Animation History
July 27, 2015 posted by

Famous Studios 1951-52 (Part 1)

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).




Vegetable Vaudeville
Snooze Reel
Off We Glow
Fun At The Fair
Dizzy Dinosaurs
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
Spunky Skunky
Cage Fright

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
Popeye’s Pappy
Lunch With A punch
Swimmer Take All
Friend Or Phoney
Tots Of Fun
Popalong Popeye

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).


This note appeared on the inside front cover.

This note appeared on the inside front cover.

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.

Here is the story on Famous Studios contained in this issue of Paramount News - click to enlarge

Here is the story on Famous Studios contained in this issue of Paramount News – click to enlarge

(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


  • By the 1951-52 release year, we’re pretty much locked into specific units being specialists on specific series just as much as in the mid-to-late 1930s with the Fleischers, when Max and Dave had each head animator targeting their particular strength.

    For the Waldman unit, that still means hyper-cuteness — Pudgy in the 30s, Casper in the 50s — while Tom Johnson, who focused on more pure gag-oriented cartoons during the Fleischer years before taking on the Popeye series in Miami, is by now the main unit handling the sailor with Famous. Meanwhile, Davie Tendlar, who shared Popeye duties with Kneitel and Bowsky in the late 30s, ends up handling most of the studio’s violent slapstick cartoons that became infamous over the years for their painful gags. And of course, the problem across all the continuing series was the studio’s attitude that whatever plot-line that worked when the characters were in their initial one-shot Noveltoons would work again and again on a schedule of 4-6 releases a season (“Ghost of the Town” stands out in the ’51-’52 season simply because it doesn’t follow the normal story line of Casper befriending a young animal or the perpetually clueless Little Billy).

    • Little Billy was also known as Billy Brown in the Casper series and Casper filled in as a brother/ gaurdian angel of sorts when Billy’s older doesn’t have time to play with him.

    • I watched all the classic cartoons when I was six years old at that time in the Philippines since 1966 my favorites like Popeye Casper Gumby Beany & Cecil Sinbad Jr. Tales of the Genie Three Stooges Dick Tracy Roger Ramjet & et al as seen in the Uncle Bob Show on RBS/GMA Network hosted by the late Robert L.Stewart American businessman & journalist turned TV host & commentator who created radio station DZBB AM in 1950 & Channel 7 in 1961 67 years ago since 1950 & the history of Philippine TV & radio broadcasting & a true classic TV show for all ages. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne.

  • In Ghost of the Town Casper was booted out of the Scare Force for being too friendly so as he tries and fails to make friends he winds up in the city where a brownstone apartment building was fully ingulfed in flames and inside the inferno and to the horror of the citizens was a toddler! Casper takes action and flies up into the inferno and saves the toddler and scaring the flames so badly they extinguished themselves. The citizens celebrated his heroics by having Casper appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and the entire audience sung. “Casper the Friendly Ghosh” as he appeared on stage. But the leader of The Scare Force saw Casper on TV and decidedly to go to the theater to terrorize the audience. But Casper keeping a cool head reassure the audience that the ghost are here to entertain and to not to be frighten by then. The audience followed Casper’s advice and to the horror of the ghosts made fun and laughed at them! The ghosts realizing what had happened left the theater never to return again and Casper was a hero again and the entire city gave Casper a ticker tape parade and in his honor and the Mayor gave Casper the Key to the City shaped as a Skeleton Key!

    And in Friend or Phoney was a “Clip Episode” where Bluto was faking his death and blaming Popeye for the beatdown the he recived through out the years. Popeye fell victim to Bluto’s sob story and as he toss out his spinach (with the can giving Popeye a eerie “You’ll Be Sorry” warning) discovers that Bluto got out of his sickbed and proceeds to beat Popeye with his bed. Luckily the can of spinach returned, clobbered Bluto so badly that he wound up in a real hospital bed. As Bluto was recovering from the latest beatdown at the hospital Popeye arrived to visit Bluto with a spinach plant as a get well gift. Bluto upon seeing the spinach plant screamed in horror and went off the deep end. This was the only time that I ever heard Bluto scream in the entire Popeye series.

  • Well, I guess this period was the most represented on TV when I used to watch every afternoon. I liked most of these cartoons, including the BUZZY series and the CASPER cartoon talked about in detail in a comment above, and I still say that, in some cases, Paramount had their own touch that kept me watching. I don’t remember its title, but a CASPER cartoon that I recall was one in which he was asked by a reporter how he “got into cartoons”, and we follow Casper as he takes a trip through an animation studio; my favorite part was when two animators are discussing a bit, actually performing the violence upon each other!

  • I want to know how the Kartune Titles went on an original Paramount print. I do not know how the “A Famous Studios Production” card looked on these films. I also want to see the correct original titles to the Noveltoons during this period. I believe that it involved the 1948 titles with the new music. If I had the money I would of bought the IB tech print of “City Kitty” that was sold on Ebay in 2012. That print had the original titles. I wonder if anybody on this site is tracking down such original prints on eBay to upload them.

    • I am the big fan of classic cartoons in popular culture in TV films comics animation & media. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne

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