Walter Lantz must have figured it was time to get back to work. His studio had made one year’s worth of cartoons for United Artists; the last one was released on August 19, 1949. Heck Allen had written some others and director Dick Lundy timed them but the Lantz studio, more or less, shut down. Why is something I’ve never been able to determine. U-A simply re-released the 12 Lantz cartoons it had received. Universal, meanwhile, worked out a deal to re-release the old Lantz shorts it had distributed. Finally, Lantz cancelled his deal with U-A and went back to Universal.
That may have been the highlight of the cartoon world in the last half of 1950.
Walt Disney had released Cinderella and next on his list were Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. But Walt knew something the major movie studios couldn’t see—television could give unprecedented exposure and profits to his studio. He wavered about when to jump in and finally did it with a 55-minute Christmas special which was nothing more than a big commercial for Alice.
TV would soon be where the action was when it came to animation, but things weren’t quite there in 1950. Syndication companies, within a few years, would buy up backlogs of old theatrical cartoons to sell to stations, though some were already running on kid shows (like the one hosted by Willie the Worm on WCAU). Animation for TV consisted of NBC Comics and Crusader Rabbit, where characters barely moved. Then there were programmes like Chester the Pup out of Chicago, where an artist (Sid Stone, in the case) made sketches; Variety reported Chester’s mouth moved but “mechanically.” The trade paper confuses things by referring to puppet shows as “cartoons.”
Here are Variety’s animation-related stories for the second half of 1950. Note again that MGM announced all kinds of titles it had no intention of making. They were for publicity purposes. And there is very little on the East Coast studios.
July 10, 1950
MGM Cartoonery Will Take Mass Vacation
Metro cartoon department will shut down July 28 to permit entire department personnel to take annual two-week vacation simultaneously. Maintenance and repair crew only will be in department during hiatus. Pete Smith over weekend launched "Curious Contests," fourth on his 1950-51 Metro program. Script was written by Joe Ansen and Dan Brodie.
Lucille Bliss, who is the voice of "Crusader Rabbit," cartoon series bowing on KNBH Saturday, will move her base from Frisco to complement her activities in pictures and recordings.
"Little Miss Quacker" will be title of Metro cartoon starring Barney Bear.
July 13, 1950
Walter Lantz has inked new deal with Universal-International, through whom he formerly distributed his cartoon program for 22 years, and henceforth will release all his cartoon product through Valley company. Producer bowed out of UI about two years ago, for a three-year United Artists releasing agreement, but fulfilled only one year's commitment of 12 cartoons for UA. He cancelled his UA pact last week in NY.
UI deal calls for delivery of six "Woody Woodpecker" specials per year. In addition, UI will handle distribution on worldwide basis of all Lantz cartoons, both new and in excess of 260 oldies.
July 19, 1950
DISNEY PLANS CASTING BOY AS ‘PETER PAN'
Walt Disney is prepping "Peter Pan" as an all-animation feature in Technicolor, for probable release in 1962. Producer, now having story whipped into shape, is making extensive voice tests of Bobby Driscoll, moppet, for the voice of the James Barrie character. Disney's researchers have discovered that in the nearly half century the play has been treading the boards, both in England and U.S., no boy has ever enacted title role. Part has been played by actresses—Maude Adams for years, Betty Bronson when Famous Players-Lasky made it as a picture in 1925, and Jean Arthur currently on NY stage. If Disney puts Bobby in for Peter's voice, it will set a new precedent. Producer has already set Sammy Cahn and Sammy Fain to collab on musical numbers for film.
Warners will boost its short subjects program for 1950-61 season to 46, from last year's 42. This is exclusive of cartoons, which will remain at 80.
July 20, 1950
MACMILLEN SEEKING PAL PIX FOR RELEASE
William MacMillen, Jr., Eagle-Lion topper here from east to seek product for his company and generally survey company's operations, will huddle, among others, with number of producers who have been releasing through Film Classics and who held out when FC threw in with EL on distribution combine. Under these producers' deals with FC, they now are free to make deals wherever they please, and MacMillen is interested in confabbing with them on possible alignment with his company.
EL topper yesterday, meeting, with other producers, had talk with George Pal on puppet producer joining company with his "Adventures of Tom Thumb," combo animation-live action feature in Technicolor. Pal has been working on 81m off and on for more than a year, and released his two all-live-action fi1ms, "Rupert" and "Destination Moon," through EL. Understood talks also revolved around EL possibly helping finance production.
August 1, 1950
Disney Will Reissue ‘Snow White’ For Yule
Walt Disney is readying "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" for reissue. General plan is to put it out in early spring, but film also is slated for Christmas week showings in number of key cities. There's possibility that full reissue date may be pushed ahead for this holiday period. Picture will be sandwiched in between release of "Treasure Island" and "Alice In Wonderland." "Snow White" was the first feature-length cartoon made by Disney, in 1936.
August 2, 1950
UI Releasing Lantz Footage In Italy
Universal - International has closed deal for release in Italy of six Walter Lantz cartoons in fall. This is one of first foreign deals U I has set up since cartoon producer returned to fold as term producer three weeks ago. Package constitutes first time that any Lantz cartoons have ever had any playing time in Italy. Under terms of pact, Lantz's product will be pushed strongly in foreign countries, as well as domestically.
August 3, 1950
Lantz Loading Up On Cartoonists To Speed UI Deal
Walter Lantz, cartoon producer, will start reassembling a staff of cartoonists during the next week, so he can get underway immediately on his new Universal-International deal. Pact with Valley studio calls for six "Woody Woodpecker" specials annually. Lantz will take on at least 16 staff members, to augment personnel he already has, including animators, inkers, background artists and painters.
Producer yesterday started introductory work on first film, which will tee off series. Activity is his first since before he left for Europe last March. Lantz, with UI for 22 years, swung over to United Artists for release two years ago, on three-year deal. He cancelled contract with UA a month ago, to return to UI.
August 8, 1950
Cartoonists, Prods Pow-wow Tonight On New Pay Pact
Negotiating committees of Screen Cartoonists Guild and Cartoon Producers Association meet tonight at SIMPP offices to discuss terms of a new union contract. In previous sessions, producers offered two dollar weekly increase for classifications in the $60 or less wage brackets, while the Guild asked for 15 per cent tilt overall.
Producers involved include: Walt Disney, Metro, Warners and Walter Lantz; who have been insistent on contract to run to Dec. 31, 1951, while SCG wants a shorter ticket.
Quimby Calendars 3 Cartoons At Metro
Cartoonists Find a Bonanza In Blurbs
Expanding use of cartoons for spot announcements on TV has proven a windfall to members of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. Currently, about 100 of the 600 members are steadily engaged in turning out video animations. Many of those who switched over were formerly top men in the Disney, Metro, Warner, and Walter Lantz organizations, but the total manpower deflected from films represents only about 20 minutes a week of screen entertainment, according to a survey recently completed by SCG.
August 10, 1950
Producers Concede Points At Parley With Cartoonists
Screen cartoon producers have made further concessions to the Screen Cartoonists Guild in continued discussion of a new contract for cartoonists.
The producers continue to refuse a horizontal wage hike, and stick to their original offer of five cents per hour for all regular workers getting under $60 weekly. If accepted, about 130 of the 500 SCG members would benefit. Producers also offered contract extending to Sept. 30, 1951, instead of three months later, and will make the wage tilt retroactive to last June 22.
SCG will present the latest producer offer to membership at next month's meeting. Delay is occasioned by the large number of members currently on vacation.
MGM Cartoonery Back In Harness Monday
Entire staff of Metro's cartoon department headed by Fred Quimby returns to work Monday following annual vacation of the group. Four pictures are slated for preparation, including Barney Bear's "Wise Quacker;" Droopy’s “Caballero Droopy;” and two Tom and Jerry subjects, "Cat of Tomorrow" and "Two Mousketeers."
August 16, 1950
Bulk of TV film production being done so far by March of Time is concentrated on a series of 60-second tele shorts. They are being made for use by the parent corporation, Time, Inc., which is now studying its approach to the TV field. William Geer, who is supervising these TV briefs, and Joe Stultz, MOT animation director, are in charge of this activity.
August 17, 1950
Don Dewar Dusting Argosy To Devote Self To Telepix
Dewar henceforth will devote himself exclusively to Telecomics, TV outfit in which he is partnered with Dick Moores and Jack Boyd, animators at Walt Disney's. Deal has been set with NBC for 15-minute-five-days-a-week program, which chain is now selling nationally.
Format carries a cartoon strip technique, and is composed of five different strips with as many lead characters.
August 21, 1950
Lantz Will Sell, At Cost, TV-Trailer To His Cartoons
Walter Lantz is making half-minute Technicolor trailer for distribution to exhibs playing his product. Briefie will be sold to theatremen at cost of print, and is general in pattern, so it can be used whenever one of producer's "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons is to be shown.
This marks first time that a trailer has ever been put out for a cartoon short. Project was finalized after Lantz had talked with several hundreds, who greeted the idea with enthusiasm. Under Lantz's new deal with Universal-International, producer will turn out six "Woody" specials annually. Deal also calls for company to bally series. First order calls for 2500 prints.
August 25, 1950
Sutherland Rolling 41 Vidfilm Blurbs
John Sutherland Studios yesterday teed off its most ambitious television film program to date, with start of 41 one-minute commercials for seven different sponsors.
Headed by 17 subjects for Crosley Appliances, lineup includes six for General Foods, four each for Wildroot and Cream of Wheat, seven for Kaiser-Fraser, two for Baystromite Furniture Co. and one for Owl Rexall. Negotiations are under way for others, with several at inking stage. Films are of various sorts, some straight animation, others straight live-action, and number combo animation-live-action.
August 28, 1950
16-Notion Christmas Preem Planned For ‘Cinderella’
Walt Disney will toss a simultaneous international preem of "Cinderella" on Christmas Day in 16 countries abroad. Multiple-nation opening, most extensive ever staged by a Hollywood producer, will cover most parts of the world. Cartoon feature is being dubbed in five languages other than English, and for countries not familiar with any of the six languages there will be titles in tongue of that land.
Already set are Christmaa Day bookings in capital cities of Australia, India, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Egypt, France, Holland, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Cuba and Mexico. Languages in dubbed versions will be French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Swedish. There is a possibility that other countries and other languages will be added to lineup in time for further bookings. Gala preems are skedded for each city.
Jack W. Cutting, In charge of Disney's foreign versions, is prepping all foreign dubbings, and otherwise is formulating all-out international opening. Cutting makes his headquarters in Paris. He has arranged for French version to be made in Paris, Swedish in Stockholm, Spanish in Mexico City, Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro and Italian in Rome.
August 29, 1950
Metro cartoon department headed by Fred Quimby has launched production of new Tom and Jerry subject, "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son."
August 31, 1950
'Trouble' At MGM
"Triple Trouble" has been scheduled as a Tom and Jerry Technicolor cartoon by Metro cartoon producer Fred Quimby.
September 1, 1950
On The Ball
Topicality, often sought in feature-length productions, is expanding to the short subject field. Coinciding with Red Cross First-aid classes being reactivated, Metro has announced a new Tom and Jerry cartoon to be titled "First Aid Kitty."
September 6, 1950
Color, AFM Decisions Defer Disney TV Try
Not until video has reached the color stage and the American Federation of Musicians' ban on the use of music tracks has been removed will Walt Disney go into the TV medium, the cartoon producer has indicated in answer to new pressures to release his old product to tele. Disney asserted that color and music are both prime elements in his pix and that without them so many values are lost he feels he'd be hurting himself to allow use of his product.
In any event, producer is unwilling to allow his pix on tele at the moment because of the exhib relations problem it would cause. Theatremen have naturally reacted strongly against competition of similar product on TV to that which they're buying for their houses.
If and when he's ready to turn to tele, Disney has stated, he'll develop special characters different from those familiar to theatre audiences. He has had an experimental department working on tele projects for some time.
September 8, 1950
Disney Underwriting NY Exec Peek At ‘Alice’
Walt Disney will invite RKO home-office execs and sales officials to the Coast within the next six weeks to gander his all-cartoon feature, "Alice in Wonderland." Producer, who plans national release on the picture during the Christmas season, will defray expenses of the RKO group to the Coast.
September 15, 1950
WAR BOOM STARTS FOR CARTOONS
Cartoon producing studios are anticipating being called upon by the government to make training and propaganda films, just as they were during World War II.
When and if move goes through, it will boost employment for cartoonists to a peak untouched since World War II, when practically every cartoonist in film colony found steady employment. More than 800 men and women were engaged in this program.
Feelers already are understood to have been put out by government regarding cartoon studios making their services available. Value of military training aids via cartoons was made apparent in 1942-45, when hundreds 9 films were turned out, showing, through animation, the why and wherefor of the instruments of war in the most minute detail. Cartoons for training purposes were found vastly superior to use of live-action instructions.
Warners, Walter Lantz and John Sutherland already have been approached for bids, government setting forth its problems. Proposals also are understood to have been made to both Lantz and Sutherland for use their equipment and studios. Nothing definite along these lines, however, has been determined.
Walt Disney, who converted to 97 percent his entire facilities to war production during last conflict, hasn't yet been contacted by government, but it's cinch that sooner or later he will be. His know-how along these lines is so pronounced that government is sure to call upon him.
Metro, too, is understood not yet in communication with the government, but this studio also undoubtedly will be drawn into war work, to augment its own program. In every case, regular programs will continue along with whatever war orders are received.
September 19, 1950
Disney Promotional Parley on 'Alice' Tieups Concludes
Full-scale promotional campaign to pre-sell "Alice in Wonderland," Walt Disney feature-length animation special, has been worked out in a series of studio meetings that wound up yesterday. Campaign includes use of all types of merchandising articles to plug "Alice" and will be going full swing months before picture hits its general release.
Week-long studio session, presided over by Roy O. Disney, prexy of Disney productions, way aimed at coordinating all exploitation, advertising and publicity efforts and bringing them to a peak when film is released late next summer Forty reps of merchandising organizations, the Disney NY sales force and the staff of C. J. La Roche Advertising Agency attended the huddles, as well as Walter Branson, RKO western division sales manager, and Herb McIntyre, western district manager.
16 Color Cartoons On Metro Schedule
Fred Quimby, head of Metro's shorts department, has outlined schedule of 16 Technicolor cartoons for the 1950-51 season.
First four releases will be Tom and Jerry subjects carrying titles of "The Hollywood Bowl," "The Garden Gopher," "The Framed Cat," and "The Chump Champ." Group of 16 cartoons will include eight Tom and Jerry's, three Droopy's, and five novelty subjects. In addition, company will rerelease six cartoons of runner years.
15 Mins; Mon.-thru-Fri., 5 p.m.
NBC-TV, from New York
For the preem Monday (18), "Danny March," "Space Barton" and "Johnny" shaped up as average cartoon material. They were clean and wholesome but lacked the fire and dash of some of the better newspaper syndicated strips. Best of the quartet was "Champion." Its theme of a rising young fighter was familiar, but the opening installment packed plenty of action. If subsequent panels are as exciting as the first, "Champion" alone could carry the whole show. Gilb.
September 27, 1950
Marian Richman and Daws Butler dubbed voice tracks for Courneys Productions' chimp starrer "Chimplock Hums and the Net of Fate," series satirizing Sherlock Holmes for Bing Crosby Enterprises.
September 30, 1950
Cartoonist Nix Majors' $2 Wkly. Pay Till Offer
Offer of a $2 raise for all cartoonist makings making $60 a week or less, received from the Cartoon Producers Association, has been nixed by membership of Screen Cartoonists Guild. Instead members voted for further negotiations in view of continuing increase in the cost of living.
Cartoon producers entered the blanket raise retroactive to June 22 and continuing until Sept. 30, 1951. In the association are Disney, Warners, Metro, Walter Lantz and George Pal.
October 4, 1950
Cartoon Producers Cut Up a Casaba
United Productions of America, producer of cartoons for Columbia release, commercial and television films and animations, has declared accumulated dividend of $2.52 on its preferred stock of record May 1, 1950.
October 11, 1950
Disney Speeds 'Alice' For August Release
Animation on Walt Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" is coming along so rapidly, the producer revealed this week, that the all-cartoon Technicolor version of Lewis Carroll's classic is expected to be ready for RKO release by next August. Feature has been in active preparation and production the past two years.
Picture is said to be the most complicated cartoon feature ever undertaken at the producer's Burbank studio. Majority of the Disney cartoon equivalents are based upon sketches of Sir John Tenniel, who illustrated the original “Alice” books. Inasmuch as the Tenniel decided to retain their characteristics. Voice of "Alice" will be 12-year-old Kathryn Beaumont.
October 24, 1950
Lenard Kester has joined Jerry Fairbanks Productions as art director of animation department.
October 27, 1950
Film Cartoonists Accept Wage Hike, Wind Year Parley
Minimum wage scale increases ranging up to $5 weekly, which were offered by the Cartoon Producers Association, have been accepted by members of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. Acceptance brings to an end negotiations that have been strung out for more than a year and new pact terms are now being formalized for inking.
Wage increases are retroactive to Oct. 2, 1950, and the contract runs through Dec. 31, 1951. Union shop conditions and preferential hiring are provided. All cartoonists receiving under $60 a week get a blanket $2 increase. Those under $50 and up to $60 will receive an additional $3, according to years of service and classification. From $60 up, raise is a straight $5.
Ben Washam, prexy, Milton Tyre, attorney, and William Littlejohn headed the SCG negotiating committee, while William Walsh chairmanned producers committee. Companies in the association are Disney, Warners, Metro, Walter Lantz and United Productions of America.
Metro is coming out with a comical cartoon mystery, "Private Cat's Eye," but it can’t be any funnier than some of the private eyes on screen and radio.
October 30, 1950
'Cinderella', 'Valley' Dubbed For Dualing
Berlin, Oct. 29.—John W. Cutting, in charge of all foreign versions for Walt Disney, is here completing German dubbing for "Cinderella" and Beaver Valley."
This makes total of eight different foreign languages in which cartoon feature has been dubbed, and seven for "Valley." Others are Dutch, Danish, Spanish, French, Swedish, Portuguese and Italian for former, minus Italian for "Valley."
"Valley" will be shown on all programs with "Cinderella" in all foreign situations, with exception of Italy.
November 3, 1950
Disney, Bergen To Telecast On Yule For Coca-Cola
Complementing the pen-and-ink characters on the show will be Bobby Driscoll, star of Disney’s "Treasure Island," and Kathryn Beaumont, who was chosen from among 300 candidates for the title role of "Alice In Wonderland." Novel device, the magic mirror, created at the Disney Studio, will be used to integrate the comedy sketches, flashbacks and other elements of the extravaganza. Trailer of "Alice," to be released next year, will be shown as advance exploitation for the picture. Entire show will be put on film to achieve simultaneous showing in the various time zones.
For Coca-Cola it will serve as a Christmas gift to its consumers; for Disney it will be an experimental effort to reach the millions who never go to theatres. Coca-Cola will participate in a vast campaign with Disney to use all media in an effort to build up the largest audience ever to see a television show.
November 6, 1950
MGM Repacts Quimby
Fred Quimby inked new term pact over weekend as Metro short subjects department head and cartoon producer.
Producer joined studio 25 years ago to organise its shorts department, and has chieftained it ever since.
Sutherland Studios Expand For Video
John Sutherland studios, anticipating heavy television activities is expanding its facilities. Construction of five new office and a sound recording room has started, and studio has purchased additional sound equipment.
Sutherland also has just purchased a new animation camera and equipment, specially made up by Acme Tool Manufacturing Co. Dan Gordon, writer, has been appointed to work out of firm's NY office and work with agencies on prepping TV material. Ross Sutherland is now to devote his entire attention to Gotham activities of company, with John Sutherland to commute between studio and east.
November 9, 1950
AS IT TAKES more than a year to make a one-reel animated color cartoon, the Metro cartoon department puts on the drawing-boards today a new Tom and Jerry, "The Little Church Mouse." Subject, which has a Christmas motif, is penciled in for release during Christmas week, 1951.
November 21, 1950
Marv Miller Talking
Marvin Miller has been signed by United Productions of America to do all the voices in all of company's forthcoming cartoons.
November 28, 1950
Metro slapped a Dec. 5 start on a new Tom and Jerry cartoon: "O Sole Meow."
November 29, 1950
RKO, DISNEY SHARE COST ON ROBIN
Continued distribution of Walt Disney's aborts and features plus joint production of "The Story of Robin Hood" in England next year, is provided in the new contract inked yesterday between the producer and RKO. The two firms collaborated on the production of “Treasure Island” in Britain last year.
Pact, inked by Roy Disney and Ned Depinet covers the worldwide release of "Alice in Wonderland," skedded for next summer's distribution and also covers 36 new cartoon shorts plus three in "True Life" adventure series.
November 30, 1950
UPA Invades Live Field With Thurber 'Carnival' In '51
United Productions of America will invade the feature-length field next year with "Thurber Carnival," utilizing the cartoons and short stories of novelist-humorist James Thurber. Film will be half-animated, in color, and half with live actors, to be lensed in black-and-white.
UPA proxy Stephen Bosustow announced that Thurber currently is huddling in NY with John Houseman, who will produce, on the material to be used. Already pencilled in for the film are the Thurber short stories "You Can Look It Up," "The Greatest Man In the World," "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery," "The Unicorn In the Garden," and "Mr. Pebble Murders His Wife." UPA's John Hubley will be supervising director and will personally direct the animation and legit producer T. Edward Hambleton will be associated in the production.
Film will mark the first time Thurber's cartoons have been used on the screen. Writer already has earned screen credit for penning "Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and has also scripted "The Catbird Seat," comedy-murder yarn now owned by Norma Productions.
UPA, which produces an annual series of cartoons for Columbia, has had three Academy Award nominations in "Robin Hoodlum," "Magic Fluke" and "Flat-Hatting." "Carnival" will be made up at UPA's Burbank studios.
December 4, 1950
WB Up: Briefies 25% For '51-'52
Edward Selzer will be in charge of cartoons. Total of 39 cartoons will be included in next season's program.
December 8, 1950
UPA Opens Plant To Public On Anni Today
United Productions of America, cartoon outfit, will hold open house, starting tonight, for five days at its Valley plant, 440 Lakeside Blvd., to celebrate its seventh anniversary.
Exhibition of animation technique will be shown, as well as screenings of product. Company does both commercial work and Columbia's cartoon program.
December 13, 1950
New cartoon animation technique that will cut 10% from the cost of animated cartoons has been patented by Eddie Nassour. Device involved is called a Regiscope. It controls the movement of figures used through an electrical impulse, thus permitting same flexibility in figures as in animated cartoons. Third dimension effect is claimed for the device.
Hill-Range Using Animated Vidpix To Exploit Their Songs
Hill & Range is going into animated vidpix as a song exploitation method on a big scale. Following a successful experiment with television cartoons of their "Frosty the Snowman," they have just completed a cartoon vidfilm of "Peter Cottontail," their spring plug song, which they will distribute free to video stations all over the country.
"Frosty" cartoon, which was distributed free to every video station, was a three-minute, 16m film in Walt Disney animated style. Soundtrack was done in the capella method, in which voices are used to sound like musical instruments, thus keeping the American Federation of Musicians out of the picture.
According to Hill & Range officials, response of the stations and the public "was terrific." Cartoon was used as. a spot, on adult shows, as a film feature filler and especially on kiddie shows. On some shows, soundtrack wasn't used and live talent sang the song in accompaniment to the film.
"Frosty," incidentally, is the only new Christmas song this year that has developed into a full-scale hit. Gene Autry's Columbia record has sold about 600,000 copies, and other diskeries report strong sales on their versions. Song is among the top five on sheet sales. In addition, an entire line of Frosty the Snowman toys are being marketed in major department stores.
December 21, 1950
WALTER LANTZ YESTERDAY delivered to Universal-International what is probably the first trailer for a one-reel cartoon ever turned out. Total of 1500 Technicolor prints of 45-second briefie will be struck off for delivery to exhibs throughout country. Trailer plugs Lantz's forthcoming series of six "Woody Woodpecker" cartoons for UI release, and can be kept by exhibs permanently, for use whenever one of cartoons is booked.
December 26, 1950
ONE HOUR IN WONDERLAND
Mon., 4 p.m., KNBH-NBC