Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Look Back at Frank Tashlin

Today we all know a number of animation artists who have crossed over into the live-action realm (Tim Burton and Rob Minkoff come immediately to mind), but Frank Tashlin, Disney story artist and Looney Tunes director, was the pioneer for everyone who has followed... Tashlin, in case you don't know, had a long career in animation, cleaning cels at the Fleischer studios while a teenager, going to work for Leon Schlesinger in his twenties, directing Bob Hope in his thirties. Leading Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis through their final (and finest?) films in his early forties. A retrospective of Tashlin films is now happening at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago, and we can't think of a better way to refresh your spirits during this long, toasty summer than to partake of some of the Tashlin film catalogue. We note the honors the Siskel Film Center does him because, among other things, Frank T. was strongly pro-labor. He not only served as one of the Screen Cartoonists Guild's first vice-presidents, but he helped get unionization going at Disney's in the early forties. So we tip our hats to him.


Kevin Koch said...

It's interesting how common it used to be for prominent animation professionals to be heavily involved in the union, and how absolutely rare it is today. Clearly going through the struggle of trying to form a viable union made people far more appreciative, and more willing to pull their weight.

Anonymous said...

Tashlin not only was pro-union, he was the animation union VP when it was a dangerous thing to do, and he said he went to Disney from Schelsingers, taking a pay cut from $175 a week to $50 a week, specifically to help unionize the place.

Anonymous said...

Other famous union hoodlums include Groucho Marx, James Cagney, Boris Karloff, Joan Crawford, Chuck Jones, Maurice Noble, Frank Capra and Bill Scott.

Jenny Lerew said...

Who can't love Tashlin? The greatest cartoon director to work in live action(so far)! Great post.

To the roster of crossover directors into liveaction from animation[off the top of my head] I'd add: Gregory LaCava("My Man Godfrey", etc."), Kevin Lima, Andrew Adamson, Jerry Rees, and David "Bud" Swift--also a big union guy who left Disney's during the 1941 strike, to returning to direct some of Walt's biggest liveaction features.

Steve Hulett said...

Stirling Silliphant, screenwriter not a director, was a Disney traffic boy then storyman at the Burbank studio in the early forties.

He came back to work on a serial for the Mickey Mouse Club (live action), then went on to television and feature film greatness, writing a huge amount of television, and winning an Oscar for best screenplay for "In the Heat of the Night."


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