Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hello, I Wish to Report a Jerry Beck Sighting

Is anyone reading this near Hunt Valley, Maryland? How would you like to go to Hunt Valley, Maryland? There’s a reason you should. It’s the home of this year’s



Reader Roger Scales sent me a note about it. The convention features a whole bunch of women who showed off their breasts on the big screen in the ‘60s. But that isn’t why you want to go. You want to go to see their:

GUEST OF HONOR
JERRY BECK



Sayeth the news release in my inbox:
If you bought the POPEYE, THE SAILOR, WOODY WOODPECKER or LOONEY TUNES cartoon DVDs, you probably heard Beck supplying audio commentary. Early in his career, Beck collaborated with film historian Leonard Maltin on his book OF MICE AND MAGIC (1980), organized animation festivals in Los Angeles, and was instrumental in founding the international publication ANIMATION MAGAZINE. Jerry is among the guest of honors at this year's convention and will be providing a fascinating history of BETTY BOOP and another on POPEYE, THE SAILOR, at the convention this September. Bring your books and DVDs and ask Jerry to sign them for you! Jerry also has a superb blog found here
You can see breasts any time, right? Just look them up on the internet, or go to the beach if you want to ogle some in person. But how many times, dear readers near Hunt Valley, Maryland, can you see Jerry Beck?

The event is September 17 to 19, at the Hunt Valley Wyndham, Maryland. And although the news release I got involves the aforementioned ‘60s cult film actresses, who I bet will have some great stories about their careers, I have just checked out the convention’s web site and see the guest star list includes Angela Cartwright, Jon Provost and Lee Majors. And Terry Moore. What? Seminars on Al Jolson and KNX disc jockey Bob Crane (I believe he was in a TV show, too. Something about a POW camp). And David Pollock will be there to talk about Bob and Ray!?! This looks like a really fun event. The convention has a Facebook page and their web site is HERE.

Warning: Beware of imposters engaging in Jerry Beck cosplay.

Chasing a King-Size Canary

Who has time to open doors or go through windows when you’re a gigantic cat chasing a king-sized canary? That was Tex Avery’s philosophy in “King-Size Canary.” The chase inside the house goes so quickly, Avery accommodates it simply by changing the background during the chase.



Johnny Johnson was the background artist.

Monday, 27 July 2015

He's 75

Confidentally...



...I am a wabbit.

The internet loves celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, deathiversaries, to the point of overkill. So it is with some trepidation that we join the huge throng of fans marking the 75th anniversary of the official release date of the first Bugs Bunny cartoon, “A Wild Hare.” The short could very well have been in theatres before then. And then there’s the argument that the Hardaway Hare of the late ‘30s was marketed as Bugs Bunny. Regardless, Bugs became Warner Bros.’ number-one animated star (and, arguably, cartoon-dom’s). His image started appearing in trade ads in September 1940 (the one to the right is from 1941). Trade papers reported Leon Schlesinger was rushing “Elmer’s Pet Rabbit” through production and had four other Bugs cartoons in development. Bugs eventually got his own series of “Bugs Bunny Specials,” though title animation on the cartoons themselves placed them with the rest of the Merrie Melodies.

Bugs’ exposure hit new heights in 1956 when Associated Artists Productions bought the TV rights to a pile of pre-1948 Warners cartoons and put the wabbit in practically every American home where a child could control the channel knob (the deal was signed March 1st between Warners and PRM, Inc., a shell company of AAP).



In keeping with 1940 practice, credits on “A Wild Hare” are sparce (but are now happily restored and available for all to see). Virgil Ross received the only animation credit, but experts today know that Bob McKimson and Sid Sutherland were among the artists under Avery’s eye at the time. Johnny Johnsen, who joined Avery at MGM, handled the backgrounds with nary a mention. And while at this point the studio didn’t give voice credits, C.E. Butterfield’s radio column published by the Associated Press dated September 17, 1940 reveals that “two of Al Pearce’s gang provided voices—Arthur Q. Bryan for the hunter and Mel Blanc for the hare.”

There are certainly greater Bugs Bunny cartoons than this one, but the relationship between Bugs and Elmer Fudd was instantly solidified by Avery and Hogan, providing a solid base to be adapted and parodied for years to come.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

An Unglamorous Night With Jack Benny

We think of show biz as a glamorous endeavour—appreciative fans, wealth raining down as one has fun and gets paid for it. But there’s another side. The tedium of touring. Long hours. And things not quite going the way they should.

Michael Kernan of the Washington Post covered one of Jack’s many concerts. The story is, to me, a sad one. While there’s laughter, there doesn’t appear to be joy. Jack put up with an awful lot of crap. Was it atypical? I suppose we’ll never really know. Jack again (as he did in a number of interviews around this time) practically writes off his radio career. And his manager, Irving Fein, reveals the real reason why Jack toured—he needed the money. It seems improbable, but (to quote Rochester) that’s what the man said, that’s what he said, he said that.

The Post ran the story on July 27, 1969. It was syndicated in other papers afterward.

What else do you get out of life?
By Michael Kernan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—This is Middlesville, Flatland, a true midwestern city with a feeling of prairie and elbow room, where lonesome tall buildings stick up against the horizon like grain elevators, and near downtown on Meridian St. there are two-story Victorian houses with lawns, and where parking costs 25 cents an hour. The event of the year is an automobile race, and the people in the hotel lobbies are slickly urban, but the ones out on the sidewalk have thick ears and heavy faces and friendly, unwondering eyes, and what in the world is a 75-year-old millionaire like Jack Benny doing at an open-air theater for a whole week in a place like this?
For that matter, what possesses him to take on a schedule that will bring him to the Shady Grove, Md., Music Theater for five days, followed by seven days in Warwick, R.I.; a week in Buffalo, N.Y.; a one-night stand in Aspen, Colo., for a charity concert; a week in Honolulu; a three-day home visit to tape a TV program; a quick trip to New York to do a special, and a return engagement in Las Vegas, where he just finished doing 28 shows in two weeks?
The first thing the comedian did in Indianapolis after he had unpacked at Stouffer’s Inn was to go to a party, and after that broke up at 2:30 a.m., he alternately napped and watched the moon walk reruns until 9.
A press conference was set for 10:30 a.m. in an annex to the Penthouse restaurant overlooking the city — from Lincoln Chiropractic College to Monument Circle — beneath a gray sky.
“Hello,” he said, striding in and shaking hands all around. “Hello, hello.” His voice was lower than one remembered. He faced an arc of TV cameramen under strong light and made small talk. Somebody presented a large cake with 25 candles and a silver question mark stuck in it, and he blew them all out in six breaths.
“Make a wish,” someone suggested.
“I wish I could eat it,” he said, adding that he has a slight case of diabetes.
THEN he began a series of comments and retorts, batting ‘em out like fungo flies. That canard about his not being able to ad-lib came from one of his better lines (to Fred Allen: “If I had my writers here, you’d never get away with that) and is simply not true.
Discussing his violins—he owns a $35,000 Stradivarius—he was asked “Is it difficult to play lousy?”
“Not for me it isn’t,” he snapped. “I played when I was a kid but didn’t take it up again until 12 years ago. I started to practice again. And after eight months, I had my first concert at Carnegie Hall, which gives you an idea of what kind of guts I got.”
He dropped two saccharine tablets from a silver pillbox into his coffee and talked about his 24 movies and the radio program, which made him an institution, and the TV specials, and how he switched from “Earl Carroll’s Vanities” at $1,500 a week to the unfamiliar new medium of radio with a spot on Ed Sullivan’s old half-hour sports program.
“I don’t like to look back,” he said. “I never was crazy about radio. Some fans always want to go back, but I’m not interested any more. I’m looking ahead to the next stage show. It’s how I keep young.”
They kept him at it for two hours, and then there were two singles with local TV interviewers. “Do you mind, Jack?” one asked. “This lady came all the way from Fort Wayne to interview you.” Benny: “All the way from Fort Wayne? (pause) That’s the greatest compliment I ever had.” Twice they had to change film reels, but Jack showed no irritation.
He told the cameraman, “Don’t catch me here,” touching his throat. Talking quietly to the woman interviewer, his arm around her, he admitted he would like to cut down by half but not retire. He said, “But if I was selling neckties I think I’d retire.”
AT LAST he was allowed to leave. His manager, Irving Fein, huddled with him, saying, “Rehearsal isn't until 2, and you can do yours first.” Then Benny went into the restaurant, where the rest of his party sat around a table, dawdling over lunch. Dressed in beach pants and open-collared shirts in hot colors, tanned and long-maned and somehow vulnerable in their casual flamboyance, they were unmistakably Los Angeles.
Benny’s head writer, Hilliard Marks, was wearing a white bush jacket, light gray slacks and white slippers without socks.
Jack: “What happens now, Hicky, you wanna come with me, see what I should wear.”
Marks: “A tux. Opening night, I think it’s nice.”
Jack: “I think I oughta dress there.”
Marks: “It’s a nice dressing room.”
Jack: “I might as well make-up there.”
It was like one person musing to himself. They walked out, Jack stopping for an autograph at a table of giggling office women. “Well Xerox it,” they said. Heads turned. Conversations died. Jack Benny lives in a world of double-takes.
Driving to rehearsal with Hickey Marks, Jack worked out some new lines on the moon-shot. He would add those, and a few local references, to the basic script, which remains generally the same. Hicky has worked for Jack off and on since 1939, and their exchanges consisted of fragments and tag-lines:
“How about, ‘I got so excited I called Mary and told her to buy a TV set.’ And then, ‘I got tired of watching in front of a store window.’ Chuckles. “No, I got a better one for Bob Hope. “How about something on what the moon looks like? Dean Martin’s liver. Yeah.”
AT THE open-air Starlight Theater they got out and greeted stagehands who glanced up from their hammering and painting and murmured off-hand greetings. The gray sky looked more threatening than ever. “Why, damn it,” said Jack, “they still haven’t got a cover on the stage.” He stalked to the front of the stage and gazed out over the seats. Three years ago he opened there in pouring rain before a packed house of 4,000, and his opening line, as he stood before the mike in raincoat and umbrella, was, “Anybody else in the world would have returned your money.”
After briefly inspecting the dressing room, he returned to the stage and fretted silently, arms folded.
“Why, it’s going to be two hours before we can rehearse,” he said. “You know, you’d think they would have put something over the stage. At least that. A tarpaulin. You could drape something over...”
It turned out that Shani Wallis, the “Oliver” star who was the other part of the show, would not rehearse because she wasn’t feeling well. Furthermore, she would use her own pianist, which would complicate things. As the hammering and sawing went on, Jack strode about with increasing irritation, ordering a standing mike and glancing at the sky. Finally he called Hicky over.
“I’m not going to wait around.” he announced. “It’ll be two hours. The hell with it. I’m going back to the room.”
They had never worked with the house orchestra; there were a lot of new lines; it was opening night. Hicky shrugged.
ON THE way, Jack talked, answering questions easily, but not initiating subjects. Several times he had to have a question repeated. He doesn’t mind the autographs or the gags about money, he insisted, but he stops signing when there are too many. He drinks hardly at all. He doesn’t eat much before show-time but has a big dinner afterward. He doesn’t get jittery, just a little nervous on openers. He smokes cigars, though when one made him cough he threw it away immediately, with apologies to the man who gave it to him.
One question was about his father, Meyer Kubelsky, a Polish immigrant who was a Chicago peddler — a back-pack peddler — before becoming a Waukegan haberdasher, and who bought Jack a $50 violin when the boy was only 6.
“Meyer Kubelsky — what was he like? What do you remember about him?”
But a conversational curtain came down. “Well, you know Jewish fathers,” said Benny. “They all want their kids to be musicians or doctors or lawyers. He died years ago. My mother died very young. She never saw me anywhere, never saw me in concert.”
Silence. A question, repeated. By now he was saying, “Huh?” to every question, abstractedly. “Jack, you’ve got it made, you have plenty of money, you’re 75. Why do you do it? Why do you play the sticks?”
Benny answered, “Why do I do it? It’s fun. What else do you get out of life? It keeps me young.”
IRV FEIN, Benny’s top aide, was asked the “why” question later. His reply was, “He has to. Jack’s got a big nut (theater lingo for overhead), in the hundreds of thousands a year. He has to maintain a staff. He’s been in the 90 per cent tax bracket for years. You can’t work New York all the time. If he could afford it, he’d take a year off and do nothing but charity concerts. Music is his love. He loves it.
“You’re meeting him in the lobby at 7 and the show’s at 8.30. He’ll be early. He’s like a firehouse. Wait’ll you see him come on stage. You think he looks young now.”
At 6:55, Benny was pacing around the suite he shares with Hicky and his son, eating free peanuts (available free at the hotel’s beer-and-oyster tavern). In the adjoining room was a rumpled bed, a silk dressing gown, a pile of magazines, from “Playboy” to “Saturday Review,” the music for Rimsky Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol,” a box of violin rosin and, on the dresser, 12 bottles of pills for colds and sore throat.
“This is not good,” says Hicky said to Jack. “You didn’t eat any lunch. You can’t go all day on breakfast and peanuts. Tomorrow we gotta change this. Tomorrow we do it different.”
Jack pops another peanut. Tilting back his head.
“And the cast party tonight.”
“Let’s go.”
The comedian’s preoccupied air intensifies at the theater as he moves into the dressing room, tunes his Strad with new strings and ripples competently through “The Bee” and a hoedown version of “Sweet Georgia Brown,” scooping outrageously.
Laconic notes written on a file card he before him as he applies the tan pancake. They stand for the order of his routines. The black bowtie which he would have left behind but for Hicky, can’t be made to work, so Jack impatiently jettisons the tux idea and wears a blue suit. He worries if the bald spot at the back of his head is darkened enough.
While Fein checks the house, Jack consults with the conductor, asks for a faster pace. By 8:30 it is still full daylight—Indianapolis had something called double daylight, which advances the clock two hours—and the outdoor theater is nearly full. The rain threat is over.
“One minute,” calls a hand. Jack, Hicky and Irv Fein wait silently together in the wings, heads down, looking separate. Someone says Margaret O’Brien is in the audience.
“Stand by,” murmured the stagehand.
Jack said, “Let’s go.”
The orchestra started a medley, sounding thin in the open air, and slid into “Love in Bloom.” Jack went on. Laughs washed back into the wings. Benny’s voice was weirdly distorted by the backstage speakers. Hicky listened intently unsmiling, and once snaps his fingers. “He forgot it,” he mutters.
WHEN JACK walked off and Shani took over, he let Hicky to talk to him. They agree the audience is too slow, it’s too light for them to concentrate. The Apollo stuff went by too fast, and next time it would be moved along to later in the program.
After the intermission when darkness had fallen at last and the stage lights dominated, Jack pulled the audience along with his regular routines until he could turn the laughs on and off with a glance. At one point he stared, motionless for 90 seconds, as the laughter built steadily, and just as it began to fade he took, off his glasses, wiped them, put them back on and stared some more. The laugh redoubled.
One of his best bits involves Hicky, who comes on as a stagehand and corrects his delivery of a joke. Jack finally reveals Hicky’s identity, adding, “He’s been with me so long because we both have the same type blood.” Later Jack plays the violin (“If it isn’t a Strad, I’m out $110”) and goes into the finish. “It’s really simple to end a show,” he tells the audience. “It’s no trouble at all. You don’t need to end with a big scream. All you do is start your theme song (he begins to play “Love in Bloom”) and — see? (The orchestra joins him.) It’s easy.”
It is delicate, deft and neat and somehow touching, but the Indianapolis audience failed to catch the poignancy and laughed, unmesmerized, and soon after began to bolt.
ABOUT midnight, Jack appeared at the cast party, which one had visualized as an elegant buffet for 30 people or so, but which turned out to be a stampede, a lawn party for 500 with a tent and Japanese lanterns. Nearly everybody else had been there for hours (not having bothered to patronize the show) and was half-plastered. The host, Edward P. Gallagher, 6 feet 6, (“I own seven insurance companies but I made my money digging oil”), introduced Jack to some guests. Benny made the rounds slowly as people, including a few Negro servants, diffidently came up to him.
It was 12:40 a.m. before Jack got something to eat. He sat with his group around a table, and the guests reached in over shoulders to shake his hand Dinner was salad and some kind of bland Midwestern lasagna.
Aside: “Is there anything else to eat but this?”
Told that there wasn’t, Jack lets his plate be filled a second time.
A half hour later he was sitting at another table talking to three pretty girls. He wasn’t saying much, and in fact the girls talked to him more than he talked to them. But they were an audience.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Oona Who?

Charlie the Tuna you’ve probably heard of. But what about that other salesman cartoon character, Oona O’Tuna?

Oona wasn’t a fish. She was a fish boat captain. And she came from imagination of an animator whose name you should recognise—Alex Anderson.

Anderson teamed with a real estate agent named Jay Ward to create Crusader Rabbit, the first real made-for-television animated series. He was a fount of ideas, and among them were early versions of a certain moose and squirrel that Ward rode to fame with his own production company. Anderson, though, faded away from Rocky and Bullwinkle before they appeared on television in 1959. Anderson and Ward were both from the Bay area, their original studio was set up in San Francisco, and that’s where Anderson elected to stay. He went into agency work and was a vice president of Guild, Bascom and Bonfigli in 1958 when Breast-O’-Chicken, Inc. came to the company with the idea of a series of animated/live action ads.

Considering the competition for business from firms in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, it’s a little surprising that G, B and B would win a national account. Sponsor magazine of May 3, 1958 reported Breast-O’-Chicken sunk $1,000,000 into the Oona account. Sponsor reveals:
Hers is an adventuresome life, with a recurrent challenge: to get her boat loads of freshly-caught tuna back to the packing plant on a tight time deadline. How she overcomes a long list of obstacles to insure fresh delivery provides a continuing theme for the company's commercials. ...
The campaign, which began last fall and has been building momentum since, will reach its peak this month when all media will get heavy play. Oona O’Tuna set sail last September on KCOP, Los Angeles, with 90-second spots, combining animation and live action.
There were plenty of excellent commercial animation houses in Los Angeles but who needed them when you had Paul Terry’s nephew as your agency’s vice-president?
To launch the cartoon tuna fleet Alex Anderson, GB&B vice-president, drew eight animated episodes. The live action segments were produced by Telepix Corp., Los Angeles, under the supervision of Karl Gruener, head of radio and tv production for GB&B in Los Angeles.
Poor Oona doesn’t appear to have lasted very long. She appeared in newspaper ads, but I can’t find any past 1958. As for her animated commercials, they must be out there somewhere. For now, you’ll have to get an idea of the art style from these screen shots taken from a murky scan of Sponsor. Aliens were still big in 1958.



When Oona aired, Anderson was already an award winner. The Art Directors Club of New York handed Anderson and the other principals in G, B & B a medal in the limited animation category in 1955 for a Skippy Peanut Butter spot. The Art Directors honoured Anderson in 1960 for a Rival Dog Food commercial animated by John Marshall at Pantomine Pictures in Los Angeles.

Keith Scott’s book, The Moose That Roared, reported Anderson contributed on rare occasion to Jay Ward’s studio once Rocky appeared on TV, but he more or less stuck with agency work. Anderson’s conceptual work on the Rocky and Bullwinkle characters was practically unknown until he won a court settlement after Ward’s death involving the characters. And an interesting coincidence may have sprung to your mind that several years later, Ward had his own animated sea-going captain in commercials. Unfortunately for Anderson, Oona didn’t plug cereal and is long forgotten, while Ward’s Cap’n Crunch is still sailing on.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Paul Julian Rides Again

“Bugs Bunny Rides Again” is about as perfect a cartoon as Friz Freleng ever made. It’s packed with funny scenes and dialogue from start to finish.

Here are some of Paul Julian’s backgrounds. What a shame the full, long paintings don’t exist any more. There’s a beautiful interior of the saloon that’s quickly panned (the frame with the piano below part of it) I’d love to study.



Is that “Slosburg Harness”? Any idea who’s being referenced? How about Josiah Cheever?



P.J. (Paul Julian) to the left of Bugs. Mike Maltese, 1370, Friz Freleng and Tedd Pierce to the right. 1370? Virgil Ross is the animator.



This town ain’t big enough for the two of us! It ain’t?



Now is it big enough?



Ken Champin reference.



Hawley Pratt (feed), Bill Melendez (bulqueria) and Gerry Chiniquy (blacksmith) references. Sam’s expression as he dances off, stage right, is an all-time classic.



Manny Perez doesn’t rate a background reference. Neither does Virgil, it seems.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Pepper Makes Him Sneeze, You Say?

Was there even one cartoon studio which didn’t use the pepper/sneeze gag? (Besides maybe UPA). It goes back at least as far as “Felix Gets Broadcasted” (1923). Here’s an MGM version of the old routine in “Sufferin’ Cats” (released in 1942).



The layout in the last frame is unique. I wonder if Harvey Eisenberg is responsible.

Receiving animation credits are Ken Muse, Jack Zander, Pete Burness and George Gordon.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Don't Talk About Toscanini

The most baffling censorship demands were forced on Fred Allen. He related once how he was banned from using a certain phoney name on the air unless he could prove someone with that name didn’t exist.

NBC also told him not to refer on the air to Arturo Toscanini, who led the network’s symphony orchestra starting in 1937. Why? Perhaps the Maestro didn’t have a sense of humour about himself. Nevertheless, Allen was told Toscanini jokes were out. I’m sure you can guess Fred’s reaction.

Well, you don’t have to. Here’s a Chicago Tribune column from November 20, 1938 explaining what happened before an Allen broadcast.

FUNNY TO HEAR, ALLEN SHOW IS FUNNIER TO SEE
Jester Saves Best Stuff for Studio Crowd.

BY LARRY WOLTERS.

When television comes the Fred Allen show ought to be even more fun for listeners. A goods show aurally, it is still better visually. It is funny from the moment you enter the big 1,200 sent studio until Fred has finished off with the last autograph seeker.
Before the show goes on early arrivers get laughs out of watching the page boys struggling to keep the reserved seats unoccupied. A little section is kept open for Fred and Portland's relatives and friends and for a few others favored by NBC.
New Yorkers put up a strong fight to get into those seats. But NBC attendants, sturdy fellows, fight back. They don't manage to save all the seats they intended to. But they do succeed in keeping a row for Portland's mother and sister, Lastone. Papa Hoffa, you remember, named his daughters for the cities in which they born, and the final one he called Last One. She changed it to Lastone. The family pronounces it "lastun."
Portland Gives Attention.
Portland, sitting on the stage before Fred makes his appearance, definitely maintains the attitude of the most interested spectator. And throughout the performance she hangs on every word Fred utters. And the laughter appears to be the spontaneous.
A minute or two before air time Harry Von Zell warms up the audience with a few jokes. Then he spies Fred sitting below in the audience, invited him to come up and address the audience.
Fred saves his wittiest cracks for the studio audience. Perhaps he has to. Many of them NBC's blue pencil department might otherwise scratch.
The network bosses do not like jokes about Toscanini. So Allen puts the maestro at the head of his list for joke material.
"You will notice," he explained the night we saw his show, "that all the page boys are in stocking feet tonight. Toscanini opens here next Saturday and all the boys with a squeak in their shoes higher than E flat have had to turn them in to have them tuned."
Says What He Pleases.
The sharpest blue pencil in Radio City cannot eliminate all of Allen's salty cracks because he doesn't set them down on paper. Given a continuity labeled "last revision" will not go on the air as it is written. When Fred gets to the microphone he will say what pops into his head at the moment. Or perhaps it is what he intended to say all the time.
That must have been the case the other evening when he interviewed an NBC studio guide. He asked the chap what the various colored uniforms the page boys wear signify. One type of braid indicates television guides, another the lads who conduct tours, and so on, the youth explained.
"And the vice-presidents, I suppose, wear mess jackets," Fred interrupted, "to indicate the state their minds are in!"
When Fred presents his weekly guests whom he calls "people you never expected to meet" they also meet a person they never expected to meet—Fred Allen. For Fred at the microphone is a different fellow than he was in rehersal [sic]. During rehersal he is meek enough but on the air he can't resist being a bad boy. His kidding invariably gets him a long way from the text.
Relies on Uncle Jim.
And that is where Uncle Jim Harkins, Allen's assistant of many years, comes in. As Allen ad libs and the guest flounders hopelessly through the pages of the script wondering how they will get back into it, Uncle Jim stands beside them giving help and counsel. He puts his finger on the script at the point he deems best to reenter it. And if the guest becomes flustered Allen ad libs further to ease the situation.
Fred has his uncomfortable moments, too. An inveterate tobacco chewer, his pained expressions are believed to be due to the fact that NBC will permit him no receptacle to get relief from his cud. When there is a break in the program for music Fred sometimes sneaks out back behind a screen. And he looks happier when he comes back.
In every broadcast there are bound to be dull moments for the studio audience. Fred does his best to brighten these.
For instance, when Von Zell interrupts the program so that station announcements may be made across the country, Alien steps to the front of the platform and informs the studio audience, "This is the point where we ask Hitler whether we can go on with the program."
A Hard Worker.
Fred probably works harder on his show than any other of radio's major comedians. With the exception of Friday, which is his day off, and on Sunday morning when he and Portland go to church, he spends almost the entire week working on Town Hall scripts, his associates say. The Allens seldom go out or entertain. They live in a two room apartment in a modest hotel near Radio City.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Frankie! (East Coast Version)

Here’s a wonderful pan shot (thanks to Nick Richie for snipping it together) from the opening of “Swooning the Swooners,” a 1945 Terrytoon take on the Frank Sinatra craze by Bobby Soxers that also made up the plots of cartoons at Warner Bros. and MGM.



Farmer Al Falfa tries bashing his radio with a broom to stop it from broadcasting the Sinatra cat from crooning into his home. The third time around, the uncredited animator adds lines and multiples of the good farmer to enhance the speed of the broom-bashing.



The cartoon’s not in the same ballpark as Frank Tashlin’s “Swooner Crooner” or Tex Avery’s “Li’l ‘Tinker” (floating seems to be a gag that doesn’t really build to anything). John Foster gets the mandatory story credit with Connie Rasinski directing.