Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Prez Emeritus's History

Tom Sito again rolls out a compendium of important historical stuff for the month of March.

March 1, 1930 - Walt Disney’s top animator Ub Iwerks, the animator/designer of Mickey Mouse, quits Walt’s studio to set up his own place.

March 1, 1936 - Max Fleischer’s Betty Boop cartoon Snow White premieres. Cab Calloway singing the “St. James Infirmary Blues” is a highlight.

March 2, 1933 - The movie King Kong premieres at the new Radio City Music Hall ... animation by Willis O’Brian and his assistant Ray Harryhausen, with preproduction art inspired by Charles R. Knight.

March 9, 1935 - The Looney Tunes cartoon I Haven’t Got a Hat premieres. This cartoon gives birth to the first permanent Warner Bros. Cartoon star - Porky Pig.

March 12, 1945 - THE WAR OF HOLLYWOOD BEGINS -Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s several national unions battle studios (and each other) to represent Hollywood film workers ... Teamsters, the FWPC, the Brotherhood of Electricians among them. By 1945 only two remain, the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) and the CSU (Conference of Studio Unions).

The CSU, the much more militant group, is headed by the charismatic Herb Sorrell (who helped win the Disney strike for the cartoonists in 1941). Sorrell calls several citywide strikes that paralyze Hollywood between 1945 and 1947. President Richard Walsh of IATSE fights the Conference ... and riots in front of the studios are commonplace.

March 13, 1928 - Walt Disney boards a train from New York to L.A. after losing in negotiations the rights to his character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. With him are his wife Lillian and Ub Iwerks. During this long cross-country train ride they conceive the character Mickey Mouse.

March 15, 1933 - Young animator Chuck Jones is first hired at Leon Schlesinger’s Looney Tunes cartoon studio.

March 15, 1950 - Walt Disney’s Cinderella opens. It’s Disney’s first animated fairy tale hit in ten years. (

And sixty-five years later, almost to the day, Cindy is a hit again in a live-action version. Who would have imagined? -- Hulett)

March 15, 2002 - Blue Sky’s first Ice Age feature premieres.

March 20, 1943 - MGM’s Dumb Hounded, the first Droopy cartoon, premieres.

March 21, 1951 - The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), under Judge J. Parnell Thomas, moves from Washington DC and sets up in Hollywood to continue rooting out Communist subversion in the movies. They begin in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and later move to the federal building downtown.

(Out of 15,000 people who make a living in the movies and television, only 295 are ever proven or confessed communists. It's an open secret that for $5,000 delivered to the right committee member, your dossier will be moved to the bottom of the pile. The hearings stop in 1956. The blacklist is broken in 1960 and Judge J. Parnell Thomas goes to jail for embezzlement.)

March 23, 1957 - Art Clokey’s The Gumby Show premieres.

March 24,1943 - The first Japanese anime feature, Momotaro’s Sea Eagles by Mitsuo Seyo, opens.

March 25, 1989 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit earns four Oscars at the Academy Awards. Sound Effects, Visual Effects, Film Editing and a special one for Richard Williams for the animation.

March 27, 1952 - U.P.A.’s cartoon Rooty-Toot-Toot premieres. The short has a music score by jazzman Phil Monroe, who's the first African American to receive a screen credit for scoring a movie.

March 29, 1989 - Pixar’s short Tin Toy becomes the first CG animation to ever win an Oscar.

March 31, 1930 - Reacting to charges that the movies had become too racy, Hollywood producers accept the MOTION PICTURE CODE. Regulated by Will Hays, former Republican Party chairman, the code doesn’t really start to have strength until 1935-36, when pressure groups like the Catholic League of Decency go after Mae West and the Tarzan pictures.

The Hays Code forbids open sex and obscenity by mandating twin beds only in a bedroom, nightclothes buttoned to the neck; if a couple is seated together on a bed they must have at least one foot touching the floor. Kisses can last no longer than 3 seconds, and lips must be closed. (The Code is replaced by the MPAA ratings system in 1968).


Harvey Deneroff said...

Ray Harryhausen was not Willis O'Brien's assistant on KING KONG. Harryhausen was only 13 when the film premiered and would not meet O'Brien until at least five years later. He did become O'Brien's assistant on MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949).

Steve Hulett said...

I wil alert Mr. Sito of the error.

"Oh To-om!" You got a mis-TAKE here!" ...

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