Wednesday, 26 July 2017

An Early Morning Visit From Chuck McCann

I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed at 1:15 this morning and stopped at an unexpected live broadcast. The stream was from actor Chuck McCann, age 81, sitting in a restaurant and apparently just chatting into a camera/phone for something to do and in case there was anyone out there who wanted to listen.

You know, that’s pretty cool. Well, two things are. The technology, for one thing. Who could have imagined—besides writers on The Jetsons, that is—that someone would be able to do that kind of thing. And the other is having some kind of connection with someone who you watched on TV. I’m not a very star-struck individual, but it was pretty neat watching Chuck tell stories about orange groves in Los Angeles and lunching with Greta Garbo, talking right into my computer.

My age and location is such that my exposure to Mr. McCann first came in a series of TV commercials he made for Right Guard deodorant. Chuck was the self-amused neighbour who shared his apartment medicine cabinet with a weary man who called for his wife when he had enough of Chuck’s hammy antics. Pretty soon after that, Chuck started to turn up with a fair bit of frequency during actual TV programmes playing parts.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Chuck had been around some time before, and a regular or semi-regular on a few shows before landing his own daytime childrens’ that ran locally in New York. When the streamcast ended, I tried to find some clippings about Chuck’s early career. There aren’t a lot. The earliest is from Pinky Herman’s column in the Motion Picture Daily of August 17, 1956:
21-year-old puppeteer Chuck McCann WABDoing a sensational job pinch-hitting for vacationing Sandy Becker on the 8:45-10:00 ayem kiddie series. There’s a bright future facing the young and talented Chuck on TV.
Radio TV Mirror of April 1959 gave a short bio (along with what looks like an ABC stock photo) in response to a reader’s question:
It has come as no great surprise to those who know him that, at twenty-four, Chuck McCann is already such a success on television. For the young performer who has scored such a hit as commercial announcer and puppeteer on ABC-TV's Peter Lind Hayes Show, and as a comic-impressionist on such programs as The Steve Allen Show, was born into a family tradition of show business. His grandfather had been with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, and his father was arranger-composer with the Roxy Theater. Little Chuck spent his childhood in the Roxy pit watching the top personalities go through their acts. Through this intensive "research," he learned the art of mimicry. . . . Later, becoming interested specifically in drama, Chuck joined the Pasadena Playhouse — working his way up through electrician, scenic designer, stage manager, and finally performer. Upon returning to the East, he became a successful comic-impressionist in local niteries. With a group of puppets created by Paul Ashley, he has lately become a great favorite on the Hayes show. . . . Just married this past December, the young comic and his wife Susie (a former model) live in a Manhattan apartment.
The wedding, by the way, made Dorothy Gilgallen’s column. Either Chuck had a good publicist or Dorothy liked kids shows.
As for Steve Allen, a cover story in the New York Herald Tribune’s entertainment magazine quoted Allen about his coming Monday night show that would be broadcast from California instead of New York. Allen replied:
As to the boys, I’m pretty sure Louis [Nye] and Don (Knotts) are coming out to the Coast with me, and perhaps one or two of the others, Gabe Dell, Chuck McCann, etc.
McCann stayed in New York. There was a children’s show to do. He and all the other kid hosts on WPIX actually got together on Christmas Day 1960 to host a day-long broadcast for young viewers.

Unfortunately, live kids shows eventually ended for the reason you see to the right. In a different example under the headline “How Downyflake ‘uses’ children to sell”, the September 24, 1962 edition of Broadcasting magazine reported: “To enhance its effectiveness on children's programs, Downyflake has recently started a number of promotions, on the theory that a strong admiration of tv personalities by juveniles can be directly transferred into product identity.... Children submitting the winning names will spend a day with such tv stars as Sonny Fox, Bozo The Clown, Herb Sheldon, Fred Scott, Chuck McCann and Claudie Kirchner.”

Chuck did other things in those early ‘60s years. For example, he and his puppets starred in a 12-minute film for the Plumbing and Heating Division of American Standard about the company’s new Vent-Away toilet gizmo. He was a regular on the Jimmy Dean prime-time variety show. And he cut a record.

But he was known mainly to kids in the metropolitan New York area. And this brings us back to what I was talking about at the beginning. Here’s a nice little story from the Greenpoint Weekly Star, July 3, 1964. I’ve had to add a line of missing text. Sorry for the fuzzy photo.
Youngsters Meet Chuck McCann
By SUSAN KUCELUK

A lucky four year old, through her talent for art was permitted to see two famous television personalities in person.
Cathy Dobres of 163 S. 1st street together with brother Bobby, three years old, had the thrill of meeting Chuck McCann and Lassie.
Chuck McCann has his own show on Sundays and weekdays and Lassie is seen on Sunday nights as television's most famous dog star.
Mrs. Dobres received the tickets last month to the Chuck McCann Show that she had written away for previously. These tickets enabled her children to attend one of the shows on Sunday morning.
● ● ●
CATHY gave Chuck McCann a puppet she designed herself. She also gave him a drawing she made of Little Orphan Annie, a com [ic strip character that he im] personates.
Two days before her family was at a Sports and Vacation Show at the New York Colliseum. Lassie was appearing there with her trainer. Rudd Weatherwax.
She had drawn a picture of Lassie and wanted to give it to her. Cathy asked the trainer for permission to see Lassie. Even though he didn't know her family, the permission was granted.
Not being shy or frightened she shook Lassie's paw. Bobby being a little scared wouldn't go near the dog.
BOBBY and Cathy had their pictures taken with Lassie as they did with Chuck McCann.
The lucky children had a wonderful time seeing their favorite television characters and undoubtedly would do it again if they had the opportunity.
It’s nice to read about some young children getting a chance to meet someone they saw on TV. I can’t say I’m as excited about Chuck McCann like some of the people who watched him years ago on WPIX in New York, but it was nice to stumble onto his Facebook feed and hear his stories. He comes across to me as a genuine guy who is complementary of others he’s known through life. And with all the nastiness in the world and on the internet, we could really use a lot more people like that.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Legging It Out

Sometimes, mistakes managed to get through in animated cartoons. We’ve pointed out cases here on the blog where a cel or two would be missing and a body part would disappear, or a cel would be photographed in the wrong order and there’d be a bit of a jerk in the animation.

There were colouring mistakes, too, that slipped through. Here’s an example in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon The Screwball (1943). Woody was all kinds of colours in his early appearances. His legs and feet are supposed to be a shade of orange-yellow, but they become blue like much of the rest of his body for two frames (which are used in a cycle). You can see one of the frames below.



La Verne Harding is the only credited animator, and Woody looks pretty good in some of the scenes. Too bad the gags aren’t stronger and the pace isn’t faster.

Monday, 24 July 2017

As The Leg Is Bent

Spike's right leg remains up even after he kicks Droopy out of the mansion in Wags to Riches (1949). Here are some of the drawings.



Bobe Cannon, Grant Simmons, Walt Clinton and Mike Lah are the credited animators in this Tex Avery cartoon.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Jack Benny in Action

Sitting in a theatre seat watching a bunch of people reading from a script for 25 minutes doesn’t sound very entertaining, but during the Golden Days of Radio, plenty of people did just that. Part of the attraction was seeing the stars in the flesh. Another was to watch how the ingenious sound effects were made. And there was an entertainment factor besides looking at people who were looking at papers and saying funny things; variety and comedy shows generally had an orchestra and a singer/singing group.

Jack Benny seemed to prefer a smaller radio studio, from what I’ve read over the years, despite the fact he had played in large, big-time vaudeville houses. The first few years of his broadcasting career were mainly spent at Radio City in New York. He worked out of Hollywood for two months in 1934 and for much of the last eight months of 1935 before permanently packing up for California in 1936.

The Washington Star provided an interesting word-picture of a typical Benny broadcast from New York in its edition of March 3, 1935; presumably the columnist caught the East Coast show of February 24th (the second live broadcast for the West Coast would have started at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time).

Incidentally, the photo to the right came from Kathy Fuller-Seely and is from the 1934-35 radio season. Writer Harry Conn is second from the left with Frank Parker on the right. Don Wilson is standing behind Jack. At the far right, next to Mary, is bandleader Don Bestor. Sam Hearn is not in the photo. I don’t know if the other two men are from NBC or Young and Rubicam, Jell-O’s agency. Frederick Wile, Jr. was the agency’s publicity man for the Benny show but I have no idea what he looked like. Wile later worked as vice-president of programmes and production in the early ‘50s at NBC under Pat Weaver, who oversaw the Benny show for Y&R in the mid-‘30s.

BENNY AND CREW ARE HAPPY LOT
Spontaneous Cheer Held Real Reason for Success.
By Martin Codel.
Finding the formula for Jack Benny’s enormous radio success on the radio during the last few years—a success reflected in the recent poll of the Nation’s radio editors, who voted him their favorite comedian and his show the most popular of last year—is not difficult after a visit to one of his broadcast performances. Attend one of his broadcast shows, as the writer did the other night, and, even if you are not already a Benny fan, you will readily discern why the radio editors of Main street joined Broadway’s in heaping their encomiums upon Jack Benny.
You find him and his trouble in one of the medium-sized, and thus more intimate studios, amid the magnificence that is Radio City. There are not more than 250 spectators in the studio, all seated. It is 10 minutes before the show goes on. Jack Benny is clutching a script, a partially burned but unlighted cigar clenched between his teeth. He is nervously pacing the slightly elevator rostrum on which most of the cast and orchestra are sitting or standing, the principals all likewise with scripts in hand.
Jack raises his right arm, with the other yanking the cigar from his mouth. He grins broadly, an infectious grin, and the audience chuckles. We are still not on the air, and we wonder at the need for the hush that follows. “I want you to meet the members of our cast,” Jack says, and with appropriate joshing he introduces Mary Livingstone, Frank Parker, Don Wilson, Don Bestor and Sam Hearn, who is the “Mr. Shlepperman” of many other dialects besides his better known Yiddish.
Actors Loosen Up, Too.
All of the actors have been intently studying their scripts, but they take their bows—all grinning. Then they return to a serious perusal of their scripts, for 7 o’clock is fast approaching.
You wonder next why Jack Benny has to deliver himself of his ensuing peroration. “I want you all to enjoy yourselves,” he tells the studio audience, “and you don’t need to be afraid to laugh and applaud as loudly as you like.” An invitation for “background noise” to stimulate the artists, if not to impress the unseen audience? It seems so, and you are a bit disappointed at such artificial tactics.
At precisely 7 o’clock the orchestra signs on, Announcer Wilson delivers himself of his blurb over the musical background, he finishes and the orchestra breaks into crescendo. The usual wisecracking introduction by Wilson and discordant blare of the band, and Jack himself addresses the microphone. He engages in repartee with the chubby Wilson, whose moon face is all smiles and whose rotund form often shakes with laughter.
Benny has the microphone at the left, Wilson being at another about 12 feet to the right. The rest of the cast breaks in at one or the other mikes in the well-known manner of that particular show, according to their parts in the script. Everyone laughs, of course, but why do the performers themselves laugh so heartily, and especially why is the orchestra literally convulsed?
There you have the secret of Jack Benny’s show, quite aside from the excellence of the script. Cast and orchestra are enjoying the performance even more than the seen and unseen audience, and there is no question about the spontaneity of their enjoyment. You learn why after the show when yu can talk about whispers to your host, a studio attaché, and then talk to Jack Benny himself.
The performer, with the exception of Benny of course, saw the script for the first time that morning. They rehearsed it for only three or four hours, studied their lines through the afternoon, perhaps puzzled to themselves how some of those lines could “pull a laugh”—and returned to the studio at 6:30 relatively fresh for the show. All of them are experienced troupers or radio artists, yet all are as nervous and eager as for any first night performance.
The orchestra members, you also learn, had been barred entirely from the rehearsals! Thus the written lines are utterly new to all of them but their leader, Don Bestor, who has some script parts. The result is that every laugh from the orchestra is wholly unaffected.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Cartoons of 1959, Part 2

It had been the critics’ choice only a few years earlier, but by the end of 1959, UPA was stumbling and faltering at a time it should have been celebrating a triumph.

Through the whole of the 1950s, the studio had desired to release a feature film. All kinds of artistic visions had been proposed but, over the course of the decade, the people with those visions had left. Finally, UPA had to turn to its one mainstream success—Mr. Magoo—to try to ensure customers going through the box office.

Even as the film was released in 1959, the studio lost a chunk of its creative personel to a new company called Format Films, and still more followed ex Disney director Dick Kinney, both to make cartoons for TV (Kinney worked out of Format’s studio). And UPA lost its release with Columbia Pictures. Since 1957, Columbia owned a percentage of Hanna-Barbera, which was becoming hugely profitable (and popular) thanks to its TV shows. Columbia needed UPA no longer.

And Hanna-Barbera was growing. In 1959, it added the Quick Draw McGraw Show to syndication and managed to convince ABC to pick up a half-hour cartoon and put it on prime-time. Something about a family in the Stone Age that was really ‘50s suburbia.

With Hanna-Barbera’s growth came all kinds of proposals for animated television cartoons. You can read about them below, courtesy of Variety as well as some from Motion Picture Daily. Some are complete mysteries to me. There’s a little blurb about an actress named June Foray being signed to maybe her best-known cartoon role. And you’ll find also a review of a Russian feature cartoon, The Snow Queen but precious little about theatrical animation. With few exceptions, it just wasn’t making headlines.



July 8, 1959
Larry Harmon, producer of the "Bozo the Clown" television cartoon series, has acquired rights to Tintin, European cartoon character, and will use it as the basis for a series of 104 six-minute animated cartoons for worldwide distribution.
Deal was set with Herge, cartoonist-owner of the Tintin property, and Raymond Le Blanc, publisher, in Brussels during Harmon's trip through Europe. Cartoon runs in newspapers, magazines, comic-book and hard-cover children's book form throughout Europe. Harmon has already put the property into production at California Studios.

It's the public who pays for film entertainment—and not the exhibitor. This is reply from Roy O. Disney, president of Walt Disney Productions, to theatremen's complaints about this film company's sales policies.
It's no secret that the Disney organization, via its Buena Vista distribution wing, demanded top scales for Its expensive cartoon feature, "Sleeping Beauty," along with its inexpensive live-action comedy, "Shaggy Dog." The terms for "Beauty" included roadshow tariff and per-capita tickets for children at the drive-ins, latter being a situation that resulted in one antitrust suit on the allegation of price-fixing....
It's no secret either that "Sleeping Beauty" represented blue-chip investment, in the area of $6,000,000. Disney claims that "the picture will make it, but not by much," and this can be taken as his answer to some trade conjecture that "Beauty" is shaping as an economic lemon. To many, it looked wobbly at the start, what with the road-show prices for a 75-minute cartoon, but then, as one Disney spokesman observed on the side, the public pays for quality and not for quantity.
["Shaggy Dog" cost less than $1,000,000].

Although "Sleeping Beauty" has proved a nervous entry, Walt Disney is going ahead with another cartoon feature. And there will be an advantage with the next, titled "101 Dalmatians," because the cast will comprise only dogs. "Beauty" had humans, very tough to draw, and the production cost was $6,000,000. "Dalmatians," with the more easily sketched canines, is figured at $4,000,000.

July 14, 1959
Motion Picture Daily
Anderson Craig has been named to the newly-created post of director of commercials for Terrytoons, it was announced by William M. Weiss, vice-president and general manager of CBS Films, Inc., subsidiary.
In his new capacity, Craig, who was formerly the head of Anderson Craig Studios, will coordinate the work of the Terrytoons studios and advertising agencies in all pre-production and production of commercials. He will also hire creative free-lance talent for styling, animation and storyboarding.

July 15, 1959
Terrytoons, the CBS-Films subsid, is joining the parade of firms putting out new cartoons for tv. Title of Terrytoon's new half-hour entry is "Deputy Dawg." Recent cartoons either being distributed to tv or put in the drawing boards include Trans-Lux Television's "Felix the Cat," "Jayark's "Bozo, the Clown," a series of 130 five minutes episodes from Sterling Television; King Features' plan to produce new "Popeye" tv shorts; and Screen Gems' second year production of "Huckleberry Hound."

Four U.S. film shorts won awards in the Venice Festival of Documentaries and Short Subjects, a preliminary to the annual Venice International Film Festival in September.
American featurettes copping honors were: ... cartoon, "Moon Bird," by John Hurley.

July 17, 1959
New World Productions has secured rights from Thornton Burgess for production of several series based on his works. Series will consist of 104 six-minute combined live action and animated cartoon film under the title of “Storytime.”
Burgess, now 86 and still actively writing, has turned out some 16,000 stories dealing with Peter Cottontail, Paddy the Beaver, Roddy the Fox and other children's stories.
Company has signed John Rust to adapt and narrate each full-color subject. Animation will be handled by Art Scott, who is now doing the company's "Mel-O-Toons" series of 62 six-minute animated cartoons based on childrens' records.

July 22, 1959
George Productions Inc., has acquired rights to the Rube Goldberg inventions, and cartoon characters of Boob McNutt and Ike and Mike, They Look Alike, for a five-minute, combo live action-animation tele-series. Dave Willock and Gordon Polk will star.
Three pilots will be lensed next week, with Lido Productions handling animation. George W. George, who wrote pilot scripts, will produce. George is Rube Goldberg's son.

July 28, 1959
Paul J. Fennell has been signed as associate producer on Larry Harmon's "Bozo, the Clown" and "Tintin" telecartoon series now in production at California Studios. For the past four months, he has been a director on Hanna and Barbera's several animated series being produced for Screen Gems.
Within the Harmon org, he will function in conjunction with Charles Shows, associate producer who heads the writing department on "Bozo" and "Tintin."

July 29, 1959
Sterling Television has made sales in nine new markets for "Famous Story Cartoons," a series of animated films for kids that downbeat sadism and depend on charm of characters and storyline.
Major recent sales include WBNS Columbus, KCOP Los Angeles, KOIN Portland, WLWI Indianapolis; KIRO Seattle. Sixty-five films are complete and 65 more will be finished in the next six months.

Walter Lantz shifts his merchandising unit which licenses "Woody Woodpecker" and other cartoon characters for commercial uses to the Coast from Chicago around Sept. 1.
Producer is remodelling part of his studio here to provide room for operation, which will bring all Lantz activities under one roof.

July 30, 1959
UPA can call itself UPA now without any static from the United Press Assn. UP two years ago protested UPA Pictures' use of the initials as a trademark. But the U.S. Commissioner of Patents has now registered the UPA sig for the cartoon company. UP no longer claims to be UPA since it merged with INS and became UPI.

July 31, 1959
Motion Picture Daily
By WARREN G. HARRIS
Terrytoons will release 24 color cartoons to theatres in 1960, as opposed to 20 this year, Bill Weiss, vice-president and general manager of the CBS Television Film Sales subsidiary, told a contingent of trade reporters visiting the company's studios in New Rochelle yesterday. Most of the 24 cartoons, which will be released through 20th Century-Fox, will be new releases, it was reported, with only a limited number of reissues added.
Weiss said that the current market for cartoons is "very good." Whereas most cartoons revenue used to come from so-called "marginal" theatres, more and more bookings are coming from first-run theatres. This trend, Weiss said, can be attributed in part to the fact that the long running times of many features today preclude any sort of supporting fare except cartoons or other short subjects. The average Terrytoon gets about 15,000 bookings in the U.S. and Canada and more than double that world-wide, he reported.
Come October, Terrytoons will celebrate its 30th anniversary, Weiss proudly announced. In that time, the company has never had a shutdown, but has undergone some radical changes. Today its business is split-up into about three equal portions-theatrical production, television programming, and TV commercials.
The theatrical Terrytoons are currently undergoing a "change in image," Weiss said. A "refinement of animation" has brought more stylized presentations, very different from the early "Farmer Alfalfa" cartoons turned out by the company. These refined techniques have also brought about a great speed-up in production. While it once took close to a year to turn out a Terrytoon, one can currently be completed in about 90 days, Weiss said.
Popular Characters to Remain
Terrytoons will continue to produce cartoons featuring the established characters of Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle, but will also introduce new "personalities." The newest are Silly Sidney, Hector Heathcote and a G.I. mouse. Apart from these five or six Terrytoon "stars," however, the cartoonery is devoted to the creed of "stronger story lines than anybody else," Weiss said.
Terrytoons is "going very slow" in its thinking on production of a full-length cartoon, Weiss said, admitting that the company has been toying with the idea for many years. "To find the right project is the problem," he pointed out. "I think perhaps that it's time for a change in the subject matter of cartoon features. The fairy tale may have been around too long."
Asked whether production costs in the East for cartoons were less than in Hollywood, Weiss answered in the negative. He estimated the average cost of a seven-minute Terrytoon at between $35-50,000. With this cost in mind, it is easy to see that Terrytoons is not going to take its chances on a full-length production until it is fairly confident of reaching a receptive market.
Screened for the trade press yesterday were three Terrytoons, all in CinemaScope and color: "Fabulous Firework Family," "Hashimoto-San" and "The Minute-and-a-Half Man." The second is especially engaging, ending with a Japanese house mouse, who's spoken with an Oriental accent throughout remarking, "That's show business."

August 3, 1959
On the cartoon front, H-B is making for Screen Gems "Huckleberry Hound" and "Ruff & Reddy."
H-B moreover has two more series upcoming.

Motion Picture Daily
HOLLYWOOD, Aug. 2—Bob Dranko, production designer of “1001 Arabian Nights,” UPA’s first full-length animated feature for Columbia release, has resigned from the studio to join the John Sutherland organization as vice-president in charge of art direction. Dranko was with UPA since 1951.

August 5, 1959
Jayark Films, less than a year old, is branching out into feature film distribution with a recently acquired package of 40 theatrical pix. Jayark Films salesmen are in N. Y. this week for a series of confabs with general sales veep Harvey Victor. Firm's "Bozo the Clown" cartoon series is now in more than 90 markets.

A new production outfit known as Heritage Productions Inc. is going a two-ply route in the making of telefilm. Company has already finished making $210,000 worth of kid cartoons called "Bobo the Hobo," and in the next several weeks will launch into full-scale production of a 39-week half-hour series of sports shows, tentatively titled "Live Like A Champion."
Headed by Skip Steloff, Heritage has finished, through the facilities of Lance Productions in Hollywood, 78 five-minute "Bobo" cartoons. They have yet to be edited, which Steloff figures will be done shortly. There are 26 original "Bobo" pix, which were made by Lorraine Lester, who did the original script, story and music, but they are not being included in the fresh batch of 78. If anything, they'll be sold only as additional properties, in many cases, on a rerun basis. Miss Lester sold Steloff the rights.

Walt Disney Productions had a net profit of $2,366,497, or $1.50 per share, for the nine months (40 weeks) ended July 4. This compares with earnings of $2,900,094 or $1.89 per share, for the corresponding period last year.
However, while the nine month period was off, the third quarter of 1959 brought increased profit, amounting to 93c per share, compared with 83c for the third quarter of 1958, president Roy O. Disney reported.
Consolidated gross for the new nine-month period rose to $39,363,156, representing a gain of $5,031,023 over last year. Disney said film rentals accounted for $4,057,491 of the increase, with the rentals from "Sleeping Beauty" providing about half of the increase. This cartoon feature is now expected to recover its costs and show a small profit, Disney stated.
Television income was off $668,268 while Disneyland Park was up $1,460,786. Other enterprises, such as character merchandising, publications, music and records gained $181,014.

LONDON
Four carriages, used in the 1953 Coronation, carried film stars in a Sleeping Princess" procession to the Astoria for the preem of Disney's latest cartoon.

August 12, 1959
June Foray has been signed to record the voices of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, and Natasha, a spy, for the "Rocky and his Friends" animated tv cartoon series being produced by Jay Ward and Bill Scott at Glen Glenn Studios.

August 13, 1959
Kellogg Co. has purchased national sponsorship of "Quick Draw McGraw," new half-hour cartoon series produced by H-B Enterprises in association with Screen Gems. Kellogg will spot the series in more than 180 markets starting in the fall.
Deal gives H-B (Bill Hannah and Joe Barbera) the unprecedented cartoon production goal of 39 hours of animation for the coming year. H-B production setup at Amco Studios now employs nearly 175 staffers, working on a 24-hour-a-day basis in three eight-hour shifts. It's the only production unit in Hollywood on a 24-hour schedule.
Besides "Quick Draw," which will consist of 26 animated half-hours, H-B is producing 26 half-hour "Huckleberry Hound" segments, also sponsored by Kellogg, which renewed the show for a second year; and 26 half-hours of "Ruff and Reddy," going into its third year on NBC-TV. Latter will be telecast in color in the fall.
By way of comparison, the 39 hours a year stacks up against a total of 48 minutes a year that Hanna & Barbera averaged during the 20 years they produced the "Tom & Jerry" cartoons at Metro. Those took eight weeks apiece to make, ran only six minutes, and the total studio output was eight a year. Hanna & Barbera copped seven Academy Awards with those.

Motion Picture Daily
Huckleberry Hound and his sidekick, Yogi Bear, stars of the "Huckleberry Hound" cartoon series produced for Screen Gems by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, will visit many of the country's top department stores for promotional purposes during the rest of this year.
Personal appearances are set for Boston, St. Louis, Paramus, N. J., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Cincinnati.

August 14, 1959
Motion Picture Daily
Warner Bros. is releasing 36 technicolor cartoons, three two-reel color pictures and six color one-reelers in its 1959-1960 short-subjects program. The cartoon releases include six "Bugs Bunny Specials," 14 "Merrie Melodies" and "Looney Tunes" and 16 "Blue Ribbon Cartoons."

August 25, 1959
A new tversion of Victor Herbert's "Babes In Toyland" is being created by Walt Disney. Disney is mapping a completely fresh concept to the tuneful romance for his first live-action musical.
New lyrics by Mel Leven integrated to the plot and advancing its action have been set to Herbert's original music. Human characters will appear in cartoon-like settings, along with animated toys. Teleshow is being produced and directed for Disney by Ward Kimball.

The independent Screen Cartoonists Guild and Animation Inc. are deadlocked in negotiations on the question of subcontract labor as the SCG's strike against the company nears the end of its second week.
Animation prexy Earl Klein said yesterday he feels that he is in the middle of a jurisdictional hassle between the SCG and the IATSE. Most, but not all, of the freelance artists whom Animation hires to supplement Its SCG permanent staff, are IA artists, Klein said. The SCG is holding out for a clause in the contract to require all subcontractors to be members of SCG, the prexy said.
John Harris, business representative of the SCG, said the union has developed a substantial defense fund and is prepared for a long siege, primarily on the subcontract matter.

August 26, 1959
King Features Syndicate Productions, the new division of Hearst's King Features Syndicate, has started production on 208 Popeye animated cartoons to be produced for library syndication. It's the first production of the new division, and the first time that new "Popeye" features have been made in years. Al Brodax, heading the new outfit, is producing half the films in New York and Jack Kinney is producing the other half in Hollywood. Each episode will be five and a half minutes in length.

September 9, 1959
KTTV has plucked off the choice Kellogg national spot business in the Los Angeles market, the Times indie being tapped to carry the sponsor's "Huckleberry Hound" and "Quick Draw McGraw" half-hour cartoon stanzas this year. Deal, over a 52-week period, involves some $100,000 in time billings.
"Huckleberry Hound" switches from KNXT, which had the Hanna-Barbera cartoon stanza all last year under Kellogg sponsorship. "Quick Draw" is a new entry out of the H-B shop which Kellogg has also purchased nationally. KTTV will slot the latter Mondays at 7, starting Sept. 28, with "Huckleberry" starting the following night, also at 7. "Superman," another Kellogg national spot stanza which KTTV has been carrying, goes Thursdays at 7.

September 16, 1959
The Los Angeles City Council today will note cartoon film producer Walter Lantz' 40th anniversary in the business with a resolution end a scroll, commending him for civic and industry leadership.

Prudential-sponsored "20th Century," not supposed to start until Oct. 25 on CBS-TV, has been pushed forward five weeks so that the half-hour stanza can expose its "Reaching For the Moon" documentary, originally planned for Sunday, Nov. 1.
Reason for the switch is because the network wants to get it on while the atmosphere still rebounds with the recent Soviet right - on - the – button moon shot. Program will feature a Russian - made cartoon on its moon rocket and "20th" will also interview three scientists on the subject of the moon.

September 25, 1959
Columbia Pictures has set UPA's "1,001 Arabian Nights" as the company's Christmas release, Rube Jackter, Col's veepee and general sales manager, said that the film, the first full-length feature color cartoon starring Mr. Magoo, was already being accepted for Xmas bookings.
Stephen Bosustow produced "Nights" and Jack Kinney directed. Voices heard in the film are those of Jim Backus, Kathryn Grant, Dwayne Hickman and Hans Conried.

September 28, 1959
Motion Picture Daily
Arthur J. Steele, executive vice-president of Cinema-Vue Corp., will leave shortly for the Orient to present the new Tom Puss cartoon series and other TV properties. He will visit Japan, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Australia.

September 30, 1959
Walter Lantz prepping two-minute "Woody Woodpecker" cartoon for Permanent Charities Committee.

Jack Pearl, who was Baron Munchausen on radio, has just completed a series of animated cartoons, "Adventures of Baron Munchausen," in which he is once again the voice of the famed baron. The films are being considered for theatrical short subjects prior to their release to tv.

October 7, 1959
Universal, which first intended to release the Soviet cartoon feature, "Snow Queen," for this Christmas has changed its plans and will hold the animated film until next Easter.
Thinking behind the switch is that its release this Christmas will put it into competition with Columbia's full-length McGoo cartoon, "1001 Arabian Nights." "Snow Queen," which is getting a top-drawer dubbing job, with such calibre players as Sandra Dee doing the English dialog, has the potential of a top grosser, is the Universal feeling, and there is no time element in rushing it into release.
Consequently, rather than lose some audience potential by pitting it against another feature cartoon, "Snow Queen" will be held until Easter at least.

Felix Zelenka, who exited UPA a few weeks ago, has returned to serve as production manager at the cartoon studio. He and Hal Elias, new studio manager, replace Bud Getzler, who left last week with Herb Klynn, commercial department head.

"Clutch Cargo," animated color cartoon series, is a new Friday at 7 p.m. entry on WWJ-TV.

October 14, 1959
New York, Oct. 13.—Trans-Lux Television Corp. has completed lensing of its 52d "Felix the Cat" cartoon segment for tv, assuring a Jan. 1 national release date for the property. Series has grossed upwards of $2,000,000 in sales to date, according to Richard Carlton, company veepee.

Motion Picture Daily
Twenty-seven Technicolor short subjects, plus one three-reel feature, all produced by Walt Disney, will be released by Buena Vista in the coming 12 months. This represents a boost of seven films over the same period last year.
Some 13 one-reel cartoons, five two-reel shorts, nine three-reel subjects, and re-release of the three-reel "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," combining Disney and Bing Crosby, comprise the lineup.

October 19, 1959
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera enplane Wednesday for three weeks' meetings in Tokyo and Hong Kong with tv producers and to get "Huckleberry Hound" dubbed in Japanese.

Motion Picture Daily
Nineteen Technicolor short-subject cartoons, including four "Bugs Bunny Specials," will be released by Warner Bros, during the fall-winter season. "Bonanza Bunny," "A Witch's Tangled Hare," "People Are Bunny" and "Horse Hare" are the "Bugs Bunny Specials" being released.
The other cartoons are: "A Broken Leghorn," "Wild About Hurry," "Unnatural History," "Tweet Dreams," "Fastest with the Mostest," "West of the Pesos," "Wild Wild World," "Drip Along Daffy," "Often an Orphan," "Putty Tat Trouble," "Hot Cross Bunny," "A Bear for Punishment," "A Bone for a Bone," "The Prize Pest" and "Tweety's S.O.S."

San Francisco, Oct. 18. — Universal-International is putting its Russian-made, full-length cartoon, "The Snow Queen," into Frisco Film Festival on an out-of-competition basis.
Joint announcement of showing is coming from UI vice-president David A. Lipton in Hollywood and festival director Irving M. Levin in Frisco. Lipton's also expected to announce entry of a UI-distributed two-reeler, "The Boy Who Owned An Elephant," In short subjects competition for a Golden Gate award.
Levin said "Snow Queen" must be out of competition because it was previously shown at Vancouver, B.C., Festival and thus doesn't qualify under IFFPA rules. Film, based on Hans Christian Andersen fable, will be distributed in U.S. by UI, which has dubbed in soundtrack using voices of such contract players as Sandra Dee, Tommy Kirk and Patty McCormack, music by Frank Skinner.
Two-reeler was produced by Gayle-Swimmer-Anthony, written by Malvin Wald.
Fete opens Nov. 11 at 1,000-seat Metro Theatre and will run through Nov. 24.

October 21, 1959
America, which sent only the William Marshall feature, "Hello God," with Errol Flynn as its star; "The Sermon of the Mount" (National Council of Catholic Men) and the eight-minute short, "The Violinist," to the Cork International Film Festival, collected no more than the fourth Certificate of Merit in the cartoon class for "The Violinist."
Top award in the cartoons went to "The Mouse and the Cat" (Film Polski) and "Lui et Elle" (He and She) (Jab Films, Paris). Both received St. Finbarr statuettes, the Fest's "Oscars."

October 28, 1959
Edward L. Kingsley's Kingsley-International has acquired the prize-winning cartoon (At Edinburgh) "The Violinist," made by Pintoff Productions.

October 29, 1959
Format Film Inc., new animation company formed primarily of former UPA personnel, is starting out in business making a 15-minute Todd-AO, Smellovision short subject to accompany Mike Todd Jr.'s "Scent of Mystery."
Titled "The Tale of Old Whiff," the cartoon, like the feature, will use the unique Todd process which releases viaducts scattered throughout theatres, odors cued to the dramatic action. Format took over the work on the cartoon from another animation outfit, Hubley Co. of New York.
Herb Klynn and Bud Getzler, president and v.p. respectively of Format, revealed that in its initial three weeks of operation the company has started work on some $100,000 worth of contracts, including about a dozen commercial spots.
The firm currently has about 20 full-time employes. The plant is located in a former blueprint shop in Burbank but Klynn said the company will soon move to the old Cathedral Films building which stands in the path of the projected Hollywood Freeway extension. He figures he'll have about two years there before construction begins.
Klynn said Format has two half-hour animated television pilots in development, that the company plans to put the emphasis on theatrical and television entertainment films, while maintaining a "healthy" diversification. Explaining latter comment he said the company will also work on industrials, commercials, motion picture titles and the like and eventually plans to have its own national sales network.

October 30, 1959
Motion Picture Daily
The cartoon, "The Violinist," produced by Pintoff Productions, which received the Roy Thompson Award at the recent Edinburgh Festival, has been acquired for American distribution by Kingsley International Pictures.

November 2, 1959
"Christmas Journey," reportedly the first Russian filmed cartoon to be shown on U.S. television, is being sponsored by Martin Gilbert, owner of Gilmar Records, on some 100 telestations across the country, according to Gilbert. The 10-minute cartoon was purchased in Russia last July by Gilbert, who plans to plug his company's Christmas records packages via sponsorship of the film.
In addition, Gilbert says he has sold the film to Bill Burrud Productions for special Christmas beaming on Burrud's "Holiday" show.

November 3, 1959
Army Archerd column
Show biz and showmanship will be major factors in the [1960 Winter] Olympics [in Squaw Valley, Calif.], thus it is not surprising that Walt Disney is Pageantry Committee Chairman . . . From the start of the games, with the traditional relay of the Olympic torch — this time over mountains, ski slopes, ice rinks — to the final ceremonies, Disney will add his artists and artistry to make this the most warm winter Olympics . . . Disney's secret weapon is, of course, children . . . Over 2,000 youngsters, clad In white costumes will hymn thru the snow, marching into the arena, blending their tiny voices in the opening ceremonies choir. Following will be a band of 1,000 brightly-uniformed kids from California's schools . . . Cannons, located at the perimeter of the viewing stands will fire "missiles" 800 feet into the air — they'll explode, releasing flags of the participating nations. Then, Disney unleashes thousands of balloons to float skyward maybe up to Russia's mooniks? . . . Next, the 2,000 kids in the choir will each release a dove . . . The 86,000 spectators will feel the Disney influence as soon as they arrive in the mammoth parking lots which will feature giant statues of the famous cartoon characters, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc., carved from mountainous blocks of ice.

November 11, 1959
UPA is expanding into the live action field, the depletion of personnel paused by resignations and layoffs has been made up by re-hirings, and the company will kick off its "unlimited play agreement" system Dec. 14 with 80 some prints already sold to circuits, according to UPA prexy Stephen Bosustow. Bosustow, in a state-of-the-company statement, said his commercial department will gross about $1,000,000 this year, one of the company's better years in this field, which accounts for roughly half the gross income, UPA's first feature-length cartoon, "1001 Arabian Nights," cost about $2,000,000 to make and will be released by Columbia around Christmastime with "The Flying Fontaines," a circus picture produced for Col by Sam Katzman. UPA's said to retain about a 40% interest in the animated feature, which "stars" Mr. Magoo.
The crucial area in-UPA's set-up became the animated short subjects when Columbia ceased to be the distributor for them. UPA then set out on a hand-carry blitz campaign, offering as inducement an "unlimited play" system whereby exhibs would get one Magoo cartoon per month for twelve months. They'd rent them at a flat rate per print and could screen them as seldom or as often as they wished.
Bosustow said some 80 prints have been sold for the Dec. 14 opener, "Mr. Magoo Meets Gerald McBoingg Boingg." The number, he said, provides a good foundation, on which to continue the program but he expects to offer franchises next year to states-righters so as to cover the smaller circuits and indie exhibs.
The expansion into live action, the UPA chief noted, was not the company's first venture in that area: UPA had made live commercials around 1950 and Hal Elias, new studio manager, has extensive credits in that field. A 10-minute live action industrial rolls today and the company will produce a combination live-and-animated film for the American Cancer Society, "Magoo's Check-Up." [released as "Inside Magoo"]
Concerning the rash of resignations last month which presaged the foundation of Format Films Inc., under Herb Klynn and Bud Getzler, long-time UPA stalwarts, Bosustow pronounced a benediction. It was the nature of the current animation business to regroup and splinter and he opined that the creative freedom which UPA allows and will allow was partly responsible for the recent and previous splitaways which resulted in the formation of new companies.
His only gripe, he said, was with some "disgruntled employee" (unnamed) who falsely told the press that UPA planned to can some 41 employees after several had already resigned. (The story was published elsewhere, not in VARIETY). Only 21 left the company, the UPA prexy said, and of these only 12 were dismissed. Since then the company has hired 16 new employees, including about a half-dozen animators. He emphasized that he mentioned this only to set the record straight.
Concerning the projected "Robin Hood Magoo'' feature, Bosustow said he'll wait until the votes are in on the company's first feature before committing himself on the second.

The new "Popeye" series being produced by King Features TV Productions is currently being sold with strings attached. Al Brodax, head of KFTP, which is currently producing 208 segments of the cartoon, already has chalked up billings of $650,000 in 28 markets for the five-and-a-half-minute strip. However, this is subject to cancellation should a. network deal materialize by Jan. 1.
The new series, part of which is being animated by Paramount (which distributed the original "Popeye" strip), will go on the market next September. Brodax is continuing to sell the series via syndication, despite network negotiations.

November 18, 1959
Mel Blanc has joined the Warner label. Blanc, who created the voices for such characters as Bugs Bunny, Sylvester and Tweetie Pie for the Loonie Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons, will concentrate on novelty singles for the label but will also be available for album production. His first release, pegged for the Christmas market, will be a coupling of "I Keep Hearing Those Bells" and "Tweetie's Twistmas Twouble."

November 20, 1959
The Snow Queen
(Feature Cartoon-Eastman Color)
UI release of Soyuzmultfilm production. Cartoons, animation, screenplay by Soyuzmultfilm Productions, based on Hans Christian Andersen tale. English dialog version: producer, Robert Faber; prolog, adaptation, Alan Lipscott, Bob Fisher; prolog director, Phil Patton; editor, Hugo Grimaldi; music, Frank Skinner. Prolog: Art Linkletter, Tammy Marihugh, Jennie Lynn, Nilly Booth, Ricky Busch. Featured voices, Sandra Dee, Tommy Kirk, Patty McCormack. Previewed at UI Studios, Nov. 5, 1959. Running time: 70 mins.
Russian film animators prove their worth and know-how in this particular creative art in this first Soviet feature-length cartoon to hit the American theatrical market. Based upon Hans Christian Andersen's classic, "The Snow Queen," its 64-minutes' animation running time displays fine style and certain Old World charm which should prove a natural for young audiences and evoke considerable interest among adults as well.
Originally skedded as a Christmas release by Universal-Intemational, which will distrib in U.S. and Canada, a six-minute Yuletime prolog starring Art Linkletter and a group of moppets was propped to introduce the fairy tale. Release was set back to Easter, however, due to Columbia slating another cartoon feature, UPA's "1001 Arabian Nights," for Christmas. Opening, with its patent Yule atmosphere, consequently may be somewhat out of place. Once the footage gets into its actual story, though, the spell of Denmark's great storyteller is socked over.
Made by Soyuzmultfilm Productions of Russia, UI set Robert Faber as producer of its English dialog version, with Sandra Dee, Tommy Kirk and Patty McCormack undertaking the voices of the principal characters. Animation and quality stack up well with American standards and the fine and subdued use of color is a definite added asset. Film's comparative short length should meet with exhib approval.
Story, told tersely and appealing to American audiences, follows two young children, a boy and a girl in a quaint European town of yore, and the wicked Snow Queen who turns the lad into an evil boy and takes him to her ice palace in the north. When the boy fails to return, the girl starts to search for him, a quest which takes her through many adventures until she finds him in the Snow Queen's palace.
Trio of original songs, cleffed by Diane Lamport and Richard Loring and one of them, "Do It While You're Young," sung by Sandra Dee, lend musical enjoyment, to which Frank Skinner's score further contributes. Dialog written by Alan Lipscott and Bob Fisher and supervised by Hugo Grimaldi, who also does slick editing, is natural and in good sync, and Dave Fleischner [sic] handled technical supervision. Phil Patton directed prolog. Whit.

Carl Reiner, who did 18 voices plus a barking dog for a cartoon, "The Violinist," can't take his kids to see it — it’s playing with "The Lovers."

November 25, 1959
ROCKY AND HIS FRIENDS
Producer-Director: Jay Ward, Bill Scott
30 Mins., Thurs., 5:30 p.m.
PARTICIPATING
ABC-TV (film)
Rocky and his friends are the kind of cartoon characters that should win a place in the heart of the moppet audience and a sigh of relief from parents. The approach to kid humor is intelligent; maybe not as subtle as "Huckleberry Hound," but a thankful departure from the violent slapstick that makes up the bulk of tele cartoon fare.
Production credits indicate quality. Rocky's creators at Producers Associates of Television, Hollywood, are Jay Ward, one of the producers of "Crusader Rabbit," and Bill Scott, originator of UPA's "Gerald McBoing-Boing" and a scripter of several "Mr. Magoo" shorts.
Rocky is a flying squirrel and his friends include Bullwinkle, billed as an intellectual moose, and Peabody, the genius hound who received, a Harvard degree at the age of four. In the opener Thursday (19) Rocky and Bullwinkle are featured in a cliffhanger involving a moon trip (it's to be continued); there's a modern parody of "Jack and the Beanstalk;" Bullwinkle reads Robert Lewis Stevenson's poem "The Swing;" and Peabody adopts a boy (as the judge says in the courtroom adoption scene, "If a boy can have a dog, why can't a dog have a boy?") The pace and the audio are a little fast and loud for adult tastes, but obviously calculated to keep the kids absorbed.
"Rocky" becomes the Thursday entry in ABC's 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday juve strip that features "Rin Tin Tin" and "My Friend Flicka" reruns on other nights. Opener was solidly bankrolled with no less than six blurbs spotted through the half-hour. Sponsors include Marx toys, General Mills and Tootsie Rolls. Bill.

November 27, 1959
Comedy writer Phil Davis has formed Cinemagic Internationale, a new company to make animated cartoons for television. Films will be produced at the Zagreb Studios in Yugoslavia, and voice tracks will be done in Paris with American actors. First series of 89 telefilms is titled "Hound for Hire" and deals with adventures or a private-eye dog.
Davis left for New York yesterday, and arrives in Paris Dec 2 en route to Yugoslavia for production.

November 30, 1959
Martin Gilbert, importer and producer of the Soviet cartoon, "A Christmas Journey," said yesterday the short has been bought by Fremantle of Canada Ltd. for telecasting on the entire Canadian Broadcasting Corp. network Christmas Day.
Cartoon short also has been set for viewing this week on KABC and approximately 100 other U.S. vidstations, Gilbert said. Russian short has English narration.

December 2, 1959
By Larry Glenn
Hanna & Barbera will be the exclusive theatrical cartoon producers for Columbia under a contract now nearing the signing stage, according to company officials Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. H-B thus takes over the spot held by UPA Pictures, whose option Col did not renew earlier this year. The company, formed under the presidency of director George Sidney out of the inactivation of Metro's cartoon department, is now grossing an estimated $2,000,000 per year and has nearly tripled its staff (35 or 40 at Metro) since its formation in July, 1967.
Hanna and Barbera pointed out that the theatrical cartoon chore —the first they've undertaken since becoming an indie—will not cause a staff increase since the 10 "Loopy De Loop" (A French Wolf) cartoons per year for Col will be made during the slack season of their tv operation (Oct.-Dec.). H-B now makes three weekly half-hour television cartoon series distributed via Screen Gems. Col vidsubsid.
Under the theatrical pact, Col will have exclusive call on H-B's theatrical product and will retain annual options for five years—so the deal's to be mutually exclusive. On the boards is still another half-hour weekly cartoon teleseries, a situation comedy for adults.
"We've actually turned out in one year more footage than we did at Metro in 20 years," said Bill Hanna. "We used to make eight Tom & Jerry's' (about 7 mins. each) a year. Last year we averaged five cartoons a week" Speed-up's explained in large part, of course, by the elimination of "in-betweening," i.e., detail. H-B calls it "planned animation."
Hanna and Barbera said they have for the time being abandoned any plans to have any of their work done overseas. The final cost, they said, is apt to be higher than doing it here.

December 3, 1959
Sid Pink and Norman Maurer, joint owners of the new film process, Cinemagic, have instructed their attorneys to take legal action to restrain writer Phil Davis from making use of their registered trade name for a new cartoon series planned for production in Yugoslavia. Davis last week announced his new firm would employ trade tab of Cinemagic Internationale.
Pink and Maurer claim their registration specifically covers title and rights to Cinemagic, used for the first time in their current release, "The Angry Red Planet.

December 9, 1959
Jazz and cartoon,films are being harnessed to a campaign aimed at getting teenagers to drive safely. Sponsor of the jazz approach is the General Board of Temperance of the Methodist Church which has produced an animated cartoon under the title "Stop Driving Us. Crazy," which represents the first time a. church organization has used the jazz-cartoon idiom.
Benny Golson, modern jazz saxist, wrote the original jazz score which is being promoted via a specially pressed 45 rpm disk. Howard Morris does the narration for the film.

1001 Arabian Nights
Clever animated telling of the story of Aladdin and his lamp. Mister Magoo stars in pic which is best for kids, indicating good b.o.
Hollywood, Dec. 4.
Columbia release of a UPA Production. Produced by Stephen Bosustow. Directed by Jack Kinney. Screenplay, Czenai Ormonde; story, Dick Shaw, Dick Kinney, Leo Salkin, Pete Burness, Lew Keller, Ed Nofziger, Ted Allan, Margaret Schneider; production design, Robert Dranko; layout, Shirley Silvey, Gene Miller; color design, Jules Engel, Bob McIntosh; background, "Barbara Beggs, Boris Gorelick, Rosemary O'Conner; animation director, Abe Levitow; sequence directors, Rudy Larriva, Gil Turner, Osmond Evans, Tom McDonald, Alan Zaslove; animators, Harvey Toombs, Phil Duncan, Clarke Mallery, Bob Carlson, Hank Smith, Ken Hultgren, Jim Davis, Casey Onaitis, Sanford Strother, Ed Friedman, Jack Campbell, Herman Cohen, Rudy Zamora, Stan Wilkins; editors, Joe Siracusa, Skip Craig, Earl Bennett; camera supervisor. Jack Eckes; sound, John Livadary, Marne Fallis; music, George Dunning; songs, Dunning and Ned Washington; conductor, Morris Stoloff; orchestration, Arthur Morton. Stars the voices of Jim Backus, Kathryn Grant, Dwayne Hickman, Hans Conried, Herschel Bernardi. Daws Butler, Alan Reed and the Clark Sisters. Running time, 76 MINS.
Magoo ..... Jim Backus
Princess Yasminda . . . . . . . Kathryn Grant
Aladdin ..... Dwayne Hickman
The Wicked Wazir . . . . . . . Hans Conried
The Jinni ... Herschel Bernardi
The Sultan .... Alan Reed
Omar the Rug Maker .... Daws Butler
Three Maids From Damascus .... Clark Sisters
After tripping through 53 one-reelers in 11 years, the Nearsighted Mister Magoo has hopped aboard a full-length magic carpet accompanied by a cat he thinks is a dog. While "1001 Arabian Nights" is not the kind of perceptive material that made Magoo a favorite of all ages, it abounds in enough animated fun and evil to lure more children than the Pied Piper. The UPA film, being released this Christmas by Columbia, is a brightly wrapped present which, when opened, should reveal a profitable treasure.
UPA topper Stephen Bosustow produced the 75 ½-minute feature, keeping all the fables of Baghdad alive. All are there—Aladdin, the beautiful princess, the sultan, the wicked wazir, the jinni—and only Magoo, in the fullmyopic glory, has been added. The art work, now a trademark of UPA, is a blend of realism and impressionism which often results in amusing caricatures. The production is inventive, the colors gay and cheerful and George Dunning's musical score a gem. The Czenzi Ormonde screenplay, based on a story credited to nine writers, makes Magoo an important but not the central figure. As a lovable lamp seller named Abdul Azziz Magoo, he's around to trigger good action and bad in his efforts to marry his young nephew to the beautiful princess.
Voices are well chosen to support the rollicking sounds of Jim Backus as Magoo. Kathryn Grant makes an enchanting princess, Dwayne Hickman a lively Aladdin and Hans Conried a terrifyingly sinful wazir. Alan Reed's voice is perfectly suited to the Sultan, as is Daws Butler's to Omar the rug maker. The Clark Sisters are heard as the Three Little Maids from Damascus.
Twenty-eight persons are credited with the visual creation of "1001 Arabian Nights" under the effective over-all direction of Jack Kinney. Major credit goes to production designer Robert Dranko, layout heads Shirley Silvey and Gene Miller, color designers Jules Engel and Bob McIntosh and animation director Abe Leyitow. Dunning and Ned Washington wrote three special tones to complement the score, the best being "You Are My Dream," a romantic ballad sung by a chorus behind an imaginative lover's meeting. Audio portion of the film, with sound by John Livadary and Marne Fallis, is exceptionally crisp. Ron.

December 14, 1959
Motion Picture Daily
Ben Adler Advertising Service announced here at the weekend it has been assigned to co-create, with Trans-Lux Television Corp., exploitation aids for the new "Felix the Cat" cartoon series which Trans-Lux has already sold to more than 50 TV stations.
In addition to the exploitation kit put out by Trans-Lux, the Adler Service will issue a campaign sheet illustrating a wide range of aids it can offer individual stations, Ben Adler said. Campaign items will include trailers, slides, stills, window cards, car stickers, buttons, shopping bags and life-size models of "Felix" for display use.

December 16, 1959
Stephen Busustow, [sic] founder and head of United Productions of America (PUA), was here Friday (11) digging New Orleans color and music for a full-length feature on the life of jazz-pianist Jelly Roll Morton.
Busustow, creator of Mister Magoo and Gerald McBoing-Boing, declared his company will go all out on this one. He said he has personally researched the life of the colorful Jelly Roll in the library of Congress and "we already have five minutes scenes completed with jazz ready for the picture."
However; said Busustow, Jelly Roll is mainly on the drawing boards, where he will remain "until we can convince people animated cartoons are not just for kids."
Busustow was here to promote "1001 Arabian Nights," UPA's initial feature-length cartoon pix, a Columbia release opening at the Orpheum Theatre (16).
If the public takes to Uncle Abdul Azziz Magoo, said Busustow, next will come "Robin Hood Magoo." After that it will be the life of New Orleans’ Jelly Roll without Magoo, a serious motion picture work told in animated cartoon.

Motion Picture Daily
Westinghouse Broadcasting and Trans-Lux TV Corp. tossing a party and special screening of "Felix The Cat," Tues. Dec. 29, at the Trans-Lux Theatre on Broadway for the benefit of Care, Inc. The teleseries, "Felix The Cat," the world's oldest animated cartoon (41 years) will debut nationally next month.

December 24, 1959
Rex Allen has been signed by Walt Disney to narrate his latest cartoon, "Wind Wagon Smith." Allen will also sing the title song, "The Saga of Wind Wagon Smith," accompanied by "The Sons of the Pioneers." Production starts Monday with Nick Nichols directing.

December 30, 1959
An undeniably unique television deal is now being finalized by ABC-TV and Hanna-Barbera Productions, which of late has become perhaps the busiest animation house in video. The network will underwrite at least 26 fully animated half-hour programs for prime time. "The Flagstones," which is the name of the program, is tv's first example of an adult situation comedy in cartoon form.
"The Flagstones" is expected to go at about $50,000 for each of the 26 episodes. Price ranks with the higher costing live half-hour telepic stanzas. Evidently, what ABC prexy Ollie Treyz and program chief Tom Moore are banking on is the fact that for the past several years theatrical exhibitors have capitalized no end on adult themes in animation, but it's never happened on tv—at least there's never been a steady diet of adult animated comedies on video. Show, which goes into production almost at once, will probably get a time slot somewhere between 8 and 9 p.m. Since it's not essentially for kids (though ABC doesn't want to discount them), the 7:30 slot may be bypassed.
All last week, co-producer Joe Barbera was in New York, showing ad agencies and the webs all that he had to show of “The Flagstones,” which was about five-minutes of sample cartoon footage, plus several story boards. ABC-TV is closing the deal on the basis of that and the unavoidable observation that in the past two years Hanna-Barbera has gotten real hot in network video.
Production firm, which is partnered with Screen Gems, has a combination of cartoon shows, "Quick Draw McGraw" and "Huckleberry Hound" spot booked into roughly 170 markets, with Kellogg paying the tab (having just renewed for another year). Production team also has "Rough & Reddy" [sic] on NBC-TV Saturdays.


Friday, 21 July 2017

Jackpot Tom

There’s only so much you can do with characters before you start running out of ideas. And that’s what happened with Tom and Jerry at MGM. There are only so many ways a cat can chase a mouse. So Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera started adding secondary and tertiary animal characters (and, even worse, humans toward the end of the series). But you could start to see the gags coming. You’d seen them before.

In Jerry and the Lion (1950), there’s Tom blocking a door to stop Jerry from getting through. But there’s a little door inset into the door. You know Jerry’s going to run through it. So where’s the gag? Jerry doesn’t even stop and do some amusing bit of personality business, he just runs through it and, uh, okay.

Same with a later gag. Just look at the first frame below.



Now, you and I and the rest of the world know the lion is going to sock Tom. Ho hum. We’ve seen it before.



The best part of the gag is something that, again, is telegraphed. Tom slams through a chimney, which turns into a one-armed bandit. You pretty well can guess what’ll transpire.



Right. Tom tumbles out like a jackpot, and then bricks land on him like a secondary jackpot.

Ken Muse, Ed Barge, Ray Patterson and Irv Spence are the animators in this cartoon.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Snuffy Sneeze

In Chuck Jones’ hands, Daffy Duck morphed into an incompetent braggart, setting the stage for the incompetent and angry Daffy of the wretched Daffy-Speedy cartoons of the mid-1960s (by which time Jones had left for MGM to remake Tom and Jerry into Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner).

However, there were several cartoons Jones directed where an incompetent Daffy was pretty funny—whenever Daffy was playing a role. One is The Scarlet Pumpernickel (released in 1950).

Mike Maltese loved swashbuckling films, and in his story Daffy (as the aforementioned Pumpernickel) gets to swash and buckle and smash into things and poke himself with a pin to reach the top of an impossibly tall castle. He also, foppish that he is, snorts some snuff. Alack! He’s not refined enough to avoid sneezing. Note the eye take in the frame below. Then Daffy turns into streaks of colour as Jones cuts to a long shot.



The credited animators are Ken Harris, Lloyd Vaughan, Phil Monroe and Ben Washam.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Understanding Fred Allen

Fred Allen made his debut as a star on radio on October 23, 1932. The Linit Bathtub Revue is pretty hokey by today’s standards, and perhaps by the standards of 1932. However, Allen (assisted at the start by Harry Tugend) honed his show where it soon began attracting extremely good reviews. Long before he signed off in 1949, he was praised everywhere (except, perhaps, in some vice-presidents’ offices at NBC) for his intellect and insight.

Here’s a feature story in the Radio Mirror with a cover date of May 1934. The photos accompanied the article, presumably courtesy of the network. The one to the right shows one of his early cast members, Irwin Delmore, who was later a judge and a member of the New York State Assembly under his full name of Irwin Delmore Davidson (Portland Hoffa is to Allen’s right).

IT PAYS FRED ALLEN TO BE FUNNY
THE popular air comedian was born with a gift for laughter and the necessity for making it buy him coffee and cakes. This is the real Allen behind all the comedy
by R. H. ROWAN

IF you could happen along one of the streets of New York right now and should encounter a tall, serious-faced fellow, with bland blue eyes, a set mouth and a serious demeanor you might at first think him a country product in from the sticks to find out for himself if the blades of grass do sprout up along Madison avenue in the springtime to give you that certain April nostalgia.
That is, at first you might think him a homemade product from the rural spaces. But then if you got a good look at him, caught that crinkly twitch of flesh below his eyes, a sudden upward twist of lips as though he were having a laugh ail by himself, you'd know you were facing a philosophical man. And if you'd happen to see a photograph of Fred Allen you'd realize after a hesitation that you were gazing at the famous comedian who came to the airwaves last year to repeat the sensational success he had on the stage.
Fred Allen, the trouper and Fred Allen, the private citizen are the same. There is so little of the actor and so seldom the attitude of posing about this fun-maker that it is difficult to differentiate between his leisure hours and his microphone moments.
The first thing that strikes you about him is his understanding kindliness. Or perhaps that should come second for he is fundamentally the humorist who brings out the fun in an amusing situation rather than the brief laugh in a smart gag. He has unjustly been accused of being a sophisticated type of comedian and, rightfully, he resents that. The fact that he doesn't descend to lowbrow cracks, to obvious jokes; that he is an astute student of human nature, born to brighten life for people of more sombre mien and that there is a keen philosophy in all his funny business has caused an erroneous impression to get round about his work.
He gets his material from an analytical appreciation of the ordinary happenings but admits quite frankly he is an ardent reader of his own extensive — and expensive — library of old joke books.
Recent polls, localized and national, have proven the popularity of the Fred Allen broadcasts. The air comedian and his material, are familiar to millions. He writes all his own stuff and every week turns out a skit that might be the bright spot in any Broadway hit. A famous producer, listening in to one of Fred's programs recently said, "It's a tragedy that this sparkling dialogue should go on the air for fifteen minutes and then go right into the ash-can when it might be repeated for months in a theatrical show."
In spite of his repetitious weekly successes, Allen approaches each new script with fear and doubt. Even after his broadcast he is uncertain of its reception and will humbly turn to a bystander with the anxious remark, "Do you think it was any good?" That isn't an act, either. He means it. Sometimes he's amazed when a chance comment of his, a typical Allen retort, will bring loud laughter in an informal conversation.
Not that it is such an effort for Allen to be funny. Humor flows with his most casual speeches, spontaneous and sparkling — not in a glib conceited fashion, but as a natural, unpremeditated utterance of the unique turn his thoughts are always taking. That doesn't mean his broadcasts are extemporaneous because, most of the time, he is so unaware of how funny he is that he works as hard over his material as the comedian whose humor is his job and not his own personality. He will struggle along for a week over a program and then tear it up because he thinks it's dull — start over again and in a few hours turn out a script he thinks will be all right.

Allen was born to work and started in at it the earliest age when he could earn his livelihood. But he never knew until audiences started laughing at his lines how interesting and pleasant a job could be — and how lucrative as well. He's a product of New England and he was baptized John F. Sullivan thirty some years ago. He has a reticence about having his age known so we'll just say he's in his early thirties and you can form your own opinion as to whether we're giving him the break of a couple of years. The day he first opened his eyes, the ground hog went right back into his hole and it was cold Massachusetts winter for the young Sullivan many years until at last he hit Broadway and the Main Stem paid tribute to his talents.
He tried out many jobs while he was still mastering the elementary branches of an education and though his schooling has been limited he is an avid reader and has that mellow, rich learning which comes from varied and wide experience with all sorts of people and experiences.
As a small boy he worked in the public library in Boston and had a penchant for planning his future career from whatever book he happened to pick up. If it was a volume of travel he was going to far places, if it was a thesis on bridge building then that's what he wanted to do — for the moment. It was natural therefore when one day he came upon a book which minutely described the art of juggling he should immediately consider himself an embryonic juggler and so seriously did he dwell on this outlook that eventually he became a very bad throw-and-catch-'em artist in small time vaudeville. His manipulations of the various instruments were so inexpert and so coldly received that he interpolated funny lines to cover his fumblings, gradually developing into a comedian, and leaving the shiny balls to those who could catch them better.
He served in the A. E. F. during the World War and after the armistice returned to New York to hunt a job and marry Portland Hoffa, his present wife and professional stooge, and to struggle along for years until a chance in a big Broadway production brought his clever routines to the attention of those who make stars out of road-show strugglers. What Fred Allen did in the way of keeping the first "Little Show" audiences laughing is still theater history. And what Fred Allen did, in that era, by way of making brilliant successes out of after-theater parties and social soirees is still talked about, too. He was the stellar guest of all those gatherings that included Noel Coward, the Alfred Lunts and other lights.
He had a grand time himself, too, until he realized that staying up late at night and getting up early the next morning made him more amusing socially than he might be professionally. Then, as is typical of Fred Allen, he immediately did an about-face. He gave up the parties because his work was so much more important and now-adays if you hear of the Fred Allens being among those present at any of the big social events you may rest assured Fred's there because of an old friendship or because he's so inherently kind he couldn't find a "no."
The Allens' existence, away from the radio, is an uneventful one if judged by the activities of most other microphone celebrities. Fortunately for Fred, Portland likes the quiet ways. Though, I suppose, she's so much in love with her husband, even if she weren't the quiet, retiring sort of person she is, whatever Fred said would be right.
Allen lives by a routine of physical exercises and careful adherence to a sane diet so that he is in better condition this year than he has been for many theatrical seasons. He has all sorts of gymnastic equipment in his own home and if you see a picture of Fred in his living room, slouched in a comfortable chair with a glass in his hand, you may be sure it contains milk. He walks miles every day and visits a New York gym several times a week. He keeps regular hours, works all day and as a result not only writes his own material, scribbles off syndicated letters and humorous articles for any number of publications but concocts the stuff for other comedians whose names are as well known as his. Many a quip that has brought a coast-to-coast laugh has originated in the fertile mind of Fred Allen and we don't mean it finally reached the public by the pilfering route either, because a part of Allen's income is derived from contracts to provide the continuities for other stars. During months between theater engagements he once served as a production man in Paramount's Long Island studio where he brightened the dialogue of many a dull scenario. And if any of you vaudeville fans of other years recall a funny fellow named Fred James who long ago made you laugh, that was Fred Allen, too. Only he changed his name to Allen after he'd changed John Sullivan to Fred James.
HE'S an old married man now, judging by Broadway matrimonial seasons but he's still so crazy about Portland Hoffa he'd rather you complimented her than his own humor. His generous spirit extends to other members of his radio cast, too. He doesn't hog the catch lines. He'll often give the funniest speeches to somebody less important than he when he writes the script because to him it's the act that comes first — not Fred Allen. That, any executive or actor will tell you, is the height of professional generosity.