Tuesday, 3 March 2015

It's Brown. No, It's Green

Here’s “Willie the Kid,” another UPA cartoon with dissolving backgrounds. Ah, but that’s not all. The colour changes, too.

I’m sure because the UPAers intended this as Art, the colour change means something. For a while, I thought the green represented the real world, while the brown represented the pretend world. But the kids are playing Old West when it’s green, too. And then there’s a rose colour during some scenes. Oh, well.

Some of the animation is by Bill Melendez, who went on to make kid-character cartoons that actually had some charm, unlike this one.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Fox Catches Dog

A standard-issue Tex Avery dog attempts to bag a fox in “Out-Foxed.” Lots of brushed swirls before we see the fox has bagged the dog.

Bobe Cannon’s working for Avery on this one, as well as Grant Simmons, Walt Clinton and Mike Lah.

Variety gives you an idea how long it took MGM to put this one in theatres:
Fred Quimby added ‘Outfoxed’ to cartoon slate at Metro. (June 26, 1947)

Leo Shows 5 Shorts
Five Metro shorts are scheduled for release during November. They include "Out-Foxed," Technicolor cartoon produced by Fred Quimby; "The Lonesome Mouse," a Gold Medal reprint cartoon; "In Old Amsterdam," FitzPatrick Traveltalk with color by Technicolor; and two Pete Smith specialties, "Water Trix" and "How Come?" (Oct. 21, 1949)

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Golden Dayton Allen

Show business wasn’t the be-all and end-all for Dayton Allen. He was a radio announcer, first at WAAT in New Jersey, then as the host of an occasional, 15-minute show on WINS in 1941, specialising in imitations of Franklin Roosevelt and Groucho Marx. He moved on to cartoon voices at Terrytoons, replacing Sid Raymond as the voices of Heckle and Jeckle. Television came along and, besides voicing commercials, he was one of the stock players on The Steve Allen Show opposite Ed Sullivan. But he wouldn’t go to the West Coast when Allen and the rest of the cast moved, continuing to work in New York until he decided to leave the spotlight behind.

Dayton talked about his non-entertainment interests this syndicated interview taken from the Yonkers Herald-Statesmen of February 5, 1959.

Comic Dayton Allen Likes Finance

Dayton Allen put in 12 years at Terry Tunes, playing the voices of Heckle and Jeckle, plus all the other creatures inhabiting the cartoon world. He impersonated puppets on Winky Dink and Howdy Doody. He’s got about 60 spot commercials going for him on TV. He's the Wise Owl, the voice of a bank and he boasts that he made over $4,000 for less than five minutes work, saying, “The finest beer served anywhere,” on a dozen spot commercials for Pabst.
You'll get a chance to see Dayton Allen for yourself this Sunday night on the Steve Allen Show (they're not related). Will he be doing the commercial: He will not! Dayton Allen will appear in the role of a stand-up comic.
I had a chance to read and hear his routine the other day and if he plays it half as well on the show as he did with his mouth full of roast beef, TV may have another comic on its hands. Allen has a zany, off-beat and irreverent approach to humor which could make him as a comic or cut short his comedy career in a hurry. The Steve Allen spot casts him in the role of a slightly screwball doctor in celebration of National Surgeons Week.
Talking to Dayton, it's almost impossible to believe he's ever done kiddie shows. As he puts it, “The best shows we did were the rehearsals, and they were not for the kiddies!”
It's hard to carry on a straight conversation with the guy, but I found his weak spot. He becomes deadly serious when you turn the discussion to money—gold specifically.
Dayton Allen apparently hears voices when it comes to gold and to the stock market. Actually, he's a dedicated student of economics and, much as he loves show business, would drop it in a hurry to get into finance if the right opportunity came along. Just to prove he has a sincere interest in gold, he and his wife own 400,000 (that's four hundred thousand) shares of Canadian gold stock. “We bought it for pennies,” he said, “and expect it to be worth a dollar or two per share in the very near future.” He went on to advance some frightening (if true) theories on our inflation and on the world's monetary structure.
He denies that there is any connection between his obsessive interest in gold and the fact that he got into show business at the age of sixteen running films for inmates of a mental institution. “I am probably the cheapest guy in the world,” he admits cheerfully. “I didn't know banks had withdrawal slips until I was thirty-two.”

Allen returned to Terrytoons in the ‘60s to voice Deputy Dawg. He also did an astounding cheap-looking five minute syndicated TV show where he played all kinds of characters handing out goofy advice or information; it was designed to be used to fill part of the 15 minutes remaining in a half hour after the network news broadcast. Allen’s brother, Brad Bolke, was a voice-over man as well, and is best known as the voice of Chumley in the Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons.

Allen died in 2004 in North Carolina, where he had been selling property.

A Star in Spite of Herself

The first regular “character” on the Jack Benny show (not counting announcers, bandleaders and singers) was Mary Livingstone who, as we all know, was played by Jack’s wife. Her first appearance was on July 27, 1932, almost three months after the show debuted. She was not heard the next week but, so goes the story, there was a cry by fans to bring her back, so back she came.

Evidently, the fans wanted to know more about her. For a while, her identity was kept secret, but it soon leaked out that she was Mrs. Jack Benny. Before the Benny show moved from New York City for good in 1936, several newspaper and magazine pieces were written about her. Here’s one from the Long Island Press of June 2, 1935. This may be the earliest indication that Mary really didn’t want to be on the show at all. Still she stuck with it until, finally, she recorded her parts in the final radio season (1954-55) so she didn’t have to face an audience, and had to be coerced into making even a rare appearance on the TV show. It’s too bad because she was very funny and had the perfect delivery for the caustic lines the writers gave her.

She Couldn't Help Being a Radio Star
By Fred Wilson

THE first time she ever saw her future partner, she thought he was terrible and he thought no better of her.
She never wanted to go into the show business.
Her initial effort on the stage was a miserable flop and she firmly resolved that her career as an entertainer was ended before it started.
To this day she refuses to go into the movies, and gets out of theatrical engagements whenever she can.
In spite of herself, she has become one of radio's top-ranking favorites and is in no little measure responsible for her partner-husband achieving and maintaining his position as one of the air’s foremost comedians. We're talking about Mary Livingstone, poetess extraordinary, heckler and Jack Benny's greatest trouble-maker, who shares the spotlight with Jack every Sunday night over NBC.
Mary and Jack are facing the microphone these days in Los Angeles, a significant fact, for it was not so many years ago that they faced each other for the first time in that city under somewhat different circumstances. Love at first sight? To the contrary! For a couple of years after that, whenever they met, they were ready to tear each other's hair out.
IT WAS not long after the war. Jack Benny was playing vaudeville in the Southern California metropolis. He had some friends in town—that is, there was a daughter in the family. Jack had some time off between appearances at the theater and decided to do some courting. Everything would be going smoothly until the youngest of the Livingstone girls, Mary, then aged 12, would come into the room and embarrass her big sister and her beau to tears.
"Why doesn't that fresh kid leave us alone?" Jack pleaded.
“I don't understand what you see in that ham actor,” mischievous Mary replied.
That was bad enough, but the dark-haired girl with the big brown eyes was not finished with the "ham actor" yet. She did not think much of Jack Benny and did not spare him the pain of let him hear about it.
She persuaded her father to give her a week's allowance in advance and with the extra cash she took all her friends to the theater where Jack was playing. Before she bought tickets she gathered them together and made a bargain with them. "If you promise not to laugh at a single one of Jack Benny's jokes, I'll buy you each an ice-cream soda on the way home after the show," she said. The girls were on. They got seats down in front and the laughter and applause during and following Jack's act was conspicuous by its absence.
IT WAS several years before Jack Benny returned to Los Angeles. Mary had been away to school in Vancouver and after completing her education in her native city, she got a job as a buyer for a department store. The fresh kid had developed into an extremely attractive young lady. She still did not think much of her sister's actor-friend. They met at a party.
While Mary's opinion had not changed, Jack's did the minute he saw her. The vaudeville star danced almost every dance with her that evening. The next day he sent her flowers and called up for a date. Mary intended to say "No" but she said "Yes" anyhow. They saw quite a bit of each other during the rest of Jack's stay in town, and at the end of the week, in spite of herself, she found that she liked him.
Jack went back East. Two years later Mary went to visit her sister, who had now gone on the stage. She was playing in Chicago and as luck would have it, so was Jack. They became engaged on a Sunday and decided to get married at the end of the week. That was a tactical error on Jack's part because during the intervening five days he almost lost Mary forever.
It wasn't that she didn't care for him, but she definitely did not care for his profession. And the more she saw of theatrical life during that week in Chicago, the more she hated it. You could never settle down with an actor, she figured. Trouping around all over the country and living out of suitcases was far from her idea of married life. She carried on so much about it that Jack was soon discouraged. She broke off the engagement and Jack only went through the gestures of offering opposition. Mary packed her things and was ready to return to Los Angeles.
At this point a third party entered the affair. It was Jack's father. Mr. Benny had a long talk with "quite contrary" Mary. Next he visited with his son and then returned for another session with Mary. They loved each other, didn't they? They weren't children any more. Well, then, why not be sensible about this thing? Mr. Benny's kindly counsel was taken to heart and Mary and Jack decided to go through with it.
THERE never was such a wedding. Neither bride nor groom said a word on the way to the City Hall to get the license. Jack forgot to get a ring and had to use his mother's. And to top it off, the moment Mary Livingstone became Mrs. Jack Benny, she fell to the floor in a dead faint.
Here she had gone and married the fellow. But even worse, she found herself in the show business. The Bennys' honeymoon was spent in the Blackstone Hotel while the groom finished out his engagement in Chicago. (Early this year, Jack and Mary were in Chicago again and celebrated the eighth anniversary of their honeymoon by taking the same rooms in the same hotel.)
Mary's troubles were really beginning. Her worst fears began to come true. She hated the long rides on the trains, leaving one town in the dead of night and reaching the next one just in time for the show. Marriage meant a home, friendly neighbors, spending the evenings sitting in front of the fireplace reading and chatting. At least, that is what Mary Livingstone expected. Instead, her home was a small hotel room, a different one each week so you couldn't even get used to it and fix it up comfortably. Nice quiet evenings? They were nice and quiet, all right, because she had to spend them by herself while Jack was at the theater.
Wouldn't Jack leave the stage and go into some ordinary business so they could live like other people? Well, that was asking a bit too much. Why couldn't Mary interest herself in his work, come down to the theater and make friends with the people in the show?
MARY started hanging around the theaters. Chorus girls in scanties in front of the footlights are one thing, but backstage and in the dressing rooms they appeared to be positively naked. And how familiar they were with Jack and he seemed to reciprocate their friendliness. What, to anyone who has been with theatrical folks for more than five minutes, is simply the informal good fellowship of the show business, and completely essential to it because it provides the only relief from the tension under which everyone is working, seemed to Mary to be rather unorthodox behavior for a married man. She accused Jack of flirting and swept out of the theater angrily. Mary was a pretty unhappy girl.
Unhappy, but not stupid. When Jack explained to her what it was all about, she was quick to understand. But that did not solve her problem. She was still associated with the show business, and quite frankly, she had had more than enough of it. Jack talked some more. Perhaps if Mary could become definitely interested in his work, she might feel differently. Perhaps if she could learn some of his acts and realize what he was trying to do, and make suggestions, or possibly go on the stage herself some day, she would see things in another light.
Mary was a better trouper than she ever thought she could be. She would brace up and take an interest in her husband's work. She would willingly help him rehearse and if she ever thought of anything which might improve the acts, she would suggest it. But as for actually taking part in a show, well, he might as well forget it. The inevitable had to happen sooner or later, and it did when they were in New York. Jack's regular partner became ill and Mary was the only one who knew the role. Here she was an actress, something she had sworn she would never be. She went on the stage with him and before the act was half-way finished, she knew she was terrible. When the curtain went down, Jack stood in the wings trying to console her. Mary told him he didn't have to do that. She was terrible, she knew it, everyone else knew it, she was through with it and that was that.
JACK had to get another partner, but when they were in Chicago, she left. Mary was drafted, despite what she considered better judgment. She had regained her confidence and everything went well until they were booked into Los Angeles. Jack thought it would make her nervous to play before her family and friends and Mary was only too glad of the excuse to leave the show. Jack again had to get a new partner. But somehow the act did not click as well as it had across the country when Mary was in it. The new girl was released and Mary was persuaded to return. And this time she remained.
She disliked Jack the first time she had seen him, and she married him. She did not want to marry him because she hated the show business, and here she was, part and parcel of it. This was a little more than three years ago. They played their way back East and when he got to New York, Jack got an offer to go on the air.
This was the opportunity Mary had been waiting for. It meant Jack would have to stay in one place and they could take an apartment which would be a real home. For the first time since they were married, Mary was supremely happy. She figured she was through with the theater and they could begin the kind of married life she had always hoped and prayed for.
ONE night Jack's script ran short. He had to fill in for a couple of minutes and an idea flashed through his mind. He waved to George Olsen to start a number, walked over to where Mary was sitting and brought her over to the microphone with him. He signaled to the engineer to fade the music out and started an impromptu bit of dialog with her. They succeeded in ending the broadcast without any "dead air." Within two weeks Jack had received so many requests that Mary be made a regular part of the show that there was nothing to do but get Harry Conn, his writer, to bring her into scripts regularly.
So, in spite of herself, Mary Livingstone became a radio star. However, there were compensations. A radio broadcast once a week is a little different from four or five stage shows a day and Mary was able to have her full share of home life, too—that is, with exceptions. Today Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone constitute an inseparable combination. Jack without Mary is like Amos without Andy. Listeners wait for her poems and wisecracks as eagerly as they do for Jack's "Hello, again" and his gags at the expense of Don Bestor's spats. Mary's "O. K., Toots" has become a national catch-phrase. They even wrote a popular song about it. Mary has succeeded in making a pretty domestic fellow out of Jack, too. They hardly ever go in for night life. If Mary and Jack want to do something they consider very gay, they go to a midnight movie.
EVERYTHING goes along smoothly until Jack's managers make stage engagements for him. The following he has built up over the air puts him in greater demand for personal appearances than ever. But the theater owners insist that Mary be included in the act.
She always rebels at this and does everything possible to get out of appearing before the footlights. They usually work out a compromise. Mary will come along if Jack promises her she only has to play the first part of the week.
She has turned thumbs down absolutely on the movies. Jack is out in Hollywood now making a picture for M-G-M. Mary won't even go anywhere near the lot where the film is being made. They have rented Lita Grey Chaplin's house for the summer and Mary is having the time of her life.
A star in spite of herself, Mary still looks forward to the day when Jack will give up the show business, but she knows he would never be happy out of it. This summer they are planning to take their first real vacation since they have been married. Mary is pretty excited about this, but she is not building too many hopes because Jack does the word "rest" means.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Leon Looks Back

Leon Schlesinger’s claim to fame was running a production company that made animated cartoons, but he and his brothers were around show business for a number of years before that. All of them were involved with theatres.

It’s hard to say whether it was due to interest in cartoons being boosted by the production of Disney’s “Snow White,” or some aggressive press agentry by Rose Joseph, but a pile of articles quoting Schlesinger started popping up around 1937. This story appeared in the Buffalo Courier-Express, January 31, 1937. It’s mostly a reminiscence and only deals partly with his cartoon studio. One can only imagine the reaction of Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising as Schlesinger relates how he made “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub.” Then, again, credit went to the top. The top paid the bills. And had the press agents.

Cartoon producer waxes reminiscent of old days in show business and stars whom he met when legitimate theater was going strong.

HOLLYWOOD, CAL., Jan. 30—“Somebody once said, with more cleverness than fairness, that the motion picture industry's typical executive is a man who has risen from pressing pants to pressing buttons. They're got to leave me out when they say this, because I have the longest career in show business of any film executive. I started as an usher, as a boy, and I've been through every phase of show business, except acting, before I came into films as a producer of cartoon comedies.”
This from Leon Schlesinger, genial ex-Chicagoan who makes Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, for Warner Brothers release. Considerable attention has been attracted to the Schlesinger outfit by the release of Coo Coo Nut Grove, a colored musical short, containing caricatures of many of Hollywood's notables. Clark Gable is shown, flapping his ears to applaud an act; Katharine Hepburn is caricatured as a horse, Hardy of Laurel and Hardy as a pig. Jack Barrymore is billed as “Profile Barrymore.”
So They Can Take It?
In general, the darlings of the film colony are called on to “take” a bit of rough but good humoured kidding. How have they liked it?
“At the Boulevard theater where it has been shown, the box office girl reports that Hepburn came four times to laugh at herself and Gable at least twice, mesmerized by the rhythmic waving of his own ears. That ought to answer any questions about can Hollywood stars take it,” says Schlesinger. “My new plans are for a comedy burlesque on Cinderella, using a caricature of Garbo as the girl with the feet in the glass slippers. Any place in the world, prominent people know that they will be cartooned, or burlesqued. It's only natural that Hollywood stars should come in for some of the same thing. My experience with show people is that they love this sort of thing. After all it is advertising, in a way, and a compliment too.”
“Oh, yeah?” says this writer.
Many years ago, Schlesinger took care of the box office at the then new Colonial Theater in Chicago when in 1908 it was opened by George Lederer. He kept a book of photos and autographs of the stars who played there over a long period of time, and today that little book is in the top drawer of his desk in the business office of his studio. He took it out for us; there was the signature of John Drew, uncle of John Barrymore; Lina Abarbanell and George Damerel in The Merry Widow. Incidentally Damerel, who played Prince Danilo, has some claim to radio fame today; his wife and daughter are your favorites, Myrt and Marge.
Maclyn Arbuckle, Jimmy McIntyre, of Mclntyre & Heath; Charley Ross of Ross & Penton; Johnny Slavin, then playing with Anna Held; Elsie Ferguson, then in Such a Little Queen; pictures of those, and many others, with their autographs, are in the little book. “One day,” says Schlesinger, “I slipped a pass, made out in Anna Held's handwriting, and in French, into my purse. Here it is,” and there it was, faded and frayed, but treasured in the purse.
Santley and Barrymore
"Joseph Santley, now a Hollywood director, was getting his start in those days, before he went into musical comedy; he was playing in a melodrama, Billy the Kid, as the hero. I remember Jack Barrymore in what I believe was his first stage role; he was in The Dictator with Willie Collier, over at the La Salle Theater. It was a road show; Barrymore was in stock.
“The other day, I met Lottie Williams out at Warner Brothers; in the old days, she was a soubrette in the ten-twenty-thirty houses in Chicago, and had as many as 200 stage door Johnnies awaiting outside to see her come out. She's 60 now; she gets $50 a week on her stock contract at Warners now. She's lucky to be taken care of that way.
"Bob McIntyre, casting director at United Artists now, and for some years past, used to be in the box office of the old Wall Street Theater in Philadelphia at that time.
“I can remember when The Merry Widow opened in Chicago. The marble foyer of the theater, with its ornamental stairway, was a brilliant spectacle, filled with the cream of Chicago society. A string orchestra played in the foyer, and the first nighters waited, until at 1 o'clock, the string of carriages began arriving to take them home. The Swifts, the Marshall Fields, the Potter Palmers, and all the rest were there. The celebrated Everleigh Sisters were regular patterns of our theater, they always bought three seats, two to sit in, and a third for their hats. Chicago at that time was a very colorful city; we used to have the yearly Follies come on from New York, along with all the other good things of the theater that made history.
Twenty Years in Films
“In 1917 I found myself entering the film business. I was a picture salesman for the old Metro Company. Later I managed a de luxe movie house in New York; in 1922 I came to Hollywood to sell raw stock to the studios which I did for two years. Then I bought the Pacific Title and Arts Studio which in the silent days Blade those printed titles; we still do a good business.
“In 1930 Jack Warner came to me and asked me to take charge of some experimental pictures along the animated cartoon line; the first one I made was a burlesque of a hit number in the first Gold Diggers film, Singing in the Bathtub, and it was a hit and I made twelve more.
“Later I developed the technicolor end of it for one cartoon series, known as Merrie Melodies; they have been running for six years now. Our Looney Tunes had their seventh birthday this year. Our yearly output is now 34 cartoon shorts, eighteen Merrie Melodies and sixteen Looney Tunes. Our newest screen character whom we intend to build for stardom is Porky Pig.”
A tour of the Schlesinger plant shows a very busy bunch of cartoonists giving their brain children an airing on paper, for the approval of the boss. Story conferences are held, just as in a regular studio, but plot must be worked out with a series of arresting sketches, instead of with words. Then there are the animators, who supply the in-between pictures between the high spots of action.
Calculations Meticulous
Twenty-four pictures must be made for one seconds screen release. Accompanying sound effects and music must be keyed to a carefully made chart, in which action is indicated, worked out in beats, just as music. For instance, it may take fifteen beats on the key for Porky Pig to turn around. I may be less than a second on the screen. Sounds and music must be calculated to conform. It may look very breezy and amusing on the screen but it's meticulously calculated in the studio laboratories.
Backgrounds are traced and finally painted on huge celluloid sheets. On these drawings of characters are imposed, also drawn on celluloid sheets. Not more than five layers of such superimposed characters can be photographed. They are all keyed together by holes at the top of the sheets. When the lineup is complete, the camera, operating on a lever that raises and lowers it, photographs these sketches. Roughly, 11,000 such sketches are used for three minutes on the screen.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Sir Mix-It-Up-A-Lot-With-A-Dragon

Perhaps it’s best that “One Droopy Knight” didn’t win the Oscar. After all, who would have accepted it? The awards were handed out in March 1958, months after MGM shut down its cartoon studio.

Many of the gags are lifted from earlier, Tex Avery Droopy cartoons (Homer Brightman got the story credit). Here’s a collision gag with an Avery-like “break into pieces” ending. Director Mike Lah and layout artist Ed Benedict gave the dragon some good expressions through the cartoon. Note when the impact happens, the background changes to coloured cards.

Herman Cohen, Irv Spence, Ken Southworth and Bill Schipek were given the animation credits. Bill Thompson supplies all the voices, except the woman’s scream which likely came from the studio’s effects reels.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Snafu Head Outlines

Snafu hears Technical Fairy (First Class) tell him to hide from the Nazis by getting into the shadow in “A Lecture on Camouflage” (1944). Note how his ear grows to hear the instruction.

Snafu’s still a little confused from a hard landing on the ground, thanks to the bad guys. I like how outlines of his head sprout up and weave around to show how dazed he is.

This Screen Magazine short from the Chuck Jones unit is probably more famous for its mermaid breasts at the end than anything else.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A Night With Fred Allen

A while ago, we posted an article from PM from a reporter who attended a broadcast of the Jack Benny radio show. Today, we do the same thing, only the subject is Benny’s mock adversary, Fred Allen.

This appeared in PM on April 28, 1948. Leo the Lip had guested on the second half of Allen’s show on April 25th.

Man Has Fun at Allen Broadcast
By John McNulty

Excuse me for crowding, Seymour Peck, radio editor, but Al Durante, over at the J. Walter Thompson ad agency, sent me a couple of tickets to see and hear the Fred Allen broadcast last Sunday night, the night Leo Durocher from Brooklyn was on, and it was great fun I'd like to tell about.
Since Mr. Sullivan from Boston (Fred Allen, that is) was trouping along the vaudeville trail, I've been hammering my way into theaters to see him. At the Colonial, in Lawrence, Mass., for example, or the Keith-Albee, in Columbus, O. (Burns O'Sullivan, mgr.) and along with Ed Wynn and James Durante, he is one of the three top funny-men of the world. Sunday night, I learned that the 15 minutes he does in the studio, before the show goes on the air, are at least 50 per cent more comical than the half hour that goes out to a jillion listeners from 8:30 to 9 o'clock.
And the half-hour that goes out is plenty good, plenty funny. Yet in the prior 15 minutes, Allen is not cramped, tethered, hog-tied, and straitjacketed by the needs, real or imaginary, of radio. The comedy of the 15 minutes in the studio is seven furlongs higher in intelligence, fantasy, sleekness, and niftiness than the stuff that goes out on the air.
"Vice-presidents of radio," Allen said during Sunday's 15-minute prologue to the ether (this was before he went under the ether, as the saying goes) "are men who do not know what their jobs are. By the time they learn what their jobs are, they are no longer with the organization.
(Gor! I'm garbling this thing up, but when the great Fred Allen is out there doing his stuff, no man of sense is wasting his time by trying to take notes. To heck with the notes!)
"The word 'heck'," said Allen, "was invented by the National Broadcasting Company. The National Broadcasting Company denies the existence of hell and the Columbia Broadcasting System—although not necessarily in that order."
(That remark, also, was only for us privileged handful in the studio. Too amusing for the general public.)
Allen began talking about the way thousands troop through, and wander aimlessly through, the RCA building, including hundreds of people from New Jersey. "Lately," he said, "these wanderers have taken to dropping into offices in the building and giving orders to vice-presidents. Still more lately, however, this situation has been equalized a little, because now, at stated intervals during the day, the vice-presidents are allowed to go out on the street and give orders to people who happen to be passing by. It's doing the vice-presidents the world of good, getting them out in the open air. Brings the bloom of health to their faces. One vice-president, I noticed, has only one rosy cheek. He hasn't been outside quite enough to take care of both cheeks, but all in good time, all in good time."
Maybe these samples don't stand up so well in print, but they're vastly funnier than what goes out on the air, and, I repeat, what goes out on the air from a Fred Allen show is still the funniest stuff in radio.
Mr. Durocher, or Labial Leo, was an amazingly calm and deft mike performer, too. He'd just lost a ball game, but you'd never know it watching him do his stuff Sunday night.
The Dodger manager seemed as much at home before the microphone as was Minerva Pious, that wonderful Mrs. Nussbaum. Only complaint I have against him is that he went sartorially a trifle into the territory of Harry Balogh, the Madison Square Garden fight-announcer. For years, as Daniel Fosdick Parker (Balogh's creator) has stated, Balogh has been the city's best handkerchief-display man. That is, he has been able to show more, and whiter, handkerchiefs from the breast-pocket of his jacket than anybody else in town. Also, he is noted as the only man who can make a handkerchief display five distinct points, as it sticks out from the pocket. It's some trick of folding the thing, a trick only Balogh knows. Well, sir, Durocher out-did Balogh for the broadcast. The amount of handkerchief sticking out of the Durocher breast-pocket would have covered third base, and that might not be a bad idea. I thought it ever-so-slightly flamboyant. That's quibbling, I fear, but I've got to put the knock on something, the whole rest of the column is praise, always an unpopular thing with readers.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Running Atom

Atom the dog spots (with night-time vision) a scrounging cat near the start of Tex Avery’s great “King Size Canary.”

He gets ready.

There’s a unique sequence of drawings as Atom runs toward the cat. Here are the first seven of them. It’s tough to see here, but Atom leaps up and stretches out, almost lands flat on his head with his body on top, then leaps to run again.

Whoever the animator was didn’t re-use drawings, the second leap and run are similar but not the same.

Bob Bentley, Ray Abrams and Walt Clinton get the animation credits.

How long did it take this cartoon to be released? Variety reported on October 23, 1945 that Scott Bradley had been assigned to write the score for it and “Lonesome Lenny.” It was released December 6, 1947.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Hidden Jones and Freleng

Friz Freleng’s “All Abir-r-r-d” doesn’t just have references to staff members in the opening (see this post) but during the baggage car scenes.

Here’s a parcel sent by Mel Blanc to “Fred Fraling.” I can only imagine the variety of ways people mispronounced Friz Freleng’s name. The cartoon studio was at 1351 North Van Ness.

Here’s a crate for another resident of 1351 N. Van Ness—one C. Martin Jones. I suspect you know which cartoon director he is.

The trunk is on its way to Friz Freleng of Pratt Falls, Wisconsin. There may not be a Pratt Falls, but there is a Hawley Pratt who laid out this cartoon.

The label on the green case reads “Tedd Pierce.” Pierce wrote the cartoon. The rest of the label isn’t very readable but it says “Low” and “Nevada.” I presume it’s a Las Vegas/Low Wages gag. I can’t read the label on the red hat box.

“Anyone can ? this one for free”.

Gower Gulch was the nickname of the area at Gower and Sunset, not all that far from the Warner Bros. cartoon studio. At one time, it’s where cowboys hung out to get work as extras in silent westerns.

The inside jokes are again from the brush of background artist Paul Julian.