Monday, 6 February 2023

Coyly Hidden Gags

There were all kinds of people who didn’t get screen credit in Warner Bros. cartoons but, every once in a while, their names appeared on screen anyway.

Several cartoons involved characters or things on book covers coming to life. One was Bob Clampett’s A Coy Decoy (1941). These book cartoons featured books resting on shelves, and the name of a Leon Schlesinger employee might find his/her name inscribed on a cover or spine.

On the book to the right of Daffy you’ll see the name “Kirsanoff.” This was assistant animator Anatole Kirsanoff, born in Ukraine in 1911. His mother was Russian actress Maria Kirsanova. Kirsanoff attended the School of Applied Arts at the University of Cincinnati, where he received three first and three second place ribbons in an art competition in his senior year in 1935. In 1937, he was working for Walt Disney. His wife was opera singer Rosalia Lynn.

A check of some local newspapers reveals he moved from Schlesinger to the Walter Lantz studio by October 1941, he and two others opened a glass business in Los Angeles in 1947, and he was in Chicago in 1953. You might have seen his name on various Filmation series. Scouts will be interested to know he was involved with Cub Scout Pack 352 sponsored by the Coldwater Canyon Elementary School. Kirsanoff died on May 2, 1973, age 61.

The book behind Daffy is “The Downfall of the House of Sasanoff” by Thomas. Michael Sasanoff handled some story and layout work after Clampett took over Tex Avery’s unit in 1941. Sasanoff was Russian-born in 1903 to artist/singer Max Sasanoff and came to the U.S. in September 1913. He attended the National Academy of Design, the Art Students League and painted murals for various libraries, theatres and schools in New York. In 1928, he was involved in the New York Council of the Unemployed, which the New York Times described as "a Communist organization." 1938 saw him employed as an artist and spieler on Coney Island. The following year, Sasanoff was working for the Fleischers in Miami and legally changed his name from Mische to Michael, though he had been going by "Murray."

After his stint with Schlesinger, he found work in New York as TV creative director of the Biow Co. In 1948, he created Sunny the Rooster, produced by Telefilm and voiced by Hans Conried for Schenley. After stops at Sarra, Inc. (1949) and N.W. Ayer (1957), he worked as creative director from 1958-62 at Lawrence C. Gumbinner Advertising (animated spots for Roi-Tan Cigars and Omega Oil). Following that, he became a stockholder and creative vice-president of Henry R. Turnbull, Inc. At the time he was living in New Canaan, Conn., where he began directing operas in 1957 and exhibiting his (non-cartoon) artwork. He died Dec. 20, 1984.

“Thomas,” I suspect, is Dick Thomas, who supplied backgrounds for Clampett’s black-and-white unit. We profiled him in this post on the Yowp blog.

Norm McCabe is the credited animator in this short, while Mel Millar gets the story credit. It was released on June 7, 1941, and on that date it was screened at Warners’ Sigma Theatre in Lima, Ohio, with the Priscilla Lane feature Million Dollar Baby.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings from Lima. The building that housed the Warners' Sigma still stands in downtown, but it ceased to be a movie theater decades ago. It's now an art gallery.