Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Drag-a-Long Droopy Backgrounds

By 1954, Tex Avery’s long-time background artist, Johnny Johnsen was getting credited in MGM cartoons. Johnsen was called on, both at Warners and MGM, to come up with western motifs. Here are some of his paintings in the great cartoon “Drag-a-Long Droopy.” The best painting is a panorama of the Bare Butte Ranch, which I can’t snip together because part of it is on an overlay panned at a different rate than the background itself. You can see a piece of it below.

Oh, for a BlueRay DVD of this cartoon so everyone can get a better view of the details.

Johnsen painted from layouts by Ed Benedict.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Hare Conditioned Smears

The department store clerk with the Gildersleeve laugh goes hunting Bugs Bunny in “Hare Conditioned,” making his way through various aisles. He looks around and then smears from place to place.

Ben Washam gets an animation credit on this one, along with Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan and Basil Davidovich. Don’t ask me who did the clerk’s voice. Dick Nelson’s name has been bandied about but it sounds like Tedd Pierce in places to me, with Mel Blanc adding a post-sync line (the mouth isn’t animated).

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The House of Benny

It was never explained on the Jack Benny radio show why a notorious cheapskate who lived in underground dumpy hotels on trips to New York City would have an attractive mansion in Beverly Hills which obviously cost a lot of money. But does it really matter?

In real life, Benny, his wife and daughter lived for years at a home at 1002 Roxbury Drive. It was featured in a photo spread in the November 1947 edition of Radio Mirror. The article was plugged (like other Benny magazine pieces) in the October 26, 1947 show. Kind of.

Mary: I was just reading the Radio Mirror. There’s a picture of you here on page 28.
Jack: Oh, yes. That’s the one I had taken when I was in the service.
Mary: Gee, you were handsome in that uniform.
Jack: Yeah.
Mary: Jack, whose arm is that around you?
Jack: A fellow from the Draft Board.
(audience laughs) He didn’t turn me loose until we got to Europe.

The “picture on page 28” is the one you see above. It’s of Jack, Joan and Mary. He’s not in uniform. As Jack wasn’t married with a daughter on his show, the writers had to come up with something fictional.

Here’s the Radio Mirror feature piece. The photos below accompanied the article. Unfortunately, they’re low resolution scans from newsprint. You can click on them to make them bigger.

Come and Visit JACK BENNY
A place of his own for everybody—that is the Benny formula for happy, harmonious family living.

UNDER one roof: a house for everybody, and for everybody a house of his own.
This is Mary Livingstone's recipe for a harmonious family life, and it works like a talisman—even in Hollywood where (despite the well-paid efforts of half the psychiatric brains in the country) more marriages explode in the headlines than go on year in year out in a sort of a miraculous serenity.
Of course, if you're living in Quonset hut with your bride and her mother and planning to put Junior in the dresser drawer, a description of the Jack Bennys' serene and well-roofed existence will only hasten your trip to the divorce court, or to Washington to have the heads of the housing expediters.
But even in such dire straits as that you will be thinking and planning for your dream home of the not too distant future and a look-in at a housing system which is different — and which works — may come in handy.
As any good architect or builder will tell you, you must start planning your house by thinking hard about the way you live, about what sort of people your house must provide for, and what sort of work and play and rest and hobbies make up their lives.
For work is not just work — nor rest just rest, etc., etc. And people — and if you're living in a Quonset hut you have found this out — are not just people. Every individual has a way of living all his own, and if it is blocked and thwarted too long by the external conditions of his life, he will explode with as much noise and almost as much release of radio-active poison matter as did the atom bomb over Bikini.
Mary Benny knew this when she planned her house, and she planned carefully for lebensraum for three as disparate human beings as ever found shelter under a single rooftop.
First of all, of course, the house had to work for Jack Benny. More of the sweat and toil which produces the Benny radio show every week goes on at the Benny home than in Jack's office or at NBC studios — so Jack's lebensraum had to provide for working space, shut off from the noise and confusions of the rest of the household. As for Jack's recreation — if there is work to be done, he doesn't get any. His rest, ditto — if the script is in trouble Jack Benny can get along with catnaps, spending more of the small hours awake and at work than pounding the pillow. His hobbies — well, unless you count golf and gin rummy and seeing his friends (which he gets around to during the radio season only when Mary insists that he leave the woe to the writers for a spell) , his hobbies are more work. Jack's housing needs, then, are simple: quiet, privacy, the right to turn on the lights in the middle of the night — a room of his own.
Then there is Joan, the Bennys' daughter — twelve years old, healthy, active and gregarious. Her work — the teachers at El Rodeo School pile on the home work, to hear Joannie tell it — so there must be a place to study. Her hobbies are horseback riding, swimming, playing the phonograph and the piano with the more friends around the merrier. Her rest — black out! The sort of exhaustion Joan's life promotes is not like her father's; it makes for good, sound sleep, nine until seven, with no interruptions. Her needs; a place for hollering — alternating with sleep — preferably far away from her father's retreat and suitably soundproofed, i.e., a room of her own.
Mary's own habit patterns seem distinctly normal — humdrum, even — after a glance at the rest of the family, but on closer inspection they, too, make for a bit of planning. From long years in the theater, Mary has appropriated the custom of going to bed very late. This does not mean that she must be up and doing until dawn. The up-staying is just as pleasant if you're propped up in bed with plenty of pillows and a cigarette and some new books. But it means compromising on the other end of the night. Mary's maid knows that Mrs. Benny will want her breakfast tray before noon only if she has a vital business appointment. So Mary, too, needs a room of her own.
As a result the second floor of the Bennys' spacious Georgian home in Beverly Hills is laid out in three suites — so different in character and equipment that they could be three separate apartments, in three never conflicting worlds.
"Never?" As Gilbert and Sullivan put it, "Well, hardly ever."
Even with Mary's meticulous planning, Hard Working Jack and Hard Playing Joan sometimes manage a head-on collision.
At these moments, Rule No. One of family policy is invoked: "Daddy, if he is working, is always right."
Recently, Jack's producers and writing staff were working at the house with the boss. They were up against a knotty script-cutting problem. Down the hall with her door ajar, Joannie was practicing her piano lesson. She plays very well, but anyone's practicing has a tendency to become monotonous. And besides, the counting — one-two-three-four — was distinctly audible, and distracting, in the script session.
Jack sent Producer Bob Allen [Ballin] to Joannie's suite with a message.
"Your daddy," he said, "wants you to practice downstairs."
Joannie sighed, Junior Miss Aggrieved.
"I thought he would," she said. Unsaid was Career Woman's age-old complaint. "And my work, I suppose, has no importance around here."
But she went.
Mary Benny often sits in with the writers and Jack on the radio conferences.
So, as a matter of fact, does Joan.
What's more, Joan isn't afraid to criticize her Daddy's jokes — and her Daddy isn't too proud, sometimes, to accept her criticism.
Once recently, however, when Joan objected to a particular boffola on the grounds that it was "corny" her father overruled her.
"Keep it in," he ordered. "It may be corny but it's funny."
"THAT'S what you think," Joan — not easily abashed — argued. "But you should be in my shoes. On Mondays, I have to face my friends!"
The joke was blue-penciled.
Jack's big room is a sort of bed-sitting room with a desk almost as big as the bed, with shelves for scripts and reference books, and big, bright working lights, comfortable chairs, man-sized tables at the bedside with sharpened pencils and paper, books and the inevitable box of sleep-promoters. The colors are masculine and unbedroomy — brown and beige. The suite includes a dressing room, done in brown leather, a porch overlooking the garden, and Jack's bath — where he may leave the top off the toothpaste tube if he feels like it.
Joan, who is the smallest member of the family, rates the biggest suite — because her activities are so varied she needs plenty of room to blow off steam.
Her "apartment" has a big bedroom — with two beds, one for her frequent overnight guests — a dressing room with one whole wall of perfume bottles, a private bath, and a huge playroom, this room farthest away from the family. The playroom is the heart of the place. It has the phonograph and record collection, the spinet piano, Joan's collection of dolls and toy horses, her books, the photographs of her friends, the clutter which goes with being young and alert and busy. Joan's governess, Julia Vallance, who has shared her life for five years, is the sort of calm, imperturbable woman who likes children and doesn't mind messes and who can provide efficiently for a little girl's health and safety without imposing too rigid a set of rules. As Joan would put it, "She doesn't go around saying no and shushing you all the time."
Joan prefers to think of Miss Vallance as her "secretary." Not many of her schoolmates at public school can afford the luxury of a "governess" and Joan thinks the whole custom a little snobbish.
Mary Benny's personal rooms, in noticeable contradiction, are never cluttered, and they certainly are the prettiest rooms of all. The bedroom, in soft blue, rose and white is Victorian in feeling — without being stiff. The fireplace of black marble is for real fires—friendly and inviting. The chintz draperies and upholstery are in a cheerful floral pattern, which is repeated in the wall paper on two ends of the room. The blue-tufted oversized bed is pure feminine heaven, where a substitution of fat pillows for flat ones makes it easily as inviting for staying awake as for dropping off to sleep. Mary has, in addition, her private mirrored dressing room where vast cedarlined closets house what Howard Greer has called the smartest wardrobe in favorite bath oils and perfumes.
With such a plan, it is plain to see, there need never be any conflict of personalities — any reason for any of the members of the household to be uncomfortable for the sake of any of the others. A reconnaissance flight over the Benny home at any eleven A.M. — which caught Jack hard at work on a script, Joan practicing for her piano lesson, and Mary blissfully asleep — would prove incontrovertibly that planning makes perfect. Planning makes freedom, too, complete freedom for every member of the family to do what he likes, when he likes — to be himself. And that makes for an adjusted, happy family.
THE rest of the house is planned just as systematically for living happily together — and don't think for a moment just because the upstairs levels are designed as they are that the Bennys live in complete isolation with no traffic from one "apartment" to another. It is here that Mary's impeccable butler, Oscar, has his innings. Oscar is the perfect butler, English, proper, and — and this is unusual — always affable. Oscar is always smiling. (He doesn't know, fortunately, that Jack's writers with typical lack of reverence for the Way Things Are Done refer to him always as "Smiley.") And here, too, the rooms have as many moods as there are occasions which the Bennys enjoy as a family.
The drawing room is quite formal, its furnishings handsome, some of them rare and priceless since the Bennys have not had to consider a strict budget in planning their home. Mary Benny would be the first, however, to concede that a formal living room can be just as lovely without real antiques, without Chinese jade lamp bases, and real collectors' items among the objets d'art. She has gone to a great deal of trouble, as a matter of fact, to detract from the museum aura of such fabulous pieces by doing her upholstered pieces with her first thought for comfort, and by a subtle use of color — pale green, rose, and ivory, and a real fire's happiest companion, brass.
It is in this room that the Bennys welcome guests at their more elaborate parties. The drawing room's complement in character and style is the formal dining room, a beautiful room done in grey and gold, with a long table which comfortably will seat twenty, with massive silver pieces from old England and a crystal chandelier. These two rooms, along with a panelled library with dark blue oriental rugs and a Dutch tile fireplace are among the show spots of Hollywood.
A pair of rooms all three Bennys like much better, and live in much more, are the big, rambling playroom which faces on the garden and a sunny yellow and pale grey breakfast room in which green vines in silver urns bring the garden indoors.
The playroom is the keynote room — if there is such a thing in a house. It expresses life as the Bennys like it — when convivial friends are about, and the pressure of work is off, and one can relax and play games, sit by the fire in winter or wander in and out of doors on a warm summer night. It is the gayest room in the house, with a huge brick fireplace taking up half of the wall, the walls paneled with mellow walnut and the sofa and big chairs upholstered in a splashy red and white apple print. In front of the fire are two deep chairs, also one in the apple print, and a massive red ottoman on which people can sit without crowding. The big rag hand-braided rug also is predominantly red. There are the inevitable card table and chairs and some early American Windsor pieces.
As in all California homes the outdoors is part of the living space — background for many of the family's happiest hours. The house is set well forward on a commercial acre so there is room at the back of the house for a gently sloping lawn, swimming pool, cabana and terrace and a barbecue and complete outdoor kitchen and bar.
The drawing room and the big dining room get very lonely during the good weather, which in California is a good part of the year — for all of the Bennys enjoy having their friends for al fresco suppers which they help to cook themselves. If the fog comes in — as it will, despite all the pull of the All Year Club — it is but a step to the playroom and a warm fire. And any movie fan who could find his way into that room would reap a harvest of autographs — Barbara Stanwyck and Bob Taylor would probably be there, and the Tyrone Powers, Annie Sothern, the Bill Goetzes, George Burns and Gracie Allen, plus a noisy crowd of Joannie's school friends.
And if the unexpected callers were invited to stay they'd have a wonderful time and go home raving as Hollywoodians do about the Bennys' wonderful, cheerful house and Mary Benny's subtle understanding of what it means to be a good hostess. Mary understands the role very much as she interprets her job as the woman in the house — it is to let everyone do what he wants when he wants to, to be himself.
The system needn't be restricted to the Bennys — or to the sort of people anywhere who have money and leisure space. For the system is a product of good thinking, and good thinking can be done in Hollywood, or North Platte, or Wichita Falls.

At the behest of Mary Livingstone, Jack sold the home in 1965 and the two of them moved into a luxury apartment. We talked about it in this post. Mary became dissatisfied with that and the two of them moved into another house in the Holmby Hills that Joan Benny described as “an imposing Mediterranean villa” that was run down until Mary got her bank book open.

Laura Leff, the president of the International Jack Benny Fan Club, got a look at the Roxbury home a number of years ago while it was being renovated.
I was able to see that they had painted Jell-O flavors and names of Buck Benny characters on the beams above the living room--wouldn't have been able to see that if the ceiling was intact! So let's say this...it's modest home by Beverly Hills standards. The dining room isn't huge (although it does sport a fireplace with delft tiles around it), love the dark wood library, and spiral staircase in the front hall. While many of the walls were down to the studs, you could see that Mary's room was enormous. It was a little hard to tell how big Jack's was in comparison, but definitely smaller.
The Benny home is still standing at Roxbury and Lexington Road. Here’s a lovely view of the front as it looks today.

We wonder what the people living there today do every Sunday night at 7.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Made-For-TV Cartoons in 1941

In the early days of television—and we mean pre-World War Two—any cartoons that appeared on the handful of stations on the air were old theatricals, like the Aesop Fables made by Van Beuren. By 1950, “Crusader Rabbit” and the barely-animated “NBC Comics,” made especially for TV, were on the air. But a TV-only cartoon was broadcast almost a decade earlier.

It wasn’t an entertainment short, though there was some entertainment value in it. There had to be, as it was a commercial.

The man behind it was Douglas Leigh, “the tungsten tycoon,” who was responsible for the electric signs in New York’s Times Square (silent-era Felix the Cat animator Otto Messmer worked for him) and later president of the Broadway Association. Judging by clippings in Variety, Leigh got into the animated sign business in 1930. In 1946, he put an advertising blimp with neon letters into the skies over New York. In 1953, he jumped into the wide-screen movie sweepstakes with his Glamorama deep-curve screen.

Leigh, briefly it seems, toyed around in the animated commercial industry. Cartoon commercials were airing in movie houses through the ‘30s but he may have been the first to have one created especially for the home screen. PM wrote a story about them, along with the screen shots below, which it published on October 15, 1941.

Television's Newest Character, a Weather-Predicting Lamb . . .
. . . Has a Sketch for Every Forecast

It's all wrong, that one about everybody talking about the weather and nobody doing anything about it. Television, and Botany Crinkle-Proof Ties, and young Douglas Leigh, the dapper animated-sign designer, have done something very amusing about it. The first sample of their handiwork was telecast over WNBT, the NBC television station last night at 9, and will go on nightly at the same time.
The something is a skittish, pipey-voiced cartoon character, a pert, snow-white lamb, which introduces itself this way:
It's hot, it's cold.
It's rain, it's fair,
It's all mixed-up together;
But I, as Botany's little lamb,
Predict tomorrow's weather.

Whereupon, Botany's lamb (which is really the Botany trademark, animated) last night gamboled into an 8O-second sketch that showed a robber holding up the lamb, out for a stroll in the park. But the only one of Lambie's possessions that the footpad wants is his nice Botany tie. All of this, last night, was a rather non-sequiturish prelude to what followed, which was Lambie's prediction for today: Cloudy.
All told, there are 14 of these Douglas Leigh-produced Botany sketches. Most of them are as charming as the average movie-theater cartoon. The sketches cover just about every weather contingency you can think of. And they all work in sales blurbs lot the Botany ties, but in as easy-to-take a method as television has vet devised.
This is a first venture into television for 31-year, southern-born Douglas Leigh, who has long ago made his mark on Broadway. Leigh, a diffident little pioneer who wears bow ties (not Botany yet), is the creator of the Wilson Whiskey animated electric sign on Broadway and 40th St. Another Leigh sign familiar to all Broadway rubber-neckers is the Coca-Cola weather annunciator at Columbus Circle.
A typical Leigh-Botany lamb sketch starts off with Lambie hanging his tie on the washline (to show its washable), only to see it blown away in a rain storm. A dog picks it up on the ground, worries it and then gets into a tug of war (note sketch above) with another pooch. Despite all this hard treatment, when Lambie comes down to rescue his tie, it's as good as new, still its Wrinkle-Proof self. And the prediction: rain. In these sketches, Lambie has just the treble voice you'd expect. It look some searching to find the ideal voice for the part, but Leigh and Botany finally came up with Charita Bauer, a teen-age actress seen recently on Broadway in The Women as Margalo Gillmore's (Mrs. Haines) daughter. She was one of the few characters in the play you liked.

Mark Newgarden passes on the great news that at least some of these cartoons survive and were recently screened at an historical show in New York.

As television advertising had only been made legal the preceding July, Douglas Leigh can be considered a pioneer of TV animation.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Poses Tell the Story in Magical Maestro

About all you need to do to understand what’s going on in this scene from “Magical Maestro” is to look at the expressions. Opera singer Poochini tries to hide mysteriously appearing rabbits from the audience.

Mike Lah, Grant Simmons and Walt Clinton are the animators in this 1952 masterpiece from the Tex Avery unit. Whether Lah did these, I don’t know, but the seventh picture has an odd mouth shape Lah used on Yogi Bear at Hanna-Barbera.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ub's Goofy Fish

If a huge corporation won’t restore and release all its cartoons featuring the iconic Bugs Bunny, what chance to do you think the forgotten-by-all-but-diehards Willie Whopper stands?

Actually, a better chance than the wabbit, thanks to Steve Stanchfield, a true historical animation hero.

Steve’s Thunderbean Animation has brought us lovingly refurbished cartoons that, frankly, no one else would bother with. Thanks to the efforts of him and his friends, you can watch great collections of Snafu cartoons and Van Beuren cartoons. Now he’s turning his attention to two of Ub Iwerks’ series, Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper.

Theatre audiences in the 1930s weren’t all that enthusiastic about either character but they’re both worth a look. Some of Flip’s cartoons have funny moments and the animation’s enjoyable in the first few Willie entries. Steve’s documenting his progress at Jerry Beck’s Cartoon History blog every Thursday and you should really stop in and have a peek.

This week, Steve has footage of part of “Davy Jones Locker,” released in January 1934. The basic plot was already a cliché, and I can’t get enthused about Willie himself, but there are some fun sea-character transformations. And it has a gooney looking fish with a hat.

If you think the fish is familiar, you’re right. The same one was featured, with different colours, in Iwerks’ “Tom Thumb” (1936).

Why the fish is swimming around Willie Whopper is, I suppose, Iwerks’ idea of humour.

We’re looking forward to reading about the restoration and word when the DVD/BluRay will be available to buy. It’ll be worth the price.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Lucy and the Bomps

Buried on page 34 of Boxoffice magazine of April 29, 1950 was the news that a new company had been formed called Desilu Productions. It revealed the company was “developing a three-way program encompassing motion pictures, video and vaudeville.”

Of course, video was where it made its name. “I Love Lucy” is one of the top shows in the history of television and Desilu produced or housed many hits through the ‘50s. But the company’s first effort was in vaudeville. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz took to the road, opening in Chicago on June 2, 1950, then moving a week later to the Roxy in New York. CBS was anxious to have Lucy, star of the network’s “My Favorite Husband,” make the jump to television, but balked at the idea of Arnaz playing her husband, even though they were married in real life. CBS didn’t believe audiences would buy it. So Lucy and Desi decided to find out for themselves with a road show.

Broadway columnist Earl Wilson tagged along with them after one performance and came up with a story. One thing that’s neat is the little conservation about Desi’s accented English, which eventually found itself into dialogue on “I Love Lucy.” And so did the Bryam River Beagle Club.

The column appeared on August 19, 1950.

By Earl Wilson

Lucille Ball has been one of our most appreciated movie actresses for quite a while, but it was seeing her do a bump on the stage that made me really come to realize how talented she is.
It was after she’d done her clever act with husband Desi Arnaz at the Roxy that I talked to the flamin’ redhead about it.
“Wasn't that a bump?” I asked her, as we got into a cab and pulled away from the stagedoor.
I wanted to be sure, because some snooty actresses wouldn’t want it thought that they ever did a bump.
“that was a married woman’s refined version of a bump.”
Lucille was sitting back in the cab, exhausted from several shows that day, and clamoring to be taken somewhere to see a show. She said she had been entertaining all day and now she wanted to be entertained for a change.
“Did you say refined?” Desi looked across the cab at her. I was between them.
“Any harder you do it and you will knock my hot off,” he said in his charming accent.
At Desi’s urging, she told me a story showing that doing the bump is for her not new. It seems that once she made a picture for Eric Palmer called “Dance, Girl, Dance.”
“He was telling me, ‘Those bomps. Don’t do those bomps bad or the sansors will keep the picture.’
“So I was doing a very tame dance, not bumping at all.
“I had on a 27-pound dress, silver lame, with bugle beads, and it rolled from side to side when I shook.
“Durin’ a scene, Palmer jumped up and said, ‘Oh, oh, that was a bomp. I told you no bomps.’
“I went up to him and I said, ‘Mr. Palmer, that was not a bomp. THIS is a bomp.’
“And I bumped and I wrapped those 27 pounds of beads right around his neck!”
It’s a pleasure to talk to two such honest, earthy people after listening to some others who are always posing. A lot of people are astonished that they are celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary because, as Desi points out, “Everyone said it wouldn’t last a month.” “And WE didn’t think it would last a week,” Lucille said.
Being romantically inclined, I asked for the details which most everybody must have forgotten by now but the participants themselves.
“Where did you get married?” I asked Desi.
“The Byram River Beagle Club, at Greenwich, Conn.,” Lucille said.
“Thank you, I can never say that,” said her Cuban husband.
“Yes, you can. Try it,” Lucille said.
“The By-ram River Bee-gul Club,” Desi said dutifully and slowly.
“Faster!” commanded Lucille.
“The Byver Regal Civer Club,” responded Desi.
“Oh, my,” said Lucille, “We were married by Judge John J. O’Brien. He’s the one who married Tommy Manville so many times.”
Although Desi missed a show at the Roxy, where he was then appearing, to get married, he remembers, just as vividly, how on his wedding night he woke up the bride about 5 A. M. and demanded that she get him a glass of water.
The funny thing is that she did.
“About 9 o’clock she woke me up,” Desi recalls, “and she said ‘Listen, you—, the next time you want a glass of water you get it yourself!’”
Desi explains that he’s never made such a request since.
Desi and Lucille have formed their own company which they call “Desilu Productions,” this being a combination, of course of their two first names.
“First time I ever got top billing,” Desi says.
They plan to do concerts, radio, television and movies together. Lucille comes from Butte, Mont., and, as everybody knows, has red hair.
Lucille made up a description of herself around which a movie will be made. The title which describes her so accurately is "Blazing Beulah From Butte," and we figure it ought to get the money.
Never underestimate that Desi.
When they were getting married it appeared that she might not be able to because of a commitment to Harold Lloyd.
Desi called Lloyd from New York and defiantly announced to him that Lucille couldn’t be available that week, as he was marrying her. “Y-yes, D-desi, c-can she be back next k-weeek?” stammered Lloyd, who never does.
Desi is pretty masterful; when he speaks, to Lucille he is her master’s voice.

It would have been a little rude of Wilson to point out why everyone in Hollywood thought the Ball-Arnaz marriage wouldn’t last. The world found out after it happened in 1960. At the time, Lucy charged “mental cruelty” and told the court of Desi’s temper tantrums. Some years later, she described the reason for the split as “the same old booze and broads.”

But the divorce certainly never hurt the lucrative reruns of their TV show, nor their reputations among fans. Deep down, despite the divorce, I suspect they believed that Desi really still loved Lucy. Because they did, too.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Small Cries For Help

Another reason why I like Mike Maltese...

In “Bunny Hugged,” Ravishing Ronald is treated like a punching bag in the wrestling ring by The Crusher. Ronald’s mascot, Bugs Bunny, quickly decides to take his place. While the ring announcer is proclaiming the substitution (the main plot), Maltese has Ronald desperately push up little signs. As you can see from the last two drawings, they obey the rule of squash and stretch.

Ken Harris, Phil Monroe, Ben Washam and Lloyd Vaughan animated this for the Chuck Jones unit. The cartoon was released in 1950 when TV wrestling (especially as called by Dick Lane on KTLA) was huge.

Monday, 19 January 2015


Al Hirschfeld’s caricatures are always fun to look at. The first ones that come to mind are the ones he drew for Fred Allen’s book Treadmill to Oblivion. This one’s from a 1953 trade publication (I can’t remember which one; I found it well over a year ago) showing some of the cast of film “Main Street to Broadway.”

© Al Hirschfeld. Al Hirschfeld is represented exclusively by the Margo Feiden Galleries Ltd., New York.

In the comments below, Margo Feiden has asked that the above note be attached. I’m happy to learn from her there is a Hirschfeld website. Please go to this site to see more of the fine work of Al Hirschfeld.

Cavorting Cannibals

Swaying palm trees turn out to be anything but in the 1930 Walt Disney cartoon “Cannibal Capers.”

The “trunks” of the trees shrink down to real they’re actually legs of some African jungle dwellers.

The background drawing now drops into place.

Synchronisation to music was still novel enough in 1930 to base plot-less cartoons around it. These are a couple of extremes of the Africans engaging in their opening dance.

Disneyshorts.org reveals Burt Gillett directed this cartoon.