Happy 100th Birthday Isadore Friz Freleng!1906-1995

Around the world today a blogathon is being organized by http://www.HellonFriscoBay.Blogspot.com Check out his site as well as CartoonBrew to read more about Isadore Friz Freleng. Here are some of my recollections.

-Friz was one of Walt Disney's first animators. He as one of the guys Walt brought out to Hollywood from Kansas City in 1923. But after one year he quit. He told us " The politics there were unbelievable. I never regretted leaving and never wanted to go back."

-He drove himself to work in a new white Mercedes convertable coupe with the license plate FRIZ. Once as an older man he was waiting at a light when two beautiful women crossed the street. One noticed his plate and cooed:" You're not Frizz." Freleng shyly noted that he was. The girl then smiled:" No, you're bald!"

-He was the model for Yosemite Sam. Although the basic design owes a bit to the film Ruggles of RedGap(1935), in which the Charlie Ruggles character was based on the real Colonel Samuel Colt, who in his rich old age like to fire off his sixguns in the air in restaurants and courtrooms. But many mannerisms were pure Friz. Animators copied his temper tantrum at the moviola when a scene didn't come out the way he wanted. He would put his head down, stomp his feet and growl "oooooooooohhhhhhhhh!"

-Chuck Jones loved to tell us the story how he first met the Warner Brothers, the owners of their studio. Chuck said that Sam Warner came up to him and said:" I don't what the f*ck you guys do, only that we make Mickey Mouse!" Once Chuck told me the followup to that famous line. Chuck said before he could announce his astonishment at the mans ignorance, Friz jumped in:" Yes we do, thank you." Friz saw no reason to disturb the man's happy delusion, especially if it meant the brothers Warner continued to leave the cartoon unit alone.

-I later personally saw Friz's application of realpolitick. I was with English animator James Baxter at an event for John Halas at the Motion Picture Academy. I had just introduced James to an animator who although a fellow countryman of his, was a much more boisterous character. When Friz Freleng walked up to us this man announced "LOOK TOM, IT'S WALTER LANTZ!!"
Now, my mother taught me to always respect the opinions of my elders, and at times many of the elderly bald, bottle-brush mustachioed animators looked similar, but in this case I knew that was Friz because I had served with him on numerous judging committees. I said:" You know, I do believe that is Friz Freleng". The big fellow waved off my concern. Stomping up to Friz and pumping his hand vigorously, he declared:" NAH, I'VE KNOWN HIM FOR YEARS! TOM, I'D LIKE TO MEET WALTER LANTZ, CREATOR OF WOODY WOODPECKER AND CHILLY WILLY!" And then Friz, his weltanschaung unperturbed, answered with a twinkle in his eye" How do you do." We all giggled about it afterwards.

-It's hard to pick a favorite Friz short but I love Back Alley Oproar (1948). With Sylvester getting to torture Elmer by refusing to let him sleep. I also love You Oughta Be In Pictures (1940), a witty mixture of live action and animation where Porky has a contract dispute with boss Leon Schelsinger. Leon is really played by Leon, but the WB guard at the gate is storyman Ted Pierce, with his voice dubbed in by Mel Blanc.

Friz did the first Speedy Gonzales shorts. Speedy was based on a real man, animator Frank Gonzales. It seems that Warners had a daily quota of drawings you were expected to do before you could leave your desk. Frank always wanted to be the first up because he wanted to go flirt with the ink & paint girls. The other artists started calling him speedy. In 1953 the studio requested some new characters Chuck, Friz and designer Hawley Pratt came up with the design. Frank Gonzales married and had a long happy career, retiring in 1986. Although elderly and bent over, we still called him Speedy.

Birthdays: King Phillip II Augustus of France- 1165,Aubrey Beardsley, Count Basie, Wilt (Wilt the Stilt) Chamberlain, Bugs Bunny director Isadore "Friz" Freleng would be 100, Kenny Rogers, Matthew Broderick, Peter Weir is 62, Kim Catrall is 50, Carrie Anne Moss is 39

1887- Mighty (Dan) Casey struck out at his last at bat with the NY Giants. The poem was written by Ernest Thayer in 1906 and the Disney cartoon short in 1948.

1911- Ex -waiter Vincenzo Perruggia walked into the Louvre and stole the Mona Lisa. After trying to fence it for two years he tried to ransom it back. In 1913 he was arrested and the painting recovered.

1929-Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo marry.

1926- Pardon Us, the first comedy short featuring the new team of Laurel & Hardy. Studio head Hal Roach put the Scottish Stan Laurel and Georgia born hoofer Oliver Hardy together and they became one of the greatest comedy teams in film history.

1944- Moviestar James Cagney, star of Yankee Doodle Dandy, cleared of charges of Communism. The accusations probably had less to do with Cagney's politics and more to do with his union activism and his fighting in court the restrictive personal contracts studios put their stars under.

1968- RUSSIAN TANKS CRUSH THE "PRAGUE SPRING' -Soviet forces destroy Alexander Dubchek's experiment of "Socialism with a Human Face." The directors of the French Sci fi classic Fantastic Planet were having sequences animated in Prague. Because of the expense of flying they drove scenes back and forth through the border. The French director admited:" It was difficult explaining to suspicious Russian border guards exactly what an animation exposure sheet (dope sheet) was. We were stopped and searched frequently. "

courtesy of Godfrey-Kneller.com

Storyboard artist Jennifer Cardon Klein just sent me this great link- SAMUEL PEPYS, was active in the court of King Charles II, he wrote his daily doings, including the Great Plague, the Great Fire of London and more! The original blogger, it's only natural that someone would mount his famous diary on the net, one day at a time. Thanks for the site! Check it out.

History for 8/20/2006
Birthdays: President Benjamin Harrison, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, H.P. Lovecraft, Art Tatum, Issac Hayes, Connie Chung, Jaqueline Susanne, Raijiv Ghandi, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin- who co-wrote Stairway to Heaven, Joan Allen, Alan Reed -the original voice of Fred Flintstone

480 B.C. -THE THREE HUNDRED SPARTANS- When Persian King Xerxes invaded Greece the King of Sparta Leonidas decided the best place to try and stop him was in the narrow pass of Thermopylae. But the Spartan senate and other allied Greek states refused to send troops until they completed the Olympic religious festival. It was forbidden for Greeks to wage war during the Games. So Leonidas hurried ahead the 300 Spartans and a thousand more allied troops to try and stall ten times their number. After repulsing several attacks a traitor showed Xerxes a goat path around the Spartan position. Leonidas could still have retreated but he, his three hundred and some other Greek allies decided to stand and fight to the last man. They were wiped out, but they bought enough time for the Greeks eventual victory. Later a monument was erected over their bones: O xein angellin Lakdaimoniois hoti tede keimetha tois keinon rhemasi peithomenoi- which means "Go Tell the Spartans, stranger passing by, that True to their Command, Here We Lie."

1971- THE ENEMIES LIST. FBI documents prove this day the Nixon White House began to covertly investigate journalist Daniel Schorr because of his anti-war editorials. President Richard Nixon kept an enemies list of people he imagined to be opponents to his administration. It began with obvious liberals like George McGovern and Ted Kennedy, then expanded as far as June Foray the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

1972- Star Hollywood directors Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich and William Freidkin announced a partnership in a new production company called "The Director's Company" Young punks Martin Scorcese, George Lucas and Steven Speilberg were also involved. The partnership lasted two years then collapsed.

1977- NASA launched the Voyager One probe towards the outer planets of our solar system. Among the things Voyager discovered was that Jupiter had many more moons than previously thought and had a ring like Saturn. Part of Nasas' program was an explanatory simulation film done totally on computer by Jim Blinn. The animation was so smooth and the graphics so breathtaking it expanded the use of the c.g.i. medium and inspired a new generation of digital artists.

1982- Ralph Bakshi's film Hey Good Lookin'.

1999- Planet Hollywood, the theme restaurant started by movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore filed for bankruptcy.


You may have heard about the famous near misses in film. How George Raft turned down the role of Rick in Casablanca, Katherine Hepburn passed on Scarlett O'Hara, Akira Kurosawa and David Lean were supposed to team up to make a film about Pearl Harbor, and that before Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as the murderous cyborg in Terminator they were first considering O.J. Simpson! Well, we have similar cases in animation.

Here are a few:

-DISNEY'S HERCULES- Jack Nicholson turned down the role of Hades, James Woods did the voice,

-DISNEY/AMBLIN WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?- The role of detective Eddie Valiant was first offered to Paul Newman and Dustin Hoffman before Bob Hoskins did the part.

-DREAMWORKS THE PRINCE OF EGYPT- the role of Moses father Pharoah Seti was first considered for CHARLTON HESTON, and PATRICK MAGEE. Patrick Stewart did the part. For Zepporah's Father Jethro the directors considered MEL BROOKS, before deciding upon DANNY GLOVER.

-DREAMWORKS ANTZ- was supposed to be Woody Allen paired with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but Arnold passed and Sly Stallone stepped in.

-DREAMWORKS SHREK- Chris Farley was supposed to be the voice of Shrek, but he died of a drug overdose and Michael Myers did the part. For Evil Lord Farquhard they considered William Shatner, then went with John Lithgow. Jeanene Garofalo was considered for Princess Fiona before they picked Cameron Diaz. And in an earlier draft the witch who put the spell on Fiona was going to be voiced by Jean Stapleton.

-WARNER BROS -OSMOSIS JONES- Will Smith was originally thinking of doing Ozzie but Chris Rock took the part. For the villain Thrax they considered AL PACINO, but went with LAWRENCE FISHBURNE.

-WARNER BROS. Before Jim Carrey did THE GRINCH, he was first considering doing a remake of the 1965 Don Knott's fantasy the AMAZING MR LIMPETT.

-NELVANA LTD. ROCK & RULE- the voice of Mock was offered to Mick Jagger, then David Bowie, before getting Lou Reed.

-TURNER ANIMATION's the PAGEMASTER (1993)- the music was originally suppose to be written and performed by Michael Jackson, but then some of those allegations popped up...

History for 8/19/2006
B-Days: Orville Wright, Ring Lardner, Ogden Nash, Alfred Lunt, George Enesco, jockey Willie Shoemaker, Malcom Forbes, Tipper Gore, Gene Roddenberry, Colleen Moore the It Girl, Jill St. John, Ginger Baker drummer of Grand Funk Railroad, Dawn Steel, John Stamos, Peter Gallagher, Matthew Perry, former President Bill Clinton is 60

1955 - WINS radio, announces it will not play "copy" white cover versions of black R&B . DJs must play Fats Domino's "Ain't It A Shame," not Pat Boone's. In 1957 Little Richards classic “Tuttie-Fruitie” never got higher than 17th in the Billboard Charts while Pat Boones version, by his own admission awful, went to number one.

1977- Groucho Marx , the last surviving Marx Brother, died at age 86. In his final years Groucho had rewrote his will in favor of his hot young personal secretary Erin Fleming. After his death a furious legal battle opened between Fleming and the Marx children.

2335 – According to Star Trek the Next Generation this is the birthday of William T Riker, in Valdez Alaska, first officer of the Enterprise.

As the lazy summer days drag on some important dates to remember are coming closer.

On August 21st,to commemorate what would have been the 100th Birthday of Warner Bros cartoon director Isadore Friz Freleng, the website http://www.HellonFriscoBay.blogspot.com is holding a day long Freleng-For-All. People are invited to share their memories of Friz and their favorite Friz cartoons on their blogs and link to his site.

Also remember the Benefit for Cal Arts own Martha Baxton is in full swing. Donate, support, attend the party Sept 9th. Even if you didn't know her, you can check out the cool stuff piling up to auction. Maybe get yourself a bargain. Already listed is an Original Milt Kahl drawing from Disney's Robin Hood, tickets to Penn & Teller in Vegas, a computer, original artwork. HELLO? ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION? I SAID, AN ORIGINAL MILT KAHL SKETCH!!.Try and buy one of those somewhere else and still afford a tank of gas. And the loot is only beginning to pile up! See you on the 9th. http://baxton.mrkurtnielsen.com

Birthdays: Meriwether Lewis of Lewis & Clark fame , Austrian Emperor Franz Josef II, opera Heldentenor Leo Slezak, Shelly Winters, Caspar Weinburger, Roberto Clemente, Rafer Johnson, Enoch Light, Coco Channel, Roman Polanski is 73, Patrick Swayze, Madeleine Stowe, Christian Slater, Edward Norton is 37, Martin Mull, Egads, Robert Redford is 70!

1503-Pope Alexander VI the Borgia died. Some say he died of malaria , others that he poisoned himself accidentally while trying to poison someone else. The Borgia's enemies then take over the Vatican and end Caesar & Lucretia Borgia's reign of terror. The Pope had had seven children and at the time was sleeping with 16 year old Giulia Farnese whom he had painted as the Virgin Mary. People said the Alexander had sold his soul to the devil because at his death an ape appeared on his windowsill and water boiled in his mouth. Hmmm- proof enough for me. His 300 lb. corpse was so swollen with corruption that it had to be pounded into it's coffin with wooden wine corking mallets.

1937- The Toyota Automobile Company was established as an offshoot of the Toyoda Motorized Loom Works. They changed the name Toyoda to Toyota because a Shinto priest told them the name would be luckier.

1939- The movie the Wizard of Oz released and made a star of Judy Garland. Frank Morgan, ther actor playing the Wizard, needed to wear a shabby old coat so a studio costume designer went through some L.A. thrift stores until she found the good candidate. When Morgan looked in the lining he discovered the coat was previously owned by L.Frank Baum, writer of the Oz stories. Morgan was first president of the Screen Actor's Guild, but stepped down when he was considered 'too left' to work with the Roosevelt administration. Lyricist Yip Harburg ( Somewhere over the Rainbow ) was later blacklisted as a communist. "And yer little dog ,too!!"

1953- The first MacDonalds Franchise restaurant opened in Downey California.

1966- The Ice Slurpee was invented by two Dallas engineers for a failing Oklahoma ice cream store.

1977- The Xerox Company decided not to seriously market the Alto, the pioneering personal computer that had a graphic window interface and mouse long before anyone else. Xerox decided to stick with copying machines and disbanded their Palo Alto development team Xerox PARC. Most of their breakthroughs wound up in other computers like the Mackintosh and the IBM PC.

1977- The rock band the Police make their debut in a Birmingham nightclub. The lead singer Gordon Sumner started to get the nickname Sting from the black and yellow shirt he habitually wore.

1999- TV psychic Kriswell predicted this date would be the End of the World.

August 17, 2006
August 17th, 2006

USC- Seminar Weds Night Oct 18th at 6:30Pm
UCLA- Oct. 23rd 7:30PM, Bridges Auditorium.
Cal St. Fullerton- Oct 30th
Laguna College of Design Oct 25
and Woodbury College to follow!
History for 8/17/2006
Birthdays: Davy Crocket, Mae West, Marcus Garvey, Sam Goldwyn- original name Schmuel Gelbfisz, then Sam Goldfish, Harry Hopkins, Monte Wooley, Maureen O’Hara, Boog Powell, Belinda Carlisle, Guillermo Vilas, V.S. Naipul, Jim Courier, Donnie Wahlberg, Sean Penn, Robert DeNiro is 63
courtesy freezeframes.com
1941-Walt Disney and his artists leave on a goodwill tour of South America, underwritten by a $70,000 government grant. President Franklin Roosevelt was worried that some South American countries might be sympathetic to Nazis forcing the U.S. to worry about her backdoor. Argentine president Juan Peron wanted to build a statue to Mussolini in Buenos Aires and many countries there had Wermacht advisors and offered safe harbors for Nazi U-Boats. So FDR sent Nelson Rockefeller to give the Latin American countries whatever they wanted to keep them out of the world war. Among other things they wanted Donald Duck. Federal mediators also felt they could better solve the Disney Studio Strike with Walt out of town. The American Federation of Labor had union picketers to greet Disney at several stops in Mexico and Buenos Aires, a fact not seen in the documentarys. The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos result.

1969- The closing day of the Woodstock Rock Concert, Three Days of Peace and Music. Jimmy Hendrix did his famous rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

1984- The Walt Disney Company informed it’s chairman Ron Miller that they wanted his resignation. Disney had released the BLack Hole, Condorman and Herbie Goes Bananas, and fallen to 14th in film box office by then. Miller’s only qualifications to run a conglomerate other than being Walt’s son-in-law was he was a tight end for the LA Rams. Within two years of the Michael Eisner regime taking power Disney was number one.

1985-The Hormel Meat Packing Strike, severely threatening the worlds supply of SPAM.

1992- Famed film director Woody Allen admits he is having an affair with Soon Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his long time lover Mia Farrow. He is 60 and she is 21. But as the unrepentant Allen states: “The Heart wants what it wants.”