November 19. 2006
November 19th, 2006

Lots of fun at, the Art Institute of San Francisco, Zeum and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco. Our thanks to Karl Cohen of ASIFA San Francisco, Summerlea, Michelle and Luanna! I also had a nice lunch with a historian friend Eric Niderost, who currently has an article in World War II magazine and frequently contributes to Military Heritage.

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Birthdays: King Charles Ist of England, President James Garfield, Ferdinand de Lesseps, Roy Campanella, Tommy Dorsey, Ted Turner, Calvin Klein, Indira Ghandi, Dick Cavett, Jean Kirkpatrick, Larry King, Kathleen Quinlan, Alan Young -Mr. Ed’s friend, Ahmad Rashad, Allison Janey, Meg Ryan is 45, Jodie Foster is 44, Terry Farrell,.

1703- The "Man in the Iron Mask" died in the Bastille prison. Louis XIV had him locked up for forty years. He was first mentioned in Voltaire's History of the Age of Louis XIV as having a velvet mask which writer Alexandre Dumas changed to iron for dramatic effect. No one ever discovered who he was or why his face was covered. Speculation was that he was everyone from an Italian diplomat, to the son of Oliver Cromwell, to a twin brother of King Louis XIV himself. It made for great literature but he remains a mystery.

1863- THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS-At the dedication of the soldiers cemetery on the Gettysburg battlefield, the crowd watched Rev. Edward Everett, a famous abolitionist, deliver a fiery two hour speech. Then President Abraham Lincoln stood up and in just two minutes delivered the most famous speech in U.S. History. "Forescore and Seven years ago Our Forefathers set Forth....And Government Of the People, By the People and For the People Shall Not Perish from the Earth. "
The crowd was polite but indifferent. The Times of London correspondent thought it "vague and uninspiring". Lincoln himself told his aide: "Lehman, that speech won't scowl !" meaning a plow blade that's too dull to cut. But Rev Everett was inspired “Mr. President, you said in two minutes much more than I did in two hours.” Contrary to legend Lincoln didn’t write it quickly on the back of an envelope, he worked long on his speeches and was seen doing corrections up to the last minute. There are three pencil copies of the speech still in existence. The photographer at the scene was still setting up his equipment when the brief speech ended and Lincoln started to sit down. He opened his shutter in time to get a blurry view of Lincoln's head in the crowd.

1942- In a concentration camp in Poland author-artist Bruno Schulz was executed. The author of “Street of Crocodiles” last act was being forced by a Gestapo officer to paint images from Brothers Grimm fairytales on his sons bedroom wall before he was shot.

1959-Happy Birthday Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris & Natasha. Jay Ward's television show 'Rocky and his Friends' debuts. Ward and Bill Scott had been planning the adventures of the denizens of Frostbite Falls since 1957. Many of it’s writers like Alan Burns and producer Sheldon Leonard would later help create classic television sitcoms like the Mary Tyler Moore show. On that show they inspired a young writer named James L. Brooks who would one day create the Simpsons.

1969- The great soccer champion Pele scored his 1,000 goal.

1998- Film Director Alan J. Pakula was one of the Hollywood community who preferred living in New York City. This day he was driving on the Long Island Expressway when he was killed in a freak accident. A large truck kicked up in its tires a discarded piece of steel pipe. It flipped it through Pakula’s windshield, killing him instantly.


From my friend Tashjin Ozgur from Istanbul:

A year ago some members of the small Turkish community
of pencil swinging animators and fans of that artform
decided to fix a day to celebrate the beleaguered art
of hand-drawn animation. The date chosen was November
18th, in commemoration of the release of "Steamboat
Willie", the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, in 1928.

The Animation Department of the Anadolu University
celebrated quite seriously in 2005. This year, in
2006, the young animation department of of the Maltepe
University in Istanbul has joined in.



Hmmm.. maybe this is the beginning of a world wide movement?
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Birthdays: Armelita Galli-Curci, Karl Maria Von Weber, W.S. Gilbert, Johnny Mercer, Astronaut Alan Shepard, Louis Daguerre, Brenda Vaccarro, Eugene Ormandy, George Gallup, Warren Moon, Pam Dawber

500 A.D.- Today is the Feast day of the Irish Saint Mawes, who was born in a barrel floating in the sea.

1718- Francois Voltaire’s first major work, the play Oedipe premiered in Paris to triumphant success.

1863- Abraham Lincoln boarded a train to Gettysburg to deliver “a few appropriate remarks” to dedicate the new national cemetery there.

1865 Mark Twain's first story "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County' published.

1883- Congress divided the United States into standard time zones corresponding to timetables set by the railroads.

1902- THE TEDDY BEAR BORN-The Washington Evening Star published a story of how President Teddy Roosevelt while hunting couldn't bring himself to shoot a grizzly bear cub. Cartoonist Cliff Berryman illustrated the incident with one of his signature “dingbat” bear cubs in a gesture of “oh no!” Brooklyn toymaker Morris Mitchcom sewed a doll from the illustration in the newspaper and sent the first one to the White House.

1928- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICKEY MOUSE- At the Colony Theater in New York Walt Disney’s cartoon "Steamboat Willie" debuted- The first major sound cartoon success and the official birth of Mickey Mouse. Two earlier silent Mickey's had been done, but they were held back when the sound experiment went ahead.

1953- Singer Frank Sinatra had been having trouble with his sputtering career and his crumbling marriage to screen sex goddess Ava Gardner. This day songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen found Old Blue Eyes on his bathroom floor with his wrists slashed. Heusen bound his wounds then called his agent rather than the police. Sinatra recovered and soon his career revived and he had a new marriage. His subsequent rough use of women afterwards, calling them “broads” and using and discarding them may have come as a reaction to his rough treatment in the soft hands of La Gardner.

1963-The first push button telephones go into service.

1985- Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin & Hobbs debuted.


November 17, 2006 friday
November 17th, 2006

See you guys up in San Francisco!

Wisdom of the Ancient Animators


Animation is about what happens inbetween the drawings."
Bill Tytla


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Birthdays: Roman Emperor Vespasian 9 A.D, Florentine painter Il Bronzino, August Ferdinand Mobius-1790 the inventor of the Mobius Strip. WWII Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Rock Hudson, Danny DeVito, , Bob Mathias, Peter Cook, Martin Scorcese is 64, Lorne Michaels, Medical Examiner to the Stars Isamu Noguchi, Lauren Hutton, Tom Seaver, Gordon Lightfoot, Les Clark, Lee Strassberg, Shelby Foote, Sophie Marceau, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

1853- San Francisco passed a law to put up street signs at the intersections of major streets.

1858- A Pennsylvania businessman named William Larimer founded a new town at the foot of the Rockies called Denver.

1891- Polish pianist Jan Paderewski made his American debut at Carnegie Hall. Paderewski later followed by Stokowski create the cliché image of the grave eccentric classical music master with long flowing white hair combed straight back.

1934- LBJ marries LadyBird . For you born after the 60's, President Lyndon Baines Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor whom he nicknamed LadyBird Johnson. Their daughters were LucyBird and LindaBird, so everyone in the family had the initials LBJ.

1968- THE HEIDI GAME- NBC was broadcasting a football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders. The game was running late and would interfere with the broadcast of the movie "Heidi". The network heads felt with the Jets leading 32-29 with 65 seconds left, why disappoint the kiddies? So they pre-empted the rest of the game to start the movie. Oakland won 43-32 in a miracle comeback scoring the final touchdown in the final nine seconds. The embarrassed programmers had to answer nationwide firestorm of complaints from outraged football fans. So to this day on television no matter how dull a football game is, it is seen to it's completion.

1989- Don Bluth's animated film "All Dogs Go to Heaven."premiered. When the film premiered in London in Leicester Square the opening night tickets were distributed with a printing error on them, the last letter of the film's title was dropped off. So the title read “All Dogs Go to Heave.”

1993- Congress voted for the free trade bill called NAFTA. It made companies free to send all our jobs to other countries.


November 16, 2006
November 16th, 2006

I want to send out a Hey to all my friends at LMU, Loyola Marymount, who made me feel welcome during my appearance the other day.
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Wisdom of the Ancients

courtesy of the Blackwing Diaries.

"When posing keys, go as far as you dare go, then go twice as far, and you'll see you're still only half way there."
Art Babbitt- center, seated between Fred Moore and Larry Clemmons, Walt Disney Studio, 1931

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Birthdays: Roman Emperor Tiberius, Paul Hindemith, George S. Kaufmann, W.C. Handy, Burgess Meredith, Daws Butler,Zina Garrison, Dwight Gooden, Maggie Gylenhall

HAPPY SADIE HAWKINS DAY! Fictional hillbilly race made famous by Al Kapp in his comic strip Little Abner.

1906- Opera superstar Enrico Caruso was charged for pinching a ladies butt while visiting the Bronx Zoo. Caruso claimed a monkey did it.

1915-BIRTH OF THE COKE BOTTLE- The owners of Coca Cola were concerned that the success of their soft drink was being subverted by all the various cheap imitations. They decided if they had a distinctive bottle people would recognize genuine Coca Cola. This day the first Coca-Cola appeared in their distinctive curved little green bottles, created by the Ross Glass Co. of Indiana and bottled in Vicksburg Mississippi.

1924- THE MURDER OF THOMAS INCE- Thomas Ince was a film director and early Hollywood studio owner who’s property later became the site of MGM. This day he boarded William Randolph Hearst’s yacht Oneida for a birthday party in his honor. On the boat among the guests was Charlie Chaplin and Hearsts’ mistress Marion Davies. When the boat docked Ince was dead and everyone very troubled. The official cause of death was a heart attack but there was no autopsy or investigation and the Hearst press quickly hushed things up. The legend goes Hearst discovered Chaplin and Davies in flagrante-delicto and in a jealous rage shot Ince when he came in between them. We’ll never know for sure.


1932- VAUDEVILLE DIED- Vaudeville was the generic name for one admission to a showcase of short theatrical acts- singers, comics, jugglers, trained animals, etc. Vaudeville gave their first opportunities to many great twentieth century performers like Chaplin, Jolson, the Marx Brothers, Mae West , Gypsy Rose Lee and W.C.Fields. But it was slowly supplanted by more modern forms of entertainment like Movies and Radio. If you asked experts to pinpoint a date for the official end of the popular venue, many it would say it was the date that the New York Palace Theater on Broadway, the premiere palace for Vaudeville, switched from live shows to purely Movies. A pop phrase for years afterwards was" That idea is deader than vaudeville!"

1946- The Television Academy of Arts and Sciences founded. Fred Allen once said: "We call television a Medium because nothing on it is Rare or Well Done."

1960- CLARK GABLE DIED- The 59 year old star had just completed the film the Misfits, a film in which director John Huston demanded a great deal of physical exertion. Gable had told his agent that the unprofessional antics of his moody co-star Marilyn Monroe had driven him so nuts they were going to give him a heart attack. Clark Gable then had one after shooting and on this day while convalescing in Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital while reading a magazine a second heart attack killed him. He wrote his own epitaph but it was never used- "Back to the Silents."

Hey, isn't that Tom Minton?

1981- Actor William Holden died. The star of such classics as Sunset Blvd., Stalag 17 and Network was told as a young actor to take a few drinks to calm the pre-camera jitters. But by now he was a hopeless alcoholic. This night at home alone and so drunk he fell and hit his head on a table edge. Too inebriated to call for help he dabbed his forehead with bunches of Kleenex until he bled to death.

1990- Disney’s feature film the Rescuers Down Under premiered. The first traditionally animated film to be painted digitally on computer instead of acetate cels and paints.

2001- The film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premiered to great fanfare and massive box office. Harry Potter’s creator J.K. Rowling had been so poor she at one time had been on relief, now she was one of the richest women in the world, in England second only to Madonna and the Queen.


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Recently my mother gave me a pile of yellowing papers from my childhood. Among them were some grade school report cards. It was a kick seeing these fossilized remains of my academic upbringing. I was an average student with a good attitude, dreadful in math, especially adding fractions. But I found amusing the teachers comments about my character: From my Fourth Grade Teacher in 1964, when I was 8 years old-

"Thomas is reading many history books. Perhaps something on the lighter side would broaden his interests..."

"Thomas is not as sure of himself as he should be when speaking in front of an audience. We are working on improving this." Whatever she did, it worked. Now you can't shut me up.

Thomas sometimes has trouble expressing himself in an original way on paper." I know some script editors who'd say I still do!

It's fun to look where we've come from, to better understand why we are who we are. And I still can't add and subtract fractions for shoot!
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B-Days: Georgia O'Keefe, Daniel Barenboim, George Bolet, William Pitt the Earl of Cheatham, Veronica Lake, Beverly D'Angelo- actress and former Scooby-Doo cel painter, Mantovanni, Ed Asner, Sam Waterson, Otis Armstrong, Petula Clark

1754- First use of the modern trombone. It was played at a child's funeral.

1828- Author Victor Hugo signs contracts with Gosselin's Publishing House to write a story about the cathedral of Notre Dame du Paris. He was paid 4,000 francs in advance, The HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME was the result.

1881- The American Federation of Labor AF of L formed under the leadership of former cigar-maker Samuel Gompers. In 1951 they merged with the CIO.

1907- The comic strip Mutt & Jeff debuted. The strip was so popular that it’s creator Harry “Bud “ Fisher became a celebrity and negotiated the first large backend deals.

1920- The League of Nations held it’s first meeting in Geneva.

1926- FIRST NETWORK BROADCAST- NBC hooks up 20 cities for a radio program "The Steinway Hour" with Arthur Rubinstein playing concert piano from the Steinway building penthouse on 57th St. in Manhattan.

1934- Animator Bill Tytla moved out west from New York and starts at Walt Disney's on a trial basis for $150 a week. He would create Grumpy the Dwarf, The Devil in Fantasia and Dumbo.

1979- ABC news announced they would broadcast a daily update of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The late night show became Nightline.

1989- Disney's The Little Mermaid debuted. When it opened in Copenhagen, director John Musker and Ron Clements attended a gala and sat next to the Queen of Denmark. They agonized over what would be her reaction to the reworking of the unhappy ending in this great Danish work, but the Queen's reaction was "It's beautiful! Hans Christian Andersen never could write a decent ending..."

1990- It was revealed that the Grammy winning pop group Milli Vanilli didn’t sing on their own album but lip synced to the music.


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