Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Splitting Heads

The Gooney Bird was intended as a recurring character at the Walter Lantz studio, but he only appeared in one cartoon, Fair Weather Fiends (1946).

Director Shamus Culhane pulls a Chuck Jones here. The gooney bird is given held poses to allow his expression to sink in. A wolf and Woody Woodpecker burrow underground to sneak up on him. The bird tries to catch both in the act, but they duck down in time. The bird then stares at us, stares where the wolf was, stares where Woody was, then stares at us again.

Then the multiple head take (a la Tex Avery) before the wolf and Woody zip back into the ground.

La Verne Harding and Sidney Pillet are the only animators who get credit. Some Pillet background: Sidney Auguste Pillet was born in the parish of St. Anne, Westminster, England on November 20, 1904 to Alexis Anselm and Adelaide Emma (Wright) Pillet. They arrived in the U.S. on September 3, 1923. His father became head waiter at the Ritz, then opened his own restaurant, Pirolle’s. In 1930, Pillet was working in New York repairing radios. Ten years later, he was animating for the Fleischers in Miami, having been employed by them prior to the strike against the studio in New York. In September 1944, he was animating special effects for MGM when he was loaned to Walter Lantz to work on Enemy Bacteria. He died on May 12, 1962 in Los Angeles.

By the way, Edwin Schallert’s column in the Los Angeles Times of May 29, 1945 mentions that Lantz picked the name “Gooney Gus” for the character out of 200 submissions.


  1. This looks like Verne Harding's animation.

  2. Of course, he's not to be confused with Looney Gooney, who appeared in Chilly Willy cartoons in the '60s.