January 4, 2019 posted by Jim Korkis

Animation Anecdotes #396

Betty’s Not a Vitamin. When Miles Laboratories released Flintstones Chewable Vitamins in 1968, there were Fred, Wilma, Barney, Bamm Bamm, Pebbles, Dino and Fred’s car but no Betty. For twenty years, there was no Betty figure. The firm replied to inquiries that she was left out because “she was a subsidiary character who could not be readily distinguished from Wilma when reduced to tablet size.”

So she was replaced by Fred’s car. The rock band Betty’s Not a Vitamin was named after this situation.

Later, the firm tried the excuse that her waist was too thin and kept breaking although it was the same size as Wilma’s waist.

Rosie O’Donnell, who played the role of Betty in the 1994 live action film, complained in press interview about the situation. Bayer (who had taken over Miles) saw this as a marketing opportunity and set up prehistoric style voting booths in regional shopping malls across the country, as well as a 1-800 number.

More than 3,000 kids and their mothers voted in person and more than 17,000 calls were logged, with 91 percent in favor of bringing in Betty. She replaced the car in December 1995.

Chuck Jones Projects That Never Were. The Hollywood Reporter for July 23, 1991 announced several Chuck Jones upcoming projects including Jones working with comedian Richard Belzer on developing Comic Man, an animated project that might initially take comic book form. Jones who was then 78 years old was also working on a pair of books. He was to provide illustrations for The Chuck-Billed Platitude, a collection of observations based on names man has given to animals and Mark Twain at the Fingertips of Chuck Jones containing Jones-illustrated interpretations of notable Twain quotations.

Gabor Csupo. In the L.A. Times August 8th,1991, producer Gabor Csupo talked about why he preferred working on his own show Rugrats: “When we created those characters for Simpsons, it was a cooperation. There were a lot of people approving, disappoving. We had to report to too many clients. We had a lot of reluctance when we wanted to make the characters yellow, even though the yellow color is pretty much part of the trademark of Simpsons now. It took a fight. With Rugrats, we are pretty much left alone to go wild.”

Not a Disney Guy. In a November 22nd, 2010 interview, animator Glen Keane said, “I see myself as an artist first. I never wanted to be a Disney animator. I put my portfolio in at CalArts to become a sculptor, a painter, and it was sent to the school of animation by accident, and it was accepted. So I always felt like maybe some day I’ll get to follow this path I originally wanted. I always feel like I’ve got one foot in Disney, and one foot out of the door. I’ve never felt like a Disney guy. I know that there’s people who possibly work at studios for a long time and they lose themselves. They become, I don’t know, a formula of some sort. A caricature of themselves. And I really don’t want that.”

Homer Simpson. From The Comics Journal April 1991, The Simpsons’ Matt Groening said, “I love Homer Simpson. In a way, I like him most of all the characters because for him there’s more disastrous consequences to his mistakes. For one thing he could blow up Springfield. I think he’s the funniest. I do like the name Homer. My father’s name is Homer. I named my son Homer. I actually took the name from the novel The Day of the Locust where there is a character named Homer Simpson. I find it funny that people admire Bart because he’s such a jerk.”

The Shoe People. The Shoe People was an animated television series first broadcast in the U.K. in 1987 and later in 62 countries around the world. The characters were created by James Driscoll who once won a five pound bet by being able to identify a car salesman by his patent leather shoes.

He noticed that the style and appearance of people’s shoes told a lot about their personalities and he developed some stories about shoe people that a cobbler can’t repair or are abandoned and live in the back room of his shoe repair shop. He used to tell his children these stories to lull them to sleep. Prince William and Harry were notable fans of the animated characters. A number of books were published about the characters and their adventures.

Allan Burns. In the New York Times December 8, 1996, writer Allan Burns said about his work with Jay Ward: “It was a wonderful place to work because of the freedom. Jay wouldn’t come in and say ‘do such-and-such’. He’d say, ‘Figure out something you’d want to do’. That was Jay’s style: Be thinking of new stuff.

“Jay’s philosophy was this: you’re not that much smarter than everybody else so if you do what you think is funny, chances are there’s going to be a lot of people out there who are going to find it funny. And don’t write down. When we were doing the Mary Tyler Moore Show, we were told by CBS that what we were doing was a little too smart for the room. We resisted that and it worked. I believe that it was a lesson that I learned from Jay ten years before.”

David Hand. In the U.K. edition of Good Housekeeping magazine August 1947, producer and animator David Hand said, “At the end of the silent film period, the cartoon was slipping into a rut and it didn’t get ahead until sound came in. Sound gave it its opportunity and color brought more opportunities. Now the animated cartoon is the most powerful graphic medium in existence because you can do anything in cartoon films. There are no restrictions. It is a medium of exaggeration. The sky’s the limit. One day, perhaps, something big will come out of all this.”

Ron Clements. In Cinemagic #33 (1986), co-director of The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Ron Clements said, “Character animation is at the very heart of this picture. The animators are absolutely integral to developing the personalities of the characters. Everything that happens up to the point an animator picks up a pencil –script, storyboard, etc. – is just planning. The story suggests a direction but the animator, the really top animators, determine the character’s personality. From that comes the drama. And that is the way it should be! This is an animator’s medium, not a director’s.”


  • Homer: “Mmmmmmm… Betty Rubble… drrrrooooollllllllllll…”

  • That don’t write down advice is important. Ignore and you may lose a job but you’ll keep your self-respect and become a better writer. For years people don’t me not to introduce my programs because they just want to see the films. I have walked out of theaters with my programs when they won’t let me speak. Last week I got a call from one of Canada’s national TV networks saying they had read a good piece on the web about my work and want to do a show on me. After we talked I did a we surf to see if I could find the piece. Didn’t but did find I’m listed as one of the fifty best/most famous orators of all time. Never talk/write down. If you’re silenced leave.

  • The David Hand film you linked, “Bee Bother”, is an exception to the usual depiction of cartoon bees – this one shows a single bee who is so angry he glows red hot and can melt through a rock that obstructs his way. Much funnier than the usual swarm of faceless black dots you might see in a Terrytoon or a Yogi Bear picture.

  • Betty was outclassed in other pieces of merchandise to the point that the Great Gazoo had more Knick-Knacks than her (what dum-dums).

  • According to that ad, Fred’s car is called the Flintmobile. I have never seen that anywhere before. Is that, as the case may be, canonical?

    I’m sure the actual reason they were reluctant to make a Betty vitamin was they didn’t want to bother making a mold for her after they already made all the others. I wouldn’t be surprised the artist responsible for the original set was already scattered to the winds and forgotten by that point. But yeah, she really isn’t distinct enough from Wilma that she can be likewise abstracted.

    Fred kind of resemble those Keebler elf cookies now I think of it.

    • I’ve seen a commercial call it the “Flintmobile”. I can’t link to the exact ad, but it comes 30 minutes into this video…

    • It was either that first vitamin commercial or a commercial fro Pebbles cereal (toy give-away) that I first heard the Flintstones’ car called the Flintmobile.

  • That “Shoe People” show reminds me of “Krazy’s Shoe Shop”, directed by Harry Love, which has shoes in a shoe repair shop coming to life. They do a lot more than just blink their eyes, which seems to be the extent of the animation in “Shoe People”!

  • Wait, last year was the 50th anniversary of Flintstone Vitamins and Bayer didn’t do anything to commemorate that?

    • Pretty sad if they forgot, or didn’t care to bother with it.

  • Actually, if you’ll look closely at the Flintstones Vitamins ad above, you’ll see that there wasn’t a Wilma vitamin in the original set either… just Fred, Barney, Dino, the two kids and the car.

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