Monthly Archives: February 2009

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 3 Post:

September 19, 1952 (part 2)

Your clean bill of health cheered me immensely.  Health is a lovely, lovely thing and those who enjoy it are lucky indeed.  Among the many puzzles to me in this giant riddle of the universe is the one that decides who shall be the healthy and who the unhealthy ones; who the lame, the stumbling, the ugly, the bald-headed, the dull and who the healthy, the bright-eyed, the quick of eye, the brainy, the beautiful, and after these decisions are made, how are they justified and by whom?  These gifts are showered on or withheld from babies.  Why?  If you find out, don’t write to me about it, telephone and reverse the charges.

Well…you’ve been a good student and a good daughter and a damn nice person.  Better far in these and other categories than I have any right to expect from what I have invested in you.  This is like putting out a hundred dollars and getting back fifteen years later as a hundred thousand.  A very nice profit.

It’s a pretty thrilling thing, Linda, to be in love with your daughter and your wife.  A man is lucky to have one love, he is stretching his luck to have two, but to have two in his own family is so fantastic that I’m not even mentioning it to Ripley.

My high regards to you and to the many new friends you will make this ensuing year.  If any ideas reach the bubbling point, write ‘em down and send ‘em to us.
Adios…

A Night to Remember: February 22

One of the uncountable legacies I received from my father was the opportunity to produce several theatrical films during the 1990s.  As a result of those films, I am honored to have been accepted as a 
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voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).  I participate on several AMPAS voting committees and do what I can to be a responsible, participating member of an organization I believe supports and promotes the ART of motion picture making.  The awards given by the Academy, my father made clear to me, are the members of the motion picture industry recognizing those who have contributed to advancing that art.  When I serve on the nominating committees, watch films during any given year, and fill out my ballots for the yearly awards, I try to always keep that in mind.  My observation and conversation with many other AMPAS members leads me to believe that they, too, cast their votes with that in mind.  The nomination and voting procedure is, in my opinion, inherently fair, professional, and worthwhile.

Of course, the awards ceremony is another matter altogether.  It is a gala affair, designed intentionally, to attract non-member viewers, and to raise money for the Academy's wonderful work throughout the year.  The Awards Ceremony is not the reason for the Academy's existence, as I've sometimes been amused to hear reviewers comment, but it is an exciting and beautiful event.

The tickets to the Awards Ceremony are, as you can imagine, desired by more members than there are seats to accommodate them.  Hence the tickets are requested and assigned by lottery.  I have discovered that I can usually (not always) be assured of my two tickets if I request the least desireable seats…the nose-bleed section where no one is ever noticed or on camera.  But it is such wonderful fun to be there, to walk in on the red carpet (the "other" red carpet…the one behind the important red carpet), to get dressed up, and see the performances, the stars, and feel the excitement! 

A few years ago, my dear husband, Jim, and I talked about a plan to make it possible for each of Chuck's grandchildren and great-grandchildren to attend the Awards night… so each year I have invited one of my children, then grandchildren, to accompany me.  My oldest, Todd, then Craig, then Valerie.  Follwed by Alex last year and Brittany this year.  It is our plan to continue with Chuck's "descendents" for as long as I can make it to the "top of the tent"! 

I loved the show this year and had a fabulous weekend with Brittany…absolutely the most beautiful woman in the house!

Proud Nana… Linda
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7 Years and Still Living On…

Seven years ago today, my grandfather passed away.  It was definitely a difficult transition for me, for my family, and truly for the world (as I have heard from literally thousands of people over the past seven years).

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However, he lived, contributed, experienced, and learned for nearly 90 years.  At 89 he once told me that he was still amazed that he got to do what he loved to do all of his life, even make a living at it along the way. 

During his acceptance speech for his Lifetime Achievement Academy Award 13 years ago he quoted Robert Frost in conveying how he felt about his life:

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.

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I know that he achieved that in his life.  Truly a remarkable achievement for anyone and perhaps a goal that more of us (or even all of us) could bring into focus. 

I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with him.  Whether it was with a single person in hallway on one of our trips, at a dinner with friends or family, or in front a group of 500 or 10,000, he mesmerized by giving his full attention to being with that person or those people right then and there.  I still meet people consistently who convey the memories of the one time they met Chuck and their special connection with him.

I think what I felt seven years ago was that there was a gaping hole left by him not being in our lives.  But as I heard so many wonderful memories from so many people over the following weeks, months, and years, that I truly feel that he continues to live on through our memories, through his films, through his art, and through all that continue to be insprired by his genius.

Just this morning my daughter, Samantha, came into the room and asked, "What ya doin', Doc?"  Yes, he lives on.

Now or sometime in the future I would enjoy hearing any of your favorite memories of Chuck, his films, or inspirations you may have attained from him or his work.

Happy memories to all of you!

Craig

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Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

September 19, 1952 (part 1)

[My mother and father saw me off on the train from Los Angeles to Phoenix (where I was to be met by someone I didn’t know) on the morning of September 19, 1952.  I had just turned 15 and in a daze of mixed emotions, expectations, and fears, I set off on my new adventure…boarding school.  This letter arrived a few days after I arrived]

Linda Chuck
Dear Linda;

As you read this I presume you are pulling out of Los Angeles station on your way to Phoenix and what will be a happy and exciting year for you.  (and for me too, for this is the sort of thing that I so dreamed of when I was your age and I am going to enjoy every minute of it with you, just as if I at long last had this wonderful opportunity)  “Opportunity” is one of those words I always have to look up in the dictionary, to see if it has one or two “p”s.

I’m afraid that I’m going to be unable to write the kind of a letter I’m supposed to write as a father to a daughter going away for the first time, full of “don’t’s” and “watch out fors” and “avoids” and “promise me’s”.  I seem to just be full of love for you and delight for you and confidence in you.  I find little room in my mind for in my heart for doubts about your ability to cope with any situation, critical or otherwise.  There will be crises, some you will meet with wisdom and instant dispatch, some will take thought and some you will doubtless fumble…like other human beings, as different from machines.

Carl Stallings is in the next room writing the music for the next Pepé picture, the one set at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900.  He runs the sound track on his Moviola and I keep hearing Pepé singing, over and over again, to the tune of “Billie Boy” (“Billy”?): “Can you kees a preety girl, Pepé Boy, Pepé Boy?  Can you kees a preety girl, charmeeng Pepé??  I can kees a preety girl, ‘fore she can shake a preety curl, I’m a yong theeng and cannot leave my mo-thair” … I think it will be very cute.

[more of this letter next time…]

A Brief History of Warner Bros. Animation–Starring Chuck Jones

Part Two

  •  
    Chuck Jones is noted for his philosophical and intellectual approach to
    character.  He was the major influence in
    the development of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd in the
    "Golden Years".
  • The three cartoons that helped define the character of Bugs Bunny,
    Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd were directed by Jones beginning in 1951 with Rabbit Fire, 1952's Rabbit Seasoning and Duck! Rabbit! Duck! of 1953. 81122 copy

  • The genius of Chuck Jones is apparent in his 1953 film, Duck Amuck.  It is viewed as a twentieth century parable
    of man's alienation from his environment. 
  • In 1955's One Froggy Evening,
    Chuck Jones told the story of one man's greed and dissolution.  A construction worker finds a singing and
    dancing frog, but sadly, the frog will only sing for him.  As soon as the frog is put in front of anyone
    else (theatrical producers, live audiences, policemen) he clams up.  Ruination results for the man, the frog lives
    on!
  • What's Opera, Doc? of 1957 is arguably the
    most celebrated short film of this century. 
    Honored with inclusion in the Smithsonian's National Film Registry of
    the 100 most important films of this century (the only short animated film
    included), it is without a doubt one of the true treasures of the art of the
    cinema.  Jones and his artistic director,
    Maurice Noble,  designed  one of the most memorable of the Bugs Bunny
    and Elmer Fudd films ever conceived. 
    Imagine, over 150 different backgrounds! 
    To meet the budget demands, Chuck Jones 'borrowed' money from other
    films being made at the same time.  Giclee 28 Cel.3 copy
  • Chuck Jones' Warner Bros. films won 2 Academy Awards, For Scent-i-mental Reasons, 1949 (best
    animated short subject) and So Much for
    So Little
    1950 (best documentary short subject).  In 1965, while working under the MGM banner,
    Jones' independently produced short animated film The Dot and The Line garnered his 3rd Academy
    Award.  In 1996 Jones received an Academy
    Award for Lifetime Achievement.  Jones
    also won Peabody Awards for both Dr. Seuss films he directed, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966
    and Horton Hears A Who 1970.  Other awards, honorary doctorates, film
    tributes and lifetime achievement awards are too numerous to list here.CJ92-032-25 copy
  • Friz Freleng won 3 Academy Awards while at Warner Bros.  They were for Speedy Gonzales 1955, Birds
    Anonymous
    1957 and Knighty Knight
    Bugs
    1958.

Part Three coming soon!

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

September 19, 1952 (part 1)

[My mother and father saw me off on the train from Los Angeles to Phoenix (where I was to be met by someone I didn’t know) on the morning of September 19, 1952.  I had just turned 15  and in a daze of mixed emotions, expectations, and fears, I set off on my new adventure…boarding school.  This letter arrived a few days after I arrived.]

Linda Chuck

Dear Linda;

As you read this I presume you are pulling out of Los Angeles station on your way to Phoenix and what will be a happy and exciting year for you.  (and for me too, for this is the sort of thing that I so dreamed of when I was your age and I am going to enjoy every minute of it with you, just as if I at long last had this wonderful opportunity)  “Opportunity” is one of those words I always have to look up in the dictionary, to see if it has one or two “p”s.

I’m afraid that I’m going to be unable to write the kind of a letter I’m supposed to write as a father to a daughter going away for the first time, full of “don’t’s” and “watch out fors” and “avoids” and “promise me’s”.  I seem to just be full of love for you and delight for you and confidence in you.  I find little room in my mind for in my heart for doubts about your ability to cope with any situation, critical or otherwise.  There will be crises, some you will meet with wisdom and instant dispatch, some will take thought and some you will doubtless fumble…like other human beings, as different from machines.

Carl Stalling is in the next room writing the music for the next Pepé picture, the one set at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900.  He runs the sound track on his Moviola and I keep hearing Pepé singing, over and over again, to the tune of “Billie Boy” (“Billy”?): “Can you kees a preety girl, Pepé Boy, Pepé Boy?  Can you kees a preety girl, charmeeng Pepé??  I can kees a preety girl, ‘fore she can shake a preety curl, I’m a yong theeng and cannot leave my mo-thair” … I think it will be very cute.

[more of this letter next time…]

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Introduction

Throughout his life, Chuck Jones wrote letters to friends, family,
heroes and fools.  Many of his letters were typed (with three or four
fingers) on a manual typewriter, and a carbon copy stayed in his
files. 

In the fall of 1952, at the age of 15, I departed for
boarding school in Arizona and started receiving weekly letters from my
father.

Sadly, letters from my mother did not survive the
intervening years. Most of my letters home, saved by a doting mother,
did survive and are, by and large, unnecessarily dramatic and
adolescent.  Please forgive me, as I was, in fact, an adolescent. 
Nevertheless, most of my letters are similar in tone and content to any
teen-age girl’s rants, and few are important to record for posterity.

Chuck’s
letters, however, as is true of so many of his writings, deserve a
public outing, and I have decided to share passages here, for those who
might wish to get a glimpse of the 40-year-old mind of the man who was,
at the time, directing some of the most memorable cartoons ever made: 
Feed the Kitty; Rabbit Seasoning;  Don’t Give Up the Sheep; Duck
Amuck;  Much Ado About Nutting; Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century; Bully
for Bugs; Duck, Rabbit, Duck!; Claws for Alarm; From A to Z-Z-Z-Z; My
Little Duckaroo; Beanstalk Bunny; Jumpin’ Jupiter; and One Froggy
Evening… to name just a few.

In the next posting we’ll start with September 19, 1952…the day I left home.

Linda at 15 copy Linda at fifteen, photograph courtesy Linda Jones Clough

Blogs of Special Note

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity has been blogging, click here to visit it.  Of special note will be an upcoming post from Linda Jones Clough, Chuck's daughter, as she begins to share letters from her father that she received while in boarding school.  Watch for it!

For sports fans, we've begun another blog for the SPORT Magazine Photography Collection, that you can read by clicking here.  This blog will discuss current sport news as well as take a look back at the incomparable writing and imagery published by SPORT Magazine during its life (1946-2000.) 

Please remember to sign up for the feeds, so that you'll be updated as the blogs are.

A Brief History of Warner Bros. Animation–Starring Chuck Jones

Part One

  • Warner Bros. bought their cartoons at first from Leon Schlesinger
    Productions.  Releasing their first
    cartoon in 1930.  The animators were Hugh
    Harman and Rudolph Ising.  (Harman-Ising
    created for Leon Schlesinger)
  •  
    In May 1930, Bosko was introduced as an animated blob of ink resembling
    Mickey Mouse.  At the end of this first
    cartoon, Bosko squiggled back into the inkwell, saying, "so long,
    folks!" beginning a Warner Bros. tradition.
  •  In 1934 Chuck Jones began his career as an animator with The Miller's Daughter and Those Beautiful Dames.  His credits include 11 other cartoons between
    1934-1937.
  • Chuck Jones had his directorial debut in 1938 with The Night Watchman.


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  • By 1942, Warner Bros. animated short cartoons were the most popular
    cartoons being created.  About this time,
    Chuck Jones is credited with changing the look of short animated films forever
    with his production of The Dover Boys.  By stylizing movement and the backgrounds on
    which it played, Jones forsook the traditional approach favored by Disney
    Studios, where every little detail was drawn. 
    By doing this, Jones was able to put the focus on the action, the
    atmosphere and the characters.


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  • In 1945, Bugs Bunny cartoons were nominated the #1 short subject film
    in the Motion Picture Herald's poll of exhibitors — a title they held for the
    next 16 years!
  • From 1945 until the WB Animation Studio closed in 1963 is considered
    the "Golden Years" of the short animated film.  Many of the most famous Warner Bros.
    characters were created then by not only Chuck Jones (Pepe le Pew, Road Runner
    & Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian, Gossamer, Ralph Phillips, Marc
    Anthony and Kitty, Junyer Bear, Henery Hawk, Ralph Wolf, Sam Sheepdog, Hugo the
    Abominable Snowman, Frisky Puppy and Charlie Dog) but also Friz Freleng
    (Sylvester the Cat and most notably, Yosemite Sam) and Robert McKimson (the
    Tasmanian Devil and Foghorn Leghorn).

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  •  From the early 1940s until 1949 there were at least 4 animation units
    working at the Warner Bros. Studios. 
    After 1949, there were just the Jones, Freleng and McKimson units
    creating 10 – 6 minute cartoons each per year.

Part two to follow.