Friday 28 February 2014


Something creative is always going on in the mind of Felix the Cat. In “Romeeow” (1929), he is, at first, bashful as he stands on a flagpole attached to Juliet the Cat’s balcony.

He decides to make the two of them ice-cream cones using the tops of some nearby buildings for the cones and a cloud above for scoops of ice cream.

They clink cones like glasses.

But the girl cat is a sloppy eater, so Felix protects himself from her cone droppings by having his tail sprout an umbrella. One gag rolls into another non-stop.

The silent Felix cartoons from the late ‘20s always seem to have something worth watching. It’s a shame they’re not restored and available for people to see and get an idea of the kind of joy Felix brought to audiences 85 and 90 years ago.

Thursday 27 February 2014

The Swallowing Skull

The nightmare imagery in Swing You Sinners doesn’t stop until the cartoon’s over. It ends with Bimbo flipping over in space, his head being cut off by a skeleton hand, then swallowed by a skull that zooms into the camera lens. The skull forms from a ghostly swirl, accompanied by popping circles.

A brilliant cartoon that could only have been made by the Fleischers in the early ‘30s. Ted Sears and Willard Bowsky get animation credits.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Tales of Fred Mertz

Pat O’Brien once told columnist Leonard Lyons about the vaudevillian who went to Hollywood for a screen test. The director studied the song-and-dance man for a while and then suggested: “Because of the sharp lights on your forehead, do you mind if we touch It up a bit with a patch of hair? It would make you look less bald.” . . . “Mister,” said the actor, “if you want an actor, take me. If you want hair, take a lion.”

I’ll bet you can picture the vaudevillian saying it, too. He was Bill Frawley.

The old grump would be 127 today.

Can you picture Frawley getting up, having a whiskey sour for breakfast, not taking crap from anyone all day and then spending his time at the races, fights or baseball game? It’s easy to picture because it’s all true. Frawley didn’t even take crap from the Los Angeles Dodgers (Frawley had been a part owner of the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League). Variety once reported the team did something to irk him and he responded by never going back to see a game ever again.

Entertainment reporting changed from the time O’Brien told that story to Lyons at Toots Shore’s in 1944. When Frawley landed his immortality on “I Love Lucy” in 1951, gossip columnists filled their allotment with a bunch of little items about the stars. Within a decade, a new breed of writer had arrived, the news reporter without entry into the decaying, back-scratching Hollywood star system. They did profiles, using their space as a repository of answers from a conversation with only one actor plugging their latest venture. So it was Frawley got more ink when he was signed for “My Three Sons” in 1960 than his whole time in the ‘50s as Lucy Ricardo’s landlord.

It’s hard to limit myself from the selection of columns featuring Frawley’s early ‘60s grumblings, but here are only two. The first is by Hal Humphrey, published on August 8, 1960; I believe he was syndicated from one of the Los Angeles papers at the time.

Frawley Sort Of Hates To Let Fred Mertz (The Landlord) Die
Hollywood—Bill Frawley isn't sure that he wants to be turned into a nice, warm-hearted old geezer with three grandsons to mother. It's going to spoil a character image which Bill spent seven years building up with a legion of fans.
"That Fred Mertz role in the 'Lucy' show has made me the hero of all husbands," explains Bill, a bit wistfully "Why just last week in Detroit a fellow came up to me on the street and said ‘Mertz, I've just gotta buy you a drink . . . the way you tell that Ethel off is beautiful.’"
Bill was in Detroit to do a commercial film for Chevrolet, which is sponsoring "My Three Sons," the new TV series which stars Fred MacMurray and Bill. The three "sons" are played by Tim Considine, Don Grady and Stanley Livingstone.
"I play Michael Francis O’Casey in this one," says Bill. "MacMurray is my widowed son-in-law with the three kids, and I guess you'd call me the superintendent of the foundry.
"This kid thing is kind of strange for me, you know. I never had any of my own and always shared the late W. C. Fields' attitude toward the little monsters. No, really, I like kids, if they aren't snot-noses," adds Bill, on second thought.
Until June of this year Bill still was under contract to Desi Arnaz, but Bill signed up with producer Don Fedderson for "My Three Sons" before that deal expired.
"Desi was a little irate about it," Bill reports, "and I shouldn't have done it that way, but everything is all right now."
In spite of their long association (198 "Lucy" films, plus the specials), Bill and Desi had their misunderstandings—most of them over money. Bill, naturally, always wanted more.
Like Groucho Marx, Bill never liked the idea of a performer trading himself cheap, just for the publicity. Years ago he one refused to go on Louella Parsons' old "Hollywood Hotel" radio show and re-create a movie role.
“There's no compensation,” cooed Miss Parsons.
“Then there is no Frawley,” growled Bill.
The movie studio involved in this donnybrook ultimately prevailed upon the stubborn Bill, and Miss Parsons was saved the trouble of sharpening her stiletto.
Jack Paar had tried to get Bill on his late, late show, but when Bill was informed it paid only scale he huffed and puffed the offer right back into Paar's office. When I reminded him that his former “Lucy,” mate, Vivian Vance, had made several Paar appearances, he snorted: “That’s her business.”
Bill is very happy about his upcoming association with Fred MacMurray. They first met and worked together in a 1933 movie titled “Car 99” about the Michigan State police. Later Bill played Fred’s manager when the latter was a bandleader in a Paramount epic called “Princess Comes Across.”
“Fred is a marvelous guy,” attests Bill. “He’s got all the money that the Bank of America hasn’t got, but he’s still a nice guy. If the series isn’t a hit it will be my fault.”
Peter Tewksbury, producer-director of “My Three Sons,” already has run into some resistance in his attempt to domesticate Bill who seems to be allergic to working in a kitchen.
“I’m not a prop comic, that’s all,” Bill explains. “Pete has me pulling things out of the oven, stirring something and trying to talk. I can’t tell a gag and be skinning a cat and tossing a bowling ball at the same time.” A guy who has been around as long as Bill Frawley is bound to find a way, and apparently no one is listening too hard to these banshee wails. Incidentally, Bill appears in the pink of condition these days, but this fact he blows down, too.
“It’s just a good Simonize job. Inside, where the motor is, there’s a hell of a lot of carbon,” Bill booms.

And this syndicated column is from February 24, 1961. The surprising part is seeing that tales of the Frawley-Vance feud were around even when the two were still alive. And he had shaved five years off his age in his chat with Henry Galante’s pen name.

Frawley Still Irascible
TV Time Staff Writer

Hollywood—On Monday, William Frawley will celebrate his 69 birthday. But he denied in a voice like a rusty buzz saw that time has mellowed him.
“I am today the same as I was at 20,” he growled with a salty epithet.
But he is happier in TV.
“Can you imagine me in silk pantaloons and turban as the keeper of a harem?” he asked. “Well, that was what the movies threw at me. Most all my roles were phony, and I was miserable playing them. Television, now, that was a Godsend.”
As Fred Mertz for eight years on the “I Love Lucy” series, he was actually playing the real-life Bill Frawley. Because of his off-camera feud with Vivian Vance, Lucille Ball actually encouraged him to put more sting into his camera battles with Vivian, thus the appellation “the battling Mertzes.”
“I guess I kind of miss Vivian,” he said.
And it's not generally known that Frawley was signed even before Fred MacMurray for the My Three Sons series. In the “My Three Sons” series the role of “Bub,” chief cook, bottle washer and “den mother” to three grandsons was created with Frawley specifically in mind. Except for Bub’s prowess in the kitchen, Frawley admits the character is true to life.
“It’s embarrassing,” he snorts, “when women write in for my prune whip recipes. I can't even boil an egg!”
But Frawley may have mellowed in one respect. He adores the youngest of the “Sons,” little Stanley Livingstone, who literally hangs on his trousers. “I just love that kid so much, I want to carry him on my back wherever I go.”
It was not always thus. Several years ago, when the Danny Thomas series visited the “Lucy” series, little Rusty Hamer badgered Frawley. Frawley finally grabbed him and said: “Maybe you're really a good kid, but we don't see eye to eye. Now you stay away from me, the farther the better, or I'll give you a swift kick in the pants!”
The undaunted moppet retorted: “I'll tell Danny just what you said!” But the even more undaunted Frawley said: “You do that, and if he doesn't like it, tell him I have a swift kick for him, too!”
Rusty told Danny, who listened silently, then advised Rusty, softly: “You and I both better heed what he says, son. He’ll do it!!”

Frawley admitted to Cynthia Lowry of the Associated Press (who reported on the whiskey sour breakfast) that “My Three Sons” was a bit of a mystery show. MacMurray’s contract stated he was to be on set for a maximum of only 14 weeks. All of MacMurray’s scenes were shot at once and the rest of the season was shot around him.

A few of the “Sons” have appeared on Stu Shostak’s internet radio show (Wednesdays at 4 p.m. Pacific). Stu has a remarkable ability he may not even know he has. He always manages to get interesting or fascinating stories from his guests so even if you’re not into the topic being discussed, it’s worthwhile tuning in just to hear what they have to say. I’ve never been a fan of “My Three Sons” but I’ve listened to how the former sons have described Bill Frawley. They all loved him. And one of the saddest things in Hollywood was mentioned by, I think, young Mr. Livingstone; that Frawley had to leave the show because he couldn’t get the necessary health insurance. Frawley had prostate and heart problems.

Bill Frawley died March 3, 1966. The title of his most famous show was “I Love Lucy.” But, you know, I think everyone loved Bill Frawley, too.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

A Quick Trip to the Stork Club

The Stork Club was one of New York City’s most famous night spots, and it makes an appearance in “A Hare Grows in Manhattan,” the great Bugs Bunny biographical cartoon directed by Friz Freleng.

Oddly, either layout man Hawley Pratt or whoever drew the final storyboard that Pratt worked from didn’t use the correct address of the real club on the awning. The actual Stork Club was at 3 East 53rd Street. Here’s a great photo of the front entrance.

The club’s appearance in the cartoon is quick. A thug bulldog chases Bugs through it. Naturally, since it is the Stork Club, it’s populated with storks.

The club is no more. On the site are a few trees cut into a cement slab with cement bowls of greenery, known as Paley Park. If you want to learn about the fascinating history of the club, read about it at this web site.

Monday 24 February 2014

For the Tired Businessman

There’s something for everyone in Tex Avery’s “House of Tomorrow” (1949), including the mother-in-law. Avery and his story guys use the mother-in-law as a topper in some comparison gags, except one dealing with the TV set of tomorrow.

Narrator Frank Graham informs us it “features a screen for each member of the family.”

For the housewife. Scott Bradley plays “Shortenin’ Bread” in the background.

For the kiddies. Avery liked making fun of the ubiquity of westerns on TV and did it in a few other cartoons.

And for the tired businessman. The camera slowly pans up.

In case you’re wondering about the identity of the young lady, let us read Daily Variety from September 21, 1948:

Metro Cartoons Mixing Action and Animation
Metro is getting into the field of combination live action and animation cartoons. First two cartoons in the combined medium will he "Senor Droopy," with Lina Romay and "House of Tomorrow," with Joy Lansing. Tex Avery will direct both shorts for producer Fred Quimby.

I remember her from “The Beverly Hillbillies,” though I don’t think she appeared in very many episodes. She was only 44 when she died of cancer in 1972.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Benny's Life of Leisure

There seems to have been a shift in entertainment writing in newspapers as the calendar changed decades into the 1960s. For years, the show biz world in print was dominated by gossip columnists—Hedda, Louella, Winchell, Fidler and so on—who would erupt with a spurt of brief items on a bunch of celebrities and then do it all over again the next day, hopefully landing a scoop in the process. But their status and influenced finally waned, and newspapers seemed to start favouring longer profiles, one star per column.

True or not, Jack Benny got an awful lot of attention in syndicated and wire service columns through the ‘60s until his death in 1974. Some of the feature stories ran a couple of pages in weekend newspapers. A chap named Lloyd Shearer did two on Jack in less than a year.

Here’s one from United Press International that appeared in newspapers beginning March 29, 1964. While Benny was constantly busy, either with television or concert appearances, he still managed to have relaxing life. Who wants to keep their nose to the grindstone when they’re 39?

What Kind of a Guy Is Jack Benny?

UP-International Writer
Hollywood — For a millionaire celebrity, Jack Benny leads a simple, uncomplicated life in luxurious surroundings. If that sounds paradoxical, consider the fact that the blue-eyed 70-year-old comedian could live the life of an Oriental potentate with yachts, New York town houses, castles on the Rhine, strings of race horses, strings of dancing girls and a lifetime pass to the jet set.
Instead Jack lives in a comfortable mansion on the most prestigious street in Beverly Hills, a home he built 27 years ago.
As mansions go, the Benny home is modest, it has four bedrooms, upstairs, a library, living room, play room, kitchen, dining room, and servants' quarters. The exterior presents a neat, manicured appearance to the world. It reflects its owner's personality.
Jack Benny is not a funny man unless he is being paid for it. At home, backstage, at his club or at a party Jack is a listener, a good audience for other comedians. He doesn't try to get laughs himself.
• • •
NEITHER IS he impaled by the frenzy and urgency of a weekly television series that besets other comedians. He has his schedule down pat. His work day begins at 7 a. m. with a leisurely breakfast.
He reports to his office at 10 a. m. four days a week, driving there in his Rolls-Royce in five minutes, or via a brisk, half-hour walk. Readings "and rehearsals require only two hours each of the first two days. The other two days' work are polished off in a morning.
"We don't work very much," Jack admits. "It keeps a certain spontaneity going on the show."
Benny's offices are located on the fringe of the Beverly Hills business district adjacent to the Friars Club; a show business institution.
There, in deep leather chairs or around a card table, the comedian frequently has lunch with friends or his writers.
Other times he will nip off to Hillcrest Country Club for lunch and a round of golf. He's horrendous at the game, but plods around with a 20 handicap. Golf and gin rummy are his major moans of relaxation.
• • •
HIS PASSIONATE preoccupation is playing the violin.
"I practice an hour or two every day, sometimes longer," says Benny. "It's the pleasantest way I know of spending my time."
He is particularly proud of his Stradivarius, a delicate instrument he bought six years ago. He values it at $40,000.
Benny and his wife, Mary, live alone in the big house with a butler and cook. A gardener tends the lawns, flowers and shrubs. Jack occasionally takes a dip in the, pool in the summer months, and once in a while has an over-the-back-yard-fence chat with his next-door neighbor, Lucille Ball.
• • •
SOCIALLY, the Bennys entertain two or three times a month. Their close friends are George Burns and Gracie Allen, Danny Kaye, Groucho Marx, Mervyn LeRoy and Billy Wilder.
They dine out infrequently, but often attend dinner parties at the home of friends. When they do visit a restaurant, Jack favors Cantonese food at the exotic Traders restaurant, a mile or so from his house. He watches his diet and, at 70, is in near perfect health.
Most evenings Jack reads the newspapers and watches television. His taste runs to dramatic shows, not comedies.
Once a week his grandchildren, Michael, 8 1/2, and Maria, 6 1/2, spend the night. It is Mary's favorite time of the week. The youngsters live with their mother, Joan, who was adopted by the Bennys in infancy. She lives a few blocks from her , parents with her husband, movie executive Robert Blumoffe.
• • •
EARLIER this year Benny was voted one of Hollywood's best-dressed men by an organization he can't quite remember. It pleased him.
Jack leans to conservative business suits in grays and blues. They are all tailored for him. But at his office he usually can be found in open sports shirts and slacks.
His practice sessions with the violin generally take place in his bedroom, a spacious boudoir that includes a desk and shelves of books, along with leather-bound copies of his scripts down through the years.
Benny gives generously to charity and is the antithesis of the miserly, egocentric character he plays on his show. He appears to be almost without ego, unruffled by praise or criticism. Neither is he sensitive about his age.
He enjoys his violin concerts more than he does his television show. And peculiarly, he seems to be unaware that he is one of the great comedy stars of his era; a man who has spent more years on radio and television entertaining Americans than any other performer of his time.
He moves his network show from CBS to NBC next season. And because Benny is Benny, televiewers will make the move right along with him.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Commercials by Pencil

We’ve asked this before on the blog, but have you been checking out Mike Kazaleh’s series of posts over at Cartoon Research on animated commercials of the 1950s? Chances are if your favourite animator vanished from the credits of theatrical shorts for a period of time, he ended up working for one of the many commercial or industrial studios around then. Tex Avery, Rod Scribner, Ed Love, George Nicholas, Emery Hawkins, the list is a pretty long one.

The Golden Age of Television was the Golden Age of the Cartoon Commercial. How can you not like those old animated spots? The designs were varied and creative. They were funny. And cartoons sold everything. Eventually, someone must have listened to the tired old mantra that cartoons are only for kids because by the ‘60s, most of the animated commercials were for cereal and other stuff aimed at children (the great Alka Seltzer stomach spot being a notable exception).

There have never been very many articles in the popular press about commercials of any kind (excepting the overhyped Super Bowl ads, I suppose), but here’s one from the Pasadena Star News of Saturday, March 16, 1957. You’ll notice a few names are incorrectly spelled.


STARR REPORT: A new group of television stars has emerged from the ever fertile and creative minds of artists responsible for those animated advertising cartoons you see on television all hours of the day and night. The trade knows them as the “pencil point stars.” A 60-second animated film costs about $15,000 ($250 a second) and takes eight weeks to complete. Does that sound expensive? Well, it is! But it is just what a sponsor might pay if he approached Don Quinn, president of Ad Staff, Inc.; Adrian Woolery, owner of Playhouse Pictures; Walt Disney Productions; or U.P.A.— just a few of the many specifically designing clever television cartoon commercials to capture your attention, imagination and to pull out your purse strings!
A shorter animated commercial may be acquired for as low as $4,000 and require only four weeks to complete, having less animation, complexity of color, dialogue and music.
“Gone is the day of a thrush-throated announcer excitedly telling you to rush to your neighborhood store and buy the last carload of his sponsor’s product. Sponsors today merely suggest the advantages of their products against a background of soothing or novelty music, trick voices and animated characters. It seems Mr. and Mrs. Public part with their money easier if they can laugh while doing it, and this accounts for the increase cartoon advertising,” says Adrian Woolery.
A staff of more than people is needed to process the commercial film. Every presentation has a writer, director and “pencil point star”—the star being the figment of the artist’s imagination. The picture is about to roll. The artists are alerted! Find a star—one with warmth, a strong personality, sense of humor and above all, saleability! And from the point of a pencil a star is born! When the sponsor approves the “pencil point star,” another kind of talent hunt is launched to find a voice for the star. A long list is screened of Hollywood’s finest cartoon voices headed by Stan Freeberg, Jim Backus, Eddie Mayehoff, Mel Blanc, June Foray and Dawes Butler. When a decision is made the “voices” meet in a recording studio to pre-record the dialogue.
The “star” now goes to wardrobe and makeup departments; that is, he is permanently transferred to a celluloid slide in ink, and what has been a drab black and white drawing is brought to life by color. He is given flashing blue eyes, gray dimples, rosy cheeks, a shock of long blonde hair—and is then worthy of the title “star.” Meanwhile, in another building the scenic artists are preparing the “sets,” or the painted backgrounds against which the animated characters will appear.
“Camera! Lights! Action!” is the next call for this miniature production. When the filming is completed it is processed, edited and previewed for a select audience of the firm’s staff. If there are retakes, the artists return to their desks and begin over again. When final approval is authorized, the film is turned over to the sponsor for public consumption.
When will we see our “pencil point star” again? Constantly for the next six months; on station breaks and in the middle of our favorite TV programs. But at the end of that time he’ll return to a dank film storage building where he’ll lay in all his faded glory while another “star” is born from another pencil point.

One sentence in the story may make you scrunch up your face in confusion. Included in the list of top cartoon voices is Eddie Mayehoff. He’s pretty much unknown today. Mayehoff was a bandleader-turned-comic. In the ‘40s, he appeared in New York City night spots doing impressions and character sketches. He hosted his own radio show on WOR/Mutual starting in late 1940 and then emceed “Beat the Band” on WEAF/NBC radio in 1944. He surfaced on TV throughout the ‘50s and appeared in comic supporting roles on movies and on stage. Among the products he sold as a cartoon was Falstaff Beer in 1956. I don’t recall whether he provided any voices in theatrical cartoons; if anyone knows of one, leave a comment.

Friday 21 February 2014

Athletic Angles

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. I can’t make out the staff artist’s name but someone reading will know who it is.

Thursday 20 February 2014

Balletic Bathtub

There’s nothing like a bathtub coming to life and tossing toilet paper like rose petals, is there? That’s what we get in the opening scene of the first Looney Tune cartoon “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub” (1930).

And it shakes its bathtub booty and dances the Black Bottom.

The sole animation credit goes to Friz Freleng. Max Maxwell, Paul J. Smith and Norm Blackburn were also on the animation staff at the time.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Commercial TV arrives

Television didn’t just come full-blown into the world in 1948 with the major radio networks putting daily televised schedules on the air. It was around almost at the dawn of network radio in the late ‘20s and slowly evolved through the ‘30s and the war years. But there were small numbers of sets, no networks, fewer than a dozen stations and they were concentrated in fewer cities. Like early radio, it was local, simple, and devoid of commercials (and, unfortunately, live, so next to nothing of it survives for us to view).

Commercial television in the U.S. finally came due to a number of things, mainly after the FCC approved some uniform technical specifications for broadcasting and set a date. So it was that July 1, 1941 marked the start of commercial broadcasts. New York City had three stations on the air—NBC’s WNBT (which had begun life in 1928 as W2XBS), CBS’s WCBW (which had been W2XAB) and DuMont’s W2XWV, which became WABD when it went commercial. The New York Sun reported on June 28 that W2XWV wouldn’t be going on the air "because of difficulty in obtaining necessary equipment." But the station managed to rig something.

While no visual record of the first day of commercial TV exists, Broadcasting magazine of July 7, 1941, gave a pretty complete account.

Five advertisers participated in making the opening day of commercial television really commercial by sponsoring telecasts on WNBT, only station to be ready for business with a commercial license and a rate card. The latest sponsor was Missouri Pacific Lines, St. Louis, whose advertising department placed a half -hour travel film on WNBT Friday night.
The FCC last Monday, in connection with the start of commercial video the following day, issued an objective statement reviewing events leading up to full commercial authorization.
The FCC indicated that in addition to the established visual broadcast service for the New York area, three more stations expect soon to make the transition from experimental to commercial operation--Don Lee's W6XAO, Los Angeles, Zenith's W9XZV, Chicago, and Philco's W3XE, Philadelphia.
Bulova Watch Co., New York, opened and closed the day's transmissions on this station with a visual adaptation of its familiar radio time signal. A standard test pattern, fitted with hands like a clock and bearing the name of the sponsor, ticked off a full minute at 2:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the edification of the viewers-in. This two-program contract also provides television's first success story, for following the opening day's test the sponsor immediately signed up for daily time-signals for the standard 13-week period.
Sun Oil Co., Philadelphia, telecast the regular evening news broadcast of Lowell Thomas as it also went out to listeners over the Blue network, with Hugh James reading the commercials from a desk piled high with cans of the product. This program, sponsored as an opening day special, was placed through Roche, Williams & Cunnyngham, Chicago.
Lever Bros Co., Cambridge, Mass., treated the audience to a sight-and-sound version of its radio program, Uncle Jim's Question Bee, with the commercials presented by Aunt Jennie, star of another Lever series. For her first commercial, Aunt Jennie told of compliments her cooking has received since she started using Spry, demonstrating her remarks about its quality by opening a can and displaying its contents to the audience.
At the close of the program she cut and served to the cast and the contestants on the show an appetizing chocolate cake. While they ad libbed their appreciation, including several requests for second helpings, Aunt Jennie got in a couple of short conversational plugs for Spry. This one-time test program, handled by Ruthrauff & Ryan, New York, effectively demonstrated the ease with which television can put over a hard–hitting direct sales message.
P & G Program
Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, presented an adaptation of one of its programs, Truth or Consequences, ideally adapted to the medium with its comic situations.
The commercials told the familiar "red hands" story. The camera presented a close-up of a pair of hands, red and rough from dishwashing, then dollied back to reveal a woman and a boy with a basket of groceries, including three cakes of soap.
The woman told the boy to take the two cakes of Ivory to the bathroom and to put the laundry soap on the sink for dishwashing. Then the scene was repeated with another pair of hands, this time all three cakes of soap were Ivory, pointing an obvious moral. Contestants on this show received large cakes of Ivory, whose labels were plainly visible to the audience. Compton Adv., New York, handled the program.
In addition, WNBT during the afternoon telecast the Dodgers - Phillies baseball game and in the evening put on USO program and a condensed version of a satire on Army life, written, produced and performed by the privates and non-coms of Ft. Monmounth, N. J.

And what about the other two stations? Broadcasting doesn’t reveal much more than problems.

Although beset by technical difficulties which threatened to halt the proceedings, both WCBW and W2XWV pushed through to get programs on the air on July 1. The DuMont engineers, unable to make the necessary changes in their antenna in the time allotted, rigged up a substitute temporary mast which, although not transmitting as powerful a signal, sent out pictures and sound which were clearly received by set-owners as far away as Passaic, N. J. This station's two-hour evening program included both live and film entertainment.
Troubles Galore
CBS engineers, hampered but not stopped by a broken camera circuit and the failure of the fluorescent lighting system shortly before time for the afternoon program, got WCBW on the air on schedule. Highspot of the afternoon program was a dancing lesson given to a boy and girl by Arthur Murray instructors.
Other entertainment included a newscast, with a large map behind the announcer that reversed on a central pivot to permit an immediate change of geography in keeping with the locale of the news, and a children's story-telling program, with the story illustrated by an artist drawing his sketches as the audience watched and listened.
In the evening, after further camera trouble, WCBW presented a blues singer, the first of a scheduled series on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, introduced by the museum's director, Francis Henry Taylor, and Bob Edge interviewing sports celebrities.

WNBT carried on with a 15-hour-a-week commercial schedule. CBS was still fussing around with colour TV, broadcasting Country Dance that month in colour after a black-and-white telecast earlier in the day. By 1943, W2XWV was carrying sponsored programmes on an experimental basis on Wednesday nights and finally got a commercial license the following year.

If you’re interested in the W2XBS/WNBT programming schedule, THIS web site has transcribed them from the New York Times. Unfortunately, other stations aren’t included.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Heartful Departure

When Chuck Jones used drawings of hearts in cartoons with skunks, especially in the late ‘50s, he was full of sticky sentimentality. When Tex Avery did it, he was trying to be appropriate. How else would Cupid pop out of a scene?

Animation in “Little 'Tinker” is by Bill Shull, Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Bob Bentley. Cupid is voiced by the guy who did George in the George and Junior cartoons.

By the way, why is it that in cartoons, skunks smell all the time?

Monday 17 February 2014

Silent Singing

Felix the Cat leads an identical chorus of Felix the Cats in song in “Felix Revolts” (1923).

The “Ow” appears to vibrate when it’s animated as the cartoonist squashes and stretches the word.