Animation History
March 25, 2019 posted by Jerry Beck

Columns From MGM Studio Club News – Part 1

I know I haven’t finished posting my stash of Leon Schlesinger’s in house newsletters (The Exposure Sheet) or my remaining copies of Fleischer’s Animated News, but I had two open slots this week (today and Wednesday) and I thought I fill them in with a selection of in-house studio columns I have (Thank you Ned Comstock of the USC Cinema Library) from the MGM Studio Club News.

Similar to the Warner Bros. cartoon department columns that appeared in that studio’s house organ, The Warner Club News, these are chatty little columns from later 1937 through 1943 – mostly goings on in the ink-and-paint department, or what the artists did on weekends. Of course this was the first six years (give or take a few months) of the Fred Quimby MGM in-house unit – an era that includes The Captain and the Kids, Friz Freleng, Milt Gross, Harman & Ising, Peace On Earth, Hanna and Barbera, Tom & Jerry, Tex Avery and Blitz Wolf.

So what do we have here? What do we learn? Bill Littlejohn loves to ice skate; Gus Arriola leaves animation to start his GORDO comic strip; animators get drafted… to be honest, these aren’t very exciting. But at least get to learn a few names of MGM cartoon personnel we hadn’t heard of before and it gives us a little peek into the everyday life of the people behind our favorite cartoons.

Click all the tiny columns below to enlarge – and enjoy!

Drawing by Ed B. Schultz of the Ink & Paint Department

This next batch features more chit-chat from 1941-42 (click to enlarge):

WEDNESDAY: The rest of the MGM columns – all from 1943


  • As far as the cartoons that were being produced during this period, some were quite good, even within the CAPTAIN AND THE KIDS series–it may not have been the most beloved series, from what MGM animators have said, but it didn’t stop them from coming up with some outrageous gags. The first group of color cartoons from this period includes not only the debut of BARNEY BEAR, but also one shot titles like “THE BLUE DANUBE”, “SWING SOCIAL”, “THE BOOK WORM” (nothing to do with the character that used to tag after Sniffles the mouse in Warner Brothers’ cartoons) and the Academy Award-winning “THE MILKY WAY”. And isn’t it true that Hugh Harman began production on “GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS” and “THE LITTLE GOLDFISH” while still assisting Walt Disney on certain scenes in “SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS”? I put that question out there because I don’t want to distort the history at all.

  • My guess is Russ Von Neida’s first animation job was at MGM. He was listed as a meat cutter in the L.A. directory until 1938.

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