Two years ago I wrote about the Bronze Age of animation beginning when DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (DFE) became the last remaining studio to produce theatrical short cartoons in 1972. This month’s entry looks at that year in more specific detail. By looking at 1972 month by month, it becomes clear just how transitional the year was in moving from the Silver Age to the Bronze Age.
When the year starts in January, there are two studios actively producing theatrical series: DFE for United Artists and Walter Lantz for Universal Pictures. A third studio–Terrytoons–remains open but has not produced any new animation for Twentieth Century-Fox since 1968, but it just came under new ownership through Viacom the previous month. On January 3rd, Universal Pictures copyrights the last “Chilly Willy” episode: The Rude Intruder. It is the end of the last surviving series starring a character created by Tex Avery.
On February 1st, Universal copyrights the “Woody Woodpecker” cartoon Indian Corn. Five days later United Artists releases the “Pink Panther” cartoon Pink 8-Ball and then puts the “Pink Panther” series on a two-year hiatus.
On March 6th, Universal copyrights the “Woody Woodpecker” episode Gold Diggin’ Woodpecker and the “Beary Family” cartoon A Fish Story. They are Lantz’s last cartoons copyrighted while his studio is in operation. He closes it just four days later and retires from cartoon production.
In April United Artists releases the final “Tijuana Toads” cartoons Frog Jog and Flight to the Finish. They bring a long era of animated Latino stereotypes to a close.
On May 1, Universal copyrights the “Woody Woodpecker” cartoon Pecking Holes in Poles.
On June 1, Universal copyrights the “Beary Family” cartoon Let Charlie Do It.
In July United Artists debuts the “Blue Racer” series, releasing the first four cartoons that month: Hiss and Hers, Support Your Local Serpent, Nippon Tuck, and Punch and Judo.
On August 1, Universal copyrights the “Woody Woodpecker” cartoons Chili Con Corny, For the Love of Pizza, and Show Biz Beagle. Later that week United Artists releases the “Blue Racer” cartoons Love and Hisses and Camera Bug.
On September 1, Universal copyrights the last “Beary Family” cartoon Unlucky Potluck.
Neither Universal nor United Artists unveil a new cartoon in all of October. For the first time since the silent era, no new theatrical short cartoons from Hollywood are released or copyrighted for an entire month. Meanwhile, the Viacom Corporation permanently closes Terrytoons and puts the old studio building in New Rochelle, New York, which had housed the studio since the 1930s, up for sale.
On November 1, Universal copyrights the “Woody Woodpecker” episode The Genie with the Light Touch.
On December 1st Universal copyrights the last cartoon by Lantz: the “Woody Woodpecker” finale Bye Bye Blackboard. Exactly four weeks later, Viacom sells the abandoned Terrytoons building. Meanwhile, United Artists releases Yokohama Mama and Blue Racer Blues.
As 1972 ends, DFE is the only open and active studio, and “Blue Racer” is its only series. New series from the studio will come and go, but the Bronze Age has definitely begun.