Monday, 22 June 2015

They're Famous

The Famous Studios cartoons? To quote Arnold Stang as Gerard on The Henry Morgan Show—“Ech.”

I’m not a big fan of them. I’m not even a small fan, though I like Stang, Sid Raymond, Jack Mercer, Jackson Beck, Mae Questel and the other voice actors who worked on them. The Screen Songs are especially tiresome, especially when compared to the originals made by Max Fleischer, where the animation had charm and inventiveness (and don’t get me started on Casper or Little Audrey).

However, Famous played an important role in the history of Golden Age Cartoons, especially on the East Coast, and so it’s great to see Jerry Beck delving into the studio on his website at Cartoon Research, picking up on the work of Thad Komorowski, who examined ads for the Fleischer/early Famous cartoons from the internal Paramount publicity publication, enticing exhibitors to show them. Especially interesting is Jerry’s collection of cue sheets, which list the music cobbled together for each cartoon and reported to music publishing organisations. Unlike Carl Stalling at Warners and, to some extent, Scott Bradley at MGM, Sharples wrote much of the incidental music and occasionally tossed in a song people might recognise (for example, Jack Benny’s theme “Love In Bloom,” surfaced on a number of occasions, once with new lyrics sung by Jackson Beck as Bluto). Expert Dave Mackey says Sharples’ music was eventually available as a stock library; you can hear it in the Trans-Lux Felix the Cat cartoons for TV, to name one series where it was used.

Incidentally, the first Variety story about the Noveltoons I could find was published February 13, 1946:
For Skeds New Cartoon
New York, Feb. 12.—Paramount’s Noveltoons will introduce a new cartoon technique combining animation with actual scenic backgrounds. First short will be "New York, New York," producer Sam Buchwald announced. Inker will feature travelog of Gotham with pen and ink characters.
Cartoon Research lives up to its name. Jerry and his correspondents delve into assorted nooks and crannies of theatrical cartoons, always finding something that people didn’t know about. For the time being, he’s looking into Famous Studios product every Monday. Read the latest post HERE.


  1. Hal Seeger was Winston Sharples' partner on "packaging" the cues cultivated from his various 1952-'59 Famous/Paramount cartoon scores---which Joe Oriolo used on "FELIX THE CAT" (of which Sharples also wrote the theme), several of Total Television's 1961 episodes of "KING LEONARDO AND HIS SHORT SUBJECTS", 1963-'64's "TENNESSEE TUXEDO AND HIS TALES", the 1960-'61 King Features "Popeye" TV cartoons Paramount well as Seeger's own "MILTON THE MONSTER" series.

  2. Additionally, an entire underwater episode of the 1958-1962 Trans-Lux "Felix" with Felix's old criminal adversaries, Professor/Rockbottom, had in its standard isasue second part of the cliff hanger, as Felix is about to get out of a, ahem, clammy situation, has "Casper the Friendly Ghosts" theme, adapted strictly for this by Sharples, even though he didn't write it!(The Hoffman_David-Livingston team did..)

    Shoiws that his Famous association paid off (after all, the studio was a spinoff- of the Paramount one..same with Hal Seegers..)SC