Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Eyes of a Hound Dog

The McKimson dog can’t figure out why his dog house is moving like a railroad car in “Walky Talky Hawky,” the first Foghorn Leghorn cartoon.



He looks outside, then gets a mirror to see what’s underneath his doghouse. Cut to Henery Hawk carrying it.



Here’s the dog’s “my goodness!” take. It’s animated on twos.



Don Williams drew duplicate vertical eyes like this in other cartoons. According to Jerry Beck and Will Friedwald’s Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, he animated on this Oscar nominee, along with Cal Dalton and Dick Bickenbach.

Monday, 20 April 2015

One Cab’s Family Background

We suspect One Cab’s Family wished there had been disposal diapers in 1952. Witness the cab family’s backyard as rendered by Johnny Johnsen. Note the TV antenna on the garage roof.



Daws Butler and June Foray supply the voices in this Tex Avery cartoon. I think the baby cries were from Jim Faris’ library.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Read-io With Jack Benny

The following is self-explanatory. It comes from the pages of the Radio Mirror of September 1938 (which went on sale toward the end of July). The magazine’s staff has stitched together dialogue from the 1937-38 season of the Jack Benny radio show to make a new “broadcast.” Coincidentally, a number of years later, Benny’s own staff would re-work old shows—sometimes with the dialogue from previous writers lifted verbatim—and turn them into new ones. The Mirror concocted the same thing for the Benny show twice in 1937; you can read the posts on the blog in February and March.

The second part of this “script” uses material from February 20 and 27, 1938 when the show broadcast a spoof entitled “Submarine D 1½.” Not all the dialogue was incorporated into this phoney broadcast; there was a whole scene with Schlepperman that’s not here. The dialogue from the show of the 27th begins when Don Wilson talks about the sub slowing down. On the actual broadcast, the phone caller is played by Blanche Stewart and the diver is Harry Baldwin, Jack’s personal secretary who spent several seasons on the air each week knocking on a door and interrupting the dialogue.

The part about Phil catching a blonde and Mary reading a French poem is taken from the season opener show of October 3, 1937.

We can only presume the folks at the Mirror were given the scripts. Most of them still survive today; Benny had copies bound at kept them in his home.

This would have been a treat for fans. There was no such thing as reruns back then. If someone missed a broadcast or wanted to hear it again, they were out of luck. This was likely an acceptable substitute. The photos accompanied the article; Phil Harris and Eddie Anderson apparently didn’t rate one.

A NEW JACK BENNY “VACATION BROADCAST.”
You don’t have to stop laughing just because you can’t hear your favorite comedian’s jokes. You can read ‘em!


BECAUSE the only thing wrong with summer, for several million people, is that you can't hear Jack Benny then, Radio Mirror this year repeats a custom which it inaugurated in 1937 and prints a special Benny “vacation” Readio-Broadcast.
You can't listen to Jack, Mary, Don Wilson, Kenny Baker, Phil Harris and Andy Devine on the air — but read this and you'll find that you're hearing them in your “mind's ear.” Thanks are due to Jack and his sponsors, the makers of Jell-O, who gave Radio Mirror permission to recreate this special broadcast from material which Jack put on the air during the last season.
It's Sunday evening — a hot, midsummer Sunday evening. And though the Jell-O troupe is officially on a vacation, here they are, nevertheless:

DON WILSON: Now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man with a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face, and a toupee on his head . . . Jack Benny! JACK: Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking. And thanks very much, Don, for that introduction — although you shouldn't mention my accessories. By the way, is my toupee on straight?
DON: Why, yes — what makes you ask?
JACK: Well, one ear seems to be warmer than the other.
DON: It looks all right to me.
JACK: Now, Don, you know I don't wear a toupee.
DON: Of course not, Jack, I just wanted to let people know that you need one.
JACK: Oh well, then — I forgive you. . . . I tell you, Don, it's fun to be here for this vacation broadcast — I didn't know how much I'd miss all the gang. DON: Me too, Jack.
JACK: I was going to spend the summer in Honolulu, but I got too lonesome. Where did you go, Phil?
PHIL HARRIS: Oh, I went down to Texas on a little fishing trip.
JACK: Fishing, eh? Have any luck?
PHIL: Swell — I caught a hundred-and-ten-pound blonde in Galveston.
JACK: Well! Those are rare too, aren't they?
PHIL: Yeah. But her father was the game warden so I had to throw her back.
JACK: That's too bad.
PHIL: So you didn't like Honolulu, Jack?
JACK: Naw. I went with my uncle. He's a swell fellow but he drinks a lot.
PHIL: Well, at least you had company — somebody to talk to, I mean.
JACK: Oh, sure — if you can understand hiccoughs.
PHIL: Where's Mary? I hear she ran over to Paris for a few days.
JACK: Yes — she just got back yesterday — and here she is now.
MARY: (And what a French accent!) Bon jure, messeers, ka-mon tally-voo say-swar?
JACK: Hello, Mary!
MARY: Marie to you guys.
JACK: Cut it out, Mary, you're home now.
MARY: Yes, and I've brought every one of you a present — from Paris.
PHIL: You did?
DON: What is it, Mary?
MARY: Perfume.
JACK: (In disgust) Perfume!
PHIL: Just what we needed.
JACK: Speak for yourself, Harris.
MARY: Come here, Don — here's your bottle. It's called "A Kiss in the Dark."
DON: Thanks, Mary.
MARY: And here's yours, Phil — it's called "Love's Gardenia."
PHIL: Well!
JACK: Mm, quite romantic. What's mine, Mary?
MARY: "Dracula's Dream."
JACK: That's a fine name for a perfume.
MARY: It also kills ants. . . . And I've brought back a present for our audience too.
JACK: Fine! What is it?
MARY: A poem — and I'm going to read it now. Ahem!
I've just returned from dear old Paris,
Where life is gay and there no care is.
Some call it Paris, some Paree —
Now which is right, I'm up a tree.
With your good old Eiffel Tower,
Where friends you meet and say bon jower,
And people poor and people rich
Ride across your London Britch —
JACK: Mary! London Bridge is in London!
MARY: Well, I was there too.
JACK: Oh!
MARY: I adore you, Paris, France,
Where girls buy hats and men buy pants.
And taxicabs they have a rattle —
The drivers look but do not tattle.
Your onion soup is so delish,
It puts you in a swell condish.
And the whole world shouts hurrah
For your patty fooey grah.
JACK: It's pate de foie gras, Mary,
MARY: It's fooey — I didn't like it.
Your waiters with their fine behavyurs
Serve the six delicious flavyurs —
Ze strawberry, ze raspberry, ze cherry, orange, too,
Ze lemon and ze lime, and ze keskay voo-le-voo!
Jack: Hey, Harris!
PHIL: What?
JACK: See-voo-play, Phil!
(And Phil does, just in the nick of time to drown out Mary as she starts on the second verse — which is much verse.)
JACK: That was "Love Walked In," played by Phil Harris and his orchestra. And, Phil, it really sounded swell.
PHIL: You think that's something? Wait until we learn it!
KENNY BAKER: Hello, folks.
JACK: Oh, hello, Kenny — did you just get here?
KENNY: Yeah. I'm sorry I'm a little late, but I was over in the next studio talking to Charlie McCarthy.
JACK: Oh, was Edgar Bergen there too?
KENNY: No, just Charlie and me. . . . And he's dumb.
JACK: Well, he's supposed to be— he's a dummy.
KENNY: Oh, say, Jack, if you think I'm bad, Edgar Bergen came over later and boy — is he all mixed up!
JACK: Why, what happened?
KENNY: He asked Charlie to sing, and put me in a suitcase.
JACK: Can you imagine that, Mary? Edgar Bergen thought Kenny was Charlie McCarthy. If he can't tell 'em apart, who can?
KENNY: Gee, I don't know. Say, Jack, did you drive down in that old Maxwell of yours?
JACK: I certainly did. And I didn't have any trouble at all. Did I, Mary?
MARY: Not with me, you didn't.
JACK: I'm talking about the car.
MARY: What about that flat tire you had?
JACK: Flat tire? Say, you could hardly feel it. Anyway, my tires are awfully thin.
DON: A puncture, eh? How did it happen?
MARY: Jack ran over a marshmallow.
JACK: Well, no wonder — it was toasted. You forgot to mention that. And of course you'd never mention what swell time we made. I even got a ticket for speeding.
MARY: Yeah, right next to a fire plug. (She giggles.) Jack, shall I tell ‘em what else happened?
JACK: Oh, not now, Mary — we've got a show to do.
KENNY: Come on, Mary — tell us about it.
MARY: Well—
JACK: Mary!
MARY: Oh, what's the difference? We were driving along Wilshire Boulevard, and there was a great big truck right in front of us —
JACK (in anguish): Mary!
MARY: And all of a sudden the truck backfired.
DON: And what happened?
MARY: Jack's motor dropped out.
JACK: Well, that could happen to anyone. Anyway, there's one thing about my car — it never backfires.
PHIL: It wouldn't dare to.
MARY: And how about that bicycle that passed us?
PHIL: No kidding, Jack, did a bicycle really pass you?
JACK: Well, what of it? It was a brand-new 1938 model.
MARY: Boy, was Jack mad!
JACK: I wasn't mad when he passed me. What burned me up was when he started doing those figure eights around my car. He was a regular Sonja Henie on wheels. (The phone rings.)
MARY: Hello.
ANDY DEVINE (on the phone): Hello, Mary. Can I speak to Buck?
MARY: Sure, Andy. Here, Jack; it's the Voice of Experience.
JACK: Oh, Andy! What's the matter — why aren't you down here?
ANDY: Well, you see, Buck, I got a cold.
JACK: That's too bad. Haven't you done anything for it?
ANDY: Well, Maw put a mustard plaster on my chest, an icebag on my head and a hot-water bottle on my back. Now I look like a one-man band.
JACK: Glad you're taking care of yourself, Andy? Say, where are you — in bed?
ANDY: No, I'm talking to you from the barn.
JACK: The barn? How come there's a telephone in the barn?
ANDY: My bull's got a girl friend in Pomona.
JACK: Oh! Well, Andy, I don't think you ought to be in the barn with a cold. Haven't you a nurse?
ANDY: Yes, sir! And you oughtta see her, Buck. She's a humdinger.
JACK: Oh, yeah? Where is she?
ANDY: In the house with Paw.
JACK: She is, eh? Where's your Maw?
ANDY: She's out on the sidewalk, picketin'.
JACK: That cold of yours certainly has complications. I wish you were here, Andy. We're going to do our version of that thrilling Warner Brothers movie, Submarine D-1, and I had a big part all picked out for you.
ANDY: Aw, gee, Buck, can't I do it over the phone?
JACK: Come to think of it, I guess you could. Just hang on and come in when you're needed. Okay, men, let's get started. I'll play the part of Butch O'Benny, Chief Petty Officer, as portrayed by Pat O'Brien of the screen — as tough a sailor as ever choked on a seasick pill. . . . The members of my crew will be Sock Harris, Slim Wilson, and Lucky Baker.
MARY: Am I going to be in this?
JACK: Yes, Mary. Your name is Slug Livingstone. You'll have to be a sailor too.
MARY: Okay, but I'm going to put a screen around my hammock.
JACK: And Rochester will be the cook.
ROCHESTER (suspiciously): Cook for what?
JACK: For our submarine.
ROCHESTER: Is that one of them boats that dunks?
JACK: Yes, it travels far beneath the surface of the ocean.
ROCHESTER: I ain't gonna be on it.
JACK: Now, Rochester, I promised you ten dollars — don't you want to make ten dollars?
ROCHESTER: Not if I have to send a whale to the bank with it.
JACK: Now look, Rochester, it's nothing to worry about. It's only going to last five minutes.
ROCHESTER: I can drown in three.
JACK: Well, it's only a play, so go over in the corner and put on your uniform. . . . Oh, and Andy — I almost forgot. I want you to be the steam whistle. Okay?
ANDY: Sure, I'll take it. I ain't proud.



JACK: And now, folks, for our epic of the sea — Submarine D and One-half. We pick up the submarine off the coast of Panama, cruising forty feet below the surface on its way to San Diego.
PHIL: Hey, Popeye. . . .
JACK: Popeye? Listen, Harris, that's an insult to your superior officer. Step forward and salute.
PHIL: Oh, all right.
JACK: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
PHIL: I'm saluting you.
JACK: Well, unless your nose itches, you're insulting me again. . . . Well, speak up, what's the trouble?
PHIL: Something seems to be wrong. We're slowing down.
JACK: Darn those sharks! They're hitching rides again. . . . Shoo! Shoo! Scat!
MARY: Oh, why don't you let them have a little fun?
JACK: I don't mind them bumming a ride, but I don't want them biting their initials in the rudder. Hey, Rochester, is supper ready?
ROCHESTER: All but the apple pie.
JACK: The apple pie? Where is that?
ROCHESTER: I put it out the window to cool.
JACK: Oh. . . . Well, never mind; we'll be in Panama soon.
DON: Hey Chief, we're slowing down again.
JACK: Now what?
MARY: Slowing down nothing — we've stopped.
JACK: Hey, Harris, what did you stop the boat for?
PHIL: There's a red light against us.
JACK: Red light! Go right through.
PHIL: All right, but pinched, it's your fault.
JACK: Hm, some navigator. . . . Hey, Slug! Where are you going with those curtains?
MARY: I'm gonna hang ‘em over my window. There's been a halibut peeking in all week.
JACK: A halibut peeking in — that's nothing to get upset about.
MARY: Oh, no? Last night he winked at me.
JACK: Aw, you're imagining things.
MARY: I am, eh? Then who sent me those gardenias?
JACK: Now get back to the periscope and keep your eyes open. I don't want any accidents.
DON: Oh, Chief, we just received a radiogram from Admiral McKenzie:
JACK: A radiogram? What does it say, Wilson?
DON: Use extreme caution when entering Panama Canal. The canal is filled with battleships, cruisers and destroyers.
JACK: What, no water? Well, men, we'll have to take a chance. Are you with me?
THE CREW: Aye, aye, Sir.
MARY: Hey, Chief, Chief! There’s a battleship directly ahead and it’s bearing down on us. We’ll be hit for sure.
ROCHESTER: Dawggone, where did I put that rabbit's foot?
JACK: I'll handle this — we've to warn them. Hey, Slug, pull steam whistle.
MARY: Aye, aye, Sir.
ANDY: Whoo whoo!
JACK: Hm, they don't hear us. Pull the whistle again — louder.
MARY: Aye, aye, Sir.
ANDY: Whoo, whoo, and I do mean WHOO!
JACK: They still don't hear us. What are we gonna do?
MARY: You better think fast, Chief.
JACK: I got it — empty main ballast tank! (We hear three bells.) Reverse rear engines! (We hear the three bells again.) Who keeps ringing those bells?
MARY: Jimmie Fidler.
JACK: Hm, six bells — we can't be that good. . . . Harris, I gave you a command to stop. Are you reversing rear engines?
PHIL: I don't know how.
JACK: Then what'll we do?
PHIL: Hold your hats; we're gonna crash.
(There is a terrific noise, splintering, clashing of chains, tearing of metal.)
Jack: Now keep cool, men, I'll handle everything.
DON: But, Chief, we're sinking fast.
JACK: I know we are. What does the gauge say, Rochester?
ROCHESTER (like an elevator operator): Two hundred feet . . . sardines, herring, barracuda and tuna! Goin’ down!
JACK: Look all that salt water pouring in. What'll we do?
KENNY: Let's make some taffy.
ROCHESTER: Three hundred feet. . . . Mackerel, pickerel, whales, sharks and mountain trout! Goin' down!
JACK: The water's getting deeper in here. Hey, Wilson — man the pumps!
DON: We haven't got any.
JACK: Then somebody give me a blotter! (There is a dull thump.)
ROCHESTER: Ground floor. . . . Crabs, oysters, sand, seaweed, and thanks for the memory!
JACK: We've struck bottom! Have courage, men. Are you getting along all right.
PHIL: Now, there's a silly question.
JACK: If we could only make connections with the Naval Base. Gee, the water is up to my waist.
MARY: It's only up to my ankles.
JACK: Where's Kenny?
MARY: I'm standing on him.
JACK: Then who am I standing on?
ROCHESTER: This isn't a hat I'm wearing.
PHIL: Why don't you call the Admiral to send help?
JACK: I can't — the phone is out of order. (But just then it rings.) No, it isn't — that must be the Admiral now. We're saved! (He picks up the receiver.) Hello, hello!
A VOICE: Hello, is this the Orpheum Theater?
JACK: No, this is Submarine D-1.
VOICE: What's the other feature?
JACK: Everybody Sink. (He hangs up.) Hm, I'm so mad I could drown. Well, things look hopeless, men. I'm afraid there's no chance for us. But remember, we're in the Service, so let's die like men.
MARY: Hey, Chief, Chief! Look, there's somebody coming toward us. He's coming through the water.
JACK: Let's see. . . . You're right, and he's in a diving suit.
KENNY: Is it anybody we know?
JACK: Hooray! We're saved, fellows! (There is a heavy knock on the door.) Come in. (The door opens.)
THE DIVER: Mister Benny?
JACK: Yes.
THE DIVER: Have you saved your money all your life?
JACK: Yes, I have.
THE DIVER: Ain't you sorry now? Good-bye. (And the door slams behind him.) JACK: Play, Phil!
(Phil plays, and we know the broadcast is almost over. But wait a minute — here's Jack, back for a final word.)
JACK: Well, folks, that was the last number of the special vacation Jell-O broadcast. And now that our play is over, let's get out of this submarine and go up to the surface.
MARY: You better not do that, Jack.
JACK: Why not?
MARY: The Warner Brothers are waiting for you.
JACK: Oh, well, it's comfortable here. Good night, folks.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A Reply To Chuck Jones

There’s more to an animated cartoon than art.

The reason’s simple. Animated cartoons are entertainment. To be entertainment, there has to be something other than nifty artwork or movement. There has to be a story. If you want proof, watch any late ‘50s UPA short or any of the imitation Silly Symphonys put out by a number of studios. Pretty designs and intricate movement are nice, but if there’s no well-constructed plot to hang them on, you’re not entertaining anyone.

Chuck Jones created some of the funniest cartoons ever made. His best work is when all the elements of a cartoon—visual, aural, intellectual—come together. But Jones never seems to have divested himself of his 1930s Disney Superiority Complex, that he felt he’d really be making great cartoons if they looked like a Disney cartoon in terms of movement and artwork. Why else would Jones, years later in his career, continually denigrate television animation as “illustrated radio”?

Jones bragged on a number of occasions you could watch his cartoons with the sound down. The trouble is, in some cases, who would want to? Does anyone find Jones’ “The Bird Came C.O.D.” funny or amusing? And what about those 1960s Tom and Jerry cartoons he produced? The problem with them is simple—they’re not much more than a bunch of poses, and people (except maybe animators) don’t watch cartoons just to look at how characters are posed.

Conversely, there are some dialogue-heavy TV cartoons that have stood the test of time for decades. Why? Because people like the characters and find them funny. I’d love to see a fully-animated Quick Draw McGraw cartoon because an artist could fit in extra gags through movement. But the limited-animation version is still funny, thanks to good dialogue and a strong enough storyline.

For this reason, Jones’ “illustrated radio” sneer (at least, I take it to be one) has always bothered me. And evidently it bothered other animators. Certainly it bothered one who had a pretty good pedigree.

Jack Zander owned a commercial animation company for many decades but in the 1930s and ‘40s, he worked for several different cartoon studios. He was one of the original animators on Tom and Jerry at MGM, and had been at Warner Bros. in the Harman-Ising days before Jones’ arrival. Historian Mark Mayerson pointed out, upon Zander’s death in 2007 at the age of 99, Zander gave opportunities to all kinds of young animation talent. And Zander was put off in the 1960s by Jones’ comments about the deterioration of the animated cartoon, and the new people in the industry.

Here’s a story in the New York City-based Weekly Variety from January 27, 1965.
‘Simplified’ Cartoons Arouses Debate; Its Economy Versus Credibility
Charles M. Jones, director of Metro’s new animation and visual arts department, has drawn raps from execs of the eastern Animation Producers Assn. and Screen Cartoonists Guild for published remarks in which he attacked trends in animation toward simplification and stated that “there are hardly any animators around younger than 50 who know how to draw full animation.”
Leading the attack are Jack Zander, v.p. of Pelican Films and an exec of the Animation Producers Assn. and Richard Rauhn, prez of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. Jones had argued that the new, economy-oriented techniques, detracted from the realism of the product, a charge the assailants brand as “odd” in 1965 when realism “has all but disappeared from the world of painting and the graphic arts in general.”
The Metro exec had objected to tv animation principally, mentioning that new techniques enabled producers to make a six-minute cartoon for about $10,000 as opposed to $35,000 for a full-animation pic. Zender and Rauhn acknowledge the economic factor but claim that more important is the entire tendency of 20th century art which is toward simplification, citing such examples in cartooning as “Mr. Magoo,” a quite popular figure Also, as involves credibility, the objectors cite “Mickey Mouse” saying that he was never literally, zoologically speaking, an authentic rodent but rather a fantasy.
The cartoon chiefs also rapped the notion that there are hardly any animators around under 50 who can draw full animation, wholehardedly [sic] denying the charge. They claim that it is choice and not pressure that is leading the trend toward simplification in animation style. They asserted that Janes’ [sic] statements “sound like echoes from the distant past.”
One can imagine Jones’ reaction to being publicly criticised. He rebutted. Weekly Variety of February 24th reported:
...Jones has accused the Easterners of seeking publicity rather than accuracy and that his own comments were made for purpose of identification, not to indict an industry.
At to his claim that good animators under 50 are increasingly scarce, to which the pair replied “‘Tain’t so,” Jones told Zander and Rauh to send along any good ones, he'd be quite happy to employ them.
The argument about the proper definition of full animation and what it entailed was further elaborated by Jones whose conception of it is "moving three-dimensional objects in space in a believable manner." He said that it is a valuable and necessary aspect of the multiform art of animation but takes years to learn and that few artists today take the time required by the severe apprenticeship.
And with that, Variety dropped the subject and Jones went on to making snoozers like “The Cat’s Me-Ouch” and then, post-MGM, the interesting “Curiosity Shop” for ABC. And continually brought up the “illustrated radio” subject in interviews for the next several decades. However, we’ll let you have the last word about it if you want to leave a comment.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Morning, Noon and Night Club

The cityscapes in “Morning, Noon and Night Club” (1937) don’t have the wonderful everything’s-melted look of Fleischer shorts from a few years earlier, but they’re nice enough nonetheless.

I can’t clip together a long pan without extreme grey-tone changes, so here are a few parts of the opening background (try to ignore Bluto being in the way).



The entrance to the nightclub. There’s a little bit more of the drawing at the right.



And the first interior shot.



As usual, the background artist is unidentified.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

How To Deal With Cute Squirrels

“My cartoon would have been cuter,” chirps the coy little squirrel. Beyond a doubt, it certainly would have been. But it wouldn’t have been a Tex Avery cartoon, so Tex, writer Heck Allen, Screwy Squirrel and Meathead take care of that in “Screwball Squirrel.”



Ol’ Tex came to dislike Screwy, even though the cartoons followed the Avery credo of having an opening, a closing and a string of gags in between. This cartoon was Screwy’s first, with animation credited to Preston Blair, Ray Abrams and Ed Love.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Not 12 Empty Ounces

People love happy little songs, even (perhaps especially) when they’re solely designed to sell a product.

When did the first commercial jingle appear? About all anyone knows for sure is it was during the days of radio. But it’s a safe bet the first jingle “hit” was one heard by millions of people, long after it stopped being used as advertising. It starts:

“Pepsi-Cola hits the spot...”

It was penned by a couple of guys who, according to the October 7, 1940 edition of Life Magazine, were responsible for 90% of all musical one-minute ads on the air the previous year. It was around that time they came up with the Pepsi jingle that people still love today.

PM profiled them in its edition of July 5, 1940.



Nickel, Nickel Do-Dee-Da-Da-Da
Pepsi-Cola Hits the Air Spots With a Socko Sales Version of John Peel

Austen Herbert Croom Croom-Johnson is a lean, ginger-haired 31-year-old Englishman who prepped for a radio and song-writing career at at BBC. About nine years ago, John Royal, NBC vice-president, was so impressed, he fetched Croom-Johnson to the United States. Now Croom-Johnson is a Force in American radio. He is the man behind the Pepsi-Cola jingles.
During the past six months, the 15 second Pepsi-Cola ditty has been broadcast about 18,000 times on 200 radio stations. The stations average about 10 Pepsi-Cola broadcasts a week. Johnson and his collaborator, Alan Bradley Kent, have sold jingles to other advertisers: Esso, Flit and NBC (National Biscuit Co.) but the wide spread Pepsi Cola campaign has made them the top team in their league.
Between them, Kent and Croom Croom Johnson, called "Ginger"' to save time, have fewer inhibitions than a fan dancer. Their working hours are joyously spent in unbridled abuse, enthusing over swing records and concocting childish advertising ditties. It was during such a shop-talk three years back that the whole thing started. Kent says all he did was to comment, "Ginger, spot announcements stink." Ginger not only agreed but supported the idea of doing something about it all. The Pepsi-Cola campaign is that "something."
Sing Something Simple
The basic Pepsi Cola song is classicly simple. It is just a swing-out on the old hunting song, John Peel, It opens with a rhythmic “nickel, nickel, nickel” vamp to a four-four count. Then comes the refrain, which, in case you can't read the Tune-Twisters' script above, goes:
Pepsi-Cola hits the spot.
Twelve full ounces, that's a lot,
Twice as much for a nickel, too,
Pepsi Cola is the drink for you.

After several months the jingle was well ground into listeners' ears, so Pepsi-Cola ordered variations on the theme. Some were scored for swing, boogie-woogie and baby-talk. Later the first two lines were rewritten. The last two, which carry the sacred sales message, are never jived up. When still more variations were called for, Kent and Johnson came up with one in the deep-sea basso of Popeye. It shatters a cherished dietary theory:
Pepsi Cola hits the spot
Nuts to spinach, look what I’ve got. . .

Another national hero pressed into the Pepsi-Cola sales army was the Lone Ranger (incognito of course), whose Pepsi-Cola hi-yo goes:
As I ride the range, I sing this song,
When I like my drinks, I like 'em long . . .

In addition to the authorized verses there are any number of unofficial switches. The neatest of these comes from a Brooklyn station, where an announcer sings the jingle in Yiddish-American, like Lou Holst [sic].
Pepsi-Cola's chansonettes were originally sung by "Whispering" Jack Smith. For about five months, now, they've been chanted by the Tune-Twisters trio, who not only sing but make noises like musical instruments. In the picture above. Andrew Jackson Love (left) is emitting the Pepsi-Cola "Pah!" When Love isn't pah-ing or singing, he oomphs like a bull-fiddle. The other contributing "Twisters" are Robert Wacker (center) and the guitar twanger, Gene Lapham.
Kent, Johnson and the Twisters are now at work on a jingle for Wrigley's gum. The theme of that one: "Chew, chew, chew." Meanwhile they want to do one more Pepsi Cola opus, this time in double talk, but Pepsi-Cola has held out firmly against it. Just in case you want to try it on your piano, it goes like this:
Pepsi-Cola minils the spot
Twelve strof brannis, that’s a lot
Twice as gemmer for moolee woo
Pepsi-Cola is the slerm for you.


Jingles were sung live on the networks (until 1946 when ABC snagged Bing Crosby with the promise he could record his show) but transcribed copies were sent to radio stations across North America to be played whenever the sponsor bought time. So it was that if you tuned in to Matinee With Bob and Ray airing locally on WHBH in the late ‘40s, you’d hear the show interrupted with recordings of Arthur Godfrey warbling about Chesterfields or a quartet crooning about Mission Bell Wine (another Johnson-Kent ditty, written in 1946). Of course, in Bob and Ray’s case, the jingles became part of the show. Bob Elliott would follow Godfrey with a devastating parody of Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, or Ray Goulding would take it upon himself to spout non-sequiturs during the announcer portion of the Mission Hill doughnut (that’s when there’s singing at the beginning and end with an instrumental portion in the middle for the announcer to talk over). Occasionally, Bob and Ray would sing and butcher both jingles themselves to a jaunty organ and piano accompaniment.

(Pepsi, by the way, later sponsored Bob and Ray’s CBS show in the late ‘50s with a different jingle sung by someone who was identified only as Kay. It beats me who she was or if that was her actual name.)

The “Nickle” jingle kind of took on a life of its own. It was parodied and joked about on radio shows. Henry Morgan’s orchestra leader Bernie Green put together a wonderful symphonic version; the straighter it was played, the funnier it got. Dave Barry’s title character in the Columbia cartoon “Topsy Turkey” gives it a whirl with revamped lyrics (standing in front of a radio microphone for added effectiveness). It was retired as network radio died in the ‘50s.

Incidentally, Pepsi had an earlier song. “We Must Have Our Pepsi Cola” was a march/fox trot written by Irving Pletrack in 1939. Morris Perlman penned the melody for “Your Pepsi-Cola and Mine” in 1940. Pepsi held a copyright on a 1941 tune called “Get Hep” by Bissell Palmer and Helmy Kresa. They didn’t have the staying power of commercial songs that went “I’m Chiquita Banana” or “Mm-Mm Good” or “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.” Or a song that rhymed “trickle” and “nickel.”

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

I Chase Meeces To Pieces

You know how Mr. Jinks used to chase Pixie and Dixie along the same baseboard, past the same light socket 16 times. The bicycling background concept wasn’t something Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera invented, nor was it something they only used in TV cartoons.

Here’s an example from “Dog Trouble,” a 1942 Tom and Jerry cartoon. In a few of the early T&Js, Tom had a run cycle of eight drawings with his front paws sweeping down from above his head and back paws flapping in mid-air. Here are the drawings.



We’ve turned it into an endless run cycle. It’s a little bit slower than in the actual cartoon.



There are no animators credited on the copy of the cartoon on DVD but a full draft from the MGM files listing the animators on each scene still exists. Mark Kausler reveals the animator of this scene in the comments.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A Tweety Question

Can someone explain this? Two cats are fighting over Tweety in a nest atop a pole. The force of the fight causes them to fall to the ground below. Director Bob Clampett (or maybe it was done in layout) changes the perspective of the fall from looking down from the top of the pole.



Suddenly, Tweety appears to yell “Bomb’s away!”



So, since this is shot from the top of the pole, where is Tweety standing? How is he standing?

The cartoon is “A Gruesome Twosome,” animated by Manny Gould, Rod Scribner, Bob McKimson and Basil Davidovich.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Honestly, Fans, I'm Not Cheap

You wouldn’t think a big star would need a warm-up act prior to going on the air in front of a live audience, but I gather that’s pretty much the case.

Sometimes, the act included the star himself. There are copies circulating of “The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show” where Philsey himself is cracking jokes (albeit the same ones before each show). And both Jack Benny and Fred Allen talked to their audiences before their broadcasts, as earlier posts here have shown.

Here’s a story dealing with Jack’s final TV special. If you’ve ever seen it, and wonder if he’s actually in front of an audience, you’ll see the answer is “yes” (though I strongly suspect an augmenting laugh track is employed at certain moments). I’ve mentioned before that Jack seems obsessed that people thought he was actually cheap; he brought it up continually in interviews and he mentions it in this audience warm up.

This unbylined feature appeared in newspapers on January 20, 1974. The photo appeared in one paper along with the story, though I believe it’s from 1968 and was pulled from the paper’s photo archive.

Jack Benny And The Audience Warm Up To Each Other
There will be lots of laughs for viewers of the upcoming Jack Benny special. And there were lots of laughs that will never get on the air.
These are the laughs that occurred when the star faced the audience during the taping of “RCA Presents Jack Benny’s Second Farewell Special,” to be colorcast on the NBC Television Network, airing Thursday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m.
First, announcer Bill Baldwin introduced Benny to the audience and then informed the star that there was a lady in the audience celebrating her 84th birthday. “I’m breathing right down your neck,” Benny told the woman.
Since he had a few more minutes before taping the first number, Benny discussed his stinginess.
"I’m supposed to be stingy but, honestly, I’m not,” he told the audience. “I really tip very big, especially cab drivers and waiters.”
He proceeded to discuss an incident recently in Las Vegas to make the point.
“I hate to take a cab in Vegas and go just a short distance,” he said. “When I do, I usually tip very big. Well, I took a cab from the Sahara to the Riviera. Now, when I do that, I get embarrassed. The fare was $1.10 so I gave the driver $3 and told him to keep the change.”
The cabbie thanked the star but, as Benny tells it, said, “I wish you hadn’t done that.”
“Why?” asked Benny.
“Because,” said the cabbie. “I wanted to go home and tell my wife what a cheapskate you are.”
“You can still do that,” said Benny. “Give me back my tip.”
The audience wanted to know about Jack’s violin playing.
“I get $100 a ticket for concerts because I play lousy,” Benny explained. If I played well, I wouldn’t be able to get $2.”
Benny indicated that he does not collect a dime from these concerts — they are all benefits.
What about his wife Mary?
“On January 14 we will have been married 47 years,” said Benny. “That just shows you it can happen even in Hollywood. If I told you we never had an argument, I would be lying. But we never had an argument where the word ‘divorce’ was used. ‘Murder’ yes!”
“One minute to show time,” the stage manager announced.
“This is the moment that scares the hell out of me,” said Benny.
Benny walks out, throws the audience a kiss.
“May we start once again,” the director interrupts. “The lights weren’t on.”
Benny’s look breaks up the audience.
“Can you imagine a mistake happening that soon?” he asks. “I didn’t even start the show. For goodness sake, when we have to do things over, just remember where you laughed!”