As an addendum to Jerry’s post last March, lets take a look at the last remnants of Warner Bros. animation in 1968-69, the Bill Hendricks years.
As we all know, Warner Bros. shut down the original studio in 1962 after production on The Incredible Mr. Limpet. About a year later they had a change of heart and ordered more theatrical cartoon shorts (mainly featuring Speedy Gonzales, Daffy Duck, and The Road Runner) from DePatie-Freleng. In 1967, just as the studio was merging with Seven Arts Productions, the thinking was to revive the in-house cartoon department to make not only theatricals – but commercials, titles and industrial films. William L. Hendricks, the studio’s Director of Public Relations, was given the task of creating and running the new unit.
New characters were created – Cool Cat (a variant of the Pink Panther) was one. Bunny And Claude (a take-off of Bonnie And Clyde) were another. Merlin the Magic Mouse, Chimp and Zee, Norman Normal and The Red Baron were all tried – and failed. An update of Mack Sennent’s Keystone Cops were in development (click cel above to enlarge); Al Capp’s L’il Abner was announced as TV series (see trade announcements and model sheet below). The cartoon studio was abruptly closed in 1969 when the Kinney Corporation bought the studio and was looking to cut costs.
More attempts at creating wonderful new merchandisable characters.
SUPER SNOOPER was just a little behind the curve here, as detective shows were not a their peak of popularity at this time. The name had recently been used by Hanna-Barbera on the Quick Draw McGraw show. Maybe you could argue that WB had used the name for a cartoon title before that so they did it first anyways. Whatever, it doesn’t look too promising. Drawn by Jaime Diaz.
BUTCH CASSIDY – Oh brother! The Tasmanian Devil undergoes surgery to bring out his inner feline. Did the failure to put him into a cartoon deprive the world of a great new animated icon? Possibly not…
JOLLY ROGER appearss to be a rip off of Yosemite Sam. You may well ask that since they owned Yosemite Sam, why the heck couldn’t they just use Yosemite Sam? Also drawn by Jaime Diaz.
PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON – Probably negotiated when Paul Stooky (of Peter, Paul and Mary) was creating Norman Normal at the studio.
ROADRUNNER CALVACADE with the Bird Watcher – If DePatie-Freleng/Format Films Road Runner cartoons weren’t bad enough…
Below: An internal memo, whereby Mr. Hendricks assures his bosses that The Bugs Bunny Show can be combined with The Road Runner Show without making a lot of new animation.
Plymouth Spots: The Chrysler Corporation took out a license from WB to produce a car called the Road Runner. It was based on Plymouth’s mid-sized coupe body, with a whopping great V8 stuffed under the hood. It also had decals of the cartoon Road Runner stuck on it. WB produced new animation for the commercials, all directed by Bob McKimson. I’ve compiled some of the spots together here. (Apologies for the terrible picture quality.)
The Phynx (1969), considered one of the worst movies ever made (despite an all-star cast), featured an animated opening title by the Hendricks unit. There’s a few bits here that could be Ted Bonnicksen’s.
The Effects Of Drugs: In those hippy-trippy days of the late sixties, even defense contractors like Lockheed Aircraft must have had problems with recreational drug usage among its employees. WB produced a series of films for in-house usage at Lockheed in 1969. Why are the characters cavemen? I couldn’t tell you. The sparse bits of music almost sound like Bill Lava’s. The very limited animation in this segment appears to be by Ed Solomon and Lavern Harding.
What more can I say, but — “That’s All, Folks!”