Friday, 22 November 2013

Walter Does Walter

By the 1960s, Walter Winchell’s name evoked the past. He had been hired to narrate “The Untouchables,” a TV show set in the 1920s, because his time was of another era. And it wasn’t an era too far past. Television slowly killed off newspapers and forever changed radio, the two media which brought Winchell his fame and power.

Winchell was parodied occasionally in animated cartoons but probably the most directly in the Walter Lantz short “Termites From Mars” (1952). A crazed radio newscaster is a Winchell caricature. Here are some of the expressions as he shouts about Martians.

You’ll notice the “WLP” on the mike for “Walter Lantz Productions.”

Don Patterson was the director of this cartoon. There are some great effects here to bring out an extra dimension of depth, such as background colour changes (to shades in the red spectrum) and shadows around the characters.

Paul J. Smith, La Verne Harding and Ray Abrams are the animators. There’s no story credit.


  1. Oops! Yowp, "Termites From Mars" was not in 3-D, but "Hypnotic Hick" was.
    Yours, Mark Kausler

  2. You're quite right, Mark.
    I still really like the colour effects here and (if I could see properly) wonder if 3-D glasses would bring out something in some of the scenes.

  3. Who did the voice of Winchell in ''Termites From Mars''.

  4. Even by the time this cartoon was made, Winchell was very much on the downhill side of his career. Warners' use of him in "Coo-Coo Nut Grove" and "The Woods Are Full of Coo-Coos" were the other best-known Winchell references, during a time when he was riding high in the Hearst Newspapers and on the radio.