Another lesson from the Ancient Animators



"Don't be precious about your stuff. Your trash can is your best friend." Shamus Culhane (1908-1996)

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Birthdays: Daniel Webster, A.A.Milne inventor of the Winnie the Pooh stories, Joseph Glidden, Oliver Hardy, Cary Grant real name Archibald Leech,Danny Kaye, Emmanuel Chabrier,Pierre Roget (Roget’s Thesaurus), Ray Dolby (Dolby sound), John Boorman, Kevin Costner

1908- Frederic Delius orchestral tone poem Brigg Fair premiered.

1919- American Society of Cinematographers formed (ASC).

1943- As part of the war effort the US government ordered the sale of sliced bread be stopped for the duration. The phrase “ the greatest thing since sliced bread” entered the slang vocabulary.

1949- Look Magazine published a photo essay called "Prizefighter". The photographer was a young kid from the Bronx named Stanley Kubrick. Mr Kubrick said he wanted to try filmmaking.

1953-The Hollywood Animation Guild chartered. Originally the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839, signatories included Disney legends Milt Kahl, Les Clark, John Hench and Ken Anderson.

1962- THE FRENCH CONNECTION- NYPD cracked a drug ring smuggling heroin from South East Asia into New York via Marseilles. The French Connection bust nabbed $3.5 million in dope and made heroes out of the two detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grazzo. Egan joked to Grazzo:"I’ll betchya Paul Newman will play me and Ben Gazzarra you!" Actually Gene Hackman played Egan and Roy Scheider Grazzo in the Oscar winning 1971 film. Both cops retired from the force to make careers in show biz. Ironically, while the film was being made, the real heroin from the case disappeared from the NYPD evidence lockup and was replaced with bags of corn starch. It was never recovered.

1977- The cult documentary PUMPING IRON premiered. Filmmakers George Butler and Rob Fiore maxed out his American Express card to the tune of $35,000 to bring this look at the little known world of professional body building to the screen. The film first brought to the public a charmingly confident Austrian body builder named Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wanted to try acting someday. Also Lou Ferrigno who would also star in movies and as the TV Hulk. Twenty five years later politician Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to buy the rights to Pumping Iron so he could edit out the scenes of him smoking a joint.

1978- In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, rock star Frank Zappa described most rock journalism as " People who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read."

1987- National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition premiered.

1990- Rusty Hamer, who played Danny Thomas’ son in the t.v. show Make Room for Daddy, put a 357 Magnum to his head and pulled the trigger. He was 42.


Old Animators Saying:


"Beware of Clients Who Order Champagne and Pay for Beer."
first quoted to me by storyboard guru Barry Caldwell

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Birthdays: Benjamin Franklin, Max Sennett, Al Capone, Ethan G. Hodell 1883- the inventor of the Tow-Truck, acting teacher Constantin Stanislavsky studied by Animators Art Babbitt and Bill Tytla, Moira Shearer, puppeteer Shari Lewis, James Earl Jones is 76, Vidal Sassoon, Kevin Reynolds, Muhammad Ali is 66, Jim Carrey is 45

1949- The first VOLKSWAGEN BEETLES arrive in North America. In 1936 Adolf Hitler asked Dr. Ferdinand Porsche to take some time off from building Panzer Tanks to develop a simple easy-to-maintain family vehicle for the average person- a People’s Car-Volk’s Wagon. After the war the cheap Volkswagen beetle became a favorite for Beatniks and the Hippies after them. It’s success as a design is marked by the fact as soon as Volkswagen discontinued the model in the 1980’s their share of the American market slumped behind Toyota and Honda, but reintroducing the Beetle in 1998 immediately placed Volkswagen back in the race for the top import.

1949- The Goldbergs, a radio comedy show about a Jewish family in the Bronx, moved to television and became the first true sitcom. The show ended when Phil Loeb, or Papa Goldberg, was accused by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee of being a Communist.

1961- Frank Sinatra’s Ratpack had campaigned hard for their friend John F. Kennedy for president. Black entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. had worked particularly hard to help Kennedy win the African American vote. But Sammy had a preference for blond white actresses and had married one, May Britt in 1960. To fend off negative publicity this day JFK had his secretary Mrs. Lincoln telephone Sammy Davis and un-invite him to the President’s Inaugural Ball. We’re Liberal, but not that liberal. And uhh..thanks for the help. Dean Martin was so angry at this insult to his friend that he cancelled his appearance at the inaugural. In 1968 Sammy Davis angered the black community when he embraced republican Richard Nixon.

1961- President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell speech to the nation. He warned against the growing influence of the “Military Industrial Complex”.

1964- The first Porsche Carrera sportscar arrived in L.A..

1994-The Great Northridge Earthquake rocked Los Angeles. 61 deaths and 20 billion dollars in damage. It was officially listed as 6.8 on the Richter Scale, although many rumors persist that in some areas it was as high as 7.2 . Over 7.0 Federal tax and other major benefits come into play that the feds didn’t want to admit in an area as tax-lucrative as Southern Cal. The epicenter was in the San Fernando Valley's so the valleys two major industries, animated cartoons and pornography, are temporarily disrupted.

2000-A Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton was offered for sale on E-Bay.


January 16,2007 Mea Culpas
January 16th, 2007

Congrads to PIXAR's Cars for winning the Golden Globe for Animated Feature. Now that the Globes have gone from a small award given without any fanfare to a full blown media night, I have a small request.

Can you please re-design that statue? I got to hold one when we won for Beauty and the Beast in 1991. What a lame statue! You can practically see the seam down the side. When you hold an Oscar or an Annie Award, you feel you're holding something significant. But the Globe looks like something you got at Spencer Gifts that used to say World's Greatest Golfer. Comon', you guys got the bucks. Time for a makeover.

Voting begins today on the Annie Awards. Check the ASIFA/Hollywood website to see if you are eligible to vote.

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JANUARY is a time for reflection and penance. Many people have a copy of Drawing the Line now, and some have sent me very constructive notes pointing out some minor corrections. Thank goodness most were typos. So, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the nits that have been picked so far.

Ouch!Who was the voice of Screwy Squirrel?-Ouch!

In my acknowledgement, p.xxiii, I listed the Professor I worked with from CSUN’s archive at Larry Marshall, it is actually Robert Marshall.

Page 96- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town was produced by Columbia, not Paramount.

Page 319- IDT did not release 2005’s Hoodwinked, the Weinsteins Company did. .

Pete Docter's name is misspelled, as is Ed Catmull's.

Page 133-It is Angelina Jolie, not Angela Jolie.

I had stated that Ward Kimball and Walt Kelly were no longer close friends after the 1941 Disney strike, I came to this after discussing it with several friends of Ward’s. But reviewer Mark Mayerson rightly pointed out that Walt Kelly contributed an illustration and liner notes to one of Kimball's record albums with the Firehouse Five as well as writing the introduction to Kimball's book Art Afterpieces. ( MARK! How could you do this to me! I danced at your wedding!- just kidding..)

Page 199- I wrote that Paul Terry never allowed screen credit for anyone but himself ( a fact I found in Leonard Maltin’s Of Mice and Magic- Terrytoons, Page 133), but he regularly credited writers, directors and his musical director, though his animation artists did remain anonymous.

Page 193- I mentioned that some on the HUAC committee could be bought off. That a payment of $5000 got your dossier moved from the bottom of the stack to the top. That was a proofreading gaff, it should have read- $5,000 got your dossier moved from the top to the bottom, meaning it would never be read.

Page 235- Prof Dan McLaughlin kicked my butt about saying Simpson's director David Silverman went to Pratt Institute when he was a proud grad of the UCLA animation workshop, started by Bill Schull in 1947.
David began at Pratt, then transferred over to UCLA.

Page 329- John Lassiter created the short Andre & Wally-B at Pixar, Right now it reads like he did it before he joined them.
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That's it for now. I did my best to catch most of them early, but some always slip through. It's what makes history a living science.
If you have any other notes, I’d love to hear from you. And maybe if I am extra good and say my prayers at night, the Infernal Fates might smile on my feeble efforts and grant me a second printing. Then I shall happily implement these notes.
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Birthdays: Yukon poet Robert Service, Andre Michelin 1853 the pneumatic tire inventor, Ethel Merman, Dizzy Dean,, A.J. Foyt, Marilyn Horne, Sade, Michael Wilding, Eartha Kitt, Debbie Allen, director John Carpenter, Kate Moss is 33, Tsianina Joelson, Great animator-amigo Raul Garcia-Sanz is 49

1938- Benny Goodman brought the new Swing Music to staid old Carnegie Hall. Count Basie and Harry James joined in to get the tuxedoed crowd dancing in the aisles, then afterwards they all went uptown to the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem to watch Count Basies band square off against the legendary Chick Webb. After this triumph Benny Goodmans’ band would never be the same- Lionel Hampton, Harry James and Gene Krupa all split off to form their own orchestras."That band I had the night I played Carnegie Hall was the best I think I ever had." Goodman said later.

1940- Lee Francis, then Hollywood’s top madam, was busted for prostitution.

1942-Actress Carol Lombard and her mother died in a plane crash in the Sierra Mountains while returning from a war bond drive. Her husband movie king Clark Cable was so disconsolate that he joined an airforce combat squadron instead of doing USO work and took dangerous missions trying to get killed.

1954-THE WAR ON COMICS- Senator Estes Kevfhauer chaired a U.S. Senate subcommittee to study juvenile delinquency. They conclude that one of the contributing factors to adolescent moral decay was four-color comic books. The probe was sparked by the publication of a book called The Seduction of the Innocent. It charged among other things that Batman & Robin were gay because when not fighting crime, Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson lounged around all day in silk pajamas! Despite testimony by Walt Kelly, Milt Caniff, Al Capp and Bill Gaines 350 comic book companies including the EC "Tales from the Crypt" label were driven out of business. The strict comics-code was established. The comic book industry, which had been selling one million books a month, never regained that level of prosperity in the US again.


1962- Television pioneer Ernie Kovacs died when he plowed his Corvair into a tree at Beverly Glen and Santa Monica Blvds. Kovacs had a fondness for all night poker and vodka parties. Friend Jack Lemmon said Ernie was so fanatical for a good card game that once when over a friend's house no table large enough could be procured for a game, Kovacs ordered the front door taken off it's hinges and a tablecloth thrown over it so they could all play.

1962-First day of shooting on the film Dr No.

1974- Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws first published.

1995- The UPN Network (Universal-Paramount Network) began telecasting.


Birthdays: Dr. Martin Luther King, Moliere, Gamal Abdel Nasser, outlaw Cole Younger, Charro, Matthew Brady, drummer Gene Krupa, Lloyd Bridges, Mario Van Peebles, Josef Broyer the mentor of Sigmund Freud, Margaret O’Brien, Aristotle Onassis, Captain Beefheart, Dr. Edward Teller “father of the H-Bomb” is 99.

Happy Druid New Year

1936-THE DGA- Several top Hollywood directors including Lewis Milestone, Ruben Mamoulian and William Wellman meet at King Vidor’s house and pledge $100 dollars each to form the Screen Director’s Guild, later the Director’s Guild of America. It was a risky thing to do, previous attempts to form a directors union were broken up with threats by the producers of perpetual blacklisting. Final recognition and contracts were signed between the studios and President Frank Capra in 1940. One provision insisted on in the contract was that the director’s credit be the final name in the opening titles before the movie began. And so it remains.

1947-”THE BLACK DAHLIA”- One of the most lurid murder cases in Los Angeles history. A little girl playing in a vacant lot discovered the remains of high priced prostitute Elisabeth Short, 22, who used to work the Biltmore Hotel. She was named the Black Dahlia because of the black pullover sweaters and black lingerie she favored. Her body had been sawed in half and completely drained of blood, and the initials 'BD' carved on her thigh. She showed signs of torture before death. The murderer was never found. The incident was the basis for a movie called “True Confessions” with Robert DeNiro and in 2006 Brian de Palma did a film. The last detective on the case died in 2003.

1974- Eeehhhhhh-The first episode of Happy Days premiered with Ron Howard as Richie Cuningham and Henry Winkler as Da Fonz.


I gotta note from Mark Kausler this morning, who asked after reading my last blog if Bill Littlejohn was okay. I had listed him among the animation illustrium now gone hence. I reassured him, fear not, old Pres. Littlejohn is alive and well. Antran Manoogian the ASIFA President talked to him the other day and I talked to him today. Although well over ninety and on a walker, his voice was clear and his mind sharp. He said he was dissappointed animated features didn't get five Oscar nominees this year because the disqualification of Arthur and the Invisibles. The Academy rules stated that a film has to have over 70% of the main character be animation to qualify.

Another friend I spoke to joked about the big live action directors like Zemeckis, Besson and Cameron who want to be animators. We agreed that if they want to make animation so bad, they should make our same salary! That will cure them of the notion.


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