Saturday 12 May 2018

Silent Stars, 1924

Felix the Cat wasn’t the only cartoon character on screens during the mid-1920s. Exhibitors Trade Review decided to profile some others in its edition of August 16, 1924.

Two of the series mentioned in the articles made it into the sound era. Aesop’s Fables were animated by the Van Beuren studio, while the Fleischers Sound Cartoons were even revived by Famous Studios and seen on television as Harveytoons in the 1960s. A third series died before sound but Dinky Doodle’s creator, Walter Lantz, continued to make theatrical cartoons into the 1970s. And the Dinky concept of Lantz acting on screen with a cartoon character resurfaced on his Woody Woodpecker TV show in 1957.

The drawings and ad to the right accompanied the articles.

Comedy Gets a New Character
Gen'l Manager Bray Productions, Inc.
SCENE — Bray Studios.
Enter Colonel Heeza Liar (illustration of Colonel Heeza Liar)
"Gee ! I've been working around the Bray Studios for twelve years now, and am the oldest cartoon in existence. I wish Bray would give me a rest.
"Look what's happened to the other Bray characters. Bobby Bumps has grown up, and is a big boy now ; Goodrich Dirt, the famous tramp, became a war profiteer and is living on Fifth Avenue. He's quit the movies too. Dud Perkins and his gang who made "US FELLOWS" famous are all going to college now, and even "Jerry" is not on the Job any longer.
"Of all the Bray cartoons I am the only one that is still working, I wish Bray would give me a vacation."
J. R. Bray heard Colonel Heeza Liar's complaints and told the COLONEL that he would not send him to the Old Soldier's Home, or put him on a pension, but would just give him a short vacation, and then came the thought of another character which would bring joy and smiles to the international audiences that enjoy the Bray Cartoons, ever since they were invented many years ago by Bray himself.
A new cartoon which will come from the Bray Studios during the coming season at monthly intervals will be known as DINKY DOODLE. Dinky Doodle is a rough and tumble boy, full of pep and life — sure to become a favorite of all. — His constant companion is a black and white dog, known as "Weakheart," who takes part in all Dinky Doodle's mischievous under takings.
The first of the Dinky Doodle series is entitled "Dinky Doodle and the Wonderful Lamp" — a burlesque on the Fairy Tale of "Aladdin and his Magic Lamp."
Dinky Doodle will work in this series in conjunction with the cartoonist himself. In other words, these series will not be straight cartoons but will be what are known as "combination" cartoons, where the actor appears in conjunction with the cartoon character — a process which was invented by J. R. Bray — which not only gives novelty to each individual subject, in addition to the entertainment, but is mystifying as well. Walter Lantz, the famous cartoonist who has achieved success in directing the COLONEL HEEZA LIAR SERIES will direct the new Dinky Doodle Series. Distribution will be through the Standard Cinema Corporation.

‘Out of the Ink Well’ Comedies
THE Red Seal Pictures Corp., a comparatively new entrant in the independent production and distribution field will have a program of novelties for next year meriting comparison with the best, according to Edwin Miles Fadman, president of the company.
The organization is confining its activities to the production and distribution of novelty releases alone. Of the total of 120 to 150 novelty reels, over 75 per cent of them will have the comedy element predominating.
Heading the list there will be 22 new single-reel Out-of-the-Inkwell novelties by Max Fleischer, released one every three weeks. Mr. Fleischer's product has enjoyed a popularity and a reputation of cleverness for a period of many years.
There will also be something brand new in the way of a fun novelty which will be released as 13 Song Cartoon reels composed of well known old time and modern songs done in funny cartoon form and adapted for audience singing where desired, perfectly timed, scored and synchronized ; and released one every four weeks.
The first of these reels went on for a pre-release run at the Rialto, New York, and was composed of the three old time Charles K. Harris songs, "Mother, mother, mother pin a rose on me," "Goodbye my Lady Love" and "Come take a trip in my Airship." The trade papers commented freely on the un- usual success of this novelty. The New York Tribune said "these things are simply impossible to describe. You must go and see them for yourself." Releases commence in September.
In addition to 13 Film Facts, (medley hodge-podge reel) humorously edited and titled by Max Fleischer and released one very four weeks, there will be 9 Funny Face single reel comedies and 52 Animated Hair Cartoons. These Hair Cartoons are about 300 ft. in length and are composed of famous characters, actors and actresses done in animated form by Edwin Marcus, cartoonist for the New York Times. As an instance, he draws Charlie Chaplin on the screen and then changes the hair around so that it turns into Rudolph Valentino right before the eyes of the audience.
The Red Seal is the only organization in the independent field producing a complete program of novelties for the exclusive use of first run theatres and high class independent exchanges.
Among the many first run theatres throughout the country using this material for next year are such representative houses as : The Rivoli and Rialto, New York ; Stanley, Philadelphia ; Fenway, Boston; Eastman, Rochester; Missouri, St. Louis ; Rialto, Washington ; and Victory, Denver.

“Fables” and “Topics” are Popular
PATHE'S "Aesop's Film Fables" are fast becoming the most popular one reel subject in the field today, is the consensus of opinion of exhibitors scattered throughout the country. This popularity extends to the theatre manager as well as to the public at large and is due to the fact that the "Fables" have proven themselves "sure fire" program units.
Much of this credit should go to Cartoonist Paul Terry, who conceived the idea and contributed much to their success through his insight into human nature and an over developed bump of humor, which can carefully draw a line between the grotesque and real laughs. To the manager that runs a combination house of vaudeville and pictures as well as to the manager of the regular run picture theatres these one reelers have proven a "lifesaver" in more than one instance. They can always be relied upon to fill a big gap in any program and are an absolute insurance against the show "flopping" for the want of comedy and laughs.
They are released weekly and are booked over every one of the larger circuits throughout the United States. The B. F. Keith Circuit in the East, the Orpheum, Pantages and Loew circuits in the West use the Aesop's cartoon reels as a regular part of the weekly program, and many times local newspaper reviewers credit the film over the rest of the show.
Pathe's "Topics of the Day" enters its sixth year of success as one of the most "business getters" in the short field.
As a snappy joy reel of wit it has no equal, and quite a number of theatres throughout the country have not missed a single weekly issue since its inception. Even radio services and broadcasting stations have adopted it as part of their regular program while the larger class vaudeville houses use it as an advertised feature. The leading high class vaudeville theatre of the world, B. F. Keiths' Palace Theatre in New York, has booked this one "reeler" on every issue since the first.
The Topics of the Day are produced by the Timely Films, Inc., and distributed by the Pathe Exchanges, Inc. It consists of some timely cartoon in animated form and excerpts of wit and humor culled from the leading publications of the world. Exhibitors scattered throughout the country are very strong in their praise of the subject.
As an example of its growing popularity a contest was run in connection with the release some time ago and as many as 18,000 answers per week were received, representing all sections of the country. At the time of the contest the film was running in over 3,000 theatres in the United States and this number has been multiplied by two since that date. Over 100,000 contestants were entered before the closing of the contest.


  1. Great post. Thanks for reprinting this one in particular - and for all the posts you do here in general.

    1. We're here through Christmas, Jerry. Unless there's an obit, all the posts you'll see here until then were written last year when I had some spare moments. I don't have the time to blog now.

  2. This is the first time I've seen Jacques Kopfstein's name as a by-line!He was usually credited as "Jacques Kopfstein Presents" as the name above the title on the last season or two of Felix the Cat cartoons. These were the sound releases of 1930 and 1931. I'll bet there aren't any "Topics of the Day" cartoons around now, they were probably chopped up for the silver. Probably Pathe figured they had no re-issue potential, being tied to current events of 1924.

    1. I know nothing about the Topics of the Day. I'll have to read up on them.
      I found an obit for Kopfstein which says he started as a screenwriter for Biograph in 1910. He ended up as an exec. vp of AAP in the '50s. A story in Motion Picture World in 1916 said he had written over 100 film scripts.