WHICH WAY TO NEVERLANDWalt Disney was always interested in acquiring James Barrie's PETER PAN as a property for his studio. In 1937, the year of Barrie's death and before SNOW WHITE was released, a Disney memo was sent to Disney's London representative to obtain the rights to PETER PAN immediately. Disney has two reasons for concern according to the memo. First, he feared that when SNOW WHITE came out and people saw what the studio had done, the prices for potential properties would soar sky high. Second, he feared that Max Fleischer would obtain the rights to PETER PAN and ruin the project. Disney was successful in finally obtaining the rights but it was over a decade before the animated feature was made.
THE HUNT FOR RED BULLWINKLETom Clancy, the well known author of novels like THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, is never stumped with coming up with advanced weaponry. In his novel CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, he devised a "Husha-boom", a bomb that explodes silently. "I got the idea from ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE," Clancy stated."Cartoons are a good source of ideas for me."
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST TOOK FOREVERIn NEWSWEEK for February 16, 1953 there is a big feature article on the Disney studios and their latest hit PETER PAN. At the end of the article, it is announced that after the next Disney animated feature LADY AND THE TRAMP, that "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and Walt Kelly's POGO THE POSSUM are possibilities."
BUT THE KIDS LOVE HIMAccording to Brian Sullivan, the director of monitoring for the Illinois based National Coalition on Television Violence, the Fox Network had the highest network average for cartoon violence since 1980 and one of the shows that NCTV found most offensive was BEETLEJUICE. "Our major objection is Beetlejuice's attitude toward violence," stated Sullivan. "He is extremely mean for a main character. It's the worst cartoon ever!"
WHAT FEET SOUND LIKEThe wonderful drumming sounds in THE FLINTSTONES were supplied by Gregory Watson, a drummer with swing bands in the Thirties and Forties who was also the first editor for the animated show. That smoking bongo riff that accompanies Fred's feet when he takes off in his car was not done with bongos. Gregory played that part on a leather couch with his hands.
THAT DARN DUCKAn unusual news story from Sweden claimed that a twenty-three year old man named Nils Wirten found a way to stop his epileptic seizures. His miracle cure was the voice of Daffy Duck, which was on television one day during one of his attacks. "Now I keep a small cassette player with me all the time and whenever I feel funny, I just snap on a Daffy tape. It always works like a charm," claimed Wirten. His doctor responded with "It's a remarkable effect and I can't explain how it works."
TWO GENIUSES TOO MANYAt one time, actor-director-writer Orson Welles had obtained the rights to the novel, THE LITTLE PRINCE, and approached Walt Disney with a proposal of turning it into a feature that would combine live action (Welles as the pilot) and animation. Walt was apparently not pleased with the fact that his staff paid more attention to Welles than to him. Reportedly, he complained to Jack Leighter, "Jack, there is not room on this lot for two geniuses!" and the project died.
SPACE ANGEL CREDITSIt is difficult to find accurate credits for some early animated series. For instance, the "Synchro-Vox" SPACE ANGEL series had some interesting credits. Artist Alex Toth called on his old friend Warren Tufts, who was responsible for the newspaper comic strips LANCE and CASEY RUGGLES, to help out on the art but Tufts preferred writing some synopses and scripts rather than contributing much art. So Toth illustrated the infamous series with the help of Ray Vinella, illustrator for Lockheed Missile Division; Hy Mankin, who illustrated the ROY ROGERS newspaper strip until 1957; Jim Mabry, USAF illustrator; and Sal Trapani, a comic book artist Toth knew from Dell Comics. However, it is Toth's distinctive style that dominates the series.
A GOOD SIGNDennis Klein was the third executive producer on the CBS television series, FAMILY DOG. When he came on board because of production problems, the series was taken away from Wang Film Productions in Taiwan and given to Nelvana in Canada for fixing. At the time, Klein quipped, "It's probably a good sign the artwork was moved from Taiwan to Canada, where dogs are considered pets rather than cuisine." Klein was also responsible for writing the initial thirteen episodes of the series.
ANIMATION CENSORSHIPA television animator once told me the story of how the hook on the back of a pick up truck had to be re-drawn because it looked too much like a sickle. "I asked why and was told the agency was afraid it might offend people with sickle cell anemia," laughed the animator who still refuses to be identified publicly.