Monday 31 October 2016

Graveyard Swing

Frames from the graveyards scenes in Swing You Sinners! (1930), one of the greatest cartoons of all time.

Ted Sears and Willard Bowsky are the credited animators.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Benny in Boston

50 or so years ago, symphony orchestras and old theatres needed financial help, and Jack Benny was there until the day he died to bring his special brand of music/comedy to raise millions of dollars to save them.

But there was one time Jack appeared on stage and played his violin with no comedy. It was a cameo appearance with the Boston Pops in 1955.

Here’s how the Boston Globe explained it in the paper’s May 5, 1955 edition.

Waukegan’s Gift to Music
Crowds at Pops Thrilled by Violinist Jack Benny


Jack Benny looked down from the window of his suite at the Ritz Carlton: “I haven’t been here since the Tea Party—boy, things have changed.” He waved a hand toward the buildings that stand between the hotel and the Charles River. “They must be new.”
Jack is in town to receive one of three awards that will be given tonight by the Massachusetts Committee of Catholics, Protestants and Jews. But last night he had quite a different experience—Waukegan’s most famous violinist made his debut in Symphony Hall.
But that is getting too far ahead of the story. The evening began with dinner in Jack Benny’s suite. When Irving Fein, director of public relations for C.B.S. Radio in Hollywood, asked the waiter for a menu, the comedian let out a roar, “You mean you’ve come all the way to Boston and don’t know you have to eat fish chowder?”
In case you think he was kidding, I should add here that Jack finished a whole tureen of it.
As dinner went on there was no doubt that there has probably never been a celebrity with a pleasanter, more attractive manner.
He admitted that the Tea Party really wasn’t his last trip to Boston. “I used to work at Keith’s. Boston and Philadelphia were my favorite stops, I like the audiences.”
He thought for a moment. “They had class.”
Unlike many comedians who feel they must be funny off-camera, Jack speaks fluently on all kinds of subjects. In one of his more serious moments, he declared rather wistfully, “I go to all kinds of places and see all kinds of things, but I always feel bad about not having an education. It’s so important in life.”
Unnoticed . . . Almost
Also at the dinner were Dorothy Sweeney, Boston, and Harvey Struthers, WEEI. We were all just about ready for a second French pastry when Michael Kelleher, one of Boston’s most public spirited citizens, appeared to take us all to Symphony.
By the time we arrived there it must have been 9 o’clock. The concert had begun. Everyone was seated, intent on music. Jack could slip in—almost unnoticed.
He never took his attention from guest soloist Mineko Sasahara as she played a piano concerto by Saint-Saens. he learned over to whisper to me, “Don’t you love the way she attacks the piano? Wonderful? Great?”
But although Jack’s attention never wavered from the stage, word of his presence was making its way along the grapevine. You could almost see it travel. A head would turn, take a look to make sure, then lead toward whoever was nearest. It went down rows and across aisles, and soon as the ovation for the soloist had died, the autograph crowd swarmed in. “Sign my program . . . this napkin . . . a matchcover.”
The crowd got bigger, the aisles were blocked—and a worried look came over Jack’s face. He stopped in the middle of an autograph, “Gee, this won’t spoil the concert, will it?”
But Jack would never have bothered to ask if he’d known about the staunch crowd which goes to the Pops for only one reason—music. The second Conductor Harry Ellis Dickson appeared on stage a great SSSSsssh! filled the hall.
The autograph seekers rushed back to their tables and Jack turned to Fein, “Let’s have some of that pink stuff that they’re serving in pitchers.”
‘An Open Rehearsal’
It was not until after the selections from South Pacific that Maestro Dickson solemnly announced from the podium: “For the first time in the history of the Boston Pops we are going to have an open rehearsal.” A knowing laughter filled the air. “I introduce to you now a man who needs no introduction—you will know him by his violin.”
Out walked Jack through the rows of musicians. And the hallowed old walls of Symphony fairly rocked.
In that famous unsmiling way, he accepted the greeting, then nonchalantly reached into his pocket for a handkerchief to tuck under the violin. It looked like “Love in Bloom” for sure, but the orchestra began the “Chardis” by Monte.
At a signal from Maestro Dickson, Benny raised his bow. I can honestly say I have never heard the Pope audience more silent. The listeners seemed to hold their breath, strain their ears listening for just one sour note. But the Waukegan master played without a flaw. Occasionally he beamed down at the photographers clustered by the stage and once he called out to the audience, “Here comes the hard part—if I don’t go fast, I’m dead.”
What followed the finale was like an explosion. If anyone applauded more vigorously than the audience it was the musicians.
With just a suggestion of a smile, Jack strolled off the stage. A few minutes later we were back in the car. He just sat there in the back seat, beaming, laughing, slapping his knee.
The first thing he said was, “You must admit I’ve got guts walking out there and playing it straight when they expected ‘Love in Bloom’.” He shook his head.
“It was so much more fun than telling jokes—I can do that anytime.

Saturday 29 October 2016

Cartoons of 1958, Part 2

Toward the end of 1958, theatrical animation was dying and television animation was growing. There’s no better proof of that than the fact that companies making cartoons for moving houses weren’t expanding. But Hanna-Barbera was. The studio had a hit with the Huckleberry Hound Show and quickly planned several other programmes (one of which didn’t get off the ground).

Elsewhere, Spunky and Tadpole were getting set to appear on TV screens. So was an animated Bozo the Clown. And a revived version of that great 1920s silent character, Felix the Cat. Meanwhile, Walter Lantz was engaging in his almost annual whine to Variety about how little money his cartoons got from theatres, the same thing he had been going on about for ten years. Lantz wasn’t hurting, though, thanks to getting his cartoons on TV.

About the only other thing happening in the theatrical world was UPA and Disney were readying feature-length cartoons.

Let’s skip through the animation stories in Variety.

July 2, 1958
Trans-Lux Television, moving ahead on its diversification kick, has made a deal for the production of 260 "Felix the Cat" color cartoons.
The series, for which Trans-Lux has appropriated up to $1,750,000, will be produced by Felix the Cat Productions, Inc., headed by Pat Sullivan, nephew of the creator of the original series which had its debut over 35 years ago. Each episode will be four minutes in length and the series has been so designed that each three successive episodes will form a self-contained quarter-hour.
Plan was adopted to provide flexibility, enabling the entire series to be shown as individual four-minute episodes or a continuing quarter-hour series. Production already has been initiated and the first bloc of 52 four-minute episodes is due to be completed this year. Shorts will be shown theatrically abroad. Current batch of old "Felix the Cat" cartoons, consisting of 49 shorts and distributed by Official Films, will have its tv licensing expiring in '49. Felix Productions topper Sullivan, with studio headquarters in N.Y., says he will probably work with a crew of 20 on the series. The cartoon has been syndicated in newspapers since 1922 by King Features.

UPA Pictures will shutter its N.Y. production arm this month and shift all production to main studio in Burbank, Cal. Only a sales and liaison staff will remain in Gotham, supervised by vp Herbert Klynn from Coast.
Firm last year turned out $530,000 in animated tv commercials in the N.Y. plant, compared to about $350,000 in Burbank. Burbank facility will make about $500,000 worth of commercials this year plus filling orders which would have been completed in east.
Some of personnel of N.Y. studio will be absorbed at Burbank, bossman Stephen Bosustow says, but no decision has been made as to number.

July 9, 1958
Beverly Hills Productions, which floated a $125,000 public stock issue last summer in order to enter the animated telefilm production field, has signed a distribution deal with Guild Films under which the syndicator gets worldwide rights to the "Adventures of Spunky and Tadpole" cartoons in return for a $125,000 guarantee against 50% of the world gross.
Edward Janis, prexy of the production company, said he already has 40 of the three and one-half minute color cartoons in the can and is finishing off the remaining 10. He's brought the first 50 in at a budget of $1,850 each, with the deal giving company an immediate profit of $27,250 on the package. Deal gives Guild an option on 50 more of the cartoons, which can be packaged into 15-minute or half-hour shows or played on a strip basis.
Janis is now negotiating a new deal with Guild which would supercede the one already signed. This would call for production of a total of 150 of the cartoons, with Guild holding an option on 350 more. These would call for budget of $2,500 each, with Guild paying a flat $4,000 apiece sans percentage of the gross for a longterm lease.
Cartoons are in limited animation style with double tracks. Janis, who doesn't own a studio, subcontracted the various animation and recording elements but was responsible for storylines and overall production and sale of the series. He figures he can turn out up to 100 cartoons a year on that basis.

Two-year old suit of Animation Inc., cartoon outfit, against Mike Todd Co. for $250,000 damages on charges of plagiarism and misappropriation was settled out of court for undisclosed amount yesterday (Mon.) when case was calendared to be heard in Superior Court here. Animation claimed authorship of epilog, consisting of cartoons, which appeared in "Around the World," via having submitted drawings.

July 15, 1958
[T]he Schick Razor Co. will spend two million bucks on a tv campaign featuring cartoons based on sequences in "Around the World in 80 Days."

The Clark Sisters, Ann, Peg and Jean, will supply voices for trio In UPA's feature-length cartoon, "Magoo's Arabian Nights," Columbia release.

Walter Lantz is working on a cartoon entitled, "Yukon, You Can Have It."

July 16, 1958
Telestudios, Inc., commercial film producer, has entered the programming field, coming up with two pilots on video tape. Pilots are "Spaceman, U.S.A.F.," with George Gould as producer, and "Penny Theatre," cartoon series, co-produced by Gould and Al Markim. "Spaceman, U.S.A." is a half-hour project with Willy Ley, rocket authority as technical adviser. Scripts are by Jack Weinstock and Willy Gilbert.

July 23, 1958
Having lost Kellogg and its half-hour film shows [including Woody Woodpecker and Huckleberry Hound] to national spot, ABC-TV has been angling for program replacements in its 5-to-5:30 weekday strip. First deal was made with Harvey Films for 170 Paramount theatrical cartoons, which the net will place next fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Harvey bought the animations from the maker a few weeks ago, according to the web. A spokesman said that ABC took the product on a longterm video deal. Monday, Wednesday and Friday replacements for the Kellogg stuff have not been set.

July 30, 1958
David DePatie replaced Walter Bien as production exec of Warners commercial and industrial films division .

August 6, 1958
Two U.S. entries, "The Tender Game" and "Dancer's Walk" were voted special awards at the just-ended Venice Documentary Festival. Former was made by John Hubley and won in the cartoon section of the event, while the latter made by Nathan Kroll, New York conductor-arranger copped its kudo in the TV-Film department.

RKO Television, the telefilm subsid of RKO Teleradio, is going out of business, with the execs of the subsid moving over to a newly-formed organization [Show Corp. of America], headed by Robert Manby, who also was v.p. in charge of RKO-TV.
The Manby-helmed new firm, though, will inherit all the remaining properties of RKO Television. These include ... "No Gun Nolan," an animated cartoon strip produced by Al Capp

August 13, 1958
Gene Deitch Associates Inc. has been authorized to conduct a motion picture and television business in New York, with capital stock of 200 shares, no par value. Weinrib & Weinrib of Manhattan are filing attorneys at Albany.

Twentieth-Fox's "Ten North Frederick" has won the Vela D'oro award for the best feature entered in the 11th annual Locarno Film Festival. "The Juggler of Our Lady," a Terrytoon short, picked up the top award for best cartoon. "Frederick" competed with 16 other films representing 11 countries.

Jack Kinney, former animation director at Disney Studios, has joined UPA Pictures as supervising director of the studio's first feature-length cartoon, "Magoo's Arabian Nights," Columbia release.
Kinney takes over from prexy Stephen Bosustow, who had been doubling in brass as director since Pete Bumess ankled UPA last April to join Sutherland Productions. Kinney had been with Disney for 26 years.

August 13, 1958
Rites will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Chapel of The Chimes, Inglewood Park Cemetery, for Charles Byrne, 48, vet cartoonist, who died Saturday of a heart attack.
Byrne, who had worked for all the major studio cartooneries at various times, was one of the founders of the Screen Cartoonists Guild. His widow and two sons survive. Family requests donations go to heart fund, in lieu of flowers.

August 20, 1958
New cartoons especially made for tv appear to be racking up healthy sales. Six markets recently signed for "Cartoon Storybook," being distributed by Reub Kaufman's Javark Film Corp. Roster includes WGN-TV, Chicago; KVAR-TV, Phoenix; WCYB-TV, Bristol Va.; WDEF, Chattanooga; KONO-TV, San Antonio, and WSTV, Steubenville, O. Ten-minute series has now been put in 33 markets.
New stations signing up for the fresh "Crusader Rabbit" series, distributed by Regis Films, include WCAU-TV, Philadelphia; WDAU-TV, Scranton; WMBR-TV, Jacksonville; WTCN, Minneapolis; CMTV-TV, Havana, and KLOR-TV, Salt Lake City.

August 26, 1958
New York, Aug. 25.—Universal has overhauled its short subjects program and hereafter will produce and release all one and two-reelers in color. ... [T]here will be ... 13 new Walter Lantz color cartoons, six Lantz reissues.

August 27, 1958
Gene Deitch, producer of the Bert and Harry Piel commercials, has formed Gene Deitch Associates to create and produce animated films for tv and theatrical distribution.
Ken Drake, former exec production manager for UPA, has been appointed production manager of Gene Deitch Associates, and Al Kouzel, former animation director of Terrytoons, has been named animation director. New organization will be represented by Langworth Feature Programs in national syndication.

Announcer Allen Swift did a series of tv animated cartoon spot commercials for Kellogg. Allen did the voice of Jose the Coco Krispies Monkey.

Jerome Hellman, president of Ziegler, Hellman and Ross, has left for Europe to conclude the contracts for a cartoon feature based on Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." As arranged by Hellman, the film will have Christopher Fry as adapter, Alec Guinness as narrator, and Ronald Searle and David Hilberman as the animators. Searle and Hilberman operate as Perputa Productions and Hellman is arranging the contracts between Perputa, Fry and Guinness. He will also discuss financing of the feature, which will be produced in England.

August 29, 1958
Columbia has lined up a program of 45 new short subjects [for its 1958-59 season] ... UPA will provide 12 cartoon subjects for the 34 one-reel shorts, embracing 10 "Mr. Magoo" and two "Ham and Hattie" reels... Single reel reprints include 15 cartoons, headed by "Gerald McBoing-Boing."

September 3, 1958
Deal has been finalized for newly-formed Jayark Films Corp. of N.Y. to distribute 812 animated cartoons produced for television by Larry Harmon-Ted Ticktin Productions Inc. Cartoon series are: "Bozo, the Clown," based on characters in Capitol Records' album series; "Dizzy Dog"; and "Hero and Zero." Latter two are original creations of Harmon, who produces and directs the three series.
In addition to his own services, Harmon is providing his creative staff, copyrighted properties and extensive merchandising rights to the three packages. Distribution of the trio of properties by Jayark, recently formed by Reub Kaufman, gets underway immediately. Animated subjects average six minutes in length, and will be filmed in 35mm and color. Capitol recently transferred administration of worldwide merchandising, tv and commercial rights to "Bozo" to Harmon-Ticktin. Merchandising rights alone had reportedly reached $3,000,000 in wholesale annual gross for the diskery.

Buena Vista is taking a rare approach—seeking to publicize its entire program of six pictures at a single time. The schedule includes "Sleeping Beauty," which is Walt Disney's new $6,000,000 cartoon release for Easter.
Charles Levy, BV's ad-pub director, exploitation manager Bob Dorfman and other members of the department will visit 50 cities during the next six weeks. They'll call on editors, critics and radio-tv outlets to make with the pitch about what's coming from Disney on the long-haul basis. The so-called "opinion makers" are to be provided with special material on the entire film lineup, including feature stories, photo layouts, cast backgrounds, credit sheets, synopses, etc.

KHJ-TV has hypoed its cartoon lineup with the purchase of 150 "Spunky and Tadpole" cartoons from Guild Films. New material will be showcased on the station's "Cartoon Express."

Prize plum in Kellogg's switch of programming from network to national spot, the new "Huckleberry Hound" cartoon series, has landed on KNXT, with the Leo Burnett Agency slotting the stanza on Tuesdays at 6:30 to 7 p.m., time period recently reliquished to affiliates by the CBS-TV network.
Burnett awarded Kellogg's three rerun shows, "Woody Woodpecker," "Wild Bill Hickok" and “Superman,” to KABC-TV. These had run last year on the ABC-TV web.

September 10, 1958
Sterling's "Cartoon Cliffhangers" has now grossed about $500,000, with stations buying the initial cartoon package of 65, renewing for the new 39.
Roster of stations on Sterling's list includes: WMAL, Washington; KOMO, Seattle; KTVI, St. Louis; WLWI, Indianapolis; KVII, Amarillo; KTVU, San Francisco; KPHO, Phoenix; KRCA, Sacramento; WTCN, Minneapolis; KLOR, Provo; WGN, Chicago; WSPD, Toledo; WGAL, Lancaster; WTIC, Hartford; KPRC, Houston; WNEP, Scranton; WJAC, Johnstown; KRLD, Dallas; WGR, Buffalo; KTTV, Los Angeles; CKLW, Detroit; WNAC, Boston; and WOR, N. Y.

September 15, 1958
New York, Sept. 14.—United Artists Associated Inc. has invited tenders from all security holders of Associated Artists Productions Corp. The offer involves a proposed payment in cash for each share of Associated Artists stock of $11 plus an amount equal to 6% per annum from July until the closing date; for each warrant (for four shares of stock) of $7 per warrant; and for each $1,000 6% subordinated convertible sinking fund debenture of $1,188, plus an amount equal to 6% of $1,188 from July 1 until the closing date. The closing date specified in the invitation is Oct. 17, but provision is made under certain conditions for extensions. ...
Associated Artists is a television film distributor and its motion pictures, which include the pre-1948 Warner Bros, library and a number of Popeye cartoons, will continue to be distributed in television by United Artists Associated which was recently organized for the purpose of acquiring the assets and business of Associated Artists. United Artists Corp. has a management contract with United Artists Associated and an option to acquire all of its stock at a later date.

September 17, 1958
CBS-TV finally broke the ice on its Saturday ayem cartoon series "Heckle & Jeckle." Show wrapped up two clients, Peter Pan Peanut Butter and General Mills, for alternate quarter-hours starting in October.

September 29, 1958
Nat Winecoff, former Disney executive, is sales agent for the new five-minute cartoon series, "Rocky the Flying Squirrel," produced by J. T. Ward. Two more such series are in preparation, "The Strawberry Roan" and "Uncle Windy."

October 1, 1958
The newest diskery to be parented by a film company, Colpix Records, starts rolling this week with a program its execs call "controlled releases." ...
[I]n the preem release will be "Benny Fields and His Minstrel Men," starring Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle and Phil Silvers. For the juve market, diskery will have "Ruff and Reddy," (Adventures In Space), based upon the Screen Gems tv cartoon. Fourth album in the package will be "The Great T.D.," featuring 12 selections by the late Tommy Dorsey.

Distribution plans for five top-budget features, biggest program of Walt Disney product in indie's history, are being worked out in series of meetings starting here yesterday by Buena Vista, releasing arm of company.
BV prexy Leo F. Samuels brought his homeoffice exec staff from N. Y. to huddle with Disney prexy Roy Disney and other studio toppers on films to be released through next summer. Lineup includes "Sleeping Beauty," "$6,000,000 Technirama cartoon; "Tonka," "Darby O'Gill and the Little People," "The Shaggy Dog" and "Third Man on the Mountain."

October 3, 1958
Walt Disney Productions will spend a record $3,500,000 to promote five Buena Vista releases between now and through next summer, company prexy Roy O. Disney said yesterday. It is the largest release program in the company's history and represents a negative cost of $13,000,000. ...
Biggest of the films is "Sleeping Beauty," $6,000,000, Technirama-70, Technicolor cartoon in stereophonic sound, which will open in key situations in February and March. This pic will get a special campaign in addition to the omnibus promotion, starting six weeks to two months in advance of each playdate.

October 6, 1958
Art director Don Peters will design special story layouts for UPA's "Magoo's Arabian Nights," feature cartoon for Columbia release.

October 8, 1958
Indian film-maker J. S. Bhownagary will be associated with Jiri Trnka of Czechoslovakia in production of a cartoon pic to be made shortly on the United Nations Educational. Scientific & Cultural Organization.
Bhownagary said he would also film a documentary short, for UNESCO on "Arid Zones" of the world. Now a program specialist with the visual-media division of UNESCO, he was formerly deputy chief producer of the Indian government's films division.

Major film studios are currently planning a $50,000,000 Christmas package of pix to be released for the Important Yule trade and also to get them under the year-end line for Academy Award consideration. Everything from color cartoon fantasy to black-and-white realism is on the slate, timed for release to hit maximum returns In the year-end holiday season. ...
Metro has scheduled George Pal's cartoon-live action "tom thumb," made at a cost of more than $2,600,000, and may also release one or two others. ...
Big one from Walt Disney will be "Sleeping Beauty," color cartoon made at cost of $6,000,000.

October 9, 1958
Animators Phil Duncan, Bob Carlson, Harvey Toombs and Jerry Hathcock will work on special sequences of UPA's feature cartoon, "Magoo's Arabian Nights," directed by Jack Kinney.

October 15, 1958
"Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound," pair of cartoon tele-series created and produced by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera for Screen Gems, will be dubbed in Spanish.

October 22, 1958
George Sidney, prexy of H&B Productions Cartoonery, is considering opening & cartoon studio in Mexico City for production of cartoon programs made exclusively for Latin American television market.
Producer leaves for Mexico soon to discuss project and has skedded meetings with co-producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbara on future plans of company, which currently is filming "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" in association with Screen Gems.

Metro has found it a great advantage to own its own theatres in Germany because it can make experiments with films it might not otherwise release here, according to Metro's European sales manager, J. D. Berman, here on a visit. Metro is the only U.S. distributor in Germany to own a chain of houses.
"For instance, since short cartoons are entirely unknown in Germany, we would probably never have offered them for sale to another theatre. But we tried a whole evening of Tom and Jerry cartoons in our Berlin house—and it proved a huge success," said Berman.
IATSE won out over the Screen Cartoonists Guild as a bargaining agent for 25 Larry Harmon Productions animation employees, in NLRB election. Staffers work on "Bozo, the Clown" cartoon series for tv.

The Screen Cartoonists Guild’s sixth annual animated film fest Friday at the Sheraton West Hotel drew an audience of about 1,500 to watch 24 tv commercials and three cartoons.
The SCG is making the commercial reel available to art and ad organizations on a loan basis. It includes several which have won awards from art directors clubs.
Cartoons shown were "Energetically Yours," produced by Transfilm with animation by Playhouse Pictures and Quartet Films for Standard Oil; "Bouli-Bouli," a French cartoon by Les Cineastes Associates for the Sugar Assn. of Europe; and "Treasures of the Earth," by Churchill-Wexler for audio-visual education.

United Artists Associated Inc., subsidiary of United Artists, over the past weekend completed total acquisition of all assets of Associated Artists Productions. Negotiations had been going on for more than a year.
Properties taken over by UA under the deal include the Warner film library consisting of 800 sound and 200 silent features. 60 "Looney Tunes" cartoons, 277 "Merrie Melodies," 234 "Popeyes," about 1,400 straight shorts and numerous other pictures.
Total amount of money involved in the transaction comes to around $30,000,000. This is in the form of payments to AAP stockholders, by UA, of $11 for each share of AAP stock held in addition to pro rata amounts for AAP debentures and stock warrants.
The pictures are for television licensing and the AAP method of operation, and this outfit's personnel, will continue as before. Eliot Hyman is head of AAP.
Wrapup of the deal was disclosed by Hyman and Robert S. Benjamin, UA board chairman.

October 23, 1958
Walter Lantz' 1,000th animated cartoon goes into production today —a short called "Space Mouse," directed by Alex Lovy. "The Katzenjammer Kids," made in 1916, was Lantz' first cartoon.

Talks are on for stepping up production by 50% on "Bozo, the Clown" cartoon teleseries. Reuben R. Kaufman, prexy of Jayark Films Corp., which distributes show, launched talks here with producer Larry Harmon.
Advisability of hiring more personnel and taking more space at California Studios will be discussed during Kaufman's week-long trip here from New York.

October 24, 1958
Clarke Mallery, former Disney animator, has been added as a sequence director for UPA's "Magoo's Arabian Nights" feature cartoon, by director Jack Kinney.

October 27, 1958
Walt Disney's Technicolor-Technirama "Sleeping Beauty" will be released in key city engagements beginning next February.
Pic marks the first use of Technirama-70 for cartoon animation, and lists other innovations in sound, photography, projection, etc., as part of its technical achievements.

October 29, 1958
With continental Europe becoming increasingly active in video, Fremantle International racked up a larger number of overseas sales than In any other single month in the company's history. During the 30 days, Fremantle inked deals for 11 packages in 16 different countries. ...
"You Are There" and "Terrytoon" cartoons, on rights from CBS, were peddled in Italy.

November 5, 1958
Daws Butler and Don Messick will do the voices for HB Enterprises' untitled cartoon tv series for Screen Gems. It's projected to have 72 segments.

November 10, 1958
More than $60,000 will be allocated by Trans-Lux Television Corp. for a late November ad campaign to acquaint national ad agencies and webs with its new "Felix the Cat" cartoon series.

November 12, 1958
Great Films Cartoons Inc. has been empowered to- produce films in New York, with capital stock of 200 shares, no par value. Directors are: Edward L. Kushins of Westbury; Gideon Takaro of Flushing; Jack C. Anderson of Hastings-on-Hudson. Each holds 10 shares in the company. Daniel J. Loventhal was filing attorney.

November 18, 1958
Steve Bosustow showed 25 minutes of UPA's first full-length cartoon, "Magoo's Arabian Nights" to visiting Columbia toppers.

November 19, 1958
George Sidney's Hanna & Barbera Productions will film "Snooper and Blabbermouse," half-hour mystery cartoon teleseries for Screen Gems distribution. Company currently is testing voices for the lead and secondary voices in the new project. Firm also produces "Ruff And Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound."

Dimitri Tiomkin's "Rhapsody In Steel," specially composed for an industrial film of the same name produced by the U.S. Steel Corp., will be disked by the Pittsburgh Symphony for Capitol, William Steinberg conducting.
The 22-minute' cartoon-educational short is distributed gratis for theatrical exhibition by the company.

A new technique in cartoon film production, which introduces automation into animation, has been devised by Halas and Batchelor. John Halas sailed for N. Y. on the Liberte last Friday (14) to introduce the process to the U. S.
According to Halas, the new system eliminates at least 10 of the 24 normal processes in producing animated films. It also halves production costs. His own studio is planning quantity production via the new process, which is to be known as Habatales. A print of the first film made by the new process is to be screened by John Halas in New York.

November 21, 1958
"Bozo" will start Jan. 6 [on KTLA Los Angeles] as a half-hour, five-a-week daytime strip. Animated cartoon series, produced by Larry Harmon and distributed by Reub Kaufman's Jayark Films Corp., will be hosted "live" by Harmon in the guise of "Bozo."

November 25, 1958
Charles Shows has been pacted by Larry Harmon Productions as head writer and story editor for its series of 156 "Bozo, the Clown" animated cartoons for tv. Series is produced by Harmon for distribution through Reub Kaufman's Jayark Films Corp.
Shows is represented on all three networks—as writer-director of 22 Walt Disney cartoon films for ABC-TV, writer of NBC-TV’s "Ruff and Reddy" cartoons and CBS-TVs "Huckleberry Hound."
"Bozo" makes its syndication debut on KTLA Jan. 6 as a half-hour daily strip, incorporating live and animated action.

December 2, 1958
Washington, Dec. 1. — More than $836,000 worth of commercial time is being programmed by 72 stations in a 13-week promotion of tv, National Assn. of Broadcasters reported its initial sampling reveals.
Stations are scheduling 10 eight-second cartoon spots, "Impact of Television," a total of 26,606 times.

December 3, 1958
Winding up a 16-day sales visit, Samuel Gang [the director of foreign sales for National Telefilm Associates] told VARIETY that the Japanese Government is going to have to regulate foreign tv sales here the same way it requires motion picture distributors to earn import licenses. ...
Starting at the end of this month on the NTV network will be a package of cartoons including "Betty Boop," "Little Lulu" and "Talkatoons" which Gang sold last April.

December 4, 1958
Mike Maltese has been named to head Hanna and Barbara Productions' new story department. The company produces the animated "Ruff and Reddy" and "Huckleberry Hound" tv series. Maltese was with Warner Bros.' cartoon production department for past 22 years.

December 5, 1958
Total sales for the new "Crusader Rabbit" cartoon teleseries have exceeded $900,000 in its first eight months of distribution, according to Regis Films sales veepee Lee Orgel.
Newest markets to purchase the show are KTNT-TV, Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; KGW-TV, Portland, Ore.; WGAL-TV, Lancaster, Pa.; WKY-TV, Oklahoma City; KRNT-TV, Des Moines; TCN, Sydney, Australia; and GTV, Melbourne, Australia.

December 12, 1958
Rudy Zamora has been hired as a sequence director on UPA's feature cartoon, "Magoo's Arabian Nights," Columbia release produced by Stephen Bosustow, directed by Jack Kinney.

December 16, 1958
New York, Dec. 15.—A series of feature films based on Aesop's Fables, utilizing live action integrated with animation, will be launched by Halas and Batchelor Cartoon Films Ltd., in 1959, according to prexy John Halas.
Halas reported that the studio's London facilities will be enlarged with additional sound stage and lab equipment. Topper just returned from Hollywood, where he conferred with studio heads there, including producer George Pal, for whom he furnished space on "tom thumb."

Some 200 employes of Hanna and Barbera Enterprises will receive a paid week's vacation next week as a special Christmas bonus.
Production of "Ruff and Reddy," "Huckleberry Hound," " Quick Draw McGraw" and "Snooper and Blabbermouse" will be halted during the holiday.

December 17, 1958
Toei, one of Japan's six majors, has stepped up its production of cartoon feature pix since the release of "Hakujaden" (Story of White Snake) and two new animated films are now in the works. First will be "Shonen Sarutobi-Sasuke," and the second, "Saiyuki," is about the journey of a demon monkey.
Former will go into production this month and the second one in February. Production costs for each is expected to be slightly higher than $11,000. "Hakujaden" was Japan's first full-length feature cartoon.

Chicago, Dec. 16.
Balaban & Katz State-Lake, which is completing installation of ToddAO gear, has plucked Walt Disney"s "Sleeping Beauty" for a Feb. 12 bow here. Although Buena Vista has decided the cartoon feature is to be offered the public at roadshow prices (though not reserved seats), B&K hasn't decided yet what the scale will be. Deluxer's normal top is $1.80.
Film, which runs only 75 minutes, is in the new Technirama-70 process, with six-channel stereophonic sound.

Minneapolis, Dec. 16.
With "Porgy and Bess" not expected to be ready until late next year, Ted Mann, owner of the Todd-AO equipped hard-ticket Academy here, is considering the Disney full length feature cartoon, "Sleeping Beauty," as a possible successor to the theatre's current "South Pacific" when a replacement is deemed advisable. "Beast" is nearly completed and would lend itself to the Academy equipment sans changes. It only runs 75 minutes, however.
Since the Todd-AO installation and its virtual rebuilding the Academy has housed only two attractions, both hard ticket. "Around the World in 80 Days" ran 50 weeks and "South Pacific" now is in its 25th week and still playing to profitable business.

December 19, 1958
New York, Dec. 18. — Warner Bros, will release 10 Technicolor cartoons to theatres during December, January and February.
Releases will be: December— "Hip, Hip-Hurry," "Canary Row" and "Cat Feud"; next month— "Dog Collared," "Baton Bunny," "Mouse Placed Kitten" and "A Fox in a Fix"; February—"China Jones," "My Bunny Lies Over the Ocean" and "Hare-abian Nights."

Beverly Hills Productions, teleseries producers, will pay a 5-cent dividend on Dec. 24 to stockholders of record Dec. 19, its first since its formation In January of last year, prexy Edward Janis said yesterday.
Company makes a cartoon series, "The Adventures of Spunky and Tadpole," which is now seen in 20 outleta In this country, according to Janis.

December 24, 1958
Sterling Television has brought suit in N. Y. Supreme Court against William D'Arcy Cayton and his production company, Radio & Television Packagers Inc., charging fraud.
Sterling's suit seeks an accounting from Radio & Television Packagers, which produced Cartoon Classics Serial, which Sterling distributed and which Sterling has a substantial minority interest in ownership.
Responding to a VARIETY story which appeared in the Dec. 17 issue, Sterling denied the pullback of five series controlled by Cayton. Sterling stated that it was in active distribution only on two series, "Cartoon Classics" and "Jungle." "Jungle" pix since its been handled by Sterling reportedly has racked up a gross of $130,000, representing the '57 and '58 tally. Since October, '57, Sterling stated it has grossed about $400,000 on "Cartoon Classics."
Sterling stated that it has never handled distribution of "The Greatest Fights of the Century." Two years ago, Sterling stopped feeling out the market for "World's Greatest Fighters — In Action," and "Big Fight." Sterling maintained it sounded out the market on behest of Cayton, but never engaged in actual selling on the two. Previous VARIETY story had stated that Clayton pulled back the three above mentioned series.

Comment from the Walt Disney office in New York anent VARIETY'3 story on Disney plans to release the feature cartoon, "Sleeping Beauty," which runs only 75 minutes, at advanced admission prices: "You can't equate quality with quantity."
Disney spokesman acknowledges, of course, that "Beauty" is short of conventional running time for a roadshow-priced picture. But this point is made: All of Disney's cartoon features through the years have been relatively short, and "Beauty" is the most expensive of any in history. Negative investment is figured at $6,000,000. This plus the "quality" warrants the upped scales, in the theory advanced by Disney's man.

Announced expansion of Hanna and Barbera Productions is being activated with lease of the first floor of the Cinema Research Bldg. for the cartoon studio's camera department. Frank Paiker is in charge of the new setup. Other departments remain at Kling.

December 29, 1958
Chicago, Dec. 28.—It will be left for Windy City audiences to determine whether or not smellovision has a future as a process that will help to sell pictures. Michael Todd Jr. has revealed that "Scent of Mystery," the first of the smellies, will have a one-market tryout because of the high cost of installation. "Three days after it opens," Todd said, "we ought to know whether it is worth equipping theatres in other cities or whether we will have to scuttle the whole project. ...
Accompanying it on the screen will be a 12-minute animated cartoon, now in the story board stage, which will introduce and demonstrate the process. John Hubley, formerly of UPA, and his wife will create the cartoon, the central character of which will be a bloodhound who lacks the sense of smell.

December 31, 1958
Four Star Films and UPA Pictures have entered into a reciprocal agreement for a combining their studio forces. Under the arrangement, all future animation coming to either will be made by UPA and all live action sequences done by Four Star.
Dick Powell, proxy of Four Star, and UPA head, Stephen Bosustow, who negotiated the deal, said that it is in no sense a merger but a combination of studio crafts. Each company retains its respective identities and work will be done at their individual studios.
Herb Klynn, veepee of UPA's commercial department, and Walter Bien, Four Star's commercial head, leave next week for the east to appoint sales reps of the joint companies.
UPA has been making commercial cartoons since 1948 and Four Star was formed in 1950 and recently expanded its operation to include commercials.

"Nino From Coconino," original story by Edward Fiske, has been bought by Hanna and Barbara Productions for a cartoon teleseries and will go into production in February.
New series, which has a Mexican boy as the hero, will be on a five-a-week schedule, with each episode a separate story.

November 4, 1958
By Walter Lantz
This year the animated film cartoon industry is observing its 50th anniversary.
I almost said celebrating instead of observing but refrained from doing so because the industry really has nothing to celebrate other than being in business at all.
In fact, the big question today is whether or not the industry can survive. If one were making book on the question he'd have to give odds that it wouldn't unless help comes from some unexpected quarter.
It was in 1908 that a French illustrator named Emile Cohn combined film with drawing and produced shorts he called "dreams with a pencil," a series of fantasties full of simple linear figures in motion, such as a man running with his coat-tails flying.
Naturally, technical strides in animation developed the "dreams with a pencil" to the point where the movie cartoon became the big attraction at the Saturday matinee and often better appreciated by adult audiences than the feature they went to see.
But, let's look at today's picture of the cartoon industry and see why the latter faces the future with such pessimism.
Four years ago there were eight producers making short cartoons and puppets in Hollywood. There are now only four . . . Warner Bros., UPA, Paramount and myself.
Disney is devoting most of his time to features and MGM and Pal have discontinued making cartoons entirely. In the East, Terry-toons are still being produced but under the supervision of CBS Television.
In former years there were often as many as 194 cartoons produced annually. Now there are only about 57. So, it's easy to see that the hand-writing is on the wall.
What, you ask, has caused this change in condition in such a short space of time?
The answer is simple. Tremendous increase in production costs and a status quo in rentals.
I don't think that the average exhibitor realizes that cartoon production costs have gone up 175% in the last 10 years.
A cartoon is only 5-and-one-half minutes of filler to most theatre-men, but did they ever stop to realize that an animated film costs more per foot than most live action features?
Does the exhibitor ever stop to think about the spontaneous applause that greets almost any cartoon when it's flashed on the screen? And, that die audience applauds twice as hard at the end?
I firmly believe that unless the exhibitor aids the cartoon producer . . . say the price of a pack of cigarettes per booking . . . cartoons may well be a vanishing art.
If things are so tough, you ask, why the few of us are still in business? Frankly, there are three factors which make it possible for us to keep our studio doors open and our employees on the payroll.
This trio of lifesavers are television, production of cartoons for commercial use, and royalties derived from the use of our cartoon characters by manufacturers of various types of merchandise.
Let's take them in order as they apply to me and my case is typical of the other few producers.
First, television. After staying away from tv for years, the right deal came along and I took the plunge into television with the rest with my "Woody Woodpecker Show."
The sponsor is Kellogg's and the show beams weekly over 187 ABC-TV stations.
A major part of the show is made up of old theatrical cartoons owned jointly by Universal Pictures, which has distributed my cartoons for the past 30 years, and myself. These cartoons have out-lived their usefulness as far as movie-houses are concerned but created a juvenile sensation when screened for the first time on tv.
Oddly enough, the "Woody Woodpecker Show", rather than being in opposition to movie houses, has been a boon to the latter, acording to exhibitors with whom I have talked as the old cartoons on tv only served to whet the young appetites for our new cartoons which can be seen only at the local theaters.
As far as production of cartoons for commercial usage is concerned we have been very careful in the number of films we turn out for this purpose as we fully realize that overexposure of our cartoon characters in this medium could be harmful and might eventually diminish their current popularity.
However, the revenue derived from this type of production must be taken into consideration when discussing the precarious situation of our industry as a whole. Now, our big ace in the hole . . . merchandising. If it wasn't for the merchandising of top characters such as Woody Woodpecker or Bugs Bunny for such items as comic books, various games, toys and foods, phonograph records, wearing apparel and scores of other manufactured products which sell better because of the tie-ups it's extremely doubtful whether or not I or any other cartoon producer could afford to stay in business.
So, while the cartoon industry observes its Golden Anniversary this year it does so with its fingers crossed.

Friday 28 October 2016

A Horse's Musical Moments

A drunken horse goes in search of a light for his cigar on the rafter of a barn in Walter Lantz’s Musical Moments From Chopin.

MGM won an Oscar in 1947 for its concert cartoon, The Cat Concerto (defeating Musical Moments). MGM’s budgets were bigger than Lantz’s, so The Cat Concerto looks slicker and benefits from the wonderful animation of Ken Muse, who satirises the attitude of a concert pianist. By contrast, there are scenes at the opening of Musical Moments where Andy Panda is shot where you can’t see his hands play the piano, thus saving money.

But there are other scenes where Lantz and director Dick Lundy use a lot of drawings. That brings us to the aforementioned scene with the horse, who is animated on ones (a different drawing in each frame shot). Here are some of the drawings as he staggers and weaves on the rafter.

Interestingly, while The Cat Concerto and the similarly-plotted Warners cartoon Rhapsody Rabbit featured only two characters, the Lantz short has a pile of different animals that take over the action from Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda, as well as the cute little flames that destroy everything at the end.

La Verne Harding and Les Kline are the credited animators, but Lantz generally had six or seven working on each cartoon.

Thursday 27 October 2016

Dancing With Bosko

Hugh Harman really, really loved that little slide-step dance of Bosko’s. The animation was reused time and time again, such as in Bosko’s Picture Show (1933). Cubby Bear did the same dance when Harman got a sub-contract from Van Beuren. Then, when he took Bosko to MGM, he used the same animation there.

Here it is in Bosko’s Parlor Pranks (1934). He clomps to the left, then clomps to the right, then repeat.

And a couple of drawings from the slide, accompanied by a slide whistle.

One thing Harman didn’t have Bosko bring over from Warner Bros. was his shout to the audience “That’s all folks.” But it appears he thought about bringing over the ending where Bosko comes out from behind a wooden sign.