Tuesday 31 January 2023

Let's Use This Radio Catchphrase Again

Tex Avery made some brilliant cartoons. And he made some real disappointments, too.

Falling into the latter category are some of the spot-gag shorts at Warner Bros. Gags are either obvious or hokey. Occasionally, he spruced them up for re-use in later cartoons.

An example is the ending of Ceiling Hero (1940). A test pilot crashes his plane on the tarmac. Narrator Bob Bruce gets all dramatic on us. “What happened? He crashed! This is terrible! Is he hurt? Is he killed?? IS HE KILLED?!??” IS HE????”

While Bruce is completely overwrought and speculating about death, the scene cuts to the dopey-looking pilot drawing on the ground with his finger after crawling from the wreckage. Obviously, he’s not killed.

But Tex and writer Dave Monahan decide to ignore that for the sake of shoehorning in a radio catchphrase as their ultimate gag. Emulating Mr. Kitzel on The Al Pearce Show, the pilot says “Mmmmm...could be!”

Kitzel was funnier when he went over to the Jack Benny show and Avery was funnier when he put a Kitzel-ism in a row of devils meeting Adolf Wolf at the end of The Blitz Wolf (MGM, 1942).

Avery lost the potential for a good gag when Bruce pointed out ice had developed on the wings, and the scene panned over to a polar bear on one of the wings. I was waiting for the bear to make a quip like “Don’t ask how I got up here” but the bear itself was the gag. Oh, well.

Perhaps the most imaginative thing was when the opening titles appeared out of the clouds.

At least Avery laid out the jokes and moved on. In a Lantz or Columbia spot-gag, you get the impression the writer thought the gags were the funniest things on the face of the earth. At his best, Avery gave you a groaner like he was defying you not to laugh at it.

Rod Scribner got the rotating animation credit in this short.

Monday 30 January 2023

Stretched Spies

There are some fun visuals you can see in the Chuck Jones-directed Snafu short Spies (1943), but here’s one where you have to freeze the frames.

It’s another one of those stretch in-between scenes that Bobe Cannon specialised in. A few spies come out of their hiding places to repeat a line in the rhyming verse (by Dr. Seuss, I suspect), and then disappear.

Carl Stalling tosses Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” into the soundtrack, and the familiar “horse’s ass” music ends it all.

Sunday 29 January 2023

Lisa Loring

There was a time when “dark and edgy” on television meant The Addams Family.

It doesn’t look terribly dark or edgy these days, and it wasn’t really back then—except in an industry where huge, fearful discussions took place over whether a character could be (gasp!) divorced. It wasn’t even as dark and edgy as Charles Addams’ panel cartoons that attracted people who relished a macabre and off-beat sense of humour.

When Addams agreed to allow his brainchild to be turned into a television sitcom in 1964, the youngest member of the cast was Lisa Loring, who has been in show biz most of her life.

Loring has passed away four days after a stroke. She was 64.

A cute story about her hit the wire when the series was in first-run. There’s no byline I can find. This is from a paper of November 20, 1964

Wednesday breaks ‘em up
Jesse White, a jocund Hollywood actor who is kept busy in the television arena as a portrayer of con men and cops, was stopped cold during the filming of a scene for "Wednesday Leaves Home," tonight's episode on The Addams Family.
In this instance, White's "competitor" was dainty 6-year-old Lisa Loring. Lisa, in her regular role of Wednesday Addams, had run away from home and innocently walked into the police department's Missing Persons bureau, headed by Sgt. Haley (White).
AT THE OPENING of the scene being rehearsed White is ranting and raving because of all the mothers who are reporting missing children. Suddenly he looks down into the angelic countenance of his little visitor.
"Look Kid," he says, "I've had a rough day. What's your name?"
Lisa's lips tighten, her brown innocent eyes widen, and she says, "I'd like a dead fly for my spider, he's hungry."
Jesse broke up. So did the director Sidney Lanfield.
It wasn't that the lines were so screamingly funny. It was Lisa's detached unconcerned, unaware way of reading them. That's what broke them up.
TO ANY OBSERVER it would be difficult to determine where Lisa leaves off and Wednesday begins. The youngster with the Mona Lisa face is solemn and a bit secretive, like her TV counterpart.
But, caught off-guard, off-camera, Lisa Loring is not a child of woe like Wednesday. She plays with her dolls and dutifully does her school work like any normal child of her age.
Lisa was born in Kwajalein in the Marshal Islands, where her father, James Phillip De Cinces, was serving in the U.S. Navy. Her mother is an actress who goes by the professional name of Judith Callies.

Networks or producers sent out biographical blurbs to newspapers in hope of getting a bit of publicity. This one appeared in a Florida newspaper on Sept. 26, 1964.

Girl in Hurry—Lisa Loring
Dainty little Lisa Loring who, at the age of 6, loves dolls, dismembers them without compunction in her role of Wednesday on ABC-Tv’s new series “The Addams Family."
A professional model since she was two, Lisa has been seen regularly in several TV commercials. She also has appeared on “The Jack Barry Show’ in Hollywood dishing out advice to the younger generation.
Her one big ambition is to marry Richard Beymer, having seen “West Side Story" five times. Another is to be a big movie star by the time she’s 7. "I’m in no hurry for that," she declares.
Lisa's favorite color is yellow and her favorite animals are Yorkshire terriers and Siamese cats.
She was born in Kwajalein, the Marshall Islands, when her father, James Phillip DeCinces, was serving in the U.S. Navy. Her mother, an actress, goes by the professional name of Judith Callies. Lisa is in the first grade at Dixie Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

The Addams Family lasted two years on the network and umpteen years in syndication. What happened to her? Soap fans know. Here’s a syndicated column from Oct. 19, 1980.

Lisa Loring graduates into soaps

Remember Wednesday, the beautiful little dark-haired daughter of Morticia and Gomez, on the outlandishly ghoulish "The Addams Family" television series of 1964? Lisa Loring, who was only 6 when the series started, has blossomed into an attractive and very feminine young woman with a lot of living packed into her 22 years.
"I grew up in the business," says Lisa, who's currently portraying Cricket Montgomery on "As the World Turns," "so I became tough by learning a lot of things the hard way."
Lisa's sensitivity and candor have indeed been learned from her own personal experiences, which among other things included a marriage at 15 that ended in divorce soon after.
OBVIOUSLY, Lisa took on a great deal of responsibility for a girl of that age. This difficult situation was compounded by the birth of her precocious daughter Vanessa. Then at 19, Lisa had a decision to make. Her "Addams Family" trust fund money ran out, and she knew there was only one thing she could do and that was going back to the business she has left at age 10.
Her return was successful as she landed guest appearances on "Barnaby Jones" and "Fantasy Island," a few TV pilots and numerous commercials until she was cast in her current role on the soap last June. Lisa, living in New York for the first time, is working hard to make a new life for herself and Vanessa. "More than anything," she said, "I really like to see my daughter do well in school. She hasn't had a real good start in more ways than one. So far, everything is going quite well."
Lisa, along with help from the writers, is concentrating on the development of Cricket Montgomery.
"I like Cricket a lot more now," admits Lisa. "She's immature in many ways, but she's determined not to sit back and take second best."
The storyline for Cricket leaves plenty of options open for the beautiful, headstrong teenager who's more innocent than she thinks.
Worldly Lisa Loring, at age 22, is ready for the challenge.

Loring left the series in 1983 for family reasons and acted periodically after that.

She had to have made an impression as Wednesday in 64 episodes over two seasons, considering her character was reborn in a streaming service series that’s, well, darker and edgier than the laugh track-laden sitcom.

Charles Addams, not much of a fan of television, told the Associated Press’ Cynthia Lowry in 1965 the TV version of his cartoon “is less scary than the others—they are sort of cozy monsters. Anyway, children seem to love them and laugh at them.”

And that’s why Lisa Loring is being remembered today.

A Visit With Jack Benny at Radio City

Anyone fortunate enough to get tickets to see the Jack Benny radio show on stage got a bonus. They got to see the audience warm-up by the performers, including Jack.

The Pittsburgh Press of December 9, 1934 gave a neat little description of a Benny broadcast. The show was still being aired from Radio City in New York; Jack would pretty much move his home base to Los Angeles within a few months. The Benny show had been under the sponsorship of General Foods for not that many weeks.

Fans today don’t think of Jack as either grey-haired or smoking a cigar, but both traits were commonly known at the time. What’s different in this description of the broadcast is the revelation the cast tried to break up Jack. Frank Nelson said many years later that deviating from the well-polished script was forbidden. This show, though, is during the period Harry Conn put together the scripts with Jack.

The column wraps up with Mary talking about their baby. While newspaper and magazine pictures in the 1930s were pretty obviously staged, it’s apparent reading over the years that Jack did have great affection for his daughter.

Jack And Mary Become Serious About Business Of Being Funny
Co-Stars Try Hard To Trip Star

Would you like to go behind the scenes in radio with Jack Benny?
About two minutes to 7 tonight transfer yourself in thought to Radio City.
You're on the third floor of a magnificent building, walled in mahogany, floored in deep green carpets. Brass rails polished to the very limit encircle stairs leading downward to the next floor.
On the right side of the building a long line of men, women and children move silently through wide doors. Each holds a ticket rather proudly, for there are just 299 seats inside.
At a door further to the front of the building sits a little group on a grilled iron bench, with plush cushions.
One very wide-eyed, slender woman, clad smartly in brown, seems just a bit "on edge." She seems to sense that something is about to happen. Standing just in front of her and beaming down from his almost six feet is a hefty fellow in tuxedo and patent leather shoes, He's very formal, all except his smile. He knows what's on the little lady's mind and seems to be getting a big kick out fo [of] her excitement.
Almost paternally he glances from his wrist watch and says, "Let's go, Mary." His arms tower above her head as Don Wilson, one of radio's ablest network announcers, pushes the double doors of the studio open to admit one of the merry wives of radio—Mary Livingstone.
Immediately inside a gray-haired, serious looking fellow wearing a double-breasted blue suit paces the floor, looking everywhere, saying nothing. He looks like he'd make a good undertaker. If someone greets him, he awkwardly "comes back to earth" and says, "Oh, Hello." He isn't trying to be high hat. He has been away on a thinking tour of the program to go on the air. You see, he's Jack Benny, the funny guy. He and Mary take their seats at the extreme left of a triple-terraced stage. The sound effects man is just behind them. Jack gives him all of the signals. The Don Bestor band occupies the upper terrace of the stage. Microphones dot the others.
* * *
Far to the right, seated on a bench. is a fellow looking like "the undertaker's aide." His life seems to hang on what is about to happen. He's looking at the floor, his heavy-rimmed glasses making him a standout to stare at. He's Don Bestor.
Behind him, leaning over a baby grand piano, chewing gum and beaming as though he's the only one in the studio expecting to have a good time, is sleek, black-haired Frank Parker [left], the fellow who pushes his gum between his teeth and his cheek when he sings, then starts chewing all over again when he's through. He learned the trick from Will Rogers, on whose programs he also works. And when Will is on vacation Frank is on Stoopnagle and Budd's broadcast. And enough others to make his voice as familiar as the network chimes. You may expect to hear him any time you turn on your set.
"Schlepperman" and all of the other character players, who are seldom, if ever identified, stand around behind Parker.
Now the audience is seated. Don Wilson starts to make a speech inviting everyone to have a good time, "laugh and applaud all you wish." Then Jack Benny comes to life and really smiles. He informs everyone, (while puffing at his cigar) that the "first rule of the studios is no smoking." Then he introduces Mary, Frank Parker, Don Wilson and Schlepperman. He always pretends to forget Don Bestor, then, calling him to the stage, says "Look at those spats. White spats, phooey.”
Jack tells the audience a story (not for broadcasting or publication purposes). Usually its about the Benny adopted five months-old daughter and the Gracie Allen-Georgie Burns baby. Of course the story is one of Jack's impossibilities, but it puts the audience in an hysterical mood, just as the mikes are opened and there you are on the air with Jack Benny and his gang.
Everyone but Jack and Mary uses separate mikes. They stick together at one end of the stage. Don Wilson works at the center mike and Don Bestor and Frank Parker at mikes on the other side. They may seem to speak to each other but they're at least 40 feet apart.
The one big hope of everyone but Jack (and Mary is on the plot) is to cross Jack on the written lines. They do their best and usually catch him. Frank Parker or Don Bestor hand him a reply, just a little too hot to handle and Jack, looking on his script finds no reply, so the whole gang gives him the laugh and when they are through he has figured out a crack to shoot back at them.
Thus, the program goes on to its conclusion. Mary promptly slips out of the studio, takes her seat on the little bench outside the door and waits for Jack, who greets the audience, signs autographs and goes back to the business of being serious.
The floor of the studio stage is littered with typed sheets, dropped there by each member of the cast, as the lines are read. The mikes—they hope—don't pick up the fluttering of the pages as they drop to the floor. Children scramble for the pages and so do some elders.
The crowd finally leaves. Some I have tickets for other broadcasts at ! later hours on other floors of Radio City and go there. And the rest go home.
* * *
Jack and Mary hurry away to the Essex House, just off Central Park, to spend the rest of the evening with their little girl.
“Jack's gone crazy over her," Mary explained.
"And so have I. When Jack is out of town he phones home every evening to ask about the baby. We've discovered that having a little tot around is real living and we're happy that we've adopted her. We hope that she will never find out that she is not our own child. We love her as our own and want her to know us as her mother and dad. Fortune has smiled on us and we expect to devote it to this little girl—and maybe some others."

Saturday 28 January 2023

There's More Than Disney Out There

Leon Schlesinger had a number of different ventures before he became owner of a cartoon studio in 1933. He had been a theatre manager, so he knew the value of publicity.

In late 1935, Schlesinger hired Columbia studio's fashion editor, a woman named Rose Joseph (during her first marriage, she was Rose Horsley) to get him ink. She succeeded. If you wander through the posts here, you’ll see plenty of squibs or stories about Schlesinger’s studio. That was the work of Rose Horsley, contacting columnists, editorial writers and whomever else could give the studio publicity.

When Walt Disney soaked up all kinds of newspaper and magazine space during the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, I suspect Schlesinger figured he could Porky-piggyback on Disney’s success. Horsley got on the phone and worked her PR magic. Soon, Louella Parsons was writing about a Schlesinger feature (it never happened). And a couple of stories came out like one below from the Newspaper Enterprise Association, appearing in papers around June 23, 1937. It’s basically “Hey, there’s a cartoon studio that makes more cartoons than Disney.”

Schlesinger talks about his star, Porky, and celebrity imitators in his cartoons. Neither Joe Dougherty nor Sara Berner get mentioned by name in this story. The photo below accompanied the article. I think the cameraman is Manny Corral.


HOLLYWOOD (NEA) — An animated cartoon factory is a much quieter place, and more efficient, than an ordinary movie studio. Without bellowing assistant directors and bleating players, life is pleasanter, if more purposeful.
It didn't take long for the animators to introduce machine-like efficiency into their realm of pure fantasy. I used to think that all such films were turned out painstakingly, picture by picture, by a lot of busy little gnomes named Disney, sitting cross-legged in a grotto somewhere.
Instead of that, the pen-and-ink and water-color epics represent just about the highest development of the unit system of production in Hollywood.
There are budgets and shooting schedules and production charts. There are producers and directors and art directors and story departments. From inception to preview, each picture has its own full staff of executives and technicians.
Studio “Grew Up”
The man who makes the most animated pictures is Leon Schlesinger, a veteran showman who has been in practically all branches of the stage and movie businesses, but who can’t draw a straight line.
In 1930, when he had a prosperous little studio turning out titles and trailer ads and such, Jack Warner suggested making cartoon films.
So Schlesinger started “Merry Melodies,” with a staff of 36 people. Now he has two studios, a staff of 170 workers, and a payroll of nearly a third of a million dollars a year.
This year he will make 20 Merry Melodies in color and 16 Looney Tunes in black and white. That's twice the number of cartoon shorts issued annually by Disney.
Schlesinger is a pleasant, solid man who reminds you a little of Hal Roach. He likes his work and get a kick out of his own pictures, although with a modesty that is peculiarly non-Hollywood he says he's just a businessman, and acclaims the artistry of Disney.
As a businessman, though, he doubts that full-length cartoon features ever will make money. Disney has 575 employes and will spend nearly $1,000,000 producing “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
A Star Is Born
Schlesinger's current pride is Porky, a pig that stutters.
“I discovered Porky two years ago,” he said. We had a picture about a schoolroom, and the pupils were a cat, a turtle, an owl, and all sorts of animals, including a pig. Well, the minute we saw that pig we knew we had something. It was just like spotting a promising personality among the extras or bit players in a regular movie.
"So we got busy and gave Porky screen tests and changed him a little in developing his character. And now he stars in 16 pictures a year, the 'Looney Tunes’.”
A stuttering character actor does the Porky dialog for a recording; then the record is speeded up so that the voice is about an octave higher when it reaches the film. Before they attained acting prominence Rochelle Hudson and Jane Withers worked for Schlesinger, dubbing in their voices for those of cartoon characters.
The Real Actor
Hollywood has scores of people capable of imitating voices, and the producer never has any trouble finding talent for impersonating, in sound, the Crosbys, Stepin Fetchits, Garbos and other celebrities whom he frequently satirizes in "Merry Melodies.”
If you saw "Coocoonut Grove" you'll recall that Katharine Hepburn was caricatured as a horse. Schlesinger has heard that she was delighted with the impudence and went to see the picture three times.
In cartoon shorts, he explained, the animators are the real actors. They’re the artists who sketch the action and expressions of the characters, and they work from complicated scripts, or charts, plotted by the directors.
On these charts the action of each scene is minutely described, and a certain number of "frames," or individual pictures, is allotted for each bit of action. On the screen you see 24 of these frames a second.
Also on the animator's chart is written the dialog, divided into syllables and each syllable indicated for a certain group of pictures so that the characters' lip movements will synchronize perfectly, as though they are actually speaking.
In fact, the animators actually try to reproduce the true lip movements; they use themselves as models, looking into mirrors to see how certain sounds are formed.

Leon managed to get into the papers other times during that year. Hubbard Keavy (who I believe was with the Associated Press then) quoted Schlesinger about censorship and that only one cartoon in the studio's history had been rejected and needed to be redrawn (a hula girl's skirt was too short). Even a holiday in Hawaii turned into a PR exercise as Schlesinger was presented by "fans" with a black pig with a pork-pie hat when he landed at Honolulu. Pictures made the papers.

Chuck Jones always characterised Schlesinger as a bit of a dolt, but it seems to me he was far more canny than that, and sought to showcase his cartoons and little outfit amidst the whirl of the PR machines of the big studios and Walt Disney as much as he could.

Friday 27 January 2023

Tom Take

The radio warns of an explosive-filled white mouse that could blow up the whole city. Tom listens as a newscaster cautions: “The slightest jar will explode this white mouse.”

Jerry, just before this, has been covered with white liquid shoe polish. “Aha!” he thinks.

Something tells me we can both figure out the story of this one. (The Missing Mouse was released in 1951).

Tom, who has heretofore never been known for eating walnuts, decides the first thing to do upon hearing the news is to bash open some nuts with a mallet (without even looking at what he’s doing). Jerry decides to get in the way. Tom brings down the mallet. There’s a brake screech sound effect (by Jim Faris, I believe). That sets up the big reaction.

Phone: Brrringgg!
Hanna: Is this Dick Lundy? This is Bill Hanna. Did Tex Avery leave any spare takes lying around your unit before he left? He did?! Send one over right away.

Here’s the Avery-esque take. There are two drawings. Hanna alternates them, and leaves the cycle on the screen long enough to register.

Does the white paint wash off? Does the real white mouse show up? Does he blow up? I think you know the answers to these.

The usual four T & J animators get screen credit. Scott Bradley is away so Edward Plumb scored the short (I notice no difference) and Bob Gentle receives a background credit. Paul Frees is doing an odd announcer voice as the newscaster.

Thursday 26 January 2023

Ub's Alien Woman

Grim Natwick was the man who developed Betty Boop for the Fleischer studio, and when he moved across the country to Ub Iwerks’ studio in Beverly Hills, Willie Whopper had a part-time girl-friend named Mary who rather suspiciously resembled Betty.

There was another female character, albeit a one-shot, in another Willie cartoon. Whether Natwick was responsible, I don’t know, but this more realistic, sultry female was certainly within his ability to animate.

She’s in Stratos-fear (1933), in which Willie floats to a mysterious planet full of cool futuristic mechanical designs. She dances out of what resembles a coffin, kisses Willie, and the two walk up a flight of stairs when a door opens.

So much for stairs. The cut in the scene reveals they are coming out of an elevator.

The woman walks like an Egyptian, stops, then reveals herself to be the alien whom Willie is trying to avoid.

Iwerks’ name is the only one on this short, so we don’t know who animated it, who created the story or who was responsible for the settings. There’s imagination aplenty in this cartoon and it’s a shame few other of the Willies matched it.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

A Visit by Ray (No Bob)

Some fans of Bob and Ray like to engage in an exercise where they pick their favourite version of the twosome’s radio show.

They’re all a little different, and there’s something to like in almost all of them.

The half-hours from Boston have funny elements; it’s shame the versions of the broadcasts you can listen to on-line are not the best quality (it’s almost like they had been dubbed onto a cassette or a reel running at the wrong speed and then posted). Bob’s Mary McGoon is generally funny (and she sang the ‘cow in Switzerland’ song) and I love Bob’s send-up of Arthur Godfrey.

They arrive in New York in July 1951, and “present” the NBC radio network, scrunched down to 15 minutes, and far more structured. I enjoy Paul Tauman’s musical breaks, there are a lot of funny offers, a few running gags (Woodlo) and clever re-workings of things they ad-libbed in Boston. This is where Wally Ballou was developed as a character (he started out sounding like Elmer Fudd).

Mutual? Eh. The show stops for pop music records and it’s jarring hearing an actual announcer instead of a phoney Bob or Ray one.

The 15-minute-shows from CBS sound like Bob and Ray went into a studio and cut a week’s worth of shows. The satire takes aim at deserving targets, including network president Frank Stanton’s “programme honesty” directive in the wake of the game show scandal. There are a lot of very fun one-time sketches, and I love “Mr. Science.”

The two were about to arrive at CBS when this article appeared in the May 28, 1959 edition of the Springfield (Ohio) Daily News. Ray stops for an interview during a trip, and runs down some of the funny free offers from previous versions of the show, and their work making quirky animated spots in New York (like Stan Freberg, they first made fun of advertising, then went into it).

Ray Goulding, Deep-Voiced Member Of ‘Bob And Ray’ Comedy Team, Visits Here
He sat in the office of the placement director of Wittenberg College Wednesday looking not unlike a professor who had an hour to kill.
His legs were crossed as he leaned on the window sill and looked at the students walking between the buildings of the campus. He had black wavy hair with a touch of gray. His accent could be traced to the east coast as he chatted with Col, William H. Miles, college placement bureau director.
But the man in the expensive-looking plaid sport coat was not a member of the faculty. In fact, his reputation places him far from the staid atmosphere of a midwestern college.
The man was Ray Goulding, the deep-voiced half of the zany radio team of “Bob and Ray."
Ray, as he likes to be called, and his wife are in Springfield until Friday visiting with Col. and Mrs. Miles. Mrs. Goulding and Mrs. Miles are sisters.
Ray’s answer to my first question (What are you doing in town?) gave me some idea of what I was in for.
“I’m trying to get into this college, if they'll let me," was the reply. This answer set the pace for the interview.
In case some people happened to have just arrived from the moon and don't know about the comic pair, “Bob and Ray," they have a unique, weird type of humor based on incongruity and a talent in finding something funny in even the most mundane and ordinary situations. The team has been a regular feature of NBC-Radio's “Monitor” program heard on weekends, but in June will begin a regular nighttime 15-minute show on CBS five nights each week.
The team of Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding had its first fateful fusion on a Boston radio station in 1946.
“Bob and I were both staff announcers on WHDH there,” he recalled. “I was doing early morning news and Bob was doing early morning music.”
“Well, the news was bad and the music worse,so we just began ad libbing The routines got silent approval from the boss, so we kept it up. At least we weren't fired.”
“Our early stuff was mostly parodies and satires on soap opera and other radio material,” Ray explained. “We just tried to be funny.”
In 1951 the pair went on television. Their “Gal Friday" was Audrey Meadows, one of the brightest lights in show business today.
“Audrey was a fine, sharp gal," Goulding said. “She could ad lib like mad.”
“They just draw pictures to our old scripts and put it in the magazine,” was Ray’s explanation.
Speaking of “Mad,” Bob and Ray are regular contributors to that off-beat humor magazine.
Some of the pair’s routines have made headlines. A few years ago they offered one of their numerous, but mythical, kits to the public. This particular “kit" included material to make your new house look old. For the listener to receive the material all they had to do was send a postcard to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
“Well," said Ray, “those two little men with green eyeshades and sleeve garters who run that place were deluged with mail. They never saw anything like it.”
But the Smithsonian episode didn't stop them.
Later they invited the audience to procure their handy “Burglar’s Kit” from the Chief of Police in Jefferson City, Mo. The Smithsonian mail barrage repeated itself there.
Once the looney twosome had to return hundreds of dollars in dimes and nickels to listeners who sent 15 cents for torn bed-sheets “guaranteed to be in shreds.”
“We made the price too low,” Ray said. “If we would have asked $500 and still gotten money, we both would have quit radio and gone into the torn sheet business.”
Goulding has been in radio since he was 17. He now lives with his wife and four children in Manhasset, Long Island, outside of New York City. Elliot also has four youngsters but he and his wife live right in the city.
Most of Bob and Ray's present time is spent in their latest endeavour, the animated commercial business. Among their creations are the Piel's Beer boys, “Bert and Harry,” who won many advertising awards.
Tip Top Bread’s “Emily Tipp, the Tip Top Lady” seen in this area is the imaginative result of the productive minds of Elliot and Goulding.
They’ve also video-taped a new television show that is for sale.
Ray expresses the hope that something has to be done about radio. “All we have now is juke box which won't take coins. All day long just disc jockeys and the top 10, top 40, or top 2000,” he says.
There are two kinds of people in this country. Those who rate Bob and Ray tops in humor, and those who just don't understand and therefore cannot laugh at them.
Fortunately for comedy, the former far outnumber the latter. In fact, when I hear one of their routines and the person with me doesn't burst out laughing, I feel rather sorry for him.
If he only knew what he's missing.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Now, An Optical Illusion

The gags from Tex Avery and credited storyman Dave Monahan in Believe It Or Else run the gamut from surreal to obvious. A guy drinks a lot of milk and goes “moo.” Fortunately, Tex tried for something better as the cartoon carried on.

One of the odd ones is an “optical illusion” where the narrator says he can show how you can get 37 triangles out of three triangles made of match-sticks. I’m sure this must be a send-up that appeared in the “Believe it or not” newspaper column.

How does it happen? You move one stick here, this stick there, and.....

The happy Ripley-stand-in narrator ignores the impossibility of it all, in the best part of the scene. “There now. Isn’t it easy?” Try it on your friends.”

Fade out into the next scene.

The running presence of Egghead helps the cartoon. It’s one of Avery’s better spot-gaggers.

Virgil Ross is the credited animator. Keith Scott wonders if the narrator is Cliff Nazarro, forsaking his double-talk routine.

Monday 23 January 2023

Who Needs Spinachk?

“If it’s good enough for that sailor man,” declared an explorer in Frank Tashlin’s The Major Lied Till Dawn at Warners, “it’s good enough for me.” That’s the attitude taken in the first UPA cartoon for Columbia, Robin Hoodlum (released Dec. 23, 1948).

The Merry Men realise Robin must have been captured because he missed tea time. To the castle they go to rescue him. Arriving at the door of the dungeon, there is a polite knock.

The executioners shoot their arrows at Robin.

Little John bursts into the room with a tea cart. Robin drinks the tea. It gives him strength to break the ropes holding him and jump out of the way of the arrows.

It’d be funny if the Popeye theme was scored under the tea drinking, but UPA never went in for laughs like that.

Those arrows had to be the world’s slowest for all this business to happen before they reached Robin.

Phil Eastman and Sol Barzman came up with the story for this Oscar-nominated short, directed by John Hubley. It certainly won’t remind you of a conventional Fox and Crow cartoon that Columbia made on its own.