Sunday, October 07, 2007

1954 Article on Looney Tunes Composer Milt Franklyn

Another old article I came across on was from the Long Beach Press-Telegram, August 15, 1954, about Warner Brothers cartoons composer/orchestrator Milt Franklyn, who was a Long Beach resident at this time. It's not much of an article -- too few direct quotes from Franklyn, and it doesn't mention that he'd only just been promoted to full-fledged composer a year before this article was written (he was Carl Stalling's orchestrator before that). But still, it's one of the few articles ever written about a WB cartoon guy when the studio was still open.


Long Beach Press-Telegram, Sunday, August 15, 1954

Daffy Duck Dances to His Music
By Vera Williams

You know Bugs Bunny, who asks, "What's up, Doc?"

You know Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the cat, Tweety the bird, Pepe LePew the skunk that speaks with a French accent, and Elmer Fudd, who can't pronounce his "r"'s?

You know the background music for their antics -- imitative, interpretive music that now is lilting, now is mournful, and that sounds like a worm is crawling when a worm IS crawling?

Milton J. Franklyn, 5340 El Prado, Park Estates, who with his wife Charlotte moved to Long Beach last November from Lido Isle, writes that music. He not only composes it but he orchestrates it.

Franklyn, musical director of Warner Bros., now is on his 19th year with Warner Bros. and his 599th cartoon. He'll be doing his 600th cartoon, he thinks, by September.

Currently, Franklyn is working on "Past Perfumance," which as you may guess is about the little skunk. Before that was a U.S. Air Force film, "A Hitch in Time." Just before that was "Stork Naked" and "Baby Buggy Bunny" and before that was "Lighthouse Mouse." Incidentally, he recently wrote the music for the Sloan Foundation film, "By Word of Mouse," about a foreign mouse that comes to the United States and learns about big stores and automobiles owned even by the workers and freedom to vote. The background music, he says, "sounds something like Austria... or Germany... or Sweden."

Franklyn has a piano in his study and an organ in the living room of his home. Unlike many composers, he does not "finger out" his melodies on the piano and then write them. He "thinks" his melodies before he goes to sleep. The next morning, early -- 5 a.m. -- he gets up to write them down. Later he plays them to see how they sound.

In filming cartoons, he explains, 16 drawings are needed for every foot of film and the average cartoon short is 500 or 600 feet long. The drawings then are colored and the proper backgrounds made. When the picture is finished, the music is set to the picture.

Franklyn does all of his work at home, going to the studio only to see the finished picture, or to watch the 30-piece orchestra record his music.

Starting his musical career early, he was leader of the University of California band at Berkeley and played in a San Francisco supper club. For eight years he was master of ceremonies and musical director for Fox, Loew's and Paramount-Publix theaters.

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