January 19, 2023 posted by Steve Stanchfield

Famous Studios’ “Lulu at the Zoo” (1944)

In the Thunderbean world, there’s not a lot to report this week beyond the progress on several projects.

I opened the hard drive closet upstairs last night and was pleasantly surprised at the organization; over these past weeks I’ve been trying to find a way to limit the chaos of all the drive shelves holding all the various projects and all the scans. While it has been coming together for some time, it’s finally at a point where I can pretty quickly identify where particular things are, or at least most likely are. If I was able to spend a good month just working on them I think they’d be perfectly organized, but for now the current shelving and labels will suffice. While many of the scans are all backed up, often the whole projects are not as of yet.

These first weeks of school are some of the busiest, but as time has permitted I’ve been working on this piece or that of the Little King project and really loving the results. Doing a 13 film set sure seems tiny compared to some of the much larger ones in recent times. Even though the set really is coming together nicely, I *always* wish more 35mm would show up somehow even though it would mean a lot of rework on this project. We’re on the last films for the set and have the bonus materials finished. I’m happy to report we’ll be done with this project at the end of this month or early next as the final pieces come together.

We continue to do special sets, including a few recent ones. Less seen Looneys is the latest at

As I’m prepping for the second animation history class this week I’m really enjoying having such great copies of pretty much everything I’m showing. Some things I still really like showing in 16mm, but the video looks really nice projected. There’s still a few gaps that I’d like to get better material for, but, thinking back to the days where I showed VHS in the auditorium on not very good projectors, what we have now is honestly amazing.

Each time I look over films on these various sets in production I always smile. I’ve been lucky enough to have a hand in making these things available to be enjoyed. As each one gets closer to being done we welcome other sets into the production line -and that’s the thing I really love. Additional opportunities arrive as we work on expanding the company further. I always think about finding a few more of the holy grails- and if we’ve found some in more recent times we’re defiantly a little tighter lipped about it these days. If such things exist and get closer to the finish line we’ll spill— if there is anything like that, er, I mean. I just have to make sure I’m properly dressed for the occasion.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s starting to be a little golden age of restoring golden age animation. Let’s see if we can keep that trend going. As it stands, it’s going to be a really good year for a lot of classic cartoons.

Now, onto this week’s cartoon: Lulu at the Zoo!

Earlier tonight I watched some of the Little Lulus and though this would be a good one to share. While it isn’t the funniest of the series, it’s beautifully designed and animated with a great score.

I owe several of our readers here a great thanks in finding this print- along with another in the series. Because of their efforts I was able to scan two Little Lulus I otherwise wouldn’t have had. This copy is a nitrate 35mm IB Technicolor print with Dutch subtitles. We used this on the Little Lulu special set we did last year. Now, let’s hope at some point these are all available from the negatives!

Have a good week everyone!


  • Steve:
    Can you tell me what’s on the LESS SEEN LOONEY’S set? I want to know what to expect if I should order it

  • That was a fun short. I especially appreciate that they took the care to depict the monkey species the zookeeper mentions accurately, although the mandrill is colored the same shade of brown as the others rather than with its famous bright face coloring (probably because it would have been too distracting).

  • Famous also released a Popeye cartoon with a zoo setting, “Pitchin’ Woo at the Zoo”, the same year as “Lulu at the Zoo”. Both cartoons were directed by Izzy Sparber and animated by Nick Tafuri and Tom Golden, with backgrounds by Robert Connavale and story by Bill Turner and Jack Ward. Like a lot of New Yorkers, the Famous cartoonists must have enjoyed occasional outings to the Bronx Zoo. The fountain where Lulu attempts to hide from the zookeeper is reminiscent of a more elaborate one that had been donated to the zoo by one of the Rockefellers.

    Evidently the zoo had started cracking down on people feeding the animals by this time; the point is stressed in both cartoons right from the start. Peanuts weren’t as big a problem as all the cigarette butts, bottle caps and other rubbish that visitors used to throw at the animals.

  • The hotdog gag was stolen from “The Dizzy Acrobat.” What a little monster that Lulu was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *