Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cubby is Played by Bosko

When is a Van Beuren cartoon not a Van Beuren cartoon? Simple. When it’s a Harman-Ising cartoon.

In 1933, Leon Schlesinger parted company with Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising who had been making Looney Tunes, starring Bosko, and Merrie Melodies starring Foxy (for a time) and other singing, dancing creatures. Van Beuren had an animation studio in New York City which had been making Cubby Bear cartoons. For whatever reason, Hugh and Rudy on the other side of the U.S. were given a contract to animate some Cubbies that Van Beuren could release. Suddenly, Cubby looked and acted just like Bosko and Foxy. Same character designs and construction. Same facial expressions. Even the same falsetto voice as Bosko (and other characters, like the mouse in the Merrie Melodie “One More Time”). Same animation, too. In “World Flight,” Cubby develops the same slide-step that Bosko used over and over.

Oh, and same celebrity caricatures, too. The Marx Brothers make an appearance in “World Flight.” They appear in “Bosko’s Picture Show” as well.

Even that wacky comedy character Adolf Hitler appears in both. In the Cubby cartoon he’s hanging out with Paul von Hindenberg who, in real life, needed the Fuhrer like he needed a zeppelin explosion.

The Harman-Ising link with Cubby was short. Hugh and Rudy signed with M-G-M (no doubt for far better terms than Van Beuren) where Bosko got out of his Cubby suit and soon wore one that made him look less like an early ‘30s cartoon. Cubby was left in the capable hands of Steve Muffatti in New York.


  1. I wonder if H&I were making a play for a long-term arrangement, replacing Van Beuren's New York studio? They could have turned these out and said "See how quick and cheap we can make them?" Then the MGM deal came along, or Van Beuren decided to keep his NYC studio.

  2. You get the feeling if Paramount had contacted Hugh and Rudy in 1933 about taking a load off the Fleischer Studio by doing a Popeye, they would have animated him like Bosco.

  3. Stephen, I'd have to check timelines. Van Beuren had to expand when it got the Amos and Andy rights and may have needed to subcontract some cartoons due to a lack of staff.
    That said, H&I were sniffing around New York in spring 1933. They were looking for a release but I presume it was for their own characters.
    JL, the last thing I'd like to see is Popeye doing a step-slide and having that wide-open mouth Harman and Ising gave every single one of their characters.

  4. Or chewing spinach like Bosko chewed sandwiches.

  5. Carson Maitland - Smith23 March 2014 at 01:08

    What about Hollywood Picnic and A Hollywood Detour