Saturday, November 18, 2006

1946 Article on Friz Freleng

Probably the best special feature on the fourth Looney Tunes Golden Collection is a new documentary on Friz Freleng, which includes lots of archival interview footage of Freleng (as well as one of his top animators, Virgil Ross). In honor of that, I'd like to re-post something I already posted on a message board a while back: while searching through, I found a 1946 article on Freleng in his hometown newspaper, the Kansas City Star. It doesn't say a whole lot that you wouldn't know from watching the documentary, but it's just interesting and surprising that it exists at all, since the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies directors didn't usually get press coverage at the time they were making these cartoons.

Spelling mistakes or factual mistakes are from the original:

Kansas City Star, August 20, 1946


Isadore Freleng, Cartoon Creator, Returns “Home.”

A Director, for Warner Bros. Studio, the Master of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck Renews Friendship Here.

One of a half-dozen cartoonists who left Kansas City in the early '20s to become animators and producers of pen and ink motion pictures, Isadore (Fritz [sic]) Freleng, returned to his “home town” this week for a visit.

As a director in the Warner Brothers cartoon studio, Freleng created the popular “Looney Tune” series and now controls the antics of such “Merry Melodies” characters and Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck.

When Freleng lived here at 4543 Mercier street, he attended Westport high school. Some of his cartoons appeared in school publications during his 1919 to 1923 high school career. To earn pocket money he caddied at the Kansas City Country club and recalls that one of his fellow mashie-toters was now-famous professional golfer Jug McSpaden.

“After school I worked at Armour & Co. as a visitor's guide for a while, then went out to United Film Service, Inc., at 2449 Charlotte street as an animator.”

It was here that Freleng became acquainted with Walt Disney, creator of Mickey Mouse; U.B. Iwerks, creator of “Flip the Frog”; Fred Harmon, originator of the “Red Ryder” strip; Hugh Harmon, his brother, who, with Rudy Ising, another United man, later made the “Harmon-Ising” musical cartoons.

Disney was the first of the Kansas City group to strike out for Hollywood. Later, the others followed, all becoming Disney animators. In 1931, Freleng became associated with Warner Brothers, where he has been ever since.

Another Kansas Citian in the Warner office is Carl Stalling, musical director of the animated cartoon section, who formerly played the organ at the Isis theater here.

“Bugs Bunny, the most popular character of 'Merry Melodies,' was created as a combined result of several directors and artists,” Freleng said. “I began Porky Pig in a 'bit' part in my third picture. He's jumped to stardom since.”

Musicals, of the “Rhapsody in Rivets” and “Three Pigs in a Polka” type, whre the action of the characters is timed to the exact note of some well-known piece of music instead of to a set rhythmic tempo, are a Freleng innovation.

Friends at the Warner studio term Freleng the original “worry wart” because of his pessimistic view of each new picture. The slightly-built, balding, blue-eyed man assures everyone that “this is my worst, and probably last, cartoon.” So far, the strips happily have proved Freleng wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for the great research! My son is doing a school project on Friz and this is very helpful!!!!!Peg