Sept 27th, Two- Uh-Oh Six.
September 27th, 2006

Did you ever notice that this decade is past the halfway point, yet it still doesn't have a name? Like the eighties, the nineties. Should we call this the Noughts? the Zeds? The Uh-Ohs?

So many questions...
Birthdays: Thomas Nast- famed XIX Century cartoonist who drew the first image of Santa Claus and created the Republican elephant and democratic donkey, Arthur Penn, Meatloaf, William Conrad, Dick Schapp, Samuel Adams -brewer and patriot ,cartoonist George Cruikshank, Jayne Meadows, Wilford Brimley, Shaun Cassidy, Greg Morris, Amanda Detmer, Avril Lavigne

1771-Young artist Francisco Goya enters a scholarship competition sponsored by the Academy of Parma. He loses to some obscure artist named Bettino. Judges say about his work: "Crude and ugly colors".

1934- “ I’M SICK OF THIS CAT & MOUSE GAME!” shouted Gangster Baby Face Nelson as he was cornered by two FBI agents on a rural road south of Chicago. While his gang and wife looked on in amazement Nelson boldly walked out in the open, down the middle of the road, his tommy gun blazing away at the G-Men. He killed them both but not before he was riddled with 17 bullets. He died the next day and was left in a ditch.

1935-13 year old singer Frances Gumm of the singing Gumm Sisters signed an exclusive contract with MGM Pictures. Louis B. Mayer changed Frances name to Judy Garland.

1938- Bob Hope first sang “Thanks For the Memory” on his NBC radio show. It became a hit his movie appearance in the film “The Big Broadcast of 1938.”

1944- Evangelist Aimee Semple MacPherson died in hospital from an overdose of sleeping pills. She was 53. MacPherson was one of the most powerful evangelists of the 1920s with thousands of followers donating millions of dollars. Her continued success even after sex scandals prompted H.L. Mencken to declare that "there are morons per square mile in Los Angeles than any other place on Earth!"

1954- The Tonight Show premiered. Steve Allen hosted.

1961- Hanna Barbera's "Top Cat" show premiered. Do you remember the words to the theme song..? "Top Cat, the most effectual- Top Cat, who's intellectual: Close friends get to call him T.C., Providing it's with dignity. Top Cat, the indisputable leader of the gang... He's the Boss he's a pip, he's the championship, He's the most tip-top, Top Cat !"

1964- The Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President John F. Kennedy. Today despite two investigations 8 out of 10 Americans still believe Oswald was part of a conspiracy. Even Lyndon Johnson had his doubts. Documents pertaining to the case, like Oswald's tax returns, and how he could re-enter the U.S. from Soviet Russia without a passport after renouncing his citizenship, are still kept top secret. Evidence like President Kennedy's brain disappeared from the lab and witnesses to contrary theories kept dying by causes like car accidents and karate chops. The young attorney who argued the "magic bullet" theory -that one bullet went through JFK, bounced, zipped through Governor Connolly, zinged back through Kennedy ,etc, and turned up undented in the governor's hospital bedsheets- is still in the senate today-Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Spector. Maybe we’ll know more when the CIA’s papers on the assassination are published in 2029 and Jackie Kennedy’s memoirs are unlocked in 2060. Oh Boy, I can’t wait!

1977- Bob McKimson, Warner director of countless Foghorn Leghorn shorts, falls dead of heart failure in front of Friz Freleng and Yosemite Sam animator Gerry Chiniquy while having lunch. Animator Ben Washam told me McKimson was one of the finest Bugs Bunny draftsmen. That he could draw Bugs from toe-to-toe without have to make a preliminary rough sketch first. That final morning animator Art Leonardi had asked Bob for a souvenir drawing, Bob did him a Bugs Bunny but as he was leaving Art reminded him that he neglected to sign it. Bob said as he walked out "Oh, I'll get to it after lunch..."

1989- The Japanese corporate giant Sony purchased Columbia and TriStar Pictures, starting a wave of Japanese investment in Hollywood.

2003- Hours after the seasons final concert, in the middle of the night, the historic bandshell at the Hollywood Bowl was demolished. After a long legal fight with preservationists the historic 1929 structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that Gershwin and Stokowski played in was replaced with a new shell promising better acoustics.

Sept 26, 2006 Old Watering Holes.
September 26th, 2006

For many years animators were known as hard drinkers. It made me pause for a moment to recall some of the regular hangouts the elite corps of toon meisters retreated to after a hard day dropping anvils on anthropomorphosied ducks and bunnys.
courtesy of the
Alfonses in Burbank. Before it closed in 1994 it was the hangout of many old Disney animators, calling themselves the Dinsosaur Club.
In the 1930's Hyperion Era many Mousketeers liked the Tam O' Shanter in Los Feliz. The roadhouse was then the closest bar to Hyperion so the Disney crew nicknamed it "The Commissary" To this day there is a nice picture of John Hench flanked by the Disney characters hanging in honor.
Other Disney hangouts included The Snow White Cafeteria in Hollywood, Pinnochios in Burbank and the Smoke House on Barham Blvd., also a favorite of Hanna and Barbera and the UPA crew.The younger Disney animators, the ones who drink more than mineral water,preferred Spaffs and the Cinnabar in Glendale.

Union animators who wanted to meet in secret in the 1930s met at various places including El Coyote on Melrose and the secret bar beneath the Hollywood Legion Hall on Highland.

Commerical animators in the 60s like Playhouse Pictures and Quartet liked Boardners in Hollywood,where for many years model sheets of Charlie Tuna and Toucan Sam and production charts adorned the walls. then they would meet their Hanna Barbera counterparts at Charles & Company on Vineland and Ventura in Studio City. Filmation artists in Reseda spent their breaks at the Bunker, on Sherman Way. Chuck Jones Acme Prod animators liked the rooftop lounge of their Vine and Sunset building.

New York animators in the 60s and 70s used to congregate at Costellos on 44th St. It became the hangout for the National Cartoonist Society and the New Yorker Magazine crowd. James Thurber, drunk as a skunk used to take out his ever present pencil and draw cartoons on the wall. Costello the owner had them etched into the wall and when he moved the bar had the walls taken out and moved with him.
Cartoonists also liked the Palm on 3rd Ave.

Nelvana animators in Toronto loved the Skipper, on Harborfront. In the early days the studio founder Patrick Loubert would join us all and buy a round. Dublin animators for Sullivan/Bluth loved the Deer Park Pub. London animators would network every friday about what pub in Soho to rondevous. The whole community would meet week after week at the Coach & Horses, The Green Man and more. On Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1987 we hung out at the Edinborough Castle in Camden Town, across from a flat once owned by Dylan Thomas.

So here's a tip of my glass to the tippling animators. They partied hard, but also created the great cartoons. If you can think of any other watering holes, drop me a line.

Birthdays: George Gershwin, T.S. Elliot, John Chapman (also known as Johnny Appleseed)-1774, Winsor McKay-1869, Theodore Gericault -1791, Olivia Newton-John, Cheryl Tiegs is 59, Marty Robbins, Linda Hamilton, Pope Paul VI, Jack Lalanne is 94, Melissa Sue Andersen, Phillip Bosco, James Cavaziel, Surena Williams

303a.d. -Feasts of Saints Cosmas & Damian . The Syrian twin doctors were nicknamed 'The Moneyless" and this was before HMO's. they were martyred by being crucified, stoned, shot full of arrows, beheaded then they had to read their own prescriptions.

1820- In Defiance Missouri 85 year old frontier scout Daniel Boone died of acute fever and indigestion from eating too many yams. He did all of his exploring without a compass. Someone once asked him - Didn't you ever get lost? He replied, No, but I was once bewildered for three days...

1887- Emile Berliner patented the gramaphone, rejecting Thomas Edison's cylinder in favor of a flat disc record on a turntable.

1892- The John Philip Sousa Band makes it's first public appearance.

1926- Bullock's Wilshire department store opened. It's Tea Room quickly became the in place for Hollywood Society to see and be seen in.

1937- "Queen of the Blues" Singer Bessie Smith died after a car accident in Mississippi. She crashed her Packard into a parked car. She was 43. One account said she died because she was refused treatment in a segregated hospital but the truth was she was treated by a white doctor at the scene and sent to the nearest hospital, which was a black one.
1941- Max Fleischer's "Superman" cartoon debuts. They were much more expensive that the usual short cartoons- $90,000 to the usual $40,000, but Paramount wanted them.

1955- Eddie Fisher married Debbie Reynolds.

1957- The musical West Side Story opened. The legend goes composer Leonard Bernstein was in the hospital to be operated on for a deviated septum. While recuperating he ran into lyricist Steven Sondheim, who was also recovering from an operation. To pass the time while convalescing they started working on the idea of an updated Romeo and Juliet set to music. One early title discarded was Gang Way!

1960-THE FIRST NIXON-KENNEDY TELEVISED DEBATE. The first televised presidential debate that really ushered in the era of the "media-candidate". People who heard the debate on radio thought Vice President Nixon had won because he scored more points on issues. But far more who saw it on Television lauded Kennedy because of his cool, calm Presidential bearing as opposed to Nixon's pale sweaty-lipped nervousness. For years Nixon put down his electoral defeat to the fact that he refused stage makeup before going on camera .One New York Times analyst recently referred to Kennedy & Nixon as the Roadrunner & Wile E. Coyote of American politics.

1961- Nineteen year old folk singer Bob Dylan made his debut in a Greenwich Village coffee house Gerde’s Folk City.

1961- Fidel Castro gave a speech to the United Nations that lasted 4 and 1/2 hours.

1962-The Beverly Hillbillies debuts. The story goes that CBS mogul William Paley disliked farm-humor type shows and this was premiered behind his back while he was on vacation. It was the masterpiece of programming chief James Aubrey, nicknamed "the Smiling Barracuda". One wag said Aubrey deserved a statue because he was the first t.v. executive to realize that even if you put garbage on the tube people will watch it anyway. When Aubrey took over CBS they were doing "Playhouse 90" and when he left they were doing "Mayberry RFD".

1964-The premiere of Gilligan’s Island. The good ship Minnow was named for William Minnow, the FCC Chairman who first called television “A Vast Wasteland”.

1983- Filmation's "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe".The popular toy was originally supposed to be a product tie -in to the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Conan the Barbarian, but toy maker Mattell balked at the films R rated violence, so changed the toy's name. I Have The Powerrrrrr!!!

1987- A market research group called Q-5 tried to use a bank of computers to design the ultimate safe wholesome politically correct children's show. They came up with "The Little Clowns of Happytown"-. Of the 26 children's series in syndication it remained dead last in ratings, He-Man, Jem and G.I.Joe on top. The people have spoken.

1990- The Motion Picture Association changed the rating for the naughtiest movies from X to NC-17.

2004- Florida gets hit with it’s fourth hurricane in six weeks. Hurricane Jean killed 6 and caused billions in damage. The last time Florida was hit by that many hurricanes was in 1886.

Life a Funny thing...
September 25th, 2006

While I was joking about the Billy Beer, the suds made and endorsed by President Jimmy Carters brother in the late 1970s, it reminded me of my great lost opportunity. I was living with a friend in Reseda across the street from old Filmation Studio and I went to buy a sixpack of Billybeer when it first came out. I knew it would be valuable some day. Other Presidents had brothers, Nixon, LBJ, Kennedy, but none had done a stunt like coming out with his own beer. A sixpack at Vons cost me $1.75. Nearby a sixpack of A&W rootbeer cost $1.87.
Sadly though, before I could store this treasure in a hermetically sealed vault, I had to leave the apartment and move back to NY to freelance for Hanna & Barbera. The sixpack was just too bulky to fit in my luggage so into the dumpster it went.

Years later I saw in an antique magazine that $1.75 sixpack of BillyBeer going for $1,500. and climbing. DOH!

I'm not making that mistake again.

September 25th, 2006
September 25th, 2006

Okay Shipmates, time once again to play-

Which One a deez People Never Did a Voice in a Cartoon?

a-Gary Shandling
b-Phil Silvers
c-Buddy Hackett
d-Sammy Davis, Jr
e- Zero Mostell
f-Johnny Carson

answer below

Birthdays: William Faulkner, Jean Phillipe Rameau, Mark Rothko, Dmitri Shoshtakovich would be 100!, Sergei Bondarchuk, Phil Rizzutto the Scooter, Bob MacAdoo, Heather Locklear, Scotty Pippin, Christopher Reeve, Mark Hamill, Glen Gould, Barbera Walters, Red Smith, Aldo Ray, Will Smith is 38, Michael Douglas 62 & Catherine Zeta-Jones-37

1513- Vasco Nunez de Balboa emerged from the Panamanian rainforest to view the great expanse of the western ocean. He calls it "Pacific" the "Peaceful Ocean." He was later beheaded.

1690- The first American newspaper published in Boston; " Publick Occurances Both Foreign and Domestick, Issue Number One" There was no number two because the Lord Governor of Massachusetts colony promptly closed it down.

1789- James Madison proposed a series of ten amendments be added to the new Constitution guaranteeing basic personal freedoms, the BILL OF RIGHTS. This day it was approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. Madison did not study law in college, but here he was dictating the basis of all American law to Congress, 147 lawyers.

1828- Simon Bolivar the Liberator is confronted by assassins sent by his own vice president to kill him. They break in on him while he was in bed with his mistress, Manuela Spenz. Bolivar does not fight nor flee, he just stared them down, and the sheer force of his gaze compelled the cutthroats to flee.

1840- Slavery outlawed in California- except.....Indian children were bought and sold for another ten years.

1887-The first Sears Catalog published.

1888- The beginning of the Sherlock Holmes adventure the Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arhtur Conan-Doyle got the idea for the story on the boat home from the South African Boer War. A fellow volunteer doctor told him about his home in Wales and legends of a large ghostly dog that roamed the moors.

1890- Spurred on by the writings of John Muir and John Wesley Powell, Congress created Yosemite National Park in California.

1911- Groundbreaking in Boston for Fenway Park.

1918- Brazil declared war on Austria. This was seen as purely ceremonial, the Great War was just about over.

1919- President Woodrow Wilson suffers a stroke after a speech at Pueblo, Colorado. For two months he lingered paralyzed while the Nation was run by first lady Edith Wilson. No one told the public or the Vice President. Their are many interpretations of how the government was run in those weeks. Edith claimed to be passing on Wilson's wishes to the government from his sickbed, but many thought Wilson was too incapacitated even for that and she was just doing it herself.

1933- Young writer John Huston was driving drunk on Sunset Blvd when he struck and killed a pedestrian. His father Walter Huston was a top movie star so to avoid scandal MGM head Louis B. Mayer paid $46,000 bux to cover it up. John Huston went on to become a great Hollywood director and screenwriter.

1953- Alfred Hitchcock wrapped filming on his only 3D film, Dial M for Murder.

1965- The Beatles TV cartoon show premiered. It was created in England not with the real Beatles voices, but sound-a-likes.

1974- THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT.- Scientists first warn that increased use of florocarbons and aerosol sprays will cause Ozone Depletion and global weather changes.

1984-THE RUBBERHEADS STRIKE- Disneyland workers including the actors who stroll the park in big Mickey and Goofy heads go on strike.

ANSWER TO QUIZ- which one a deez people never did a voice in a cartoon?

a- Gary Shandling was Verne in Over the Hedge ( 2006)
b- Phil Silvers, ill, retired and legally blind, could still use his famous voice in Nelvana's The Day the Earth Won the Playoffs (1980)
c- Buddy Hackett was Scuttle in Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989). I was in an office next to the sound editors, and I had to listen to hours and hours of his improv outtakes, Oij!
d- Sammy Davis Jr voiced the head rat in Hanna Barbera's Heidi's Song (1982)
e-Zero Mostell was the voice of the pelican in Watership Down (1977)
So the answer is
f- Johnny Carson.

Sept 24, 2006 Sunday
September 24th, 2006

Birthdays: Roman Emperor Vitellus, Duke Albrecht Wallenstein, Chief Justice John Marshall, Francis Scott Key, Jim Henson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Raft, Chief Joseph, Sheila MacCrae,, Anthony Newley. Phil Hartman, Mean Joe Greene, Linda MacCartney, Pedro Almodovar

1906- Teddy Roosevelt designated Devils Tower Wyoming as our first national monument. Like all conservationists Teddy’s desire to preserve natural resources was blocked by Congressmen lobbied by rich developers. So he circumvented Congress and created sanctuaries like Devils Tower and Pelican Island by Presidential Executive Order.

1936- Babe Ruth's last appearance in a baseball game. Yankees lost to Boston 5-0.

1936- Noel Coward's play 'Private Lives' opened.

1938- Bob Clampett's cartoon "Porky in Wackyland" ( Foo!)

1938- Tennis champion Dan Budge won the US Open in Forrest Hills. Budge became the first person to win all four major tennis meets in one year- Wimbledon, French Open now called Roland Garros, Australian Open and US Open

1941- This day the Japanese Consul in Honolulu was instructed by the Imperial War Ministry to quietly begin gathering information about the US Fleet in Pearl Harbor.

1944- President Franklin Roosevelt had been criticized by Republican Congressmen for wasting money in needless wartime excesses. This day he defeated his critics with humor when they accused him of sending a Navy destroyer to the Aleutian Islands just to retrieve his lost Scottie dog Fallah. He said in a speech” Now I am used to personal attacks, My family is used to personal attacks, but Fallah- isn’t.(laughter) He’s Scottish, you know….and he hasn’t been the same dog since.”
1953-UPA's "Unicorn in the Garden" directed by Bill Hurtz, based on the cartoon style of James Thurber.

1953- The movie "The Robe" premiered, Richard Burton, Victor Mature and Jean Simmons, but Jay Robinson steals the movie with a deliciously over the top performance as mad emperor Caligula. The Robe was the first movie in CinemaScope. It's success was part of a wave of 'Sword & Sandal" epics and fostered many imitation wide screen processes- Superama,VistaVision, Dynarama, WarnerVision, TotalScope-etc. Paramount had experimented with VistaVision starting in the '30's. A colleague bought a number of their prototype cameras, beautiful pieces of machinery, no two exactly alike. There had been earlier experiments with wide screen - Abel Gance's 1925 Napoleon, which used three 35mm images shown simultaneously, and Cimmarron, which was a true wide screen 70mm film starring a very young John Wayne, released in 1930. It was superceded by 1967 by the more advanced Panavison lense. Today in Hollywood we still call a wide screen picture a "Scope" picture.

1955- President Eisenhower suffered a major heart attack while playing golf. Secretary of State Allen Foster Dulles and other White House staffers run things without even telling Vice President Nixon.

1960- The "Howdy Doody Time" children's show cancelled after a thirteen year run. The show remains a pivotal memory in the minds of thousands of American baby-boomers who grew up in the fifties. As the last song and the last credits rolled by, just before the cameras switched off, Clarabell the mute clown goes up to the lens and in a haunting voice said; "Goodbye, Kids."

1968- T.V. show "60 Minutes" debuts. Mike Wallace was pared with Harry Reasoner. The show was originally aired Tuesday nights at 10PM and fared poorly in the ratings. When it was moved to Sundays at 7:00PM it became a weekly institution.

1977- The TV series “The Love Boat “debuted.

1988- The GodFather of Soul Music James Brown gets a little crazy sometimes. This day he burst into his office complex in Georgia waving a pistol and shotgun and demanded everyone stop using his washroom! After locking the bathrooms he led police on high speed chase through Georgia and South Carolina, only stopping when the cops shot out his tires. He rode the rims till they collapsed. James Brown did 2 years for being under the influence of drugs. Hay!