The Paramount Priest. In May 28,1995, the Daily News had a story about Joseph Funaro, pastor of the Catholic church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brooklyn Heights. “I was the first, or one of the first to draw Casper for the cartoons,” said Funaro.
After winning a citywide art contest sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he got a job at Paramount in 1954 as an inker and eventually moved up to work under Al Eugster. “He was great,” said Funaro.
Funaro claimed a caricature of him even appeared in a Casper cartoon where Casper is told by the other ghosts that his problem is that the artist who draws him is too nice. Casper goes to Paramount studio and in the hallway finds his artist who is a chubby, cheerful, red-headed man who looks like Funaro.
Funaro had always wanted to become a priest so used the money he was earning to go to the seminary in Kitchener, Ontario, one of the few places that accepted men who did not speak Latin, which was then an admissions requirement at most seminaries. Funaro said his favorite character was Baby Huey. He was ordained in 1965.
In 1995, he still drew a lot. He turned an attic of a friend’s house into a gallery of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He would go into restaurants that encouraged people to draw on tablecloths and fill them with sketches of Little Audrey, Popeye, Katnip, Casper and more. “I never regretted leaving animation,” said Funaro. “God wanted me to get that out of my system.”
Robotech Origins. The animated series Robotech was hybrid of three different Japanese-animated television series: Superdimensional Fortress Macross (1982), Genesis Climber Mospeada (1983) and Superdimensional Knight Corps Southern Corps (1984). They were dubbed into English by Carl Macek and rewoven with an entirely new American plot. For many animation fans, it was their first exposure to anime.
The show was released in 1985 and ten years later the first Robotech convention was held. Animerica magazine (Vol. 3 No. 1) interviewed Macek about it and he recalled, “You know, the funny thing is that, when I did this, it all went down in a very short amount of time, under ninety days to do the whole thing. There’s never been another TV program like it since. It had a very adult concept of storytelling.
“It had interracial relationships, main characters dying in mid-series, guys dressing up as women…stuff that wouldn’t have a place in TV animation today. And if it were happening today, no one would even pay the money to acquire rights to it. Think about it – 85 episodes, multiplied by $10,000 per episode plus another $10,000 per episode to put it into English! It was very ambitious…maybe even foolhardy.”
Frank Welker’s Thoughts. In Entertainment Weekly, May 13-19, 1996, voice artist Frank Welker said he moved from Denver to California in the mid-1960s to be a movie star but went into stand-up, touring with the Righteous Brothers and Sergio Mendes. But when he got into doing voiceovers, he realized, “I could go in and do all these great roles and not have to change out of my tennis shoes and jeans. I could be a leading man in the morning and the hunchback of Notre Dame at night. The appeal was overwhelming.
“I like doing the silly characters like Fall-Apart Rabbit (from Bonkers) because he’s so goofy or Ralph the guard (from Animaniacs) because he’s just as dumb as swamp water.
“Education has its place on TV but kids, like adults should have entertainment. Children should go to school all week, get their lessons from their parents, watch PBS and Big Bird and learn how to add and then turn over and watch Fall-Apart Rabbit’s head fall off.
“I’m not sure that children’s television is where we stop violence in America. I think gratuitous violence in any form is unnecessary. But when characters smack each other with pillow and powder puffs, I’m just not really convinced that that is harmful. But I make noises – I’m not a psychologist.”
Flintstone Facts. From TV Guide April 15, 1995, Apollo 7 Cmdr. Walter Schirra did exclaim “Yabba-Dabba Do!” to NASA’s Mission Control when he saw the Earth from space in 1968. More than a hundred babies born during the same half hour as Pebbles was born were sent a $25 savings bond and a Pebbles doll. Their mothers each got a dozen roses. Originally, Pebbles was meant to be a boy named Rocky.
Donald Duck. In The Globe August 24, 1982, voice artist Clarence Nash who was then seventy-seven years old and still doing the voice of Donald Duck said, “Life didn’t stop for Donald and me when Walt Disney stopped making cartoons twenty years ago. We just switched from working at the studio to making personal appearances free of charge at school assemblies.
“So, you see, Donald may have been out of the movies but he never really retired. The only time I got scared was at home one night, I tried to do the voice and it was gone. I didn’t sleep well at all that night. I was sure my career was over. But when I woke up the next morning, the voice was back, thank goodness.”
Ollie Johnston. During an interview to the Quebec Arts The Globe and Mail newspaper for the 1995 release of Frank and Ollie documentary, animator Ollie Johnston said, “John Culhane, an animation historian, says there’s four and a half billion people in the world and half of them have seen a scene from one of the movies Frank and I did. It’s hard to understand that. I can’t really grasp it.
“We lived in an ivory tower. But it was supposed to be a world of make-believe. That’s where Walt wanted to take the audience, to a place you could only go to in his pictures. He didn’t like things to be too ugly. That was Walt’s great idea, that entertainment was more important than logic. He knew what people wanted.”