December 13th 2006
December 13th, 2006

Disney pickets 1941
Hey Brother! Don't cross the line! Come to Tom Sito's Talk at the Hollywood Museum Thursday Night at 7:30PM!

God, I love how well done their picket signs were!
The Hollywood Museum is in the DeMille Lasky barn in the parking lot opposite the Hollywood Bowl entrance on Highland Blvd in Hollywood!
The barn is where the first Hollywood movie The Squaw Man was shot in 1913. It houses treasures like Cecil B. DeMille's office, swords and armor from the 1925 Ben Hur and classic posters and lobby cards.
There's a small entrance fee ($8) but it goes to Hollywood Heritage, a society that fights developers to prevent Hollywoods past from being lost. For example, check out the Chasen's Story below.

Birthdays: Heinrich Heine, Mary Todd Lincoln, Dick Van Dyke, Mike Mosley, Darryl Zanuck Jr., George Schulz, Tim Conway, Ted Nugent, Christopher Plummer, Steve Buscemi, Jamie Fox is 39, Lynn Holly Johnson, Wendy Malick

Today is the Feast of Saint Lucy, who was ordered by the Romans to be violated in a brothel, set on fire, stabbed to death and to stop men saying how beautiful her eyes were she ripped them out and handed them over on a plate. But they miraculously grew back. So Lucy is the patron saint of opticians.

1543-THE COUNCIL OF TRENT convenes- Officially called the XIX Ecunemical Council this conference launched the Catholic Counter-Reformation against the Protestant reformers. Among it's doctrinal pronouncements was to declare that the only Good Art is Realism, all attempts at stylization or mannerism was heresy. Michel Caravaggio master painter and wiseguy decided to test this law by painting a Death of the Virgin. This is a terribly touchy subject because in Catholic tradition she's always portrayed as16 years old even though she lived to 64 and four other children by Joseph. You can imagine the furor when he did her realistically as a chubby dead old lady with three chins, and the accompanying apostles as balding old vagrants.

1642- Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in the Pacific discovered a big island near Australia and named it for the Dutch province of Zeeland, so New Zealand. He also found another island and called it Van Deimans Land, but it was later named in his honor as Tasmania.

1872- Wild Bill Hickok was fired as sheriff of Abilene Kansas because he was more violent and out of control than most of the men he arrested.

1895- Gustav Mahlers 2nd Symphony “Resurrection” premiered.

1928- Leopold Damrosch conducted the premiere of George Gershwin's -"An American in Paris."

1936- At the urging of New Yorker editor Harold Ross to find a better line of work, actor Dave Chasen opened Chasen's restaurant in Beverly Hills, which catered to Hollywood stars for 60 years. It is the restaurant where Leopold Stokowski was introduced to Walt Disney and as a result they conceived "Fantasia". Humphrey Bogart, John Huston and Lauren Bacall met upstairs to discuss the Blacklist of 1947. Elizabeth Taylor ordered Chasen’s chili flown out to Rome so she could eat it on the set of Cleopatra. The restaurant closed in 1995 because the Chasen family wanted to cash in on the real estate. Today it’s a supermarket.

no, thats not me in the 60's. Geez, I'm not that old!

1940- Fleischer Popeye cartoon "Eugene the Jeep" .The Thimble Theater character would give its name to the new army General Purpose vehicle- G.P. or "Jeep".

1951- One of the legendary Hollywood producers was Walter Wanger- starting in 1921 his films included The Sheik, Stagecoach, Queen Christina, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Silk Stockings and Cleopatra. His wife was beautiful starlet Joan Bennett, but at this time she had taken a lover. On this day Wanger surprised Hollywood by pulling out a gun and shooting his wife's lover in the nuts right in the MCA studio parking lot. In true Hollywood fashion Wanger got off, sentenced to just a few months in an honor ranchero compound and was soon back to work. Contributors to pay his legal fees included the Jack Warner, Walt Disney and Sam Goldwyn. The boyfriend, Jennings Lang, recovered and later became an executive producer of comedies like House Calls. After all, who needs balls to be a producer?

1961- Jimmy Dean’s folk ballad Big Bad John went to #1 of the country charts. Later Dean had his own TV variety show featuring Jim Hensons Muppets, and started Jimmy Dean’s Pure Pork Sausage Co.

1969- Arlo Guthrie’s hit song Alice’s Restaurant released.

1996- In Terry Gilliams’ sci-fi apocalypse epic the Plague of the 12 Monkeys was unleashed today, a virus that killed 4/5ths of the world’s population and drove the remainder underground.

December 12, 2006 tues.
December 12th, 2006

I had a great time yesterday at Santa Monica College talking to Jim Keeshen's Story class.
Birthdays: Frank Sinatra, Edvard Munch, Gustav Flaubert, Auguste Rodin,Edward G. Robinson- real name Emmanuel Goldenberg,former NY Mayor Ed Koch, Zack Mosley –the cartoonist who drew “Smilin' Jack", Connie Francis, Dionne Warwick, Bob Barker,Cathy Rigby, Tracy Austin, Jennifer Connelly is 36

1897-The Katzemjammer Kids comic strip by Rudolph Dirks appears. The adventures of Hans & Fritz was so popular a rival Hearst newpaper started an imitation called the Captain and the Kids, leading to the first artistic plagiarism lawsuit. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas had a problem whenever they bought the American newspapers for their Paris salon, because Picasso and Fernand Oliver would fight over who got to read the comics first.

1899- George Grant of Boston invented the Golf Tee.

1901-First transatlantic wireless signal received by Guglielmo Marconi. This finally ended the frustrating hoopla over laying transatlantic telegraph cables and have them break down almost constantly since the 1850s. The pioneers of radio broadcasting like Armstrong, Lee Deforrest and David Sarnoff got their start working for the Marconi Wireless Company.

1925- The world’s first Motel opened. Arthur Heinman opened the Milestone Motel in San Luis Obispo California. Motel was a contraction of Motor-Hotel.

1952- The first Screen Actors Guild Strike. President Walter Pidgeon -Dr. Morbius in Forbidden Planet- had the movie stars hit the bricks to win television and commercial residuals. The final deals were settled by then SAG president Ronald Reagan in 1960. Ronnie compromised with the studio heads (who later backed his bid for the governorship of California) that only residuals for films after 1955 would be paid. The studios made it known to the membership that if you didn’t vote for Reagan you can forget about your residuals. So the deal was struck. Actors who made their big hits in the 30's and 40s like Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, The Little Rascals and Mickey Rooney were left out. Mickey Rooney, who's Andy Hardy movies were the box office champs of the mid-1940's put it mildly: "Reagan screwed me !!"

1980- The song “Whip It” by Devo won a gold record.

1991-Actor Richard Gere married supermodel Cindy Crawford.

2000- THE SUPREME COURT PICKED THE PRESIDENT. In the tightest presidential election since 1877 The Supreme Court ruled on the case Bush Vs Gore. The High Court decided George W. Bush won over Vice President Al Gore. They stated that although there may have been irregularities in the vote counting in the decisive state of Florida, it was pointless to continue the recount so they were suspending all further appeals. Al Gore and the Democrats quickly caved in and squelched attempts by African-American congressmen to point out vote discrimination. In 1960 the difference between Nixon and Kennedy was around 100,000 votes in a population of 150 million people- in 2000 Bush’s lead was down to a mere 140 votes in several states out of a population of 350 million.

December 11, 2006
December 11th, 2006

Reflecting on last fridays' Animation Guild Holiday Party, I had a great time signing books and meeting people. About 600-800 partied the night away. So much for those who wonder, who's in a union?

I have been going to union parties since my first in New York City in 1976. Then I was a young pup watching all these old silver haired artists laughing and drinking. These were the men and women who made the cartoons that I grew up on. They were the Gods who manufactured dreams for a living. It must be a symptom of maturity that
I've come to miss the faces in the crowd I once saw there in years past:

-Ed Freidman- Steady Eddie, Jewish Olympian in the 1932 LA Games, Filmation Director. He had 55 years experience and a dry humor. He once told me"You know, life's been easy since I gave up.."

-Dale Oliver- Tall, well dressed, a glider pilot with the 82nd Airborne on D-Day. He was Milt Kahl's assistant where his rough thick-thin line was a standard to be emulated by all the crew, the Dale Oliver Line.

-Hicks Lokey, who animated the hippo leaping into the alligators arms in Fantasia (no, Preston Blair didn't do that particular scene) Hicks had been in every union strike since 1935 and no matter how frail and wrinkly he liked to relax by shooting his 357 Magnum.

-Dave Tendlar and Jack Ozark, animators for Max Fleischer who animated the First Popeyes and Betty Boop.

And the MGM gang now at Hanna & Barbera- Ray Patterson, Ed Barge, Ken Muse, Mike Lah. Plus a lot of other old friends- Marc Davis, Louis Tate, the Spider, Perry Keifer, Bill Hurtz, Stan Green, Joe Grant, Joe Ranft. Art Babbitt complaining about Jule Engel, and Jules Engel complaining about Art Babbitt.

I still see them in my minds eye. I raise my glass to them and other old friends. I think they are with us still.
Happy Holidays, Gang.

Birthdays: Sir David Brewster,1781- inventor of the kaleidoscope, Fiorello LaGuardia, Robert Koch, conquerer of tuberculosis, Alexander Solzhenitsin, Carlo Ponti, Gilbert Roland, Big Mama Mabel Thornton, Jean Marais- The Beast in Cocteau's Beauty & the Beast, Jean Louis Tritignant, Tom Hayden, Jermaine Jackson, McCoy Tyner- John Coltrane's pianist, singer Brenda Lee, Rita Moreno, Teri Garr

711AD- death of Byzantine Emperor Justinian II Rhino-Nose.

1785-French artist Jean Baptiste Greuze was well known for making popular paintings of simple scenes like Young Girl Weeping For Her Dead Bird. This day he went to the Paris police prefect and accused his wife Gabriele Babuti of “Persistently receiving lovers into his home over his protests, stealing large sums of his money and trying to batter in his head with a chamber pot.”He was granted a legal separation.

1793- Last July when the French Revolutionary Convention heard of the assassination of their great radical leader Jean Paul Marat one delegate called out “David ! We Need You!” This day Jacques David unveiled his painting THE DEATH OF MARAT for the first time.

1882- The Bijou Theater in Boston presented Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe in the first show completely illuminated by electric light bulbs.

1929- Frenchman Charles Cros patented a searchlight he declared he would use to signal civilizations on Mars and Venus. Nobody's returned the call yet.

1941- Gone With The Wind producer David Selznick pitched a movie version of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by Ben Hecht. Mercifully for movie goers the idea was soon dropped.

1957- Rock and Roll singer Jerry Lee Lewis secretly married his 13 year old cousin Myra Gail Brown, while still married to his second wife, who he divorced her when the press broke the story the following April. The incident shot down his meteoric career. Great Balls of Fire!

1964- Soul music star Sam Cooke was shot to death in an argument with a lady who ran an L.A. motel he had brought his girlfriend to.( "Darling you send meee...")

1968- Just point your browser and click! Dr. Douglas Englehardt invented the computer Mouse.

1970- Walt Disney's the 'Aristocats'.

1978- THE LUFTHANSA HEIST.- Some small time Brooklyn Mafiosi slipped into the Lufthansa cargo terminal at Kennedy Airport and stole $8 million in unmarked bills and jewelry, most from European money exchange booths. As the FBI moved in on the gang it’s members tended to wind up dead, thirteen bodies in all. The money was never recovered and the reputed mastermind Jimmy the Gent Burke died in prison on an unrelated murder charge in 1991. The incident was dramatized in the Martin Scorcese film “Goodfellas”.

December 10, 2006 sun
December 10th, 2006



Birthdays: English King Edward VII “Bertie”, Emile Dickinson, Chet Huntley, Morton Gould, Victor McLaghlin, Dan Blocker, Tommy Kirk, Fionnula Flanagan, Kenneth Branaugh is 46, Dorothy Lamour, Susan Dey, Michael Clarke Duncan

1607- In Virginia Captain John Smith left the Jamestown camp with two men to find food. They were captured by the Indians who killed the other men and dragged Smith before chief Powhatan. He ordered Smith’s head to be placed on a flat stone and bashed in with a war club. But Powhatan’s favorite daughter Pocahontas threw herself over Smith and protected him. Smith could speak no Algonquin and the Indians no English and neither could sing any Broadway tunes. Was this an execution prevented or a ritual of admission into the tribe? Powhatan was known to extend his rule through dynastic alliances with other tribal leaders, and he was well aware of the white strangers, wiping out a Spanish attempt to land on his beach in 1600. Maybe this was his way of wanting to bring the white mans powers to his side. No one knows for sure. Smith didn’t write of this incident until back in England 14 years later.

1901- The First Nobel Prize is given. Alfred Nobel made millions by inventing dynamite and nitro-glycerine. But as much as his discoveries were used for constructive purposes they also made it possible for armies to blow each other up much more efficiently. He felt guilty and after an accident with the stuff killed his own brother he resolved to create something positive from his fortune. Hence the Nobel Prize. Nobel died on Dec 10th 1896 and the awards are given each year on the anniversary. President Teddy Roosevelt won the first Peace Prize in 1910 for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. In 1950 Dr. Ralph Bunche was the first African-American to receive a Nobel.

1905- O. Henry’s short story “ A gift from the Magi” first published.

1938- To make the film "Gone With the Wind" Producer David Selznick and director Victor Fleming shot the massive "Burning of Atlanta" in Culver City, California. The sequence was storyboarded and designed by William Cameron-Menzies, who designed the sets for Intolerance for D.W. Griffith. Selznick used the opportunity to clean the studios backlot storage, destroying sets from King Kong, Little Lord Fauntelroy and Last of the Mohicans in the inferno. They shot the scenes with three Rhett Butler stand ins.

1941-The Hollywood Victory Committee formed. Top Hollywood agents like Abe Lastfogel, Lou Wasserman and Myron Selznick (David's brother) start signing up movie stars for bond drives and touring shows for the troops.
The committee later created the Hollywood Canteen, a nightclub for servicemen on Ivar near Sunset. A soldier or sailor could come in for a free meal served by Tyrone Power or Red Skelton and have a dance with celebrities like Rita Hayworth or Dina Shore.
One animation painter who worked in the kitchen told me the only celebrity who would stay until closing, even mopping and washing coffee cups was Marlene Deitrich.

1966- The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” hit #1 in pop charts.

1967- R&B star Otis Redding and four of his band the Bar Kays were killed in a small plane crash near Madison Wisconsin. Redding had recorded his hit “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” just three days earlier.

1995- Worst recorded snowstorm in Buffalo, NY history. 37.9 inches in just 24 hours!
Answer to the Quiz

Answer: No, it's wasn't Edison, and it wasn't the Victorians. The custom goes back to Ancient Rome. The Romans welcomed the New Year in by putting oil lamps in every window. and decorating their houses. Also the rival religion to Christianity then was Mithraism. On the solstice the Mithraists lit fires on their roofs as offering to Ahura Mazda the Sun God.

woohoo! Party! Party!

December 9, 2006 friday
December 9th, 2006

Great Holiday Party at the union attended by hundreds of artists.

Turned in a new article to animation work network AWN about disasterous story pitches.It's slated to run after December 11th.

Birthdays: Sappho, John Milton, Jean De Brunhoff, Elzie Segar the creator of Popeye, Hermoinie Gingold, Dalton Trumbo, John Cassavettes,Broderick Crawford, Dick Butkus, Kirk Douglas is 90, Red Foxx, Cesar Franck, John Malkovich is 53, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Buck Henry is 76, Judy Dench, Felicity Huffman, Star Trek’s Mr Worff- 2340 AD

1889- The Chicago Auditorium dedicated. The landmark building’s architect Louis Sullivan had hired a new assistant to help with the drawings-Frank Lloyd Wright.

1905- Richard Strauss’s opera Salome premiered in Dresden. The lead role demands an opera singer with big Wagnerian lungs but also a flat stomach to do the strip tease the Dance of the Seven Veils. When the opera debuted in New York, old millionaires like J.P. Morgan were shocked at its’explicit sexuality. They threatened to cut off funding until Salome was pulled from the schedule.

1946- Damon Runyon died ,the writer whose characters the musical "Guys and Dolls' are based. His philosophy: "All life is six to five against."

1948-Actor Ossie Davis married actress Ruby Dee.

1960- The first episode of Coronation Street premiered on British ITV.

1964-John Coltrane recorded his landmark jazz album “The Love Supreme”. Late on foggy nights Trane liked to take his sax out onto the middle of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and practice by himself.

1965- Bill Melendez's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" the first half hour animated t.v. special, featuring the music of Vince Guaraldi. Peanut’s creator Charles Schulz had heard Guaraldi's jazz combo perform in San Francisco and when he picked him to do the music. He never scored a film before:" How many yards of music do you want?" Vince Guaraldi died a few years later of the various vices jazzmen were prey to but the t.v. special goes on. A Charlie Brown Christmas has run every year for 40 years.

1967- At a Doors concert lead singer Jim Morrison was sprayed with mace and arrested by Miami police for “lewd behavior” on stage, but probably more for referring to the cops in derogatory terms.

1992-Britains Prime Minister John Major announced the separation of Prince Charles and Diana of Wales.

1994- Disney Animators in California move into their new Animation building designed by Robert Stern.