Animation History
February 20, 2023 posted by Jerry Beck

Rev Chaney: Snapshots From Termite Terrace 1938

Today – being a Presidents Day holiday here in the United States, a little pictorial post for your enjoyment. Thanks to Norman Chaney, we’ve been sent a group of just discovered snapshots for a few of our favorite animators at the Leon Schlesinger studio – taken by Norman’s father: Revelee Guy Chaney.

Rev joined Schlesinger’s studio in 1936, working as an inbetweener and assistant, graduating to animator status in 1940. In 1951 he left Warners to join UPA, becoming the head of Ink-and-Paint – and was later promoted to assistant production manager.

While at Warners, Rev seemed to work on any film that needed his help – for example, see his credited scenes in Devon Baxter’s breakdown for Clampett’s A Tale Of Two Kitties – though he was mainly housed in Jones’ unit.

These few photos are a wonderful window into the past, to a place I think we’d all want to visit in 1938 (right after visiting a newsstand magazine rack to purchase a few mint copies of Action Comics #1 – for ten cents a pop). The photos were stamped on the back (at right), revealing they weren’t developed until April 7th 1939 at the local Thrifty Drug Store.

ABOVE: The Good Humor man awaits the staff to take a break. This building still exists today on Van Ness at Fernwood in Hollywood. The front is smoothed over – here’s a photo of it today off Google Maps. BELOW: The next two photos are interesting, as we can see model sheets for Tashlin’s Little Pancho Vanilla and Jones’ The Night Watchman on the wall on the right. Obviously both animators chose to pose at the same desk. Any speculations as to who’s desk this is?

Rev Chaney

This model sheet is spotted in the wall in the photo above and below.

Ken Harris

Ken Harris

Rudy Larriva

Rudy Larriva

Phil Monroe. Rev and Phil were high school classmates – Phil was actually Rev’s best man when he was married in 1940.

This photo needs to be ID – Steve Millman is the older gent with his arms folded

Can’t quite make out the caricatures and what’s going on here… UPDATE: Check the comments below for the answer.

The original Warner water tower at the Sunset Blvd. studio in 1938

Thank you Rev (and Norman) Chaney.

And Thank you Devon Baxter for additional writing and research above. Please support Devon’s Patreon Page


  • Fascinating! I can just hear Stalling’s score from the opening scenes of ‘You Ought to Be in Pictures’ looking at that candid shot of the studio with the Good Humor truck out front.

  • My guess in the un-ID’d photo is the second guy from the left is Griff Jay, cleaning his glasses. There weren’t a lot of guys that age at Schlesinger and he was one of them.
    There’s a caricature of him in this post.

  • Crazy-good photo find!

  • The “suitcase” caricature is reprinted in the first volume of Chuck’s memoirs, and he has some IDs. Page 76 of the hardcover edition.

    • Thanks Eric! Here is that page from CHUCK AMUCK:


      That “unknown” caricature front row at right (between Bob Cannon and Ben Washham) – maybe that’s Rev Chaney?

      • Looks like that character would be my dad,Rev. looks like his hair.

      • To quote that great philosopher and feline of letters, Katnip: “That sounds logical!” If Chaney worked primarily in Jones’ unit, you would expect to see him in a unit grouping, especially in late 1940, when he would have been a recently promoted animator. To my untrained eye, it’s not so much the hair, but the jaw-line and eyes, that tells me it’s Chaney.

  • Oh wow, this is fantastic!

  • Wow – that first photo of Ken Harris looks like he’s just about to deck somebody!

    • Sort of looks like if Diane Arbus was taking the staff pics!

  • Wonderful photos and memories! Just one note about “Termite Terrace”… the building here was not Termite Terrace. This building, as you say is still there, but the original Termite Terrace was a two-story ram-shackle wooden building on the same lot…no plumbing, no heat, and rickety outside stairs up to the second floor. It almost literally fell down and the studio guys were moved into the building pictured here. What a great find!!

    • Thanks, Linda!

  • Puirrre-dee Gold!! Thank YOU!!!!!

  • I am in geek ecstacy!

  • These photos look into a momentous occasion in Warners’ cartoon history: the start of Chuck Jones’s directorial unit. As Jerry mentioned, by the animator’s desk, there are model sheets of Frank Tashlin’s Little Pancho Vanilla and Jones’s debut, The Night Watchman. Of course, we know that Jones inherited Tashlin’s unit after leaving Schlesinger’s; it makes sense that model sheets for Tashlin’s penultimate cartoon for the studio remained. Tashlin left in March 1938, and a month later, animation proceeded on The Night Watchman, continuing up to May 1938, as noted in the production draft. If I had to guess, Rev snapped the photos of Phil Monroe, Ken Harris, and Rudy Larriva in either April or May 1938.

  • How about Phil Monroe in the middle and maybe Mckimson far right… may have been too soon for Bob. Great photos. Enjoyed so much!!

  • Maybe Ken Harris far right.

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