After a rough week here, I thought it would be fun for some Cartoon Research participation!
I was thinking about some favorite events I’ve read – and some that I’ve heard about – in animation history. It’s pretty fascinating that there’s so many *little* stories along the way that are really obscure, and some really well known ones.
Now, when you’re thinking of your favorite ones, whatever you do, *don’t* watch the history lessons from Thomas Reich, formally of Cartoon Crazys. He’s been posting some interesting things this past week on the Cartoon Research Facebook. There’s a series of uninformed statments, including a kid’s ‘Master Class’ here where he explains a Popeye feature was being produced to compete with Snow White, but wasn’t finished in time so it was split in three! This, like some other facts on his videos, are simply not true – of course!
(But, just for fun, if you want to watch, here it is):
Now, here are some of my favorite tales, good and bad, I’ve heard or read over the years. I can’t confirm all of these are actually true, but if anyone knows please let me know! What I do know is that some of you have heard these same stories over the years as I have….
1) Tex Avery loses an eye. This famous story, told by Tex himself (in an interview with Joe Adamson) happened at Lantz in the early 30s, when a joke involving paper clips being shot from huge rubber bands went awry.2) Milt Kahl complains to Walt, and is met with an envelope full of money. This is the least confirmed story I’ve heard, but I’ve heard it a few times. It sort of goes like this: Kahl, frustrated with the quality of work from the other lead artists, complains to Walt, threatening to quit. Walt listens quietly, and at some point slips Milt an envelope with cash in it. Milt responding with an “Ah, all right..” going back to work. It’s a fun story, but possibly not true, or at least really embellished.
3) Alex Lovy wins the lottery. This is a story that Ken Southworth told me. He said that most of the work week that the ‘old guys’ did while at Filmation happened in the mornings or after an extended lunch….and a similar situation existed at HB. Around 12:30 or 1, everyone would gather at one of the artist’s houses that lived close by, often having a barbecue, extending into the afternoon. One day, veteran artist Alex Lovy showed up at the lunch, having missed the morning work, announcing he had won the lottery, to the tune of over a million dollars! Apparently he was very generous to his friends, but sadly only lived another year after winning.
4) The secret dirty ‘Popeye and Betty Boop’ animation. According to several sources (including animator Gordan Sheehan) there was some animation of Popeye and Betty Boop in compromising situations animated at the Fleischer Studio in Florida. Sheehan thought it might have been made for Jack Mercer’s bachelor party in the late 30s. Of course, no copy has ever surfaced of the short. There’s a story about Dave Fleischer punching someone that interviewed him and made the mistake of mentioning this film.5) Animation artwork was swiped from the Disney ‘Morgue’ strapped to people’s legs. I’ve heard this story quite a few times. The story goes that, for years, animation drawings were rolled and strapped to people’s legs from the Disney ‘Morgue’. It seems like a pretty plausible story. I don’t think there was ever anyone caught doing this, but I might be wrong.
6) Lantz dumped thousands of cels somewhere in the desert. Now, this is a story after my own heart. The story goes that a dumping company removed many years of art from the studio, dumping them out of LA, burying them somewhere in the desert. This seems a little unlikely to me, but I love the story. Anyone up for some digging for Andy Panda?
7) Pat Sullivan finances a brothel and opens it in the same building at the studio. In John Canemaker’s excellent Felix: The Twisted Tale of the World’s Most Famous Cat there is a mention that one of the people interviewed makes that a brothel was financed by Sullivan and opened in the same building as the studio.
8) Burt Gillet chases Jimmie Culhane around, threatening him with a straight rod paper holder. This is a story told by Culhane in his book Talking Animals and Other People. Gillett, in an agitated manic fit, chased Culhane around threatening him with a metal paper rod. He was directing Rainbow Parade cartoons at the time, but after this incident left the studio.
Well, there’s some of my favorites. Now, it’s *your* turn. Feel free to correct anything I may have wrong above as well. Have a great rest of your week all!