Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Non Beverly Hillbilly

Almost nothing about The Beverly Hillbillies was subtle. Even the supposedly ordinary characters on the show were over the top. (A case can be made that Buddy Ebsen, as Jed Clampett, was the one actor who gave a grounded performance).

Despite bouts of overacting, Raymond Bailey was convincing as banker Milburn Drysdale. So much that some people treated him like a real financial panjandrum. Witness these stories from Vernon Scott, the West Coast entertainment columnist for United Press International. The first appeared in papers in late 1963.

Hillbillies Banker Has Exacting Television Role

HOLLYWOOD, Dec. 30 (UPI) —Raymond Bailey has one of the toughest jobs in television, a chore which demands that he bring staid old banking principles to "The Beverly Hillbillies."
THAT'S THE equivalent of wearing lace cuffs on an Ozark mountain coon hunt.
Bailey plays the role of bank president "Milburn Drysdale" on "Hillbillies." He's the zealous protector of $25,000,000 that mountain family amassed through the discovery of oil on their down home property.
With such riches, the show's "Clampett" family moved to a Beverly Hills mansion. Bailey was waiting with outstretched hands and a stuffy, social climbing wife.
Bailey, a former sailor, laborer and shipping clerk, is currently enjoying more notoriety than ever before in an acting career that had shaky beginnings in the silent film days.
THE SUCCESS of "Hillbillies" (CBS-TV) has been remarkable. As banker "Drysdale," Bailey should rightfully share in that success. He provides the contrast needed between that new rich family and their upper crust city neighbors.
"I think we work off each other pretty well," Raymond says. "The family respects Mr. Drysdale. And they don't call his wife a snob. He is a bit of a snob but not as much as his wife."
Bailey's career got a boost with the show, a series he expects to last for a long time.
"There is a long way to go with this show," he said. "You can bring in all these personalities who live in Beverly Hills or work in the movies." Bailey's bank role might tend to offend those viewers who dislike too much formality. But if it has, he's not aware of any animosity.
* * *
"WHAT IS THERE to dislike about him," he asks. "He's a fuddling old guy, I enjoy playing him. It's a field day, comedy.
And I've played this kind of part in dozens of shows. I was the publisher in the 'My Sister Eileen' series. That part was the same type of comedy."
Whenever Bailey gets a little too uppity with his folksy depositors, he ends up on the short end, an unusual situation for most bankers.
Youngsters sometimes recognize Bailey as the video banker, and supermarket shoppers occasionally eye him at the [missing word]. On one occasion when Bailey entered a bank, the establishment's assistant manager looked up from his desk, and said, "here comes a famous banker."
He's also robbery proof. Who would ever stick up a television set?

Scott chatted with him again. This story appeared in papers starting October 23, 1965.

Banker in "Hillbillies" Believes in High Living

UPI Hollywood Correspondent
Hollywood (UPI)—Raymond Bailey, the stuffy banker plagued by the antics of "The Beverly Hillbillies," is more a rustic than any member of the bizarre Clampett family.
He is, in fact a hillbilly in the literal sense of the word.
Both his homes are perched on mountain sides.
His favorite hangout is a rustic, two-story mountain cabin just off the 17th green of the Lake Arrowhead Country club. He and his Australian-born wife of 14 years, Gaby, spend summer vacations there and whatever time they can steal from the C.B.S. television series during the year.
A-frame in structure, the mountain retreat has three bedrooms, a den, a spacious basement (rare in southern California) and an enormous sun deck that runs completely around the house commanding a spectacular view of the pine-covered mountains.
On a typical day Bailey plays golf, followed by a siesta on the deck breathing air heavily perfumed by wild flowers. A couple of martinis before dinner prepared by Gaby—and then to bed.
The Bailey pets enjoy the mountains, too. A poodle named Pierre and Nicholas, a Weimaraner, chase squirrels while the Siamese cat Suki stalks birds.
During the work week, though, the Baileys can be found in a small home overlooking the San Fernando valley. It's ultra-modern and includes a swimming pool.
On a typical morning Bailey is off to General Service studios and ready for work by 8. He's home for dinner by the time it gets dark.
In the city or in the mountains, the 60-year-old actor can be found in old, comfortable clothes. His wardrobe, however, is filled with the formal banker-type attire he wears on the show.
His characterization has made him a hero with bankers across the country. Bailey is in great demand for speeches, personal appearances at conventions and the like, much as Raymond Burr, in his role as attorney Perry Mason, is besieged by law groups.
"I've been made a member of the Southern California Independent Bankers Association," Bailey says. "And I've made trips around the country to accept plaques. It's a lot of fun.”
In his youth Bailey was a bank messenger for two years, but abandoned banking as being too dull for his tastes.
A veteran of 34 years in show business, Bailey has few acquaintances among actors in Hollywood. His friends are businessmen and professional men with whom he plays bridge. They entertain casually and enjoy watching "The Beverly Hillbillies."
The graying performer answers as readily to the name Milburn Drysdale as he does to his own after four years with the C.B.S. series. He doesn't mind the association with the character and, in fact, is rather pleased by it.
Never a star, Bailey is content to roll along with the series reaping the rewards that television provides popular character actors.
"Who could ask for more?" he says.

The Beverly Hillbillies disappeared from first-run TV in 1971. I don’t recall seeing Bailey again on the screen except in reruns. He died in 1980 at his home in Irvine, California.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Rabbit Hood Smears

A wonderful twist comes at the end of Rabbit Hood (released in 1949), which features a running gag of the dopey Little John insisting in rhyme that Robin Hood is coming. Each time, there’s a pause and no Robin Hood. But at the end of the cartoon, Little John is right. Robin arrives. In the form of Errol Flynn in footage taken from the 1938 feature The Adventures of Robin Hood. Check out the stretch in-betweens as Bugs Bunny looks where Little John is pointing. Each takes up one frame of film.

More Bugs reactions.

Bugs thinks for a moment. “Nah! That’s silly. It couldn’t be him,” he tells us as the iris closes to end the cartoon.

Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan, Ben Washam and Phil Monroe are the animators of this sterling effort by Chuck Jones and writer Mike Maltese.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Horn of Tomorrow

In the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, a company made newsreels for television called “Telenews Digest.” One of its weekly efforts in July 1951 included a segment on the car of tomorrow.

Tex Avery’s cartoon Car of Tomorrow, released the same year, follows the newsreel format with a narrator explaining what’s on the screen but then followed by a gag. There are two types of gags in the cartoon—some that were takeoffs on current car trends, and others that were just plain silly.

One of the silly ones involves the new superchromatic horn! “Listen!” advises the narrator. The horn turns out to incorporate a duck that gives viewers a goofy look after honking.

Roy Williams and Rich Hogan worked with director Tex Avery on the gags. Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Mike Lah handle the animation (some of it limited) while June Foray and (I think) Verne Smith provide voices.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Is Jack Benny Too Inside?

Jack Benny had a long list of personality traits and characters on his radio and TV show that his writers weaved together like a variety of symphonies. Not every trait or character showed up every week. The idea was to keep the show fresh, yet familiar.

Like Rochester’s brief running gag of shouting “Again?!”, critics mildly groused that the Benny radio shows sounded an awful lot like each other. But Benny knew that’s what his audience wanted; he just needed to find a new running gag or twists over the course of the season.

John Crosby of the Herald Tribune syndicate kind of admits the conundrum in his first of many reviews of the Benny show. It was published May 30, 1946. Crosby could be snarky and sarcastic about radio programs he didn’t like, but he just couldn’t be nasty to Jack Benny. Who could be?

(P.S.: I’ve left in the footnote about the Dorothy and Dick show on WOR New York for history’s sake. I haven’t heard the broadcasts so I don’t know if Crosby is being serious).


Fourteen Years of Jack Benny
In my own small circle we have a number of jokes which commemorate various episodes, usually disgraceful, which occurred far in the past. Over a period of years, these jokes have become so highly specialized that they are meaningless to any one who is not only thoroughly familiar with the episode in question, but also with all the jokes that preceded it. To the outsider, these gags are not only unfunny; they are totally unintelligible.
That leads me, in a rather roundabout way, to Jack Benny, who bowed off the air last Sunday night for the summer. In the fourteen years he has been on the air, Mr. Benny has joked tirelessly Sunday after Sunday about his age (thirty-seven), his stinginess, his thinning hair, his jealousy of other radio comedians, his violin playing and Waukegan.
Gradually through the years, the jokes on these themes have been foreshortened to the point where they would be unintelligible to any one who had never heard the Benny program, if there is any one like that. Last Sunday, Mr. Benny and his announcer held the following colloquy:
“I’m giving everyone a bonus check. That’ll help you get back to California,” said Mr. Benny.
“Get back to California – with THIS check?”
“Turn it over – there’s a road map on the other side.”
Unless you know Benny pretty well, that gag would mean very little. But, the veteran radio comedian has invented and perfected a sort of radio family joke. Benny's idiosyncrasies excite both laughter and sympathy the same way father does when he leaves his umbrella on the streetcar again. It’s not funny to any one outside the family.
A Jack Benny joke is an intimate thing shared only by himself and about 20,000,000 listeners. Very wisely, Benny doesn’t address himself to all 20,000,000 at once. The Benny show is a very personal show directed at two or three people sitting in a living room, which, I think is why it has held its popularity for so many years.
During the last year there have been dark whisperings that Jack Benny was seriously slipping; that his material was old; his scripts poorly written. There’s some truth to these charges. The Benny show is no longer put together with the loving care he once lavished on it. Some of his shows were shapeless and floundering, which you could never say about a Benny program in the old days.
But I keep listening anyway. I have been listening to Jack Benny for so many years my critical sense is paralyzed. He is like an old friend of whose faults you are fully aware, but are willing to forgive.

Benny, who once had a stranglehold on the top spot of all the ratings lists, is now tenth on the Hooper rating behind, respectively, Bob Hope, Fibber McGee and Molly, Red Skelton, Radio Theater, Charlie McCarthy, Walter Winchell, Screen Guild Players, Mr. District Attorney, and his old rival Fred Allen.
Somehow I have a feeling Mr. Benny doesn’t mind much. He has been one of the world’s most popular comedians for so many years he can afford to relax in that No. 10 position. Over the years his fans have stuck to him with a loyalty unknown in the amusement industry since the death of vaudeville.
When he returns in the fall they will be waiting again for that fine, that mild, that naturally pleasant comedy which Mr. Benny has been dishing out for fourteen years.
* * *
Program footnote: The canary heard on the Dorothy and Dick Kellmar [sic] breakfast program last Thursday and Friday in their broadcasts from Chicago was not their regular performer. It was an understudy provided by the Hartz Mountain Canary Company in Chicago.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Down With Betty Boop

Enforcement of the Motion Picture Code in 1934 is said by animation historians to have caused the Fleischer studio to tone down Betty Boop. Eventually, she reached a point where she was turned from a sex-pot into a slapstick comedienne who barely starred in her own films.

Some animation fans have declared the later Boop adventures dull and uninteresting. Few say the same thing about her earliest cartoons. Ah, but we found a critic who did.

Buried in the pages of the Ogdenburg Republican-Journal of May 27, 1932 is a somewhat disjointed criticism by the paper’s film critic. It’s disjointed because she goes on to praise the Fleischer cartoon “A Hunting We Will Go”—which includes Betty Boop.

And, naturally, because it’s 1932, the reviewer treats Walt Disney like the gold standard of animation. Oddly, her suggestion of an Alice in Wonderland series had, in spirit, already been done by Disney in the silent era with little live-action Alice being plunked into a cartoon world. (And we all know about Disney’s later “Alice in Wonderland” feature).

NOW that the pictures have come of age they are worth more than casual comment about this picture and that. Miss Croughton in her weekly column tries to look at the films in relation to their social and cultural effects as well as their entertainment values.
ONE of the many things we can not understand about the movies is why screen cartoonists who are constantly demonstrating their richness of comedy ideas and their ability in putting these ideas into clever and amusing synchronization expose themselves to suits for plagiarisation [sic] by grafting upon their films such excrescenes [sic] as the figure and tiresome lisp and queak of a "Betty Boop."
Fleischer, whose clown and little dog were a delight in animated cartoons long before the talkies came into existence and who, after a period of feeling his way with synchronisation, is now turning out more amusing creations than ever, certainly did not need the irritating Betty Boop to bolster up his efforts.
In a recent cartoon by Fleischer in which the clown and the dog go hunting to secure a fur coat for their sweetheart, there is a wealth of ingenious comedy of action and idea. The lioness who tries to get into the exclusive garden party "for leopards only," and who succeeds only after she has allowed herself to be peppered with black spots from the clown's gun, is delightfully funny; but the final touch, in which the animals who have been deprived of their pelts to provide the fur coat come shivering and complaining in their "underskins" and so work upon the sympathy of the sweetheart that she gives them back their fur, is little short of inspiration.
The cartoons, of course, rely for their humor on the reversal of the usual and expected. In another film seen recently, the rabbit character, who is being pursued by a knife-throwing Chinaman, suddenly catches two of the knives as they are flying past him and turns back to politely return them to their owner. Perhaps the suggestion may be looked upon as sacrilege, but we would like to see Lewis Carroll's "Alice In Wonderland" done by Walter Disney as an animated screen cartoon serial—provided, of course, that it was kept free from the vulgarities and trivialities of some of the cartoon series. The humor of the best animated cartoons is, basically, the inverted humor which Carroll used in his tale and the majority, of its incidents seem to us to cry aloud for representation.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Little Cesario

A little animal doesn’t get the respect of the big animals until he saves one and becomes a hero. Sounds like a Disney short, doesn’t it? Only it’s not. It’s from faux Disney producer Rudy Ising and the cartoon is Little Cesario.

The dogs have way too much ruffed fur, run around way too much, are in a land loaded with effects animation (blowing snow, splashes of alcoholic liquid from broken barrels), and the title character leaves you with that aw-shucks-gee feeling you get in some Disney cartoons. But very un-Disneylike is a gag straight out of Tex Avery.

“Even Little Cesario didn’t miss a thing,” says narrator Frank Bingman. It turns out to be a dog/tree gag.

The narrator clears his throat. Little Cesario looks ashamed. There’s a little cycle of the dog’s tail banging against the ground bringing up puffs of snow. You can’t see it too well in the frame grab below.

There’s a literal gag later in the cartoon. “Then, suddenly, he froze,” says the narrator.

“Deep inside Little Cesario, something snapped.” Fred McAlpin lays down a “snap” sound effect and the uncredited animator gives us some multiples, with more effect brushwork by the MGM ink and paint department.

The cartoon reaches its climax as Little Cesario saves the day through his own clumsiness and good intentions. He then disappears into the Home For Retired One-Shot Cartoon characters after a stop at Dell Publishing where his story was adapted into a comic book in 1943 (and reprinted in 1952).

Bob Allen directed this cartoon for Ising. Some model sheets for this short are dated September 17, 1940. The cartoon was copyrighted the following September 4th.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Rockabye Anvil

For Tex Avery, The Legend of Rockabye Point was a natural extension of a number of cartoons he made at MGM. One character tries to force another character to make noise and wake a third character who inflicts some kind of violence on the second character. Rock-a-bye Bear and Deputy Droopy are examples.

When Avery moved over to the Walter Lantz studio, he tried it again with The Legend of Rockabye Point. It’s a typical Avery cartoon in that it barrels along and as soon as one gag ends, the next one begins. In one, Chilly Willy tries to drop an anvil on the sleeping guard dog. These poses tell the gag.

Mike Maltese got a story credit in this cartoon but it’s really no different than the MGM “noise” cartoons written by Heck Allen. Don Patterson, Laverne Harding and Ray Abrams are the animators.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Hello, TV Station? I'm Offended

Oh, how thin-skinned we are these days! How overly sensitive! How easily offended! Not like the “politically incorrect” old days, right?

Um, guess again.

Let’s go back to 1957 and read what one of TV’s fast-rising stars had to say about what things were really like back then. This column appeared in This Week, a newspaper magazine supplement. It was published October 27th.

Jokes You Won't Hear On TV
By GEORGE GOBEL (As told to Leslie Lieber)
It's getting tough for a comedian to make a living, says Lonesome George. There are so many taboos he's going crazy but—oops, that word's frowned on, too!
There's a comfortable old show business wheeze according to which all comedy is simply a new twist on seven basic jokes. Well, this is your old friend Lonesome George mixing that bromide with a grain of salt. Maybe back in the good old relaxed vaudeville days comedy was hitting on all seven basic-joke cylinders. But not on ulcer-row television it isn't. No Siree, Bob.
You see, television has grown so cautious about treading on people's toes that the seven original jokes have been whittled down to one—and I can't rightly remember what that one is at the moment. Eliminate bald heads, mothers-in-law, buck teeth, toupees, bowlegs (dangerous because the sponsor's wife may be bow-legged), Neapolitan dialects, doctors, nurses, shyster lawyers, chiropractors, southern senators, psychiatrists—and what have you got left to crack jokes about?
Well, I'll tell you what I've got left: my wife. Alice. Thank the Lord that Alice and I have a private understanding. She belongs to an extinct species of humanity which never joined a protective organization dedicated to writing scathing letters to comedians. If Alice suddenly decided not to let me crack jokes about her, I'd have to fall back on pantomime tomorrow.
Now don't get me wrong. I think it's wonderful to live in a country where big, powerful networks have to pay attention to the little guy's likes and dislikes. That's enlightened democracy. But a TV comic nowadays needs the soul of a seismograph to know where the next rumble of public wrath is coming from. We have to be verbal tightrope walkers.
Listeners' squawks have already put the kibosh on many comedy routines. Jack Benny and the late Fred Allen had to stop calling each other "anemic" during their famous running feud because anemic people's blood boiled at such levity and their angry letters blasted the networks sky-high.
On a recent Jerry Lewis coast-to-coast hoedown, some of the hilarity revolved around a toupee which got entangled in telephone wire. In came the letters, including one sizzler from a man in the business reminding all and sundry that 250,000 men wear hair pieces. So now NBC takes a very dim view of toupee humor.
All you have to do in television is upset one sensitive soul and you're in Dutch. You probably remember that imaginary Brooklyn dunce named Melvin that Jerry Lewis used to burlesque with broad, drooling parody. Well, a Brooklyn mother telephoned the network to tell about her son. His classmates kidded and embarrassed him because his name was Melvin just wasn't fair, she wailed. And that one small voice in the wilderness (excuse me, Brooklyn) rapidly knocked Jerry Lewis's Melvin off TV as a regular performer. A couple of Sid Caesar's rough-edged characters were silently overhauled behind the scenes due to public demand. Remember Sid's portrayal of a roistering, slang-slinging truck driver? It took just one tart letter from trucking interests to drive that shabby chauffeur off the NBC highway. Of more recent vintage was Caesar's characterization of a mop-haired, thick-spectacled bop musician named Mr. Cool Cees. Perhaps you may have noticed that in his later appearances, this "cat" no longer wore his grotesque spectacles: a note from the Maryland School for the Blind did the trick.
Once the Jackie Gleason show was rehearsing a skit about a schoolteacher. Two hours before broadcast time, Gleason, in a terrible stew. called his directors into a huddle. They didn't know why, but he insisted on removing the rather drab actress playing the school marm role and replacing her with a beautiful blonde.
"I knew from experience," Jackie told me later, "that if we didn't have a real knock-out playing the school mistress part, the PTA would hop down my throat for discouraging girls from becoming teachers."
On the Garry Moore show some time back, Durward Kirby introduced a sketch entitled "The Happy Postman," a dyspeptic lettercarrier who never cracks a smile. Immediately thereafter, mailmen on the CBS route got hump-backed carrying sacks of irate letters from their own colleagues all over America. Result? "The Happy Postman" returned to the air the following week wreathed in jolly smiles.
On a more recent show Moore interviewed Denise Lor, the show's singer, who was playing a fashion model just back from Europe. The big joke of the skit was that Miss Lor had allegedly discovered that Queen Elizabeth would be wearing blue denim next season. CBS was deluged with letters from outraged fans of royalty. The thing took on the tone of an international incident when phone calls from Canada started pouring in.
But royalty isn't the only area where feeling runs high. If an aspiring young TV comic asked me for my most valuable piece of advice I'd say: Beware of the Dog! Beware of the Cat! Beware of all Animals! Put one on your show and you're a dead duck and a cruel ogre to half the nation.
On the Martha Raye show, Nat Hiken wrote a skit in which a tiny canary's chirp was annoying someone. A shot was heard offstage. Then a pitiful peep. Then silence. Next day boom! Bird watching societies everywhere were mad as wet hens. Many vowed never to tune in Martha Raye again.
One day about a year ago I hired a swayback horse for my show. We paid him $150 to stand around all day and eat gourmet hay. During the show my side-kick, Pat Buttram, told me that if I bought the spavined steed I should never ride him down a main highway.
"His stomach's so low it wipes the white line right off the highway," he told me.
Well, believe it or not I got 150 complaints from outraged swayback-horse lovers for waxing jocose over a poor animal who "probably got that way working for mankind."
Doing a skit which pokes the slightest fun at some powerful organized group brings an almost certain rebuke. You can't base your humor on a dishonest lawyer or an inefficient cop. All law-enforcement officers must be four-square on the side of the law.
In addition to these taboos, there are, of course, a few words on the unusable list. The networks discourage a comic's use of the words "crazy" or "idiot." "You're goofy" is all right because it isn't a psychological term.
Cut-up Dick Shawn prepared a clever ditty for his TV appearance which had cute rhymes on "schizophrenic." The ever-alert chief of NBC's Continuity Acceptance department, Stockton Helffrich, took the position that the song tended to make insanity sound like a big joke. Shawn changed the lyrics.
Only bebop musicians are allowed a certain leeway, with jive expressions like "Crazy, Man!" "It would be foolish trying to strait-jacket Dizzy Gillespie into shouting "Silly, Man, Silly!" says Mr. Helffrich.
Sometimes it's the sponsor rather than viewers who hamstrings the comics. On one cigarette program, for instance, no performer was allowed to use the word "lucky." You had to use the word "fortunate."
At the same time I'll be the first to admit that a TV comedian ought to exercise sensible restraint in picking his gags. There are things that just don't make good kidding. Any comic has memories that make him squirm—the things he wishes—somebody else had said. Let me cite a couple from my on checkered career.
With the best of intentions I stirred up a nice hornet's nest on my Labor Day show a year ago. For a sign-off I wanted to give a safe-driving plug. Unluckily, I chose to deliver my message with irony: "This is your old friend. Lonesome George, leaving you with this thought: the National Safety Council predicts there'll be 480 traffic deaths over the holiday weekend. Up until this moment only 103 have been reported. . . Now some of you folks just ain't trying!"
Was that a mistake! If there were fewer accidents than usual that weekend it was because an awful lot of drivers stayed home to write me the nastiest batch of letters ever to come down the chute. For that blooper I deserved to have my knuckles rapped real good. Next time I won't trust sarcasm to put a serious point across. As the National Safety Council says, I'll jibe carefully.
Another time when discretion proved to be the better part of valor was at a rehearsal of my own TV program. I was to open with the following monologue: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and a special warning to Gypsy violinists playing in Hungarian restaurants: Men! Don't close your eyes while playing. You may get resin in the goulash or back into a flaming sword and sear your shish kebab."
Touchy Subject
Now in retrospect that looks innocent enough. But we stopped rehearsal for an hour to thrash out with network and agency vice-presidents whether we should put it on the air or not. We decided to kill it: Russian tanks were rolling through blood-soaked Budapest that day. Under those circumstances, even Hungarian goulash became too political for TV banter. Khrushchev killed my shish kebab joke that night. As reread it now, I have to admit that this was one casualty the Free World could afford.
I wish I had used a little more self-censorship on another occasion when the frantic quest for laughs again led me onto forbidden ground. Everything had gone along swimmingly on the show. Then came that leave-'em-laughing sign off:
"This is your old friend Lonesome George leaving you with this thought: contrary to popular belief, happiness can be bought. On your way home tonight why don't you stop and pick up a fifth?"
Unlucky Whopper
Well all I can say is that I bought very little happiness with that whopper. It temporarily lost me more friends across the nation ("we thought you were a nice guy— but") than I care to count. And it gave me a real scary lesson in one of TV's primary laws: be careful how you use giggle-water to get a laugh. And one final word of warning: if you think you can make up an outlandishly sounding fictitious name for some character and then involve him in imaginary scrapes, you've got another guess coming maybe even a lawsuit. Sometime ago, my gag writers and I dreamed up an escapade involving a fictitious businessman. We conjured up a name we knew no one could possibly have and did the sketch. Right after the show there was a livid long-distance call:
"What are you trying to do to me?" a man yelled. His name? Precisely the same as the fictitious one we'd made up. He threatened to sue the program.
So I guess I'll sign off. This is your old friend Lonesome George leaving you with this thought: If I run out of jokes on my up-coming show, you'll know why. We'll have lost Alice. The End

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Boney Horse

Van Beuren cartoons had a skeleton fixation. At least that’s how it seems. After Walt Disney made The Skeleton Dance in 1929, Van Beuren cartoons created some three thousand miles away started featuring skeleton gags.

At least there’s a reason for one in the 1930 musical cartoon Oom Pah Pah. One of the songs is the 1903 hit “Any Rags?” There was a time in New York City when someone in a horse-drawn cart would shout “Any rags?” at passing buildings and people would drop rags out the window onto the cart. The song memorialising this custom included the lyrics “Any bones?” In the cartoon, the horse collapses in a pool and re-emerges as bones.

As the song continues, the horse melts again and re-emerges with his head facing the cart.

The horse rights its situation by pulling its head through its butt and back into the normal position.

Since someone will mention it, “Any Rags?” was also heard in a Fleischer cartoon of the same name in 1932.

Gene Rodemich supplied the score while John Foster and Harry Bailey supervised the animation part.