film’s director, Steven Hahn, once had a website with info on distribution of a 3D version of the film as well, though the site seems to have gone the way of the dodo recently, but at least we have a backup! Too bad we don’t have a 3D Blu-Ray of this one yet.

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