Saturday, 4 February 2017

Happenings in the Warner Bros Cartoon Studio, 1955

I don’t know about you but when I was a kid, I watched credits in cartoons to see who made them (and with TV cartoons, who voiced them). It was a time before gang credits, so you could connect a specific cartoon with its makers.

It’s always a pleasure to hear or read stories about the various people at cartoon studios. For a while, Jerry Beck was able to post copies of “The Exposure Sheet,” the in-house publication at Leon Schlesinger Productions. Perhaps he’ll find time to resume doing it. Besides gossip, there’s some historical insight revealing when people came to and left the studio. There are also references to people who never received screen credit, which I always find fascinating. For too many years, a lot of people never got credited. How many animation fans have heard of Tom Armstrong or Art Loomer, who worked on Warners cartoons in the ‘30s (Armstrong was the head writer, Loomer the head background artist). Or cameraman Manny Corral, who later was employed at MGM? Their names never appeared on screen.

A little while ago, animation researcher Thomas Shim scanned a page of the Warner Club News, the Warners’ employee publication. It’s from the September 1955 edition. It was at the time the cartoon studio (Warners now owned it outright) was being moved from the ratty old building at Fernwood and Van Ness to the company’s new operation in Burbank. I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing it, partly because it tells some stories about Mike Maltese I’d never read (Maltese being my favourite cartoon writer) and there are references to people who never got screen credit. Unfortunately, a second page is missing so we won’t get to learn what happened to Bette Rebbeck when she left her wallet at home.

I can tell you a little bit (very little) about a few of them. Isadore Edward Faigin retired to Cathedral City, California and may still be living. He was born on September 18, 1922 and his father Sam was a commercial artist. Faigin did a little bit of radio work before going into the U.S. Army in World War Two; in the ‘80s, he was a minority owner of a broadcasting company run by his son. He was an assistant animator on Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) and worked with fellow ex-Warners artists Tom Ray and Virgil Ross on Gremlins 2 (1990).

Carroll C. “Woody” Chatwood was from McCleary, Washington, on the highway from Olympia to Aberdeen. He was born on February 14, 1921 and died of cancer in Los Angeles on October 26, 1974. He was an assistant animator as well. Chatwood’s son Melvill died at the age of 5, while his son Todd was 23 when he died. Chatwood’s widow Betty (Brown) Chatwood died in 2010.

Joseph Bruce “Lefty” Price was born in Colorado on April 16, 1914 and was a musician when he got married in 1937. The 1940 Census lists his occupation as a cartoonist but doesn’t say where. He died in Los Angeles on January 25, 1962.

Dave Hoffman was an animator at Warners in 1939-40 after leaving Fleischers. Where he was after that to the time of this story, I couldn’t tell you. He worked on comic books and later ended up at Creston Studios (TV Spots). His name appears in the credits of Crusader Rabbit (the later version), Calvin and the Colonel, King Leonardo and The Funny Company.

Note that Irv Wyner’s name is spelled “Irv Weiner.”

What’s Up, Doc? . . .

We, the cartoon studio guys and gals, will be the last to receive our copies of this issue of Warner Club News. We MAY not even bother to read it! We return from vacations on the 13th . . . smug, barely tolerant and highly impressed with ourselves. Why? Our new surroundings, of course! At first, we’ll just look, and admire our new building casually . . . but within minutes we’ll be scrambling all over it, inspecting every nook and cranny. We’ll charge through the Freleng, Jones and McKimson units; through the animators’ rooms; through the Ink and Paint Department; back to the main entrance and the executive officers . . . and then we’ll settle down to loud huzzahs and possibly a wee celebration over this dream come true. Warners Club Member, tell us how wonderful it is . . . we’ll love it!
And for those who can find a moment or two to read on, and because we’re in a gay mood to begin with, let’s enjoy the last to come out of the old studio, the . . .
Quips of the Month
Dick Thompson followed Abe Levitow into the studio from luncheon, staring at Abe’s new crewcut. “Look at that, will you?” exclaimed Dick. “A flat-top pin-head!”
Ellen Moyer to Chuck Jones as he came down the hall yodeling: “You’re the noisy type!” Quipped Chuck: “Oh, no. I’m exuberant. That means I used to be uberant, but now I’m ex-uberant.”
And Gordon Estes, signing letters as I wandered through his office to the vault, suddenly exclaimed: “I’m in such as hurry I’m signing my last name now . . . later, I’ll fill in the initials!”
Dancing down the corridor for the benefit of Friz Freleng and Tedd Pierce came Mike Maltese wearing pale blue suede shows. To the general razzing, Mike replied: “I’m a seersucker. I bought ‘em at Sears.”
As Dot Bitz fled through the hall, I called after her “Did you cut your hair again?” and she replied: “No, no . . . just put a little shortening on it, that’s all.”
Hawley Pratt had elbow trouble recently, quite serious, resulting in swollen fingers and his being unable to lift his arm. This sort of thing is not recommended, especially for artists, so after a lengthy session with his doctor, Hawley returned to the soothing influence of Friz Freleng, Warren Foster and Mike Maltese, who enacted this spontaneous playlet:
Friz: (dusting him off with a feather duster) “Feel better?”
Warren: “Of course he does.” (patting him on the head) “They bled him a little and released the vapors.”
Hawley: (impressively) “Actually, they used cortizone.” [sic]
Barbara: (innocently) “What does cortizone do?”
Mike: (delighted with the opportunity) “It raises the doctor’s bill.”
Happy, Happy to You!
Congratulations to you on YOUR DAY! Irv Weiner on the 4th, Jane Ferry the 5th, Della Anderson the 11th, Louise Cuarto the 13th, Milt Franklyn the 16th, Ted Bonnicksen and Ed Faigin on the 8th, Chuck Jones the 21st and your columnist on the 27th. Congratulations and many, many more!
Shakespearean, Hmm?
Did you know that Joseph Bruce Price (“Lefty” to you) at one time worked in radio as a newscaster in every state from Virginia to Mississippi? He has also done dramatic roles, and once had his own daily 15-minute show called “The Friendly Philosopher.” And if you’d like to hear some excellent dialects, just name them and call on Lefty!
It’s a Boy!
Woody Chatwood is wearing a big smile these days. Betty has just presented him with a baby boy and they have named him Todd Royce. their first-born son John, now 2½, is quite excited about his baby brother and can even saw “Congratulations,” as do we!
She’s Lovely! She’s Engaged
That’s what happens when you go to parties. Ellie Shenker enjoyed dancing with a young man by the name of Philip Liebowitz at a soiree recently, but turned down his offer to drive her home. Being a clever young man, he drove her friends home and learned from them her last name (which he had forgotten) and that all-important telephone number. Six weeks later after one date had followed another, they were in a ceramic shop purchasing wedding gifts for mutual friends. The following conversation ensued:
Salesgirl: “Have you room for these large pieces?”
Philip: “My wife (indicating Ellie) wans a larger place anyway, so now we’ll have to have one.”
(Salesgirl leaves to wrap packages. Philip turns to Ellie)
Philip: “You would, wouldn’t you? I mean you would like to have a large apartment and you would like to be my wife, wouldn’t you?”
Astonished over a marriage proposal in a ceramic shop, plus the intriguing way Philip maneuvered it . . . what could Ellie say but yes? The wedding will take place in her home in October and since Ellie is not interested in an engagement ring, she adores the gold and jade bracelet Philip chose for her engagement gift, her favorite precious metal and gems. All happiness and success to you two!
Have Another!
Just for the record (and quite a record it is!) Ken Harris just bought a 1955 Cadillac, hard-top coupe in off-white with a grey top. This makes his 103rd automobile and his 9th Cadillac, and Ken is dressing in very light and medium grey flannels these days. “Ho, hum,” sighed he when Carmela Blitz observed that his clothes matched his car.
Speaking of cars, it seems last month Phil DeGuard was reported the owner of a new light blue Nash Rambler. T’ain’t so. But to keep up with this column, Phil simply had to go right out and buy a new car . . . a Sarasota Sand and Jamaica Bronze 4-door Plymouth, in which he is driving to Jamaica. (No, not across the Atlantic . . . Jamaica, New York). He also plans to visit Washington, D.C., to see where our money goes, but Maurice Noble insists that Phil wants to check on whether Washington is handling our money as they should!
New Faces
Painters Helen Kegler, Julia Raymond, Jo Mapes and Jeanne Bischoff have joined our ranks. June Rose Ross is back in our midst after a few months in New York; and Russ Dyson’s lovely daughter Barbara is now one of the gals, too . . . welcome!
Dave Hoffman zoomed off to Chicago and Washington, D.C. with his better half and will spend time in Pennsylvania and New York as well. Since they’re driving a new car, they’ll undoubtedly hit (not literally) even more of the 48 states before arriving back in California.

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