Welcome to Jim Hill Media - Entertainment News : Theme Parks Movies Television

Wednesdays ...er ... Thursdays with Wade: Donald Duck's Other Daddy (PART TWO)

Wednesdays ...er ... Thursdays with Wade: Donald Duck's Other Daddy (PART TWO)

Rate This
  • Comments 2

Jack Hannah's first short that he directed was 'Donald's Off Day' in 1944. He directed dozens of cartoons including these eight that were nominated for Academy Awards: "Squatter's Rights' (1946) "Chip'n'Dale' (1947), 'Tea for Two Hundred' (1948), 'Toy Tinkers' (1949), 'Trick or Treat' (1952), 'Lambert the Sheepish Lion' (1952), 'Rugged Bear' (1953) and 'No Hunting' (1955).

Hannah also made some significant changes in the Duck shorts. First he developed more foils for the Duck to open up story possibilities and variety. Hannah also stopped the practice of Huey, Dewey, and Louie each saying part of the same sentence.

"It just ruined timing. You had to cut to each one when they said their little part and it was awful. A lot of directors gave the animators more say in timing. I never did that. I timed every foot of film I directed. I don't care how good the animator was. To me, it was the most important part of the directing...the timing, the pacing, the pauses," Hannah emphasized.

He also developed Chip'n'Dale as foils for the Duck. They had originally appeared in a Pluto cartoon but Hannah, along with storyman Bill Peet, gave them distinct personalities and had them speak instead of squeak. Hannah was also responsible for the development of Humphrey the Bear. In fact, Humphrey's grumbles were provided by Hannah himself on the soundtrack when Jimmy MacDonald was either unavailable for Hannah wanted a particular "feel" to the sound.

While his primary responsibility was the Donald Duck cartoons, Hannah occasionally directed Goofy. But he was proudest of a "special" entitled 'Lambert the Sheepish Lion', about a lion cub who was raised by sheep and who learns how to protect the flock when his foster mother is threatened.

"I did more changing and developing on that story than any other I picked up. Later when I went to the studio to get a print to show at Cal Arts, I learned that the last remaining original print was supposedly given to the Emperor of Japan by Roy Disney because the Emperor enjoyed it so much," laughed Hannah.

In the late Fifties, Disney began to phase out the production of shorts as they were becoming too expensive to produce.

Hannah remembered that he "was getting a strong itch to get into live-action directing but Walt didn't agree. However, he did switch me over to the 'Disneyland' televsion show for ABC and I directed fourteen hour long television shows, most of them with Donald Duck and Walt at his desk. We'd tie a couple of old shorts together with some new material around one theme and use a lot of the old footage in this manner. One show I directed that always seems to rerun is 'From All Of Us To All Of You'. However, each year the material was changed to freshen the show so that now, little of my work remains in terms of set-ups and storytelling."

The shows began to lean more towards live action and even though I wanted to move in this direction. Walt had me pegged as an animation director so he balked at the suggestion. We had a few heated discussions and I became aware that I had come to an impasse."

Gerry Geronomi, a mutual friend of Walter Lantz and Hannah, arranged a meeting between the two. Lantz, the creator of Woody Woodpecker, wanted a rest from the grind of producing cartoons and wanted to do some traveling. Bill Garity handled the business end of the studio but he needed a supervising director to handle the creative end.

Hannah accepted Lantz's offer and brought along some of his fellow Disney employees since Disney was breaking up some of the old animation units. Hannah brought along Riley Thompson, Yale Gracey, and Ray Huffine. Hannah upgraded the Lantz product within the tight budgets by demanding stronger stories and developing new characters like Gabby Gator and the Beary Family.

Hannah also directed Lantz's live action lead-ins on the 'Woody Woodpecker Show' on television. "I did more or less the same thing that I did with Walt Disney in directing live action except Lantz was better at taking direction." Hannah then went to work briefly for Bob Clampett on the 'Beany and Cecil' television show on the Hare-cules Hare segment. "Bob was an interesting person to work for. A riot, actually. He was a real character and I always enjoyed him but I really was more interested in pursuing my painting," said Hannah.

For the next few years, Hannah concentrated on his painting and started to build a good reputation as a landscape painter. "I had really gotten into painting," recalled Hannah, "I was perfectly content with my situation when in the Sixties I got a surprise call from the (Disney) studio. Walt invited me to come back. He complained that there weren't enough cartoon ideas in their live action. His so-called 'comedy writers' were way too straight with their comedy action. Walt wanted someone to help in this area and my name came up. I was teaching painting at this time but I said I would come in three days a week while keeping my painting classes. They started me as a story consultant on a movie and this worked out fine so I worked on several other pictures. I was working on 'Rascal' when I heard Walt had died at the hospital across the street. Shortly afterwards, I left the studio. Other than keeping contact with a few old friends there, I completely divorced myself from the animation business."

But Disney would call Hannah back yet again.

"In 1975, I got a surprise call from the Disney Studio asking me if I was interested in heading a character animation program at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, a school Walt built and funded through his Disney Foundation. He had this dream of a school with all the Performing Arts under one roof.

"It was decided to develop a program devoted to classic Disney character animation with some ex-Disney artists sharing their skills and secrets with a new generation of animators. I was truly excited by the program and many of our students, like John Lasseter, have had great success. There was such a demand for good animators that studios would pick them up even before they finished the program," beamed Hannah.

In his later years, Hannah lived in Glendale, California. The only piece of Disney memorabilia in his living room was a Donald Duck statuette, a 'Duckster', given to him by Walt and Roy Disney in 1959 when he left the studio the first time. The rest of his living room was devoted to pictures of his family (his wife, son, daughter, six grandchildren and three great granchildren) and a few of his favorite paintings.

Over the years, Hannah gave away or sold most of his Disney memorabilia. Former Los Angeles Dodger Wes Parker purchased a good deal of Hannah's material.

While he enjoyed the recognition he received later in life including an ANNIE award from ASIFA-Hollywood and a Disney Legend ceremony, he felt no need to get involved in self-promotion like other animators were doing at the time.

"I'm very comfortable now," he said, "I have no desire to get back into animation. I don't feel in competition with these new guys. I just feel good when I see them use the knowledge I gave them. I've worked with so many pros, most of whom are gone. It's sort of funny, though, nobody ever seems old in this business."

Wade Sampson would like to give thanks to Disney Historian Jim Korkis who allowed him to quote liberally from the many interviews Jim did with Jack Hannah over the years. One of Jim's interviews with Jack Hannah appears in the new book, "WALT'S PEOPLE: Volume 1".

Blog - Post Feedback Form
Your comment has been posted.   Close
Thank you, your comment requires moderation so it may take a while to appear.   Close
Leave a Comment
  • * Please enter your name
  • * Please enter a comment
  • Post
  • Nice post. I learn something new and difficult on personal blogs I stumbleupon daily. It will always be exciting you just read content material from other editors and practice a little something from other online sites.

  • Great article. I would love to read your post.

Page 1 of 1 (2 items)