Thursday, 31 October 2013

Crap-py Skeletons

Skeletons seemed to abound in cartoons for a couple of years after the release of Disney’s “The Skeleton Dance” (1929), especially on the East Coast. I haven’t tried to count how often a skeleton appeared in the Don and Waffles and earliest Tom and Jerry cartoons made at the Van Beuren studio, but it seems like they were in a lot of cartoons.

One is “Wot a Night” (1931), the first in the Tom and Jerry series. Skeletons take up a good portion of the second half of short. We’ve posted on the blog from one scene of a skeleton in a bathtub. It’s followed by a scene of a skeleton painting a piano keyboard and playing it.

The next scene features Jerry happily playing an umbrella like an accordion while Tom stands in fright. Something singing slowly appears in the darkness.

Jerry pulls on a light cord and we see four skeletons in blackface singing James S. Putnam’s 1882 spiritual “I’ll Be Ready When the Great Day Comes.” Singing quartets were a staple in Van Beuren cartoons.

Jerry tosses a pair of dice. The skeletons jump on it and the collision breaks them apart into a boney heap. Our heroes can now make their escape.

Harry Bailey and John Foster get a “by” credit on this cartoon. There’s no animation credit.


  1. The animator gives up trying to make the skeletons' mouth movements match when the lyrics get fast. It's the best stratagem when you work for Van Beuren.

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