Tuesday, August 31, 2004

McKimson Addendum

A couple of things I left out of my long post about Looney Tunes director Bob McKimson:

- After 1955, in addition to using animators who were "castoffs" from other units, McKimson also had the problem of other units taking his animators. Tom Ray, a talented young animator who started with McKimson in the late '50s (and ended his career doing timing sheets for "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs"), moved to the Chuck Jones unit after a couple of years; Art Leonardi moved to Freleng about the same time. Going from McKimson to Freleng, Leonardi recalled, was considered a promotion: McKimson's unit was clearly considered the runt of the litter and he didn't have the power at the studio that Jones or Freleng did.

- Another couple of good McKimson cartoons I forgot to mention are "Kiddin' the Kitten" and "Easy Peckin's," both from the early '50s and both starring a big lazy cat named Dodsworth. Dodsworth was voiced by the comedian Sheldon Leonard, who went on to a highly successful behind-the-camera career as executive producer of The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Dodsworth's sheer sloth makes him an unusual cartoon protagonist, and Leonard's voice was perfect for the character -- but such a lazy and basically unsympathetic character (in "Kiddin' the Kitten" he tries to con a kitten into catching mice for him because he's too lazy to do it himself) unsurprisingly didn't catch on enough to lead to a series.

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