Saturday, 16 April 2016

Cartoons of 1954, Part 2

Silly, short-sighted film studios.

When it came to television, they behaved like children threatening to hold their breath and turn blue. In the process, they lost the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.

The studios had reels upon reels of old films, most of them worth nothing in theatres. Television wanted them. What did the film studios do? Instead of getting into the television business—because they were still unofficially boycotting it—and selling their old films to stations or networks, they sold them to TV distribution companies. A keys-to-the-mint analogy wouldn’t be out of place.

The story of animated cartoons in the last half of 1954 is mainly one about television, and theatrical shorts finding their way onto the small screen. New York-based distributors had already put B-grade material into the hands of TV station operators—Bray silents, cartoons from the Van Beuren and Iwerks studios, the Fleischer Superman shorts (by far the classiest of the lot). Paul Terry was smart enough to work out a deal with CBS for his back catalogue.

Late 1954 marked the debut of some of Walter Lantz’s shorts from the 1930s on the small screen, thanks to Matty Fox’s Motion Pictures for Television. Columbia Pictures made a deal that included some of its cartoons being broadcast on cartoons, the long-forgotten Scrappy and other old black and white ones. Still, the North Central Allied Association of Exhibitors laid into the studio, saying “such deals make our tv competitor's job easier” (Variety, Nov. 19, 1954).

Walt Disney didn’t see television as a competitor. In fall of 1954, his “Disneyland” show debuted on ABC, which he used to promote his films and soon-to-be-opened theme park. As host, he showed a truncated version of Alice in Wonderland and linked together old animated shorts, among other things, and reaped the benefits.

It would be another two years before Eliot Hyman’s Associated Artist Productions landed two huge deals that gave the company the TV rights to certain Warner Bros. and Popeye cartoons.

Let’s run through some cartoon-related stories from Variety for the second half of 1954. John Hubley embarked on a failed attempt to make a Finian’s Rainbow feature with a tremendous musical cast. UPA was still hoping to make feature cartoons, Fred Quimby set-up a second unit under Mike Lah to animate cartoons. Interestingly, the trade paper mentions Paul Frees voicing Cellbound. It was the last MGM cartoon with Tex Avery’s name credited as director. But Avery had left the studio a year and a half earlier. Even though the voice track is recorded early in the animation process, evidently enough prep work had been done to give Avery (and writer Heck Allen) screen credit.

July 14, 1954
[RKO] will release 44 one-reel shorts and 26 two-reelers during 1954-55. These will include 18 Walt Disney cartoons in Technicolor.

July 15, 1954
'Droopy' and 'Barney' Back On M-G Sked
Metro cartoon department, functioning under producer Fred Quimby, will add two additional units following the mass annual vacation of department Aug. 27 to Sept. 20.
Units will resume production on the "Droopy" and "Barney Bear" series, both of which were temporarily dropped pending completion of studio's "Sinbad the Sailor" cartoon sequence for "Invitation To The Dance."
[Note: Weekly Variety of Aug. 4th added: “Perspecta Sound will be used for all 16 cartoon releases for the new year. Four are being made in CinemaScope.”]

July 15, 1954
Cartoon producer Walter Lantz and Mrs. Lantz sail from NY on Aug. 20 for a six-week trip abroad, during which time Lantz will visit UI exchanges and meet exhibs to stimulate sales of Lantz product in the European market.

August 2, 1954
Metro cartoon producer Fred Quimby has inked character actor Paul Freese for the voice assignment for "Cellbound," which goes on the drawing boards for 1954-55 release.

Cap to Slice Disney Score Sans Peggy Lee
Hollywood, Aug. 3.
Capitol Records will release an album based on the music from the Walt Disney feature "The Lady and the Tramp," although the cartoon film features the voice of Peggy Lee, under contract to Decca.
Instead of taking the soundtrack, Capitol re-recorded the entire score. An unbilled singer took Miss Lee's songs.

Metro's "Tom and Jerry" cartoon, marked for 15 years by mayhem and near murder, perhaps has taken a lesson from the current anti-violence protests from parents and teachers.
For the first time since the series started, all will be sweetness and light. Jerry will not smack Tom in the teeth with a well-driven golf ball or dump cantaloupe "grenades" on him from a kitchen table. In the upcoming "Tom, Jerry and the Kid," the cartoon characters will join forces in a careful, correct and tender treatment of a new-born baby.
Metro, however, hasn't indicated whether this is a permanent or temporary truce.

2 First Prizes, 3 Second Place Awards to Yanks At Prelim Venice Fete
... Other Yank kudos went to "Christopher Crumpet," first prize for cartoons while three second prizes were given "A Is for Atom," "[Hazrds of] Dental Radiography," and "How to Make a Mask," last-named in the children's film section. [Note: “A Is for Atom” is a John Sutherland industrial animated short. “How to Make a Mask” was by Ruby Niebauer, released by Bailey Films].

August 6, 1954
Lantz's 25th Anni
Tentative plans for UI's observance at year's end of cartoon producer Walter Lantz's 25th anni with company were discussed yesterday by Irving Sochin, short subjects sales chief, with the producer, who embarks soon on a two-month [remainder of story not published].

August 9, 1954
4 Metro Shorts Will Go Into Sept. Release
Metro will release four short subjects during September. Pete Smith's "The Camera Caught It" goes out early in the month; James A. FitzPatrick Traveltalk, "Yosemite the Magnificent," Sept. 11; and pair of cartoons, "Mice Follies" and "Farm of Tomorrow," Sept. 4 and 18, respectively.

August 11, 1954
2-Reelers, Four Serials On Col Sked
New York, Aug. 10—Columbia will launch its 1954-55 shorts subjects program in September with a schedule of 26 two-reelers, 84 single reels and four serials. The new program will be featured by the first Cinema Scope entry from United Productions of America, cartoonery which releases through Col. The C'Scope entry will be a "Mr. McGoo" short titled "When McGoo Flew."
Program is being bolstered by reissues. For example, out of the 26 two-reelers, 12 are reissues. Fifteen of the cartoons and 14 other one-reelers are reprints. UPA, however, will deliver 12 new cartoons, including a new "Gerald McBoing Boing" in addition to the C'Scope "McGoo."

August 16, 1954
Bird of Passage
New series of Woody Woodpecker cartoons for UI release, to have a European setting, was announced by producer Walter Lantz yesterday prior to leaving for a two-month tour abroad.
In addition to visiting UI exchanges on the Continent and in Britain, Lantz is taking 4,000 feet of film with him to lense backgrounds in France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and England for use as locales in upcoming series. Initialer will be "Woody Woodpecker In Paris."

August 18, 1954
Roy Rogers Enterprises has closed deal with Walter Lantz whereby Rogers' outfit will merchandise food, infants' wear and toys springboarding from w.k. Lantz cartoon characters like Woody Woodpecker, etc.

August 25, 1954
New York
Wilfred Jackson stopped over briefly on his return from Europe en route to the Coast, where he'll direct several cartoon subjects for ABC-TV's upcoming "Disneyland" series.

September 1, 1954
5 U. S. Gov't Pix Competing In Edinburgh Film Festival
Washington, Aug. 31. — Five U.S. Government motion pictures have been selected for showing at the current Eighth International Edinburgh Film Festival, the U.S. Information Agency reported today.
Two are the Agency's own productions, "Tom Schuler, Cobbler Statesman" and "Village and the School," both cartoons.

September 21, 1954
Ends 18-Year Association; Buena Vista,Own Distrib Co., To Handle Future Releases
Unable to get an adjustment in distribution terms from RKO, Walt Disney Productions henceforth will release all its product domestically through its own Buena Vista Film Distribution Co., formed a year ago to release Disney's first feature-length True Life Adventure, "The Living Desert," prexy Roy O. Disney announced yesterday. Only exception is a series of 18 shorts still to be distributed by RKO, which has handled all Disney features up to "Desert" since 1936. Abroad, Disney films will be distribbed in England by Walt Disney British Films, Ltd., which like Buena Vista is a wholly owned subsid of WDP; and in other areas of the world by nationals of all important countries, according to announcement.
All Buena Vista execs and sales personnel have been called to Burbank studio for meetings, starting today, for discussion and screening of all finished product. Buena Vista program for next two years will be initiated by "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," skedded for a Christmas release. "Lady and the Tramp," first CinemaScope cartoon feature, follows next Easter, with "Sleeping Beauty," still shooting, next. Trio, which Disney describes as the most impressive array of features in the history of organization, reps an overall outlay of between $11,000,000 and $12,000,000, according to studio.

September 29, 1954
Hy Mayer, 86, cartoonist, author, editor and vaude performer, died Sept. 27 at his home in South Norwalk, Conn. Born in Worms-on-Rhine, Germany, he came to the U.S. in the middle. '80s. He had been a cartoonist for numerous papers and magazines, including the New York Times, Life, Harper's and Collier's. He was editor-in-chief of Puck in 1914 and a contributing editor in 1915.
From 1909-1916, Mayer drew the cartoons for his "Animated Weekly," a film short. He also produced 50 film "Travelaughs," based on his worldwide jaunts. He appeared in vaude, demonstrating his cartoon handiwork and impersonating famous characters. He was a member of the Lambs. Wife and a stepson survive.

October 6, 1954
20th Dropping All 2-D Short Subjects
New York, Oct. 6.—Concentrating primarily on CinemaScope, 20th-Fox is streamlining its shorts subject releases by dropping all 2-D reelers with the exception of the Terrytoons. Latter are now so designed that they can be shown through the anamorphic lens with a full-screen effect.
Being dropped off the sked are 20th's six sports shorts and its "See It Happen" series which took in great events of the past. So far this year, 20th has released 17 CinemaScope shorts, with another four due out by the end of the year.

Seek Ella Logan, Wayne To Reprise B'way Roles In 'Rainbow' Cartoon
Ella Logan and David Wayne of the original cast are being dickered to join Barry Fitzgerald in a feature cartoon version of the 1947 Broadway smash, "Finian's Rainbow," which will be produced by the newly formed Distributors Corporation of America.
Fred Schwartz, DCA proxy, arrives here tomorrow with composer Burton Lane to huddle on cast and production affairs.
Fitzgerald has already been signed for the voice of Finian, played on Broadway by Albert Sharpe. Schwartz wants Miss Logan to voice her original role of Sharon and Wayne to do his Leprechaun part.
John Hubley, formerly with United Productions of America, will do the cartoon work on the celluloid version of the show, originally produced by Lee Sabinson and William R. Katzell. Set to roll with "Finian's" under the DCA banner is "The Viking," an adaptation of the Edison Marshall novel, which will be produced by Milo Frank.
First DCA entry, "Long John Silver," produced by Joseph Kaufman in Australia, is now being scored.

Army Archerd’s column
Gene Kelly danced with cartoons, Esther Williams swam with 'em and now Walter Pidgeon sings with 'em — in "Hit the Deck." The tune: "Hallelujah!"

October 8, 1954
DuPont Using Cartoon Short To Sell Gas
Three execs from E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. are here from Wilmington, Del., for confabs with producer John Sutherland on two all-animation subjects from company. They include E. F. DuPont, director of industrial relations; Virgil Simpson, advertising exec; and Glen Parry, public relations exec.
Films include a 13 ½ minute film about Freon gas, liquid spray, which will be distributed by company as an entertainment short and sponsored on a local tv basis. Second is a 20minute employe relations film.

October 12, 1954
Testimonial To Lantz On 20th Anni Nov. 1
Teatimonial party honoring Walter Lantz's 25th anni with UI was announced yesterday by a film cartoon industry committee. Lantz is currently in Europe and is expected back around Nov. 1.
Cartoon producer started producing cartoons for Uncle Carl Laemmle in 1929 and has been with the Arm since. His present trip is to collect stock shots for a series of Woody Woodpecker cartoons with European backgrounds.
Walt Disney, Fred Quimby, Edward Selzer, Steve Bosustow and George Pal head the committee which is tentatively planning a cocktail party for late next month to mark the anniversary.

October 20, 1954
Flamingo Exchange Deal Paves Way For Jap-Produced Pix for TV
First telefilm production deal with the Japanese, under which a Tokyo-based firm will supply a film series for American television, was worked out in New York last week by Television Corp. of Japan and Flamingo Films. Under a five-year deal which involves exchange of programs as well as new product, TCJ will supply a series of 52 quarter-hour fully animated cartoons to Flamingo for American tele distribution.
Deal not only marks the first time the Japanese will produce film for American television consumption, but also marks the first cartoon series produced directly for television to be offered for syndication. Under the terms of the production deal, TCJ's animators, who employ a Disney-type technique, will do the animation and filming in Tokyo, with Flamingo supplying story format and soundtrack in N. Y. Japanese, incidentally, will supply their own soundtracks for local consumption.
Total cost of the films, in which Flamingo and TCJ are partnered, comes to $1,500,000, all of which will be forwarded In dollars to Japan. Agreement, under which Flamingo has named TCJ its selling agent in Japan for its own product, runs five years with options to cancel at the end of three, and calls for an annual expenditure by Flamingo in subsequent years of at least $1,000,000. Films, incidentally, will have a central character and a continuity currently being worked out by Flamingo. They're being done in 35m Eastman color, with delivery of the first films slated for April 15 and a September release date assigned. Flamingo is working out details under which the cartoons would be distributed theatrically outside the U. S. and Japan.
Deal was negotiated by Flamingo's Sy Weintraub and TCJ's John Tanaka, who left for Japan last week to start production. TCJ is a production outfit whose board of directors Includes Japan's top industrialists, with the Mitsui banking interests also involved. Firm has been in production for some time for Japanese teleyision, and the deal was consummated on the basis of the animation work Tanaka brought over with him. Deal is looked upon with favor by both the U. S. and Japanese governments, since it brings American dollars into Japan and is regarded as a goodwill gesture.
Flamingo has already shown TCJ samples to a number of national sponsors and has reported favourable reaction. Series, episodes of which are self-contained, would be offered initially on a program basis, for full sponsorship and slanted toward early-evening family audiences. Later, in syndication and rerun, they'd be offered on a library basis to stations.
Deal calls for Flamingo to hand over to TCJ its "Superman," "Top Secret," "TV's Baseball Hall of Fame," "Flamingo Theatre" and "Tele-Comics" series for sale to Japanese television stations. Deal would be a joint one, where Flamingo and TCJ would participate in the revenues from Japanese sales. Future Flamingo product would be handled in Japan by TCJ, while there's the possibility that the latter would produce additional series for Flamingo. Latter's Jim Harris is exec producer of the cartoon series.

October 22, 1954
Metro CinemaScoping Tom & Jerry' Cartoons
New York, Oct. 21.—Four Fred Quimby "Tom and Jerry" cartoons will constitute the first Metro CinemaScope briefies.
Titles include "Pet Peeve," "Touche Pussycat," "Southbound Duckling" and "Pup On a Picnic." "Pet" will be released Nov. 20. Total Metro shorts for the new year will be 49, including five Musical Gems CinemaScopers.

October 27, 1954
New York, Oct. 26. — Columbia is unloading a sizable package of its oldie pix to television. Company disclosed an unspecified number of oaters and cartoons is going to Hygo Corp., pic distributor in the tv field. It's understood about 29 westerns, and 50 black-and-white single-reelers are involved.
Jack Cohn, v.p. and Col's eastern chief, stressed that disposition of these pix "in no way alters our company's policy of not releasing our features for television showing." He added that the westerns and animated product sold to Hygo have "long since outlived their theatrical value and have no further potential for reissue."
The westerns, it was said, date back 15 years or more and some of them star Bill Elliott and Russell Hayden.

European Backgrounds to Cartoons; Lantz Reminds Trade Animated As Costly Per Foot as Features
Impressed with the European response to his animated cartoons, shorts producer Walter Lantz is planning to provide some of his upcoming subjects with continental backgrounds to add to their foreign appeal.
Lantz, who's marking his 25th anniversary of releasing his reelers through Universal, told in N. Y. last week (22) of the enthusiastic reception accorded cartoons in Europe by both exhibs and audiences. He'd just returned from a survey trip through that market.
He also stressed the economic problems of the shorts producers in the face of apparent apathy on the part of U. S. theatremen and their unwillingness to up the ante for the one and two-reelers despite the sharp rise in production costs.
May Trim Footage
Planning a program of 13 new animated color items for the new year, Lantz emphasized that continued exhib resistance to higher rentals for his product might force him to cut the length of his reels from the current six to only five minutes. "If we can't get more money, and since we want to maintain the quality, we'll just have to trim the footage." he declared.
Lautz explained that his cartoons cost him anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000 and that, on a per foot basis, "they cost as much as our expensive features." Furthermore, he disclosed, it takes him four years to recoup his negative cost on anyone of his shorts.
The only independent cartoonist left in the field—he's been at it since 1916—Lantz disclosed that 30% of his income came from his licensee business (comic strips, etc.). "Without that and our reissues," said the man who's made the Woody Woodpecker characters a part of the American shorts scene, "we couldn't make ends meet."
Lantz and Irving Sochin, U shorts subjects sales manager, agreed that, were American exhibs to sell shorts more aggressively, "there would be more of an audience response." In Europe, Lantz reported, theatre ops play the cartoons big and exploit them along with the feature bill. "Why couldn't they do that here?" he asked.
Rentals Unbudged
Sochin, who earlier in the week had reported that U would have a lineup of 51 shorts in 1954-55, observed that the success of cartoons had to expand along with the success of the feature product. "However," he said, "exhibitors don't want to give us a fair shake. In all these years, cartoon rentals haven't increased a dime. They don't really want to give us a chance to expand."
Philip Gerard, U's eastern publicity topper, said U intended to back up the Lantz shorts in the coming year with a solid promotional campaign tying in with aggressive merchandising of the subjects.

In Paris
With Gene Moskowitz
Paris, Oct. 26. —Walter Lantz here getting background material for series of cartoons on the doings of Woody Woodpecker in Paris. U.S. cartoons are faves here for more discriminating picgoers, and leading are the UPA and Tom & Jerry Films.

November 3, 1954
KNXT Pays 250G To Air 149 Old Lantz Cartoons
Largest sale of a block of cartoons to television, involving nearly $250,000, has been closed by Donald Hine, program director of KNXT, with Motion Pictures for TV, for unlimited run of 149 Walter Lantz cartoons over a period four and a half years. Comedy shorts were made by Lantz for UI between 1927 and 1937. In the block are 92 "Oswald the Rabbit," 13 "Willie Mouse," 18 "Pooch the Pup," 11 "Meeny, Miney and Moe." They will be used on the station's "Space Funnies" airing five times a week from 5 to 5:30 p.m. None of the cartoons has been shown before on tv.
Deal calls for an unlimited run for 18 months with an option for additional three years.
[Note: the cartoons also aired on “Family Fun Time,” which ran weekdays from 9-930 a.m. and 3-3:30 p.m.]

Lantz Blames TV For Budget Uppance
Television is making serious inroads on theatrical cartoon production, with the result that a short which last year cost $30,000 now will run around $35,000, producer Walter Lantz reported yesterday.
Expanding market for animated tv spot commercials is responsible, according to Lantz, just returned from a 10-week tour of UI exchanges in Europe and talks with foreign exhibs. Cartoon industry is becoming particularly shy of good animators, who have swung over to tv work on the theory they can make higher weekly pay—"but not every week," Lantz points out— and top story men and directors.

‘Finian's Rainbow’ Cartoon Feature To Work East and West
Recordings for "Finian's Rainbow," the all cartoon feature to be produced by DCA in association with Maurice Binder, will be done both in New York and on the Coast.
John Hubley, who will supervise the animating, and Binder returned to the Coast this week after huddling on the final script with Yip Harburg and Fred Saidy, authors of the original Broadway show. They're due back in N. Y. in December to oversee the voice recordings that will be done in Gotham.

November 10, 1954
Editor, VARIETY:
I notice in a recent VARIETY that Hollywood's cartoon makers are meeting to honor Walter Lantz. I should like to suggest to them (excluding Disney and Bosustow) that they discuss ways and means of making cartoons attractive and entertaining once again instead of vulgar displays of violence and viciousness. Their creations these days are made up of crude and unrelated incidents in which ugly animals inflict the most painful and cruel acts upon each other. In a recent Tom and Jerry the cat's whiskers were torn out and its claws cut off; it was frozen, battered into different shapes, squashed and stripped of its fur. "Bugs Bunny" are the same. This happens in cartoon-after-cartoon without relief; eyes are bloodshot, teeth fall out, ugly lumps rise on heads and dynamite is the climax to every scene. It's enough to make sensitive people ill, and those who go to see intelligent pictures must sit through this so-called entertainment.
And they are shown to children by the score on Saturday afternoons!
Do the makers of these cartoons not realize what harmful effects these horrors have on children and adults in their appreciation of films and attitude toward, and treatment of, animals? If it is not possible for them to use intelligent stories and artistic interpretation, as do the UPA and Disney studios, then the other producers should stop making cartoons, for they are debasing one of the most skillful and expressive forms of film making.
This much is certain: if producers do not cut out this violence there will soon be such as outcry from parent-teacher associations that they will bring stricter censorship upon themselves. All that is necessary is a little beauty, art and imagination. They cost no more than the ugliness we see at present.
Gerald Pratley, (CBC Film Commentator)

November 12, 1954
Fair Weather Role
KTLA weatherman Eugene Bollay has been signed by UPA to narrate cartoon, "The Jaywalker," a Columbia release.

November 14, 1954
'Voice' To Vocalize ‘Finian’s’ Sequences
Frank Sinatra joins Barry Fitzgerald in lending his voice to "Finian's Rainbow," all - cartoon version of the Broadway hit which Maurice Binder is co-producing with Distributors Corp. of America.
In lead role of Woody Mahoney, he will speak as well as sing several songs, including "How Are Things In Glocca Morra," "The Old Devil Moon" and "If This Isn't Love."

Sterling's Big Push
Sterling Television wrapped up sale of 41 different shows with 128 video outlets during Sept. and Oct. Included in the sales was initial buy of the Sigmund Spaeth series, "Music For Everybody," by WDAY, Fargo.
The package getting the biggest acceptance during the period was Sterling's cartoon series, with 16 stations making the buy.

November 19, 1954
Edens Doing ‘Dance’
Roger Edens, producer of "Deep In My Heart" at Metro, yesterday was assigned by studio to adapt music for the Tom & Jerry cartoon sequence in "Invitation to the Dance." Score will be taken from "Scheherazade."

November 24, 1954
Actress Back As Cleffer With Penguin Pic Theme
Hollywood, Nov. 23.
Mary Jo Matthews gave up a promising film career at Metro a few years ago when she married Art Rush, manager of Roy Rogers. Now, it looks like she's back in the industry in a new capacity—songwriter.
She gets started with "Chilly Willy," written for the Walter Lantz penguin cartoon character. Lantz liked the tune so well he will use it as theme music for all cartoons featuring the penguin.

November 26, 1954
Cap Gets Soundtrack On ‘Finian’; Changes Due
Hollywood, Nov. 23.
With two of its artists set for the cartoon feature, Capitol has acquired the soundtrack album rights to “Finian's Rainbow.” However, celluloid version of the Broadway musical smash will undergo some changes.
Ella Logan will recreate her role of Sharon in the cartoon feature to be produced by Maurice Binder for Distributors Corp. of America. Frank Sinatra has been set for what is nominally the role of Woody, but some of the material handled by Og (the leprechaun) in the stage version will be transferred to Sinatra. Binder also has signed Ella Fitzgerald for the voice track and she'll sing "Necessity" as well as a duet with Sinatra. Binder is attempting to get a clearance from Decca, for whom Miss Fitzgerald records, to permit her voice to be used in the soundtrack album. If no clearance is forthcoming, Capitol will excise her voice from the soundtrack for the disk package.

Peary 'Child' Narrator
Harold Peary to narrate UPA's newest cartoon, "Spare the Child," for release by Columbia.

December 1, 1954
Big Play for Cartoons
New York channels 13 and 2, on the top and bottom numbers of the tuner, have purchased cartoons from the Coast vaults in the amount of 335. WATV (Ch. 13 Newark, with Gotham transmitter) grabbed 156 of Columbia Pictures' one-reelers, with Hygo TV distributing. WCBS-TV, Ch. 2 flagship of CBS, has a two-year pact for 179 Walter Lantz cartoons out of Universal - International, for spreading on its various kidvids and as inserts on general stanzas. Each deal is the biggest local turnover of its kind in both coin involved and number of properties.

Terrytoons May C'Scope
Terrytoon shorts, which are turned out for 20th-Fox release by Paul Terry, may soon go Cinema-Scope. Subjects are currently shot in widescreen but with conventional lenses, with the figures drawn to conform to the requirements of C'Scope projection.
Terry is now experimenting with actual use of CinemaScope lenses to photograph his cartoons. Shorts of several other companies, notably Walt Disney, Metro and United Productions of America, have already been lensed via Cinema-Scope.

December 9, 1954
June Foray was inked yesterday to do the voice of "Chilly Willie," a character in the Walter Lantz cartoon series by same title.

December 13, 1954
RKO Releasing 6 Disney C’Scope Cartoons In '55
New York, Dec. 12.—Walt Disney will turn out six Technicolor cartoons in CinemaScope in 1955, Sidney Kramer, RKO shorts sales manager, announced Friday. First in series, "No Hunting," a Donald Duck episode, will be released Jan. 14.
All of series will be released eventually in standard prints, titles including "Beezy Bear," "Barely Asleep," "Chip Ahoy," "Hooked Bear" and "In the Bag." Kramer stresses that shorts will be made available to houses equipped with any anamorphic system, whether it is CinemaScope or not.

Robert Givens, formerly with United Productions of America, Burbank, Calif., to TV Spots, Hollywood. (Broadcasting magazine).

December 17, 1954
Cool Character
Metro cartoon producer Fred Quimby is jazzing it up in creating a character for studio's Tom and Jerry short series. Name of character" is "Bebop Bear."

December 22, 1954
Mull 'Disneyland' For London Airing
London, Dec. 21.
There have been top level discussions within the Disney organization to determine whether their ABC-TV series should be made available on British channels. This was revealed In London last week by Cyril Edgar, head of their British releasing organization, on his return from product conferences in New York. Edgar admitted that this item had been on the agenda but said they were some way from taking a firm decision. Expressing a personal viewpoint, he did not think there was much likelihood of the "Disneyland" programs being made available in the British market until such time as industry policy had been clarified. He emphasized that their policy in America was to harness television to exploit their own product, and, while meeting with some exhibitor resistance in the first instance, they had proved to be a valuable booster for their own product. What was currently happening in America was comparable to the results in Britain when excerpts from the Disney cartoon feature "Alice in Wonderland" was shown on BBC-TV last year. There was an immediate upswing on receipts throughout the country.

Jim Backus Adding New Facet to Career With Col Disk Deal
Hollywood, Dec. 21.
Triple and quadruple threat men are becoming almost commonplace in show business, but Jim Backus apparently is out for the decathlon record. Already established in seven different fields. Backus will invade a new branch of the entertainment industry in 1955 when he becomes a disk artist.
Deal has been set with Mitch Miller for Backus to record for Columbia Records, the terms to be finalized as soon as the suitable property is obtained.
Etching, either singles or an album, will probably be based on the "Mister Magoo" character which Backus created for the United Productions of America cartoon series.
In the last year and a half, Backus has appeared regularly on the "I Married Joan" tv series; had a featured spot in "Deep In My Heart" at MGM; broke in a new nitery act; continued guest shots on radio as "Hubert Updyke," the richest man in the world; starred as "Magoo" in the award-winning series; did "The Man Who Came to Dinner" in stock; sold a screenplay, "Big Talent," to MGM and another to UPA; and did the voice of the villain Judge Hawkins in the cartoon feature version of the Broadway hit "Finian's Rainbow."
Actually, Backus made his recording debut on "Finian's," since it was strictly a vocal stint. Capitol Records will release the soundtrack album, so Backus will be heard on disks via Capitol before his Columbia deal gets underway.

December 27, 1954
HL Will Bankroll 3 UPA Cartoon Features
First financing deal for Hecht-Lancaster Productions, under its plan announced several months ago of helping outside producers get backing for proposed Him projects, will be United Productions of America.
Pact involves three feature-length cartoons, with James Thurber's "The White Deer," to be the first, produced during 1955. Additionally, the deal calls for H-L to arrange distribution for the animated films. Stephen Bosustow will produce and Robert Cannon direct initialer.
H-L also is negotiating with several other indie outfits for financing-distribution, in a plan to expand its activities.


  1. Gerald Pratley was an English born film critic I recall for his television appearances in Canada in the '60's and '70's. Here is his obituary in 2011: . I am not sure how long he ran the Ontario Film Institute he founded in 1968, but by 1975 those vulgar cartoons he decried were featured in an extended tribute there, curated by Greg Ford. Chuck Jones came to one of the screenings and gave a talk.

  2. So what happened to the animated feature version of "Finian's Rainbow"? With all of these preliminaries in place--did any of it get filmed? Why was it abandoned?

    Just gleaning from the tantalizing hints given in the above articles, it appears that the intent was to make a fairly straightforward animated interpretation of the Broadway play. It would be fascinating to see any character designs or layouts that were made.

    The only animated feature based on a Broadway musical that I can think of is the Rankin/Bass version of "The King and I". Its strengths are when it adheres to the source material--its weaknesses are all of the changes made for animation, such as two extraneous villains and some ultra-cutesy animals. If they'd kept it closer to the R & H original it might have fared better at the box office. Which is why I am very curious about what the concept ultimately would have been for "Rainbow."

    1. Here's a good entry on the Finian's Rainbow feature:

  3. In addition to the pre-TV Hanna and Barbera unit toning down MGM Tom/Jerrys over at WB Chuck Jones starting in 1950 was starting to show a cute side with the Pussyfoot cartoons and the one off with Claude Cat and the families of mice with the lovey dovey young mouse couple ("Mouse Warming"), "GO Fly a Kit',yada yada, then of course "How the Grinch Stole XMas" in 1966!SC (Oh, and in 1968 "Pogo's Valentine!" And those specials like Rasggedy Ann arond the time Greg Duffell mentions,the 1970a (Anyone seen those lately? )

  4. All of the above in my last reply was to that Gerald Prately in his column, and sweetness and light already was a Chuck Jones trademark when mice or kittens were conc erned, and how about Paramount's cartoons with Casper regardless of director? Though were certainly exceptions to violence, if only due to Casper, due to the premise..(one could also argue that for Jones's Pepe Le Pew since he never had negative intents...:)SC

  5. The four original sponsors of "DISNEYLAND"- some of whom used Disney characters in their commercials during the program - were American Motors [Nash/Kelvinator], Derby Foods [Peter Pan peanut butter], the American Dairy Association, and Swift & Company.

  6. "Tom, Jerry and the Kid" was released as "Busy Buddies" (1956)....and the follow-up, "Tot Watchers" (1958), was the last of their original series.