Monday 26 June 2023

The Death of Tedd Pierce

Cartoons were seen in movie theatres in bygone days, so it was fitting that Frederick B. (Tex) Avery and his writers would play around with that for laughs.

Several of Avery’s cartoons include gags with silhouettes of someone in the theatre audience blocking the light from the film projector and showing up on the screen in silhouette. Thugs With Dirty Mugs and Cinderella Meets Fella are two examples.

Another is Daffy Duck and Egghead, “officially” released in 1938 but which appeared at the Warner Bros. Hollywood and Downtown theatres in Los Angeles on Christmas 1937. Egghead (Danny Webb) is trying to find where Daffy Duck (Mel Blanc) is hiding in the bullrushes along a lakeshore when a silhouette lopes onto the scene. Anyone familiar with the cartoon studio staff will recognise the Roman nose belonging to writer Tedd Pierce.

Twice, Egghead tells the shadow to be quiet and sit down. Each time, the silhouette drops out of sight for a moment, but then pops back up and begins to move.

Egghead takes care of the situation by shooting the shadow.

Carl Stalling cuts the music. A snare drum roll is heard on the soundtrack as Pierce's shadow twists and turns and finally falls backward. When the silhouette is off-screen, we hear a cymbal crash. Theatre-goer Pierce is dead


Egghead makes with a fine "Well, that takes care of THAT!" expression and carries on with the hunt.

Virgil Ross gets the animation credit, and Bugs Hardaway the rotating story credit. You all know Hardaway later rejigged the cartoon for his own unit, and turned the duck into a rabbit. Pierce survived to write cartoons for another 25 years.


  1. I always liked that split second look he gives right before he shoots him.

  2. Hans Christian Brando26 June 2023 at 18:35

    Remember how bewildered you were when you saw this frequently-repeated gag on TV (where it doesn't make sense)? Has anyone seen this or some other cartoon containing the "audience member silhouette" in an actual theater? (You'd think it would be a natural for theatrical animation retrospectives.) If so, tell us how effective it really is.

  3. With these gags I never thought of the figures as shadows on the screen of people blocking the light from the projector, but were the people themselves, in silhouette, a row or two ahead blocking my view of the screen.