While Walt Disney and company were busy raiding the Great Latin-American Song Book. . . While Carl Stalling and Scott Bradley were also raiding the catalogues of the music publishers owned by their respective employers. . .
And while Darrell Calker was haunting the jazz clubs of Hollywood, looking for talent to contribute to the Walter Lantz “Swing Symphonies” shorts. . .
Paramount Pictures was busy seeing that all was well with their latest acquisition: the former Max Fleischer cartoon plant, now re-named “Famous Studios”,
With the studio (and most of its employees) re-located to New York after their five-year sojourn in Miami, things were changing in all aspects of the cartoons–including the music.
It must have seemed easier for Paramount execs to control the Famous Studios staff now that they were back in the Apple.
For one thing, Winston Sharples had a larger orchestra with which to work. Many of the Miami productions–especially in the later years of the Fleischer studio, and in the earlier Famous Studio product–feature the music of a scrappy-sounding orchestra. From the sound of it, the group could not be more than around twelve pieces.
They may have been the best cats that the Miami local could deliver. But there were so may more fine players in Local 802, and Sharples got to use a number of them.
There seems to have been more use of Famous Music copyrights in the all-color packages put out every year by Famous. Sometimes, the songs–or their titles–would be used as gag material. Thus “Sunday, Monday and Always”, a song introduced by Bing Crosby in Dixie (1943) winds up as gag fodder for both Popeye’s The Island Fling (1945) and Little Audrey’s Butterscotch And Soda (1948).
Even as late as “Shaving Muggs” (1953), Bluto, voiced by Jackson Beck, and working with a French accent (!) shouts out to an obscure Paramount song form 1935.
“Paris in the Spring (hums)
“Broooklyn in the Fall (hums more)”
Lastly, there is the matter of original music. Now, the “Betty Boop” and “Popeye” series had had original theme songs almost from the git-go. And even the “Hunky and Spunky” cartoons had an original theme song, “Keep a-Goin'”.
But most of the miscellaneous series–the “Color Classics’, the “Animated Antics”, and so on–seemed to get by without a theme song.
And the “Superman” cartoons had a theme–built around a three-note motif that must have been remembered–if it was ever encountered–by the anonymous Belgian composer who is credited (by lore) with coming up with the music for the live-action “Superman” television show of the 1950’s.
The “Noveltoons’ that featured a lot of miscellaneous characters–some of whom would be going on to their own series–now had a jaunty quick-step, with lots of xylophone and clarinets.
And the other new series–replacing the expensive “Superman” series–also had a theme song. And thereby hangs a tale…
Next week: Little Lulu