Monday, January 05, 2015

Prez Emeritus Tom Sito's "Month in Animation History"

As he does each month, Mr. Sito (animation veteran and college professor) gives us the happenings that occurred in Cartoonland (and lands adjacent) during January. ...

Jan 3, 1977 - Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ron Wayne file papers to form the Apple Computer Company. Within two weeks, Ron Wayne sold his third of the company to Jobs and Woz for $800. He thought he’d get stuck with the bills when their little company went belly-up.

Jan 4, 1946 – Terrytoons’ The Talking Magpies debuts; the first Heckle and Jeckyl cartoon.

Jan 4, 1956 - Walt Disney has lunch with his old competitor Max Fleischer, now retired.

Jan 5, 1896 - Josef Pulitzers’ New York World begins printing the Sunday Yellow Kid comic strip with a yellow color on his shirt. (The strip gave the name to the sensationalist tabloid press 'Yellow Journalism".)

Jan 6, 1945 - First Pepe Le Pew cartoon Odorable Kitty premieres. When the Warner’s producer who replaced Leon Schlesinger, Eddie Selzer, hears the plans to do a short about a skunk he thunders: "Absolutely Not! Nobody will like a cartoon skunk!" Chuck Jones recalled: "As soon as he said no, I knew we just had to do it." Selzer's final opinion: "Nobody'll laugh at that sh*t!" The short won an Oscar.

Jan 6, 1962 - Bob Clampett's Beany and Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent premieres. This was the animated version of his popular puppet show. “So Long Kids, Wind Up Your Lids, We’ll look for You Real Soooooon.”

Jan 7, 1894 - The Sneeze, the first motion picture film to be copyrighted by Thomas Edison and his engineer W.K.L. Dickson, premieres.

Jan 7, 1929 - With the approval of Edgar Rice Burroughs, artist Hal Foster starts drawing the Tarzan comic strip.

Jan 9, 1914 - John Randolph Bray files patents on the principles of film animation: cycles, arcs, keys and inbetweens. He even tries to sue Winsor McCay, who had already been using them for years. When Bray died in 1977 at age 107, Animator Michael Sporn called young animator Tom Sito and said “Well, I guess we’re all allowed to animate now. It’s in public domain!”

Jan 9, 1939 – Walt Disney hires Top Looney Tunes director Frank Tashlin. He quits after two fruitless years, and leaves so angry he writes a children’s book called the "Bear that Wasn’t" about his experiences. (An early vice president of the Screen Cartoonists Guild, he also joined the Mouse House to help unionize the studio. After a stint at Screen Gems, in 1945 Frank Tashlin went to Paramount’s live-action division and became the director of the Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis comedies.)

Jan 12, 1995 - Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen announce the name of their new partnership will be DreamWorks SKG.

Jan 12, 2004 - Disney closes down their Orlando animation studio.

Jan. 13, 1930 - The Mickey Mouse comic strip first appears in US newspapers. Walt Disney himself writes them, Ub Iwerks pencils and Winn Smith inks.

Jan. 13, 1979 - Russian animator Yuriy Noshteyn’s’ Tale of Tales premieres.

Jan 14, 1964 - Hanna & Barbera's The Magilla Gorilla Show premieres.

Jan. 15, 1936 - THE DGA FORMS - Several Hollywood directors including Lewis Milestone, Ruben Mamoulian and William Wellman meet at King Vidor’s house and pledge $100 dollars each to form the Screen Director’s Guild, later the Director’s Guild of America. It was a risky thing to do, previous attempts to form a directors union were broken up with threats of perpetual blacklisting. Final recognition and contracts were signed by President Frank Capra in 1940. One provision insisted in the contract was the director’s credit be the final name in the opening titles before the movie began. And so it remains.

Jan 16, 1954 - THE WAR ON COMICS- Senator Estes Kevfauver chairs a U.S. Senate subcommittee to study juvenile delinquency. They conclude that one of the contributing factors to adolescent moral decay was four-color comic books. The probe is sparked by the publication of a book called The Seduction of the Innocent. It charges (among other things) that Batman & Robin are gay because when not fighting crime, Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson lounge around all day in silk pajamas with no women! Despite testimony by Walt Kelly, Milt Caniff, Al Capp and Bill Gaines 350 comic book companies, including the EC "Tales from the Crypt" label, are driven out of business. The strict comics-code is established. The comic book industry, which has been selling one million books a month, never regains that level of prosperity in the US again.

Jan 17, 1929 - Popeye first appears in the "Thimble Theater" comic strip.

Jan 17, 1949 - The Goldbergs, a radio comedy show about a Jewish family in the Bronx, moves to television and becomes the first true TV sitcom. The show ends when star Jean Muir is accused by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee of being a Communist.

Jan 18, 1952 - The Animation Guild Local 839, IATSE is chartered. Originally named the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, charter signatory members include Disney legends Milt Kahl, Les Clark, John Hench and Ken Anderson.

Jan 20, 1938 - Pioneer animator Emile Cohl dies while headed for the Paris premiere of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Cohl is so poor that the electricity in his flat had been turned off, and candles had ignited his beard.

Jan. 21, 1992 - Disney's Beauty and the Beast becomes the first animated film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Jan 24, 1961 - Warner Bros. voice actor Mel Blanc suffers an auto crash at the Dead Man’s Curve section of Sunset Blvd near UCLA. He lingers in a coma for several weeks. The way the doctor brings him around is to say: “Hey Bugs Bunny! How are we today?” Blanc replies in character:” Ehhh … fine, doc!”

Jan 25, 1961 - Walt Disney’s 101 Dalmatians premieres.

Jan 26, 1934 - Hollywood producer Sam Goldwyn buys the rights to L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to develop into a movie.

Jan 27, 1926 - Englishman John Logie Baird demonstrates his televisor system- the first true television image.

Jan 28, 1930 – WARNER BROS. CARTOON - Leon Schlesinger, the head of Pacific Art and Title, signs a deal with several unemployed Disney animators. Schlesinger had connections with the Warner Bros. since he helped them get funding for The Jazz Singer. The home of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and more ... is born.

Jan 29, 1959 - Disney's Sleeping Beauty opens. The Disney animation staff reaches its highest number to finish the production. After the film, the studio undergoes a massive layoff dropping from 551 to just 121. People employed since the 1930s are pink-slipped. Two painters commit suicide. Staff levels don't return to the late '50s level until 1990.

Jan 30, 1963 - MIT Grad student Ivan Sutherland published his thesis project: Sketchpad, the first animation software. He created it on a declassified Cold War computer originally used to track Soviet missiles. For the first time, a computer can draw lines instead of just crunching numbers.

Jan 30 1961 – Hanna-Barbera's The Yogi Bear Show premieres.

Jan. 31, 1999 - Seth McFarlane’s Family Guy premieres. (And gets canceled after a couple of years before being relaunched after becoming a hit on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" ... also selling a hell of a lot of DVDs. -- Hulett)

Jan. birthdates: B. “Hap” Kliban, J.R.R. Tolkein, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Gustav DorĂ©, James Stewart Blackton, Genndy Tartakovsky, Wilfred Jackson, Phil Mendez, Dave Pruiksma, TinTin, Charles Adams, Roy E. Disney, Pres Romanillos, John Sibley, Jack London, Hal Roach, Max Sennett, Jules Feiffer, Ross Bagdasarian Sr., Frank Miller


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