Sam Buchwald passed away on January 8th, 1951. His share in the partnership known as Famous Studios went to his estate. Buchwald was not replaced – Seymour Kneitel and Isadore Sparber carried on his duties in addition to their own.
The 1951-52 release schedule commenced in September. Famous was given an order for 30 new shorts: 10 Noveltoons, 8 Popeye, 6 Casper and – under a new name for the “Screen Songs” – 6 Kartunes. Popeye was so popular that one fresh Popeye was available each month – eight new films were supplemented with four Technicolor “Popeye Champions” (aka reissues).
Off We Glow
Fun At The Fair
Gag And Baggage
No matter what you call them, the Kartunes were simply the Screen Songs with no real difference. The trade ad above says they are “musical cartoons with a new approach emphasizing clever stories…”- but I don’t see any difference. Sparber/Waldman do spots gags with vegetables; Kneitel/Waldman revive the Stone Age cartoons; Sparber/Tendlar goof on insects and the history of the railroad; Sparber/Eugster go to the county fair; and Kneitel/Eugster spoof the Paramount Newreel. The bouncing ball remains.
Casper Takes A Bow-Wow
The Deep Boo Sea
Ghost Of The Town
The second season of Casper cartoons – and their popularity is catching on. Waldman’s unit provides Casper with a new “Pal” when he befriends a puppy, a baby elephant and the three little pigs; Casper plays pirate with little Billy, and sings his theme song on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Let’s Stalk Spinach
Punch and Judo
Lunch With A punch
Swimmer Take All
Friend Or Phoney
Tots Of Fun
Kneitel/Muffatti put Popeye in a Jack and the beanstalk scenario; Sparber/Johnson put Popeye in a televised boxing match, and track Pappy to a cannibal island; Sparber/Eugster recall Popeye, Olive and Bluto in their turn-of-the-century school days – and has Popeye visiting Bluto in the hospital (in a cheater filled with flashback footage). Kneitel/Johnson have the nephews help Popeye build a house, place Popeye and Bluto against each other in a channel swim – and have the old foes battle it out in the old west.
Cat-Choo (Buzzy and Katnip)
Audrey The Rainmaker (Little Audrey)
Cat Tamale (Herman and Katnip)
By Leaps And Hounds (Herbert)
Scout Fellow (Baby Huey)
Cat Carson Rides Again (Herman and Katnip)
The Awful Tooth (Buzzy and Katnip)
Law and Audrey (Little Audrey)
City Kitty (Katnip)
Clown On The Farm (Baby Huey)
Half the order of ten cartoons feature Katnip – two with Buzzy, two with Herman, and one Katnip solo. Two Noveltoons feature Baby Huey, two others star Little Audrey leaving only one cartoon to experiment with a new character – Herbert, a fox hound. I can’t do this post without a cartoon… let’s take a look at Baby Huey in Clown On The Farm.
And finally this week from 1951 (I’ll have more from the 1951-52 season next week) this coverage of Famous Studios from the in-house Paramount News (note the rare “behind the scenes” photos of Winston Sharples, Nick Tafuri, Bob Owen, Bob Connavale, John Zago and others we never hear about).
Here are the original pencils for the art used on the cover – from the Mark Newgarden collection. The characters appear to be drawn by Steve Muffatti.
(Thanks this week to Don Yowp, Mark Newgarden, Thad Komorowski and Virginia Mahoney)
NEXT WEEK: 1951-52 Part 2 – Famous Studios Makes a Deal With Harvey Comics