Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Month In Animation

... (and a few other things) as written by President Emeritus Tom Sito.

April 1, 1944 - Tex Avery's Screwball Squirrel premieres.

April 1, 1976 - Two college dropouts, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, start a computer company named Apple.

April 1, 1996 - Animation World Network, Toontown’s virtual trade magazine, starts up.

April 2, 1943 - Disney short Private Pluto, the first Chip & Dale cartoon, premieres.

April 2, 1994 -Disney chief executive Frank Wells is killed in a helicopter crash on a skiing trip. It’s speculated that blowing snow off of high peaks caused an ice ball to be sucked into the copter’s air intake manifold. The death of the Disney CEO sets in motion the events that would lead to Jeffrey Katzenberg forming DreamWorks and Michael Eisner’s eventual fall.

April 2, 2004 - Home on the Range premieres.

April 3, 1973 - Standing on the corner of 6th Ave in Manhattan, Motorola scientist Marty Cooper makes the first cell phone call. He calls his competitor Joel Engel at Bell Labs to tell him he has lost the race to invent the cellphone.

April 5, 1930 - James Dewar invents the Twinkie. Dewar ate two every day of his life and called them “The best darn-tootin' idea I ever had!”

April 6, 1906 - Cartoonist James Stuart Blackton creates a sensation when Thomas Edison films him doing sequential drawings and they seem to come alive in a movie called The Humorous Phases of Funny Faces. His animated antics paves the way for Mickey, Bugs, Bart, Gollum and Laura Croft.

April 6, 1951 - Happy Birthday AstroBoy! According to the 1951 comic book by Osamu Tezuka, today Professor Elephant completes the little robot boy with the suction cup feet and pointed hairdo. Originally called Tetsuwan Atomo, he is re-named Astro Boy when Mushi Productions releases the animated version in the US in 1961.

April 9, 1991 - Darkwing Duck premieres.

April 10, 1973 - At Xerox PARC, Dick Schoups team of scientists creates Superpaint, the first digital paint and surfacing system for CG images. The first picture on the computer is a photo of Dick holding a sign that reads “It works, sort of.”

April 10, 1992 - Bill Kroyer’s Ferngully the Last Rainforest premieres.

(And Canadian director James Cameron gets an idea. ... -- Hulett)

April 11, 1914 - Famed NFB animator and first president of ASIFA, Norman McClaren is born.

April 11, 1983 - The Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short is Polish artist Zybigniew Rybcyzinski for his film Tango. During the ceremony he steps outside for a smoke. When Security guards refuse to let him re-enter he becomes combative, shouting the only English he knows: ”I Have Oscar!” He winds up in jail for assault and his Oscar winds up in the bushes.

April 17, 1937 - Porky's Duck Hunt premieres featuring the birth of Daffy Duck. Legend states voice actor Mel Blanc designed Daffy's distinctive lisp to be an impression of the Looney Tunes boss Leon Schlesinger. When they screen this cartoon, all the artists stand in dread of how Leon will take the joke. But Leon never makes the connection that the Ducks voice is him. "Gee Fellers, dat Duck iz pretty Ffffunny!"

April 12, 1911 - Cartoonist Winsor McCay opens his vaudeville act with his Little Nemo animated short.

April 16, 1973 - John McCarthy of MIT creates the computer language LISP. It was the basis to use the advanced CG software Symbolics.

April 22, 1972 - Magnavox announces the Magnavox Odyssey. Created by Ralph Baer in his spare time, it's the first home videogame console.

April 23, 1896 - The first projection of Thomas Edison’s kinetoscope film by means of Thomas Armat’s Vitascope at Koster & Bials Music Hall on 28th street and Broadway in New York City. Edison is nagged into this by his engineer W.K.L. Dickson. Edison thinks projecting movies like the Lumiere Brothers are doing in Europe will never catch on, and the future of film is nickelodeon machines.

April 23, 2005 - The first You-Tube video is uploaded- Me At the Zoo.

April 29, 1992 - The Great Los Angeles Riot. The city convulses in urban violence after the news of the acquittal of the police officers who beat motorist Rodney King. “Can’t we all just get along?”

April 30, 1900 - John Luther Jones, called CASEY JONES, dies in a spectacular train crash near Vaughn Mississippi. Jones' freight train is running 75 minutes late so he stokes up his engine to 100 mph. A switching error puts a passenger train in his path. Jones stays at the controls trying to stop the train while his crew jumps to safety. There's a head-on collision, but because of Jones' bravery his is the only death. A brakeman later writes the famous folksong.

(Union activists prefer to remember that Jones was a strikebreaker running his train recklessly in defiance of a strike to impress his employers. The union still paid his widow his $3000 dollar life insurance. Folksinger Joe Hill in his song "Casey Jones the Union Scab." tells how when he went to heaven the Angel’s Union Local #23 "fired Casey down the Golden Stair..")

April Birthdays: Eddie Murphy, Irv Spence, Eadweard Muybridge, Hicks Lokey, Glen Keane, Steve Martin, Leonardo DaVinci, Lou Romano, Charlie Chaplin, Bob Kurtz, Shakespeare, Michael Sporn, Eyvind Earle, John Halas, Victor Haboush, Bill Plympton.


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