Friday 12 December 2014

Ken Harris of Lower Slobovia

College-age Ralph Phillips is told in the U.S. Army short “Drafty, Isn’t It?” (1957) that all his buddies in the army won’t “look like a bunch of Lower Slobovians.” And there’s a shot of them. The cartoon was made by the Chuck Jones unit at Warners. Whether they’re caricatures of the Warners cartoon staff, I don’t know, but usually when there’s a gangly guy with a long nose and buck teeth, it’s Ken Harris. And there’s one of those here. (Abe Levitow and Dick Thompson got the other animation credits. Levitow was tall and dark).

There’s a neat hidden reference in a picture on Phillips’ bedroom wall. Note the signatures on the cast. One is “Linda.” Can it be a reference to anyone but Chuck Jones’ daughter, Linda?

You’ll also see the names “Joe” and “Bill” on the cast. I know what you’re thinking. Well, the cartoon has a 1957 copyright date so it’s likely it was made either around the time Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera had been fired by MGM or had set up their new studio. My guess is it’s a coincidence but I’d like to think of it as a little tribute.


  1. "Art" may refer to Art Davis or Art Leonardi -- more likely the former as Leonardi joined Warner's sometime in '57, possibly after "Drafty..." was finished. I've seen the odd tale of a rift between Jones and Davis (maybe caused by the transfer of Basil Davidovich to Davis' unit in '46 or '47). Perhaps by the mid-Fifties Jones and Davis had reconciled.

  2. On Dave Mackey's old CompuServe files site that I read nearly 20 years ago in my first days online, I saw a note that most importantly, Mel Blanc isn't credited but for the first time, somebody else IS--Daws Butler (though this wasn't for theatrical release as a regular short--Stan Freberg would be credited, of course, for "3 Little Bops" (1957) for the first theatrical Warner short to have a non-Blanc voice credit, due to Stan's newer Capitol Records/radio/TV celeb status..SC