Saturday, 5 March 2016

Cartoons of 1953, Part 2

Paul Terry may have been a miserly producer of B-list cartoons but he wasn’t dumb when it came to business. He looked at what was happening on television in 1953. There was an insatiable demand for old cartoons to drop into kids shows. Any old cartoons, no matter how primitive. Terry knew that meant there was money to be made and put into his pocket, especially since his studio had big names—Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle—at a time when syndicators were offering cartoons starring the long-forgotten Flip the Frog and Molly Moo Cow. So he sold the TV rights to his cartoons—and then made money again a couple of years later when he sold his studio to CBS and retired to an upscale gentlemen’s club.

But TV still wasn’t quite the story in the world of animation in the second half of 1953. Producers still couldn’t come up with an inexpensive way to make attractive cartoons for TV. Crusader Rabbit was the main exception and it became tied up in an ownership dispute. In the theatrical world, gimmicks were the main story. The 3-D craze died just as a few 3-D cartoons were spewed out, replaced with the rush to make animation for the wide screen. And Walter Lantz swooped in and took advantage of downsizing by hiring Tex Avery, the best-ever cartoon director, and Mike Maltese, the best-ever cartoon writer. The versatile (but personally troubled) Sara Berner was hired as a voice actress. The Lantz studio should have been set. But things fell apart in less than a year. Avery and Maltese left, so did Grant Simmons and Ray Patterson to open their own studio, Berner appeared in one cartoon. Lantz seems to have had the money to hire them but not keep them.

UPA continued to battle with Columbia Pictures, and seems to have been filled with an obsessive desire to put James Thurber on the big screen. Disney continued to try to jettison RKO and set up its own releasing arm.

Below are stories about the animation industry from the pages of Variety in the second half of 1953.

July 1, 1953
Disney Closes Deal To Use CinemaScope
Walt Disney has closed a deal with 20th-Fox to film three features in CinemaScope, plus an unlimited number of short subjects. Negotiations for CinemaScope photographic and projection lenses, and the Miracle Mirror screen, were finalized by proxy Roy O. Disney and Al Lichtman, acting for 20th.
"Lady and the Tramp," a feature cartoon, will be first of features to be made in the new medium, followed by "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," in live-action. Test shots already have been completed on "Tramp" and, according to studio, "are startling and enhance markedly the entertainment possibilities of this picture." Third feature won't be announced until later.
Initial short will be one of Disney's "Adventures In Music," tagged "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom," already in production. It is being rushed through, it's understood, so it will be ready for release with 20th's first CinemaScope production, "The Robe."
Disney also will make several of his "People and Places" series in CinemaScope, first to be lensed in Switzerland. Producer is now en route to England to supervise completion of his latest live-actioner, "Rob Roy," and will go to Switzerland after this for the CinemaScope short. He also is planning several Donald Duck cartoons in this medium.
Producer also is projecting rerelease of "Fantasia" in CinemaScope, it was announced. It is readily adaptable, according to studio, with only minor technical changes which now are being made. Film, which was first to make use of stereophonic sound (Fantasound), will go out in both widescreen and stereophonic sound. Additionally, "The Bword and the Rose," Disney's latest feature release, and "Prowlers of the Everglades," True-Life adventure entry, will be made available in widescreen dimensions to theatres equipped with such facilities.

Disney To Sell Pix Package Independently Of RKO Deal
New York, June 30. — The Walt Disney organization, in a complete switch from its conventional operation pattern, has set up a full program package which may be sold directly to theatremen. Tentative plan represents a departure from norm because, if deal goes through, RKO, with whom Disney has been associated for years, would have no part of it.
The Disney outfit has put together what is described as the first picture of feature-length fashioned along the format of the "True-Life Adventure" series. Film, titled "The Living Desert," runs about 80 minutes. Disney also has a new 45-minute entry named "Stormy," dealing with the birth of a colt.
Indie company figures on adding some short subject material to "Desert" and "Stormy" to bring the combined running time to 213 minutes and selling the combo as a single unit.
Releasing the package through RKO might mean such speedy handling that the pictures couldn't realize their full potential, the Disney company believes. Consequently, the outfit, on its own, is considering "private" distribution, initially to houses of art circuit stature.

July 8, 1953
'Crowned' Surprise Ace In Paris; First French Cartoon Feature Fancy
Paris, June 30.
Present big grosses at the cinemas here are in the offbeat, documentary and gimmick category in the last few weeks. Shaping as the biggest surprise grosser of the season is J. Arthur Rank's "A Queen Is Crowned," soaring in three first-run spots it is playing here.
Two festival winners, a full-length French animated pic, "Shepherdess and Chimneysweep," and the short, "White Mane," also did fine here.

July 15, 1953
Nobody Gay Over Goldwyn-Disney,RKO Pix Tieup
Anent the RKO setup with Samuel Goldwyn and Walt Disney, it appears that nobody's happy. Insiders say that RKO president James R. Grainger feels the company's cut of the indie producers' distribution money is inadequate and may want some changes made.
RKO's take for its distribution service is 20% of Goldwyn pix revenue domestically and 22 1/2% of the foreign income. Distrib's split with Disney is on a 221/2-77 ½ basis in U. S. and Canada and 25-75 abroad.
Disney's "Peter Pan" and Goldwyn's "Hans Christian Andersen" have been the biggest money-makers among RKO releases over the past several months but RKO hasn't been getting the right payoff, Grainger reportedly feels.
On the Disney side, suggesting a possible rift is the plan of the cartoon-maker's sales organization to sell a program package, comprising a feature and shorts, on its own. Idea is to peddle the program to art houses at least initially, with RKO to have no part of the licensing.
Disney's announced intention to swing into CinemaScope production also has had the rumors flying about a split with RKO.
One thing seemed certain. If Disney or Goldwyn do decide on a break with RKO, no other distrib would offer the same money split.

July 16, 1953
Red Coffey, nitery entertainer, was inked yesterday by Metro for voice of the Little Duckling in Tom and Jerry cartoons.

July 22, 1953
Starlight Nails Steve Allen's 'Grimm Tales for Hep Kids'
Steve Allen's "Grimm Fairy Tales For Hep Kids" has been picked up by Starlight Songs, Ray Anthony's music firm. "Tales," originally written by Allen as a mag piece, was cut by Coral Records with Al (Jazzbo) Collins narrating and Lou Stein supplying piano accomp.
In less than two weeks on the market, Coral has shipped more than 45,000 disks. United Productions of America is currently dickering for the film cartoon rights to "Tales."

July 29, 1953
1500 Cartoon, Comedy Short Oldies Racking Up Some Major TV Grosses
At least 1,500 ancient cartoon and comedy film shorts, of the Keystone Cop and Krazy Kat era vintage, are doing a boom business currently, and to a brand-new audience.
Reason for their new popularity is that a growing number of TV stations are integrating them into recently launched live kiddie programs, akin to the successful "Merry Mailman" show on WOR-TV, N.Y. The emcee, whether he's called Uncle Bob or Cowboy Kiyipee, furnishes running dialog, appropriate sound effects and jovial gags, while the largely silent film short grinds on before the screen. Even if the comedy is equipped with a sound track, the moppets seem to prefer that the show emcee inject his own personality.
These shorts exhumed from the mothballs are in the hands of about 12 vidfilm syndicators, ranging from Official Films to Screencraft, Inc. One of them, Mort Sackett, prez of Commonwealth Film & Television, Inc., admits that his library of eight-minute cartoon shorts is minting "tremendously good business" in well over 60 TV markets. He also points out, though, "It's become cut-throat competition in this field. Some film men are peddling cheap, silent cartoons that have the jumpy quality of the nickleodeon pictures."
His biggest trade is with 300 silent cartoons mostly billed as "Aesop's Fables." He also does well with his cartoon with sound, including 13 "Molly Moo Cow" shorts originally shown in RKO theatres; 13 "Willy Whopper" shorts, once shown in Metro theatres; and 38 "Flip the Frog" cartoons.
One of the neatest financial coups in the field has been scored by Dr. Henry Brown, prez of Atlas Television Corp., N.Y. It's known that he paid $100,000 for 350 two-reel early comedies, and he has earned back at least 10 times that amount since he first began showing them on TV in 1948.
These comedies played on all the TV markets before the FCC freeze, and they are now in 32 markets. Among the performers in the two-reelers are Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca, Bert Lahr, Milton Berle, Buster Keaton, Andy Clyde, Harry Langdon and June Allyson. Brown says the emcees on the kid shows like to point out the acting style of these performers while they're being shown. The comedies, he says, are pretty well free of burlesque double-entendre; NBC-TV's acceptance department has passed on 250 of them.

RKO, Disney Squelch 'Rift' Talk, Ink Distrib Pact
Reports of a rift between RKO and Walt Disney Productions over terms of the releasing agreement were quickly dispelled last week with announcement of completion of a new distribution deal between the two outfits.
New pact, revealed jointly by RKO prexy J. R. Grainger and Roy Disney, provides for distribution' by RKO of Walt Disney's currently in-production Technicolor feature, "Rob Roy—The Highland Rogue," which is now being filmed in England and Scotland. Pic is skedded for release next February.
New agreements also provides for RKO distribution of the Disney short subject program for two additional years. It includes an undisclosed number of shorts to be made in CinemaScope as well as 3-D.
Pact also calls for the re-release of Disney's all-animated cartoon feature, "Pinocchio," next April.
Prior to the inking of the new pact there had been reports that RKO was unhappy with its distrib fee. Outfit had been working on a 22 1/2-77 1/2: basis in U.S. and Canada and 25-75 abroad. Terms of the new deal were not revealed.
Immediately following the announcement of the new deal, Grainger left for the Coast to attend a meeting of RKO's board of directors. He is expected back in New York later this week.

August 3, 1953
Inks Sara Berner
Walter Lantz yesterday inked Sara Berner for the voice of the penguin in a new series cartoon producer is planning.

Hollywood Inside
KING FEATURES WILL DISTRIBUTE to 106 daily and 172 Sunday newspapers as a special comic strip to mark Mickey Mouse's 25th anni. Strip, which will appear in September, ties in with the reissue by RKO of a Mickey Mouse birthday package, set for release shortly. Package consists of five Mickey and one Goofy cartoons, which exhibs can play individually or as a 47-minute feature.

August 6, 1953
Walter Lantz Cartoon Staff Upped By 20%
Walter Lantz has increased his cartoon staff by approximately 20% during the past month, to handle a new series of cartoons and work on commercial pictures, producer disclosed yesterday. He recently set up a separate unit for latter films, which will operate independently of the entertainment shorts. Producer, who recently turned out his first 3D cartoon, "Hypnotic Hick," which will be released with UI's 3D feature, "Wings of the Hawk," probably in September, will confer with distrib before engaging upon any further depthies, he reported. If UI continues to make 3D product, then he expects to tag along with shorts in same technique for companion pictures.
Understood that Warners cartoon department, which closed down on June 19 with exception of a skeleton crew, in all likelihood will remain shuttered until Jan. 4. When approximately 70 personnel were pink-slipped, they were told they might be recalled within 90 days, but it was inferred that January probably would more likely be the reopening date.

Hollywood Inside
WALT DISNEY'S MICKEY MOUSE is feeling the pinch of good story material. Queried on whether, what with the Mouse's 25th anniversary in October, Disney planned to step up production of the Mickey Mouse shorts, a spokesman at the Disney office sadly admitted that finding the proper vehicles for the vet cartoon character is a problem indeed.
"Mickey has become so important, you can't put him into just anything," he said. "It's different with Pluto or Donald Duck. Mickey Mouse has practically become a symbol. He's surrounded by taboos." There'll still be two or three Mickey Mouse subjects a year, however. At one time, the Mouse's appearance on the screen were curtailed simply because Disney himself was dubbing in the voice and wasn't finding the time to devote himself to the little fellow.

August 10, 1953
Gene Kelly Back From 19 Months Overseas
...While overseas, Kelly made three films for Metro, "The Devil Makes Three," "Crest of the Wave" and "Invitation To the Dance." Latter will be wound up at the studio here with a special cartoon sequence combining live action with animation. When this is completed, Kelly will make "Brigadoon" here for Metro.

August 12, 1953
Popeye's Third Orb
Popeye, cartoon character of the Paramount shorts series, is going 3-D. One reeler titled "Popeye— the Ace of Space," done in Technicolor with that extra dimension, is being set by Paramount for special bookings during Labor Day week, in advance of its general release on Sept. 15.
Following its playoff in theatres equipped for 3-D, Par plan is to sell the briefie in conventional form for regular 2-D screens.

Terrytoon Mulls C'Scope And Technicolor Binge
Plans for turning out the first Terrytoon cartoons in CinemaScope and Technicolor are being mulled by producer Paul Terry. Contrary to 20th-Fox policy, however, Terry intends duplicating the shorts in standard versions for the world market.
Terrytoon outfit expects to start experimenting with CinemaScope lenses late this summer. Current sked calls for a total of 18 subjects to be available in 1954 with production on the first CinemaScoped shorts to start early that year.

August 13, 1953
Walter Lantz's 1st 3D Cartoon To Cost 60G
Walter Lantz's first 3D cartoon, "Hypnotic Hick," running six minutes in length, must gross $100,000 to break even, producer reported yesterday, shedding new light on the new depth medium.
Due to additional costs the tri-dee process has necessitated, including upped production expenses and double the print charge because of the two strips of film required for each print, film will cost producer approximately $60,000 when it goes into release, according to Lantz.
Film is being packaged with UI's "Wings of the Hawk," studio's second 3D feature, and is being spliced at the beginning of feature so that it will be a complete unit. This marks the first time that a short cartoon of this length has ever been sold on a percentage basis, cartoons heretofore always having been sold on flat rental.

August 17, 1953
Lantz Expands Studio
Remodelling of an additional 8,000 square feet of the Walter Lantz studio was completed over the weekend, with new quarters slated to take care of cartoon producer's recently set up commercial department.
Work was brought in for $25,000, which augments the $80,000 renovating Lantz earlier gave studio.

August 19, 1953
Venice, Aug. 18.
Two subdivisions of the Venice Film Festival, the Festival of Films for Children and the Documentary Festival, got under way last Tuesday (11) and will end with prize ceremonies tomorrow (Wed.) Interest is definitely up from previous years. U. S. has seven items listed in the moppet program.
There are 27 Yank entries, plus one out of the running, listed for the documentary section. These are from various sources: U. S. Government (repped here by Nathan D. Golden) has a set of entries in various fields, others are indies. U. P. A. is running two of their cartoons, "Madeline" and "Rooty-Toot-Toot."

August 20, 1953
Art Rush shot a hole-in-one, his first, on the Island of Maui, and to celebrate the event his wife, Mary Jo, penned a ditty about it called "Hana Maui." Her recent composition, "Chilly Willie," will theme the Walter Lantz cartoon of that title.

August 25, 1953
With the dubbing of the voice of a stork yesterday on Joan Crawford's RCA Victor kidisc album session, Sara Berner added another to her credit list of animal voices from A to Z — ants to zebras.
Only last week Miss Berner simulated what she imagined might be the voice of a penguin for Walter Lantz's new cartoon series, "Chilly Willy." Among the other animal voices provided in the past by the multi-voiced comedienne have been an ant (Capitol's ''Grasshopper and the Ants"), camel (Crosby-Hope's "Road To Morocco"), horse (MGM's "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood"), mouse (MGM's "Tom and Jerry"), panda (Lantz's "Andy Panda"), parrot (Capitol's "Bozo"), turtle (Decca's "Hypotenuse Turtle"), vulture (Warners cartoons), and zebra (Capitol's "Bozo").

'Hawk' To Perch In NY
New York, Aug. 24. — UI's 3D "Wings of the Hawk" will have its world premiere at the Loew's State Theatre here Wednesday, with many civic, screen, radio and TV notables expected to attend.
Walter Lantz' Woody Woodpecker cartoon, "Hypnotic Hick," also in 3D, will be preemed on the same bill.

August 26, 1953
Venice Film Fete
United Production of America garnered the other three prizes handed out to Yank productions with "Madeline" winning in the moppet category, and "Rooty Toot Toot" and "Man On The Land" in two animated cartoon classes.

"Superman" cartoon series released by Paramount in early 1940's acquired by KTTV from Motion Pictures for Television.

September 2, 1953
UPA Cartoonery Chafes Under Its Col Deal; May Seek New Distrib
New York, Sept. 1.—A widening rift is reportedly developing between Columbia and United Productions of America, cartoonery which releases through Col, to the extent that UPA is on the prowl for a new distribution outlet. UPA for some time has felt that it was not getting enough of a cut out of the earnings of its animated shorts. Deal with Col reportedly is a non-percentage arrangement, with UPA getting a flat sum of between $30,000 and $35,000 per picture.
UPA's dissatisfaction with its tie with Col heightened recently when Col cut from 12 to 6 the number of cartoons it would release yearly and flatly nixed financing of a contemplated full-length feature cartoon. Stephen Bosustow, UPA proxy, was here recently for confabs with Col exec Leo Jaffe, at which time he received the thumbs-down on the full-length project. Original plan was to convert several of James Thurber's yarns into a multi-reel feature.
With Col providing previous financing for all cartoons, UPA was required to furnish the distrib with six "Mr. Magoo" and six other specials during the period of a year. Although UPA is permitted to make films for outside companies once it has fulfilled its quota to Col, the cutdown in Col's requirements, it's felt, will seriously affect UPA's operations.

Hollywood, Sept. 1.
Walt Disney won't have a picture in work in England next year for the first time in five years. Overseas production plans have been called off because of Disney's augmented domestic schedule – with live-actioner "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" starting in February on a new stage now under construction here. In the last four years, Disney made "Treasure Island," "Sword and the Rose" and "Rob Roy" in Britain. Latter is due for RKO release in February.
Currently in work at the studio are "The Lady and the Tramp," a cartoon feature in CinemaScope; Disney's first CinemaScope cartoon short, "Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom," and a 3-D cartoon featuring Donald Duck. Producer will shortly start "Sleeping Beauty" as a cartoon feature.

September 3, 1953
STEPHEN BOSUSTOW, PREXY OF United Productions of America, yesterday denied published reports of a "widening rift" between his firm and Columbia. Bosustow reported that UFA had just signed a new deal to make 18 cartoon shorts for Columbia for 1954-55 and added that the contract, like the one it succeeds, permits UPA to make entertainment films for any other distrib if it chooses. Columbia deal, Bosustow said, provides for a percentage on each film.

September 9, 1953
Popeye—Ace of Space
This is Paramount's first 3-D cartoon and it's a click briefie deserving marquee billing. The color is bright and sharp and the dimensional quality is clearly apparent even though there are no gimmicks, such as objects tossed "into" the audience, to accent the depth illusion. Imaginative reeler has the hero whisked from earth to another planet whose kingsize inhabitants he kayoes.
Viewing glasses are required, of course, thus bookings doubtless will be limited to program spots where the feature is in 3-D. Gene.

September 16, 1953
'McBoing' on Wax
"Gerald McBoing Boing," film cartoon character created by United Productions of America, is turning up in a Tin Pan Alley song written by Hy Zaret from a suggestion by Arthur Shimkin, head of Simon & Schuster's Golden Records. UPA okayed the song and will use it to promote their forthcoming shorts. Cab Calloway has etched it for Golden's juve line, and Spike Jones is making it for RCA Victor.

September 19, 1953
Marvin Miller, who handled voices for "Gerald McBoing Boing" cartoon short, will repeat for "How Now, McBoing Boing."

September 21, 1953
Marie Francois, nine-year-old-moppet, set for one of voices in Metro cartoon, "Brave Little Musketeer."

September 23, 1953
UPA Short's Preem To Aid City of Hope
Benefit film festival of cartoon subjects, featuring world preem of United Productions of America's "The Tell-Tale Heart," based on Edgar Allen Poe classic, is slated by City of Hope for Oct. 2-3-4 at the Carthay Circle.
Event is being sponsored jointly by Beverly Hills Auxiliary of City of Hope and UPA.
Admission on a "donation" basis to the continuous screenings has been set at $1 for adults and 25 cents for juves. Balance of program includes Oscar-winning "Gerald McBoing-Boing" and other UPA shorts.

Mutual's $1,000,000 Program Upbeat To Spark New Affiliation Plan
With Mutual ready to switch over to its new programs-for-compensation affiliate arrangement on Oct. 1, the network has completed purchase of over $1,000,000 worth of new AM programming. Total of 14 hours of new shows, which it will deliver free to stations in lieu of compensating them for commercial network option hours marks the largest program upbeat, both in coin expended and in calibre of stars, in the web's history. ...
[Mel] Blanc will star in "The Woody Woodpecker Show," a Saturday morning hour-long airer for kiddies featuring Blanc in his various cartoon voices.

September 24, 1953
CinemaScope Enhances Disney Cartoon Short
A Walt Disney short production (no release). Directors, C. August Nichols, Ward Kimball; animators, Ward Kimball, Julius Svendsen, Marc Davis, Henry Tanous, Art Stevens, Xavier Atencio; story, Dirk Huemer; art direction, A. Kendall O'Connor; songs, Sonny Burke, Jack Elliott; music, Joseph Dubin.
Previewed at Disney studios, Burbank, Calif., Sept. 22, 1953. Running time: 10 mins.
Walt Disney plows more deeply into the fine field of caricature in his first use of CinemaScope for a short subject, which also marks first utilization of the anamorphic process for animation. "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom" reps an experiment in cartoon production allowing greater leeway for strange effects, and for cartoon specialties the widescreen form of presentation should be particularly appropriate.
Animation, which shows the origin and development of musical instruments, is more simple and direct than in past Disney cartoons. The widescreen serves as a canvas for all sorts of quick trackings across the full width of the 2.55 aspect ratio, such as grand pianos being drawn out and horns extended, done so swiftly that action constantly is at top pace. Stereophonic sound also lends interesting effects.
Musk and sound effects freely accompany action, which is done In all the beautiful Technicolor shades of a Disney offering. This first CinemaScope cartoon, reported to have cost between 10% and 15% more than standard cartoons, also will be turned out in regular form. No release has been set as yet by Disney for "Toot." Whit.

September 25, 1953
On the Air Waves
NBC's film syndicate is negotiating a deal with Marche Goddard, industrial engineer, and Dr. Heinz Haber, scientist, for a series of half-hour science films to be produced in Hollywood. Subjects will be factual science to be produced with live action and animation at a cost of $25,000 each. Goddard-Haber Co. has 26 completed stories and will start shooting in 30 days. Frank Capra is now preparing a similar series of scientific films for American Telephone & Telegraph, with each hour show to cost around $250,000.

September 27, 1953
Hollywood Inside
METRO'S ENTIRE GROUP of 16 Technicolor cartoons for the coming season, which started Sept. 1, was announced to exhibs over the weekend, first time that a complete year's MGM program of the sort has been announced so early. Lineup also includes eight reprint car-toons. All are available for either standard or wide-screen projection.

September 30, 1953
Sinfonia Amazonica
(Amazon Symphony)
Rio de Janeiro, Sept. 22.
Unidafilms release of an Anelio Latini Filho production. Produced, directed, animated and edited by Anelio Latini Filho. Story by Filho. At Pathe, Rio de Janeiro. Running time, 75 MINS.
This is the first feature-length cartoon ever made in Brazil. It is strictly a one-man job, and as such merits praise, but technically it leaves much to be desired. Static backgrounds, while competently drawn, take up almost 50% of running time, rendering the picture monotonous. Animation is jerky and awkward.
Yarn consists, of two Amazon folklore stories, both of which could have resulted in attractive and colorful cartoons if technical deficiencies were removed and crisper editing added. As they are now, they lack dramatic punch and are somewhat tedious. Musical score, excepting one typical Brazilian tune, is Wagner and Mendelssohn. This is strictly local fare and only for smaller situations even in Brazil.

Stevens Sets Telepix Distribution Deals
Stevens Pictures for Television, newly-created vidpix distributing firm servicing 12 southern states, last week concluded two distributing deals. Firm, headed by Ed Stevens, vet 16m films and equipment dealer, got sales assignments from Commonwealth Film & Television and Television Screen Productions, both of N. Y.
Stevens will rep the entire Commonwealth catalog of features, westerns, shorts and cartoons. Firm will handle "Jim and Judy in Teleland," a five-minute animation show for children, for Television Screen Productions.

In San Francisco
Localite Lucille Bliss commuting to Hollywood for telefilming of new cartoon series.

September 30, 1953
The Living Desert
Walt Disney has expanded his half-hour "True-Life Adventure" series into full feature length in this initialer in the new format. Carrying all the power and interest of former Disney excursions into nature's little-known existence, film is to be packaged with two other subjects, "Stormy, the Thoroughbred" and a cartoon, “Ben and Me,” and sold as a complete show unit running two hours and 20 minutes by Disney's own sales organization. Returns should be good.
"Ben and Me," a 21-minute cartoon which will be included in the package with "Desert" and "Stormy" (latter still to be previewed), is Disney’s first animated subject in this length. It's brilliant whimsy, with a "poor but honest" Philadelphia church mouse explaining how he helped Benjamin Franklin to fame. Whit.

October 7, 1953
Stageshow Out, Shorts In for Command Show
London, Oct. 6.
With the decision to abolish the annual stageshow accompanying the Royal Command Film Gala and to limit personals to little more than formal walk-ons, shorts are being added to the program for the first time. They were selected on the same basis as the main feature and entries from British and American sources were viewed by a selection panel.
The committee picked three shorts to be shown in support of the main film, Disney's British live-actioner, "Rob Roy." One of Disney's productions, "Bear Country," is among the trio selected. The other two are "The Figurehead," a Halas Batchelor cartoon and "Safety Spin," an UPA Technicolor cartoon released through Columbia.
The gala is slated for the Odeon, Leicester Square, Oct. 26, the proceeds being donated to the Cinematrograph Trade Benevolent fund.

October 14, 1953
Donald Duck is going CinemaScope, according to plans of Walt Disney, who is now having a story line developed around the web-footed character.
Disney's first full-length feature in CinemaScope will be "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," now in preparation. Reports, incidentally, that Disney would go ahead with plans to utilize CinemaScope only if 20th released those pix shot in the process were denied yesterday by a company spokesman.
Disney's first CinemaScope short was "Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom."
Meanwhile, Disney, planning a reissue of "Fantasia,'' will reshoot a portion of it for widescreen projection. Producer has been experimenting with a number of widescreen dimensions, and it appears likely, a spokesman stated last night, that Dieney will film the new footage in CinemaScope.
Feature cartoon already carries Fantasound, a variation of stereophonic sound, which was the original dimensional sound worked out by Disney technicians in 1940.

Disney Establishes Own Distrib Unit
New York, Oct. 13.—Walt Disney Productions has set up its own distribution unit, Buena Vista Film Distributing Co., to handle sales, bookings and ad-pub for "Living Desert" and, presumably, other Disney pix in the future not going through standard distribution channels such as RKO. Leo F. Samuels, head of Disney's NY sales operations, has been named general sales manager.
National Film Service, film carrier outfit, has established facilities in its 33 branch offices to take over physical distribution of the Disney pic, including servicing of prints, accessories, trailers and billings.

October 16, 1953
MGM's Dance Winds Whirl Of 14 Months
Metro yesterday wound up one of its longest schedules on record, in point of time marking period when its Technicolor musical, “Invitation To the Dance,” first hit the cameras in England until the closing scene at studio here.
Gene Kelly, director-star of Arthur Freed production, first put film in work in London on Aug. 19, 1952, where he shot until the first week of February this year. Production then closed down for the final sequence to be lensed at company's Culver plant, a combo cartoon-live action dance sequence tagged "Sinbad the Sailor," and starring Kelly with animated characters, which started several weeks ago.

October 20, 1953
Dispute Ownership Of 'Crusader Rabbit'
Breach-of-contract suit in which an accounting of profits was asked was filed yesterday in Superior Court by Television Arts Productions, Inc., against Jerry Fairbanks, Inc., NBC and Consolidated Television Sales.
Plaintiff charges it produced 195 five-minute cartoons, "Crusader Rabbit," and demands $400,000 which it claims is its 50% share of the net profits due on the "Crusader" series, under a contract signed Oct. 4, 1950. Defendants deny any such claim, alleging they are the sole owners of the series.

October 21, 1953
Fred Quimby, MGM cartoon producer, yesterday retitled "Toto," to "Neapolitan Mouse."

Fred Quimby rushing production on trio of Metro cartoons, "Pet Peeve," "Mamma Thomas" and "Smarty Cat."

Ward Baking's 'Corny'
Ward Baking Co., via J. Walter Thompson, has picked up the tab for the noontime half-hour kiddie show, "Corny the Clown," on WABC-TV, the ABC-TV Gotham flagship. Contract, a 52-week deal, represents one of the station's biggest sales to date.
Series, comprising clowning by Bob Keeshan (ex-"Howdy Doody") cartoons and other kiddie programming, is packaged by Herbert S. Laufman and aimed at the two to 12 age group.

October 22, 1953
Mike Kaplan’s column
Fred Quimby, head of Metro's cartoon department, signed a choir of 40 yesterday to sing "Rock of Ages" and "I Have To Tell the Story" for "The Church Mouse," a Tom and Jerry short.

October 28, 1953
UI Will Release 50 Shorts in 1953 & '54
New York, Oct. 27. - UI will release 50 shorts during 1953-54 with color predominating and tailored to meet changing mechanical patterns, according to Irving Sochin, short subjects sales manager.
The 50 subjects will consist of 15 two-reelers and 35 one-reelers, six of the latter being reissues of popular Walter Lants Technicolor cartoons from previous years.

Wife of Burton F. Gillett, former cartoon director for Walt Disney Productions, died Oct. 17 in Hollywood. [Virginia Monberg Gillett, nee McMaster, was born in Pennsylvania on Sept. 6, 1899].

'Animal Farm' Feature In Cartoon Completed O'Seas
"Animal Farm," full-length cartoon feature of Louis de Rochemont in conjunction with Halas & Batchelor (Cartoon Films, Ltd.) has been completed in England and will be ready for release early in 1954. Film is based on the late George Orwell's satirical tome.
De Rochemont goes to England next week to conclude distribution arrangements for "Farm," as well as to set up a foreign release deal for "Martin Luther."

October 29, 1953
Sea-Worthy ‘Cat’
Fred Quimby, MGM cartoon producer, claims the Tom and Jerry cartoon "Cruise Cat" has had the longest run ever achieved by a short. The SB Lurline, locale for the cartoon, has run it on every voyage to Honolulu and return since August, 1952.

October 30, 1953
Shug Fisher, guitarist with Sons of the Pioneers, has been inked by Fred Quimby, Metro cartoon chief, to lead a hillbilly group furnishing melodies for a new Tom and Jerry subject, "Pecos Pest."

November 3, 1953
Name Byars Gen. Mgr. Of Five Star Prod'ns
Taylor Byars has been named general managing director of Five Star Productions, with other staff additions including Walt Clinton, assistant to animation director; Joe Orlando, production assistant; Phil Dean, shipping, and Helen Ward, accounting.

November 11, 1953
See Signs of Wavering In Majors' Determination Not To Sell Pix To TV
New York, Nov. 10.—In what's regarded as a significant trend toward raking in a buck while the raking is good, the major film distress' united front against the sale of old pictures to TV is cracking in a couple of spots.
Deal was announced today by which 112 Terry-Toon sound shorts go on television shortly. Deal brought Paul Terry, who produced the series originally released by Fox, a total of $140,000. Twentieth-Fox is not directly involved since the distrib doesn't have the television rights to the one-reelers. Paramount too is reported unloading about 100 old sports subjects and cartoons to television.
The Terry deal was worked out through the William Esty Agency with CBS which starts presentation of the shorts next week in a quarter-hour show tagged "Barker Bill," which General Mills bank-rolls. Initial arrangements cover a 28-week period with two programs scheduled weekly over 14 stations.

November 12, 1953
WB Packages Product For Shut-In Circuits
Warners has consummated an extensive tie-up with Films Incorporated whereby the pic company is making available to FI approximately 40 shorts and cartoons in 16m for immediate distribution to theatreless towns, institutions, hospitals, shut-ins, etc.
Shorts are being packaged into 30minute programs, each comprising either two or three of the featurettes. Price for each program is $6.

November 13, 1953
Army Archerd’s column
The cartoon characters in "Invitation to the Dance" will become permanent members of Fred Quimby's "Tom and Jerry" family.

November 18, 1953
Ford Backing Seen On Thurber Series
Ford Foundation is mulling the underwriting of a series of cartoon productions by United Productions of America of James Thurber's "Fables for Our Times." Cartoons would be shown on Ford's "Omnibus" on CBS-TV.
UPA has already produced and has in distribution via Columbia pix one such Thurber subject, "Unicorn in the Garden." Cartoonery hold the film rights to the remainder of the Thurber tales, and has a tentative arrangement to produce the rest of them should the first rake in enough coin. Ford got into the act with the tentative proposal that it would underwrite the remainder of the films provided they be shown on "Omnibus" first. Matter is in the talking stage only, with no agreements signed. UPA, it's understood, would correlate the cartoons after the "Omnibus" showings and distribute them as one feature film.

George E. Phair’s column
In keeping with modern improvements, Fred Quimby is making a Metro cartoon titled "Supersonic Mouse." With all that speed, it will take an atom-powered cat to catch him.

Inside Stuff—Pictures
Unusual French short, drawn by 12 elementary school pupils at Paris’ Avenue Thierry l'Avray school, has been booked by the Paris and Fifth Ave. Theatres, N. Y., for showing after Christmas. Cartoon, in Eastman color and running 11 minutes, is called "Martin and Gaston" and is imported by George K. Arthur. Story tells of two young heroes shipwrecked on a tropical island. Arthur discovered the subject when he saw it screened at Nico's Rose Rouge, a Paris cabaret.

November 24, 1953
Par's 'Moon' In 3-D
Paramount has completed a second 3-D Technicolor cartoon, "Boo Moon," a fantasy of a trip to the moon by Caspar, The Friendly Ghost, it was announced yesterday by Oscar Morgan, short subjects sales manager.
Initialer was "Popeye — the Ace of Space," now in release.

November 30, 1953
Anne Whitfield, 16-year-old ingenue who is film-debuting in "White Christmas," set by Walter Lantz to lend her voice for a Woody Woodpecker cartoon .

December 1, 1953
Red Coffee set by Metro cartoon producer Fred Quimby for the "Lucky Ducky" voice in Tom and Jerry "Down Hearted Duckling".

December 2, 1953
UPA, With Screen Gems Deal At End, Invades NY
United Productions of America, its two-year sales franchise deal with Screen Gems having ended, will expand its commercial sales activities in the eastern TV spot and industrial film field, proxy Stephen Bosustow said yesterday.
He has named William Bernal of the firm's creative and film planning staff as company sales rep in NY, to work under the direction of Don McCormick, UPA's studio manager in NY. UPA will continue its non-exclusive releasing deal for entertainment cartoons with Columbia.
Discussions with Screen Gems on a new deal failed to jell, UPA being opposed to signing for more than one year.

Strauss Musical Shorts In KBTV, Denver, Buy
Commonwealth Film & Television sold its package of 13 Johann Strauss musical shorts this week to KBTV in Denver, marking the fourth sale of the European-produced series since it went into syndication a few weeks ago. Pix, four minutes long, were produced in Salzburg this summer.
Commonwealth prexy Mort Sackett is also pushing his series of features, half-hour westerns and sound and silent cartoons, reporting solid sales results on the latter, 284 of which are silent and 64 soundies.

lst Cartoon Feature Started by Italians
Rome. Nov. 24.
After two years of study and preparation, Fax Film of Rome has begun production on a feature-length animated cartoon. To be called "Rompicello," film is being made through the efforts of more than 200 animators and technical experts, headed by Gibba and Kremos, two top Italian cartoonists.
At this time work on the actual animation is proceeding under great secrecy.

Bonjour Paris (Color-Songs)
Paris, Nov. 24.
AGDC release of Jean Image production. Directed by Image. Story, Eraine; sets, Claude Santelli; music, Jean Yatove; camera, K. Tchikine; commentary spoken by Francois Perier. At Le Raimu, Paris. Running time, 70 MINS.
This is the third cartoon feature to be made here. It is an attempt at a whimsical interpretation of Paris. Although nicely done, it emerges as the tourist's Paris with the w.k. landmarks, the spirit and the visitor's-eye-view types rather than sticking to a real Gallic feeling which night have made this a more palatable entry. As is, the neat outline of Paris and its good Technicolor may slant this for dualer spatting on the Paris appeal tag. This might also do for TV although the pic has the air of a propaganda tourist film.
Though progression and animation are good this does not have the power, inventiveness or more spectacular techniques to put over a full-length cartoon as a big feature. Songs are ordinary and production numbers tend to be dragged in. Commentary is well underlined by the chiding and warm voice of Francois Perier. Mosk.

December 4, 1953
WB Cartoon Studio Resumes Production Operations Jan. 4
Warners cartoon studio will resume operations Jan. 4, Edward Selzer, who heads unit, reported yesterday. Unit closed down last June, due to a backlog of nearly one year of completed product.
Key workers have been trickling back to WB employment during the past several weeks, to prep a schedule of between 25 and 30 cartoons in 1954, with balance to report before Jan. 4.
In preparation of new schedule, Selzer already has arranged for purchase of an all-purpose camera and crane, which will be installed late this month. Larger swivel units for the animation, inking and painting desk also have been ordered. New cartoon sked calls for subjects to be produced for a 1.75 screen, suitable also for standard showing.
Selzer tosses annual Warner Club Christmas party at his home Dec. 20.

December 9, 1953
UPA In SG Exit, Stepping Up Sales
Hollywood, Dec. 8.
United Productions of America will step up sharply its commercial sales activities, in TV spots and filmed announcements in New York and the eastern seaboard, following failure of the cartoonery and Screen Gems to get together on a new contract. Screen Gems had acted as sales rep for UPA's one- and two-minute filmed spots for the past two years.
Under the new setup, William Bernal of UPA's creative and film planning staff moves into N.Y. as sales rep. He reports directly to Don McCormick, UPA's Gotham studio chief. Firm's entertainment cartoons are done in Burbank, while the Gotham studio turns out (Commercials for such clients as General Motors, Johnson's Wax, Jello, Jergens Lotion, Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, Crisco, Motorola, Camel's, Elgin, Ivory Soap, Duffy-Mott and scores of other advertisers.
UPA will continue to release its theatrical cartoon series through Columbia, which owns Screen Gems. Latter's v.p.-general manager Ralph Cohn, however, had asked for a five-year pact, but UPA prexy Steven Busustow nixed the deal.

Screen Gems Sets Own Animation
With United Productions of America and Screen Gems having come to a parting of the ways in their animated production-sales deal whereby UPA produced animated blurbs with SG repping them on (see separate story), Screen Gems is expanding its own production department to include an animation unit.
Under the terminated UPA-SG deal, the cartoonery made and SG sold the cartoons to clients and in some cases where the Columbia Pix subsid made the commercials, they called on UPA to provide the animation. With animation needed for the Screen Gems commercials, the company will provide its own via the expansion of the department. SG, incidentally, gave a different version of the break with UPA, claiming it is not renewing with the cartoonery in view of the establishment of the new animation unit.
SG has also set another special commercial unit, this one to concentrate on the shooting of commercials for U. S. Steel for the bankroller's hour-long alternate-week "U. S. Steel Hour" on ABC-TV. Unit, consisting of producer, director, cameramen and film editors, will work under Ben Berenberg. Latter will work closely with BBD&O, which agents Steel. It's said to be the first such setup of its kind, under which one production unit within a company devotes all its work to the commercials of one client.

Herbert Johnson, onetime animator for Walt Disney and George Pal, joined Sarra, Inc., here as animation director.

Seasonal shuttering of a good many of the drive-ins has dealt another blow to short subjects sales which have fallen off alarmingly. Spread of CinemaScope is seen making the position of shorts as well as newsreels even more difficult.
Ozoners are heavy users of the one and two-reelers which make good curtain raisers for the hour or so when it's still fairly light. Drop in revenue from shorts and newsreels has been steady over the past year or two. One major distrib reports that sales of cartoon shorts are off by as much as 33%.
Companies blame exhib economies. Smaller houses especially have tended to lop off the newsreel as their initial budget-cutting measure. Distribs have complained for years that exhibs refuse to allow higher rentals on shorts despite the fact that production costs have skyrocketed. Only a very few shorts, such as some of the United Productions of America series, have garnered high coin.
To what extent CinemaScope will change the situation isn't clear as yet, according to company execs. Movietone has lensed several CinemaScope shorts for which 20th-Fox is getting better coin. However, some exhibs hold to the opinion that only features should get the anamorphic treatment and that shorts should continue as before to provide the necessary contrast.
As for the newsreels, the problem is largely one of circulation. For one, not enough houses are equipped for CinemaScope to make it economical for 20th to make the switch. For another, it's felt that the newsreel should be in color, which brings up the problem of speedy processing of the prints. Cost factor also is a question mark.

December 11, 1953
Cartoonists To Caper For Charity's Sake
Clarence Nash, who speaks for Donald Duck, and the Walt Disney Players will be among those on the entertainment program at the first annual Christmas Costume Ball being tossed tomorrow night by Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, Local 839. Music will be furnished by Dick Roberts band. Affair is a benefit for mentally retarded children. Cartoon artists, headed by Roy Williams, art director for Disney, will demonstrate their talents as part of the program.

British To Broadcast 'Snow White' Excerpts
London, Dec. 10. — RKO has put together a 45-minute program of excerpts from Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" for broadcasting over BBC Christmas Eve. Picture opens reissue run here next Wednesday.

December 14, 1953
Howling It Up
Shug Fisher and His Hillbillies have been signed by MGM's cartoon producer Fred Quimby for "Pecos Pest" short.

December 16, 1953
Screen Gems, UPA Split Leaves 250G Animation Billings Up in The Air
Parting of the ways of Screen Gems and United Productions of America and Screen Gems' subsequent decision to set up its own animation production department leaves a $250,000 annual animated billings plum up in the air. Big question is who will get the lion's share of the animation billings, UPA, which has set up its own sales department, Screen Gems, with its own production resources, or other animators in the field.
Under the Screen Gems-UPA agreement which expired last week, SG was the sales rep for UPA, selling the clients, producing live-action sequences and bringing in UPA for animation work. It's estimated that of SG's $1,000,000 billings this year for commercials, the animated portions accounted for $250,000. That UPA wasn't going to sit back without a try at that billings was indicated by its appointment of William Bernal as eastern sales rep for TV. At the same time, SG is in a favourable position to keep the billings because it's been doing the selling and handling the clients all along and because it's equipped to do both live-action and animation, thus obviating the necessity for clients to farm out production to different sources.
There are no long-term agreements with the clients involved, since the blurbs are assigned on a job basis. UPA is finishing off those currently in production, but where the next batch will go is anybody's bet. Some of the clients involved are General Motors, Johnson's Wax, Jello, Jergen's Lotion, Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, Crisco, Camel's, Motorola, Elgin, Duffy-Mott and Ivory Soap.

December 21, 1953
Metro is expanding its use of CinemaScope to its cartoon program, studio reported yesterday. Walt Disney already has converted to this process for several of his shorts, with more coming up, and 20th-Fox also has launched a live-action program of shorts in the anamorphic system.
Culver lot over weekend installed CinemaScope lenses in its cartoon department, and trio of upcoming cartoons, "Touche Pussy Cat," "South Bound Duckling" and "Brave Little Mouseketeer," will be shot in the process. Films also will be lensed for standard showing and in MGM widescreen.

December 23, 1953
Avery Leaves Metro For Post With Lantz
Walter Lantz yesterday signed "Tex" Avery to a 20-year contract as exec producer of all Lantz's productions. Avery moves immediately to the Lantz lot from Metro, where he produced the "Droopy" series, "Johnny Jet" as well as many other cartoons.
In addition to producing all Woody Woodpecker and Chilly Willy Cartunes for Lantz, Avery will supervise all animation as well as creating new characters for the Lantz organization.

Briefs From the Lots
Mike Maltese swinging from Warners' cartoon staff to become chief story director for Walter Lantz Productions. [Note: Maltese was hired by Lantz in June].

More McBoing Cartoons
Columbia has extended its distribution deal with United Productions of America for another year. Under the pact, Col will release 13 UPA cartoons. The Gerald McBoing-Boing type of animated reeler has been particularly successful in key cities.

Par Pays $850,000 For WB’s Sunset Lot
Paramount has purchased Warners Sunset studio as the new home for its tv station, KTLA, with the price said to be approximately $850,000. Announcement of the deal was made yesterday by Par prexy Barney Balaban, and WB pres, H. M. Warner, in a joint statement. ...
Sale includes all the buildings on the site. Under terms of the deal, one building now occupied by Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc., is being leased back to the cartoonery by Par for a five-year period.

Charlton Snags 'Maid' For Possible B'way Run
Hollywood, Dec. 22.
"The Maid and the Martian," science-fiction comedy produced at the Gallery Stage here last year, has been optioned by Richard Charlton for possible Broadway showing under banner of his American Productions. Script may be tried out at the Sombrero Playhouse, Phoenix, which Charlton operates with Ann Lee. "Martian" was written by Joseph Barbera, co-writer and co-director of the Academy Award-winning "Tom and Jerry" cartoons at Metro. Play had a 10-week run at the tiny Gallery Stage and is now being revised.


  1. The title of the August 25 article, "Sara's Private Zoo," was a reference to Berner's radio show "Sara's Private Caper." Of course, "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" was a Disney cartoon, not MGM.

    So it was Shug Fisher who was Uncle Pecos in "Pecos Pest"? "F-f-Froggy went a courtin' and he did ride, c-c-c-crambone!"

  2. Because of MGM's huge cartoon backlog, "Pecos Pest" wasn't released until November of 1955. And, as we all know, NONE of the supporting characters from "Invitation to the Dance" (held from release until May 1956) were EVER featured in the Tom & Jerry shorts.

  3. ....and, as we all know, Tex Avery only directed four cartoons for Walter Lantz before he and Mike Maltese left him in early 1955.