Thursday, August 24, 2006

Snippets of History -- Termite Terrace

Let's get away from Disney and DreamWorks for a moment, and shuffle backward in time to Termite Terrace -- the animation studio in Hollywood that was owned and operated by Leon Schlesinger and then by the Brothers Warner... I collected these first-person accounts twenty years ago for an Animation Guild awards book; generous soul that I am, I share them with you now...
Back in the 'thirties Leon Schlesinger had his cartoon unit for Warner Brothers cartoon in a two-story building on Van Ness. Storymen downstairs, animators and assistants upstairs. Every day the food wagon would come by and everyone would yell out their orders and send down their money in a basket. The trouble was that half the time the storymen downstairs would take the sandwiches out of the basket on the return trip. And lots of days, the last half-hour before quitting time the guys would crumple up animation paper and get into paper fights. By the time we left, the place would be ankle deep in balls of animation paper.
Left: outside the Schlesinger studio in the summer of 1941. And why are so many people on the sidewalk? Because Leon has just locked them out for supporting the Screen Cartoonists Guild in what Chuck Jones called "our little six-day war."
There were always lots of activities going on at Schlesinger. Every day we would run out on our coffee breaks and put down our nickels to play "showdown poker." Directors like Tex Avery started playing and betting a lot of money. Well, their wives got wind of it and called the cops, who came in and raided the place.
-- Betty Brenon (Betty was an inker and painter who started at Warners in '33. Years later, she owned and operated her own ink-and-paint service company.)


Anonymous said...

Termite Terrace should have received Historical Site status or something (or Histerical Site?).

Is it true there's a parking lot where it used to be?

Chuck said...
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Chuck said...

You know what this means WAR! Sorry, I didn't mean to SCARE anyone!

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