Monday, 28 May 2018

Spot the Stars

Tex Avery had to do something a little different in Hollywood Steps Out. He had to animate Ben Shenkman’s celebrity caricatures and find gags that would work for them. He solved the problem by using movement only when he had to, and relying on some standard characteristics (Kate Smith is fat, Bing Crosby owns a losing horse, the Three Stooges engage in physical comedy with their hands) and the occasion radio catchphrase (the opening to The Aldrich Family in the Henry Fonda scene, Kay Kyser calling to his “students,” and so on).

Shenkman’s work was very good and Avery’s animators appear to have followed the model sheets faithfully. Anyone in 1941 would know who these dour actors are below, despite a lack of the kind of hyper-exposure today through social media and TV.

For the record, you’ve just looked at (left to right) Boris Karloff, Arthur Treacher, Buster Keaton, Mischa Auer and Ned Sparks.

Avery’s animators were, at the time, Virgil Ross, Sid Sutherland, Bob McKimson and Chuck McKimson. The backgrounds in this cartoon are the work of Johnny Johnsen.


  1. Auer here resembles a gloomy version of Mel Blanc ("Keep smiling!").

  2. "You boys having a good time?" "Yes."

  3. That was a great scene and cartoon.. I also like the Gable and Groucho bit.. Let's not forget Annie Sheridan " oomph...oomph....oomph.. "

  4. You can bet that Bob McKImson had a hand in keeping all of those celebrity caricatures faithfully on model.

  5. Hans Christian Brando2 June 2018 at 12:03

    One of the few times Judy Garland was caricatured in a cartoon. And whoever did the voices was apparently the Rich Little of the time.

  6. Kent Rogers. He was a great impressionist.