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I've just heard from some friends that the NY Times is reporting the death of animator JACK ZANDER.

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There's a thorough obit of Jack on Mark Mayerson's blog

I worked for Jack Zander, and he was a friend. Jack began at the Rohmer Grey Studio in 1930. He started at Leon Schlesinger Studio in 1933 on the day Friz Freleng threatened to take the entire staff out if Leon didn't pay them their back wages! He was one of the last surviving animators of the Hanna & Barbera's MGM team who animated on the great Tom & Jerry shorts. I recall Kevin Petrilak once flipped for me a Jack Zander scene of Jerry he xeroxed from the personal collection of rough animation Friz Freleng kept at his office in Depatie-Freleng. Jerry dancing about the prostrate Tom with a THE END sign. It was very good. Jack was also one of the first presidents of the Screen Cartoonists Guild,and he ran two of the most successful commercial animation studios on Madison Ave, Pelican and Zander's Animation Parlour.

When I got to work for him as a freelance assistant in 1978, I knew I had finally made the big time. His studio was one of the best. Jack used some of the best assistant animators in the business, including Jim Logan, Ellsworth Barthen, Ed Cerrillo and Helen Komar, plus elder statesmen like Preston Blair, Emery Hawkins and Clyde Geronimi. He gave a lot of young people a chance, like Dean Yeagle, Nancy Beiman, Dan Haskett and Juan Sanchez. Jack was a man of taste, who never forgot his roots as a studio animator. As he aged gracefully, he maintained a dry wit that was a lot of fun.

He liked to ride a Harley Davidson motorcycle and rode his Hog across the US to get his Annie Award. This while near 90 years old. He only stopped riding his Harley when he suffered a spill on a road in South Carolina that banged him up. He was 92 then. He gave one of the best Annie Award speeches ever, in my humble opinion.

" Getting this award at this great age kinda reminds me of the joke about the two old men walking down a road until one encountered a talking frog. The Frog said " I am not a real frog but an enchanted princess. Kiss me and I shall turn into a beautiful woman and do any erotic thing your heart desires!" The man pocketed the frog and they walked on. After awhile the man's companion said to him;" Aren't you going to kiss her?" The old man replied:" When you reach my age, some times you'd rather have a talking frog. Thank You.

He contributed a lot about his past to my book Drawing the Line and was giving me notes up to this past Spring. He used to send me long faxes, labeled Jax Fax, then he was on the Internet. My condolences to Mark and the family.

Adieu Jack. I hope you are at the celestial version of Costello's Bar now, having a drink with old pals like Friz Freleng, Joe Barbera and Bill Tytla. Age may have finally stilled your noble heart, but on the screen, Jerry continues to dance merrily, imbued with your indefatigable spirit. New generations of children continue to laugh at his antics. And so this is the way of the animator. For in this way, you live on.


Time for some holiday questions: Why are Poinsettas associated with Christmas?

Yesterdays Question answered below: Was A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), the first
animated TV special?
History for 12/19/2005
Birthdays: King Phillip V of Spain (1683), Edwin Stanton, Thomas 'Tip' O'Neil, Edith Piaf, Cicely Tyson, Sir Ralph Richardson, Robert Urich, Jennifer Beals, David Susskind, Fritz Reiner, Darryl Hannah, Alyssa Milano,Jake Gyllenhaal

1154- Coronation of King Henry II of England. He was the son of Geoffrey Plantagenet of Anjou and Empress Matilda, the daughter of William the Conqueror. His coronation settled a period of dynastic civil wars in England between the Conqueror’s children known as the 'Wars of Stephen and Matilda". Henry and his siblings Richard Lionheart and John Lackland are also called the Angevin dynasty, because of the part of France (Anjou) their family came from and also because medieval scholars like to overcomplicate things.

1686- According to Daniel Defoe this is the day Robinson Crusoe was rescued from his deserted island.

1732- The Pennsylvania Gazette announced the publication of a new enterprise by Dr. Benjamin Franklin writing under the penname Richard Saunders. The work was Poor Richard’s Almanac, an international best seller that made Franklin famous.

1783- William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister of Great Britain at only 24 years old." A sight to make the Nations stare, A Kingdom trusted to a Schoolboy's care."

1914- Earl Hurd patented animation 'cels' (celluloids) and backgrounds. Before this cartoonists tried drawing the background settings over and over again hundreds of times or slashed the paper around the character and tried not to have it walk in front of anything. By the late 1990’s, most cels & cel paint had been replaced by digital imaging.

1918- Robert Ripley began his "Believe It Or Not" column in the New York Globe.

1926- The U.S. government passed a law that women authors can only legally copyright their works under their husband's names.

1932- BBC Overseas Service Radio broadcasts begin.

1941- THE FLYING TIGERS debut in the skies over China, surprising and shooting down 9 out of 10 in a Japanese bomber squadron flying from Hanoi. General Claire Chennault had come to China as an advisor to organize the Chinese Air Force and stayed on to coordinate U.S. efforts in Mainland China after Pearl Harbor. His men were all volunteer adventurers who flew their P-40's with the tiger teeth insignia against overwhelming odds. They were awarded a bounty of $500 for every Japanese plane downed. Eventually they were incorporated into the regular U.S. Air Force.
Chennault argued frequently with Washington, MacArthur and his army partner in China General 'Vinegar Joe' Stillwell. Just before the final victory in 1945 Chennault was forcibly retired and resumed his post as advisor to Chiang Kai Shek. He was the U.S. general most times under hostile fire. He flew combat missions and personally had 60 kills, which made him an Ace. Yet Chennault was deliberately not invited to the Grand Surrender Ceremony on the Missouri in Sept ‘45.

1957- The musical ‘The Music Man’ starring Robert Preston first debuted. "Seventy Six Trom-bones in the Big Parade.."

1971- Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’ premiered. Based on a novel by Anthony Burgess. In America the film received an X Rating, more for sexual situations than violence. Kubrick later cut some naughty scenes to get the rating down to R. The sensation over the film caused so many incidents of urban violence that it was banned in England for three decades.

1974- The first personal computer went on sale. The Altair 8800, named for the planet in the 1955 sci-fi movie classic Forbidden Planet. The computer came in a kit that you had to build and it cost $397. The next year two kids at Harvard named Bill Gates and Paul Allen created a programming language for it called BASIC.

1997- MTV dropped airing the rap song Smack My Bitch Up, by Prodigy.

1998-IMPEACHMENT- The Republican dominated House of Representatives voted two articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The vote was along strict party lines and most of the Democrats stormed out in protest afterwards. Despite the impeachment, President "Slick Willy" Clinton was acquitted by trial in the Senate in February, and so he completed his second term. To complete the circus-like atmosphere pornography publisher Larry Flynt announced he had proof that incoming Republican Speaker of the House Bob Livingston, a descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, had had at least six affairs while a congressman including one of his staff and a lobbyist. Livingston resigned before his hand could touch the gavel.

2001- Peter Jackson’s film ‘The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring’ first opened.

Yesterdays Question: Was A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965), the first animated TV special?

Answer: No. A Charlie Brown Christmas(1965) directed by Bill Melendez is a beloved special, but alas, is not the first ever. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer by Rankin Bass was done in 1964, UPA’s Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol directed by Abe Levitow was done in 1962, but the very first TV special was Petroushka based on the Stravinsky ballet, directed by John Wilson in 1956.