Garbage Pail Kids. Based on the popular Topps cards, Garbage Pail Kids the animated television series (a parody of Cabbage Patch Kids) meant to premiere on a Saturday morning in September 1987 was abruptly cancelled less than 24 hours earlier on Friday. The exact reasons for the 11th hour cancellation were never discussed although it was assumed that protests from several groups that the series ridiculed the handicapped, glorified violence, and was primarily just a commercial for the cards as well as sponsors and affiliates (also pressured by the same groups) pulling out support was the reason.
CBS stated at the time that “CBS is well aware of a variety of pressure groups that contacted the network to voice their concern. CBS has never reacted to pressure from groups in programming decisions. Basically, it was an internal decision. We had all the best intentions of being able to translate the cards into a program but it didn’t work. The fit just wasn’t right.”
While CBS claimed “no full shows were completed at the time”, the thirteen episode series was completed and shown in Spain, Brazil, Portugal, Trinidad, Tobago, United Kingdom, Iceland, Israel, Italy and the Philippines among other countries and was released on home video in 2006.
Director Bob Hatchcock said, “We could not use the really gross stuff. The show got pulled anyway. The protest was about the cards and they never saw a frame of film. If they had seen the show without prior knowledge of the cards there would have never been a problem. We were so close to being finished that it made more sense to get them in the can for possible future use.”
Another Forgotten Animator. In 1924, artist Bert Green sued showman Flo Ziegfeld for non-payment. Green had done portraits of some of the Ziegfeld girls upon Ziegfeld’s request and the famous producer felt they weren’t good enough to receive payment. The court agreed.
Green had been an animator working with Hy Mayer in 1912, Hearst (1916-1918), Path (1919), Moser Studios in the 1920s and MGM sometime in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He also did advertising work in the 1920s which is where Ziegfeld probably saw his work and offered him the job. Green also did a newspaper strip called Kids in 1928 and comic book work starting in 1946 for Novelty probably through Leon Jason’s shop who used Famous Studios as well as other New York animators to do comic book stories.
Mr. Potato Head. In a press interview at the premiere of Toy Story (1995) with reporter Mal Vincent of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper, comedian Don Rickles who voiced Mr. Potato Head in the film said, “I was very surprised. I thought this would be very Mickey Mouse. I did it just for the money. I thought I’d just hear my voice coming out of this doll, but look, this thing looks like no other movie. I thought when they called me it would be like Popeye and Olive Oyl or something.
“They wanted the character of Don Rickles so they asked me not to act. My motivation was the money so I said, ‘Fine, I won’t act’. I wanted the Tom Hanks part but they would have had to pay me more for that. They’re no fools.”
The Raggedy Ann That Never Was. In November 1993, Cambium Productions approached the Canadian animation company Catapult about doing a Raggedy Ann television series (The Magical World of Raggedy Ann) but it wasn’t until August 1995 that a promo piece was created consisting of costumed actors in a computer generated set being menaced by a computer animated bat. It was hoped that Children’s Television Workshop would pick it up for Cartoon Network’s The Big Bag show but it was not selected. Cambium also pitched the idea to another buyer who was only interested in cel animation holiday specials.
Glen Keane. From Premiere magazine November 1991, animator Glen Keane talked about working on Beauty and the Beast (1991): “I think we’re rushing too fast through it all. On Friday night, I worked – just racing, physically moving my hand across the page at lightning speed, just driving as fast as I could. The next day, I couldn’t hold a cup of coffee. My hand was shaking. At first, I thought I had palsy or something.
“I’ve grown to respect (Jeffrey Katzenberg). He comes up with as many ideas as animators can – and as fast. The fact that he throws out whatever comes into his head is valuable to me. You just kind of have to take it with a grain of salt.” One of Katzenberg’s suggestions was that one of the servants in the castle was transformed into a punching bag so he would be a human punching bag.
Ron Miller Ratigan. In the Wall Street Journal for July 14th, 1986, animator Glen Keane talked about the inspiration for Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective (1986): “Our first version of the villain was thin and sort of weaselly. But he didn’t have the power or presence we wanted. Then one day, we heard Mr. (Ron) Miller’s footsteps coming down a long linoleum hallway. You could hear the floor shaking as this 6-foot 6-inch guy with 260 pounds of muscle moved into the room.
“So we started doing caricatures of Miller as a huge rat. It wasn’t done to be derogatory. I sweated it out when I presented the first sketches to him but he didn’t recognize his own face and said, ‘Go with it’.” The Journal contacted Miller who was the former president and CEO of Walt Disney Productions and he replied, “That’s news to me.”
Phil Mendez at Disney. In a 1986 interview, animator Phil Mendez said, “I started work at the age of 19 at Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample (doing commercials) under Bill Tollis who was a great disciplinarian. He made me do a storyboard thirteen times. That’s how I learned to draw. When I left, I joined Disney as an animator. The seven months I spent there were the roughest, toughest of my life. I went there expecting it would be a friendly, wonderful place to work. It was a factory. I lost twenty pounds. I lost my job when I asked for a small raise.
“I was told that I should be grateful that as a black I was given an opportunity to work there. I told this man that Mickey Mouse was black. He instantly fired me and barred me from the lot for four years until he left.”