Monthly Archives: July 2009

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

Post #23

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 1952

Dearest Linda;

This may take a little time.  I’m drawing a picture with one hand and writing to you at the same time.  Well, not exactly, but I am going to interlace the drawing with your letter.  Paint a while, write a while.  The drawing is a large one for the barrack-room of Engine Company 17..the one I told you about.  It’s a view of Bugs in fireman’s outfit standing in front of an old-fashioned fire truck loaded with very messy gear.

Just finished the fire truck..Cripes, what a job, but it looks nice..what fun tempera is, thick and nice so you can push it around, but soluble enough to be used as a watercolor.  Very friendly.

We caught “Ivanhoe” last night.  (Is there an “e” on the end?)  A very good job, I would say, in the old swashbuckling corny approach.  Wonderful fights, magnificent color, camera work superlative, beauteous ladies, especially Elizabeth Taylor, row..r-row.  Robert Taylor didn’t do so bad either.  I think he’s had plastic surgery to erase that slack chin.  Looks pretty good for a slob, which is what I believe him to be.

Well, I guess that is that.  Looks as finished as it will ever look.  I think it’s about the best thing of its kind I’ve ever done.  Bugs looks real fine in his chief’s outfit, complete with helmet, trumpet, axe and carrot.  You know, I owe a lot to Bugs.  He has been so generous in posing for pictures to pay back my social debts.  Few people have such an amiable character around to do their social correspondence.

The political race waxes hot as the witching day approacheth.  I’m becoming more Stevensony every day.  He appears to me to be a man of great intelligence.  I acknowledge gladly that he is a far more erudite, brilliant and wise man than am I.  An acknowledgement I do not extend to everyone in public life.  To me it is a gratifying thing to find a man who will seek public office on an appeal to the intelligence of the voter.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could conduct our political campaigns on such a level, instead of this cry havoc, cry disaster, impugn character, slander one another method now employed?  I can find little to criticize in Eisenhower.  He seems to be a fine, upright respectable gentleman, whose honor cannot and should not be questioned, but who finds himself forced to embrace for political expediency some pretty seamy birds.  I am sorry for him, but I cannot vote for him.  I feel I could talk to Eisenhower as an equal.  With Stevenson I know I could learn, because he is brilliant, intelligent and courageous.  Our union can survive without him, but it would be fortunate indeed to have such a man as president.

You know what?  Your letters are nice and long, but I wish there were more of them.

Love and kisses from me to you….
Daddy

 

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 22 Post:

Dearest Linda;

If it weren’t for the little niggling duties this job would be an almost unalloyed pleasure.  For instance, this morning I had to take dialogue off my layout sketches and type it up to give the girl to make copies for the actors to read.  It sounds like a little enough task and indeed it is, but it has a kind of irritating something to it.  The picture is finished as far as I am concerned. I’m ready to get the hell onto something else.  Why, then, don’t I get someone else to do it, which I could very easily do?  Because as I type it there are minuscule changes that need to be made, character adjustments, avoidance of repetition and a general toning up of the thing.  Another person could do it and perhaps very well, but it would not be the way I would do it.  Not that my way is right.  There is no real right or wrong to this sort of thing, but just that I have to believe in it or I can’t very well sell it to my animators.  So, I do it and find it a nasty job.  I also make out a work sheet as I go along, listing the scene number with its corresponding background, footage, animator to which it is assigned and general description.  This also comes under the chore category.  Then to top the morning off, I had to go in and look at a cutting picture (sans music and sound effects) with Eddie, who was dressed in a dark blue suit, so he could leave for the funeral of an old friend right afterwards.  Nice propitious circumstances for getting laughs, eh?  Picture looked good, though, and actually I got off with a minimum of friction.  Only got mad once.  Par for one of these runnings is Eddie getting mad twice and I three times.  It may come as a shock to you that I get mad at all, but it is like the mother wolf protecting her puppy.  I’m a pretty fearsome object when aroused.  Glints of fire in the nostrils, etc., etc.  The picture was “Punch Trunk”, the one about a five-inch high elephant appearing in New York and the consequences ensuing there from.  Definitely an off the beaten track picture for me.  I do hope it is successful.  I think we know pretty well how to handle the formula stories around here.  The problem is breaking out and trying something different, and getting away with it.

As Dottie no doubt told you in her letter we went to see “Don Juan in Hell” last night at the Philharmonic Auditorium.  Sir Cedric (pronounced Seedric) Hardwicke, Agnes Moorehead, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton sat on stools on the stage, no scenery, no costumes, and recited this, the finest I do believe, of George Bernard Shaw’s plays.  An exciting, tremendously invigorating evening.  Did I tell you that Dottie bought the record album with the same cast?  A fine addition to our record library and one that makes me want to buy other dramatic things.

I think we’ll go to see “Ivanhoe” tonight.  I understand it is a good rollicking picture.  Let you know later.

Little girl came into a bakery shop and said, “Mommy’s mad because that loaf of raisin bread you sold her had a fly in it.”  The baker said, “Tell your mommy to return the fly and I’ll give her a raisin.”

Love plus kisses equals you….

s/Chuck

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 22 Post:

Dearest Linda;

If it weren’t for the little niggling duties this job would be an almost unalloyed pleasure.  For instance, this morning I had to take dialogue off my layout sketches and type it up to give the girl to make copies for the actors to read.  It sounds like a little enough task and indeed it is, but it has a kind of irritating something to it.  The picture is finished as far as I am concerned. I’m ready to get the hell onto something else.  Why, then, don’t I get someone else to do it, which I could very easily do?  Because as I type it there are minuscule changes that need to be made, character adjustments, avoidance of repetition and a general toning up of the thing.  Another person could do it and perhaps very well, but it would not be the way I would do it.  Not that my way is right.  There is no real right or wrong to this sort of thing, but just that I have to believe in it or I can’t very well sell it to my animators.  So, I do it and find it a nasty job.  I also make out a work sheet as I go along, listing the scene number with its corresponding background, footage, animator to which it is assigned and general description.  This also comes under the chore category.  Then to top the morning off, I had to go in and look at a cutting picture (sans music and sound effects) with Eddie, who was dressed in a dark blue suit, so he could leave for the funeral of an old friend right afterwards.  Nice propitious circumstances for getting laughs, eh?  Picture looked good, though, and actually I got off with a minimum of friction.  Only got mad once.  Par for one of these runnings is Eddie getting mad twice and I three times.  It may come as a shock to you that I get mad at all, but it is like the mother wolf protecting her puppy.  I’m a pretty fearsome object when aroused.  Glints of fire in the nostrils, etc., etc.  The picture was “Punch Trunk”, the one about a five-inch high elephant appearing in New York and the consequences ensuing there from.  Definitely an off the beaten track picture for me.  I do hope it is successful.  I think we know pretty well how to handle the formula stories around here.  The problem is breaking out and trying something different, and getting away with it.

As Dottie no doubt told you in her letter we went to see “Don Juan in Hell” last night at the Philharmonic Auditorium.  Sir Cedric (pronounced Seedric) Hardwicke, Agnes Moorehead, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton sat on stools on the stage, no scenery, no costumes, and recited this, the finest I do believe, of George Bernard Shaw’s plays.  An exciting, tremendously invigorating evening.  Did I tell you that Dottie bought the record album with the same cast?  A fine addition to our record library and one that makes me want to buy other dramatic things.

I think we’ll go to see “Ivanhoe” tonight.  I understand it is a good rollicking picture.  Let you know later.

Little girl came into a bakery shop and said, “Mommy’s mad because that loaf of raisin bread you sold her had a fly in it.”  The baker said, “Tell your mommy to return the fly and I’ll give her a raisin.”

Love plus kisses equals you….

s/Chuck

Paw de Deux: Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd Dance in “What’s Opera, Doc?”

From Goebel's
Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection, the Chuck Jones Signature Series,
classic moment from What's Opera, Doc?  This first (and only) figurine
in the Chuck Jones Signature Series comes from the cartoon selected as
#1 short film in 50 Greatest Cartoons and the first short cartoon
inducted into the National Film Archive.  Individually numbered, hand-signed by Chuck Jones.   

Jones hand-signed each piece; includes a card featuring the cartoon scene on which the figurine was based. 

BONUS: 
Includes a photograph of Jones signing the figurines–photo is signed
by Linda Jones Clough (Chuck's daughter) and Marian Jones (his widow).

Available now on eBay.  Bid now!  All proceeds from the sale of this item go to Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.

Paw de Deux figurine

Chuck Jones: Fast and Famished

82602

FAST
AND FAMISHED
                   

The great comedian/film directors of the twentieth century: Keaton, Chaplin, Sturges, Wilder and Jones share a common trait: obsession.  An obsession with perfection and with defeat because many of their classic comic heroes are winning-challenged.  Chuck Jones is probably the most fortunate of the group as he had more opportunity to refine his art and craft, producing over 200 films in his tenure at Warner Bros., 1938-1963, in comparison to even Wilder's paltry 18 in the same time period.  And refine them he did.    

The film Fast and Furry-ous premierd September 16, 1949, presenting to the world the new characters, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.  With Michael Maltese, Chuck Jones set out to parody 'chase' movies that were popular at the time, but instead of parody, they created the acme (sorry, couldn't resist) of chase films.  And then to follow up, over the next 14 years repeated it perfectly 23 more times.  It's not that each film is so different from another in the series, but it is remarkable how rich the characters are and how closely many of us identify with them.  A quote from George Santayana, the American writer and philosopher, helps explain our fascination with the hapless Wile E., "A fanatic is someone who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim."  

Fast and Famished, in an edition of 60, is Chuck Jones' 38th hand-painted limited edition cel art that features this intrepid duo (the first being the 1978 cover of the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, edition 50.)  Fast and Famished began life as an original drawing by Chuck Jones whose line was then transferred to acetate sheets (cels) using the fine art process of serigraphy.  Each cel was hand-painted by professional cel painters using 12 different colors.  Under the supervision of a Jones family member the Chuck Jones official signature-mark was then applied to the cel. 

Jones Draws Jackson

In 1993,
Neiman Marcus published a family cookbook called Pigtails and Frog's
Legs.  Chuck illustrated the book with delightful culinary sketches. 
The introduction to that original edition was by Michael Jackson and
Chuck did a characture of MJ which appeared in the book.   I just came
across this…

LindaChuck Michael Jackson

Jones draws Jackson

In 1993, Neiman Marcus published a family cookbook called Pigtails and Frog's Legs.  Chuck illustrated the book with delightful culinary sketches.  The introduction to that original edition was by Michael Jackson and Chuck did a characture of MJ which appeared in the book.   I just came across this…

LindaChuck Michael Jackson

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 21 Post:

Friday, October 17, 1952

Dear Linda;

Your report from [your counselor] arrived yesterday, a very good one, too.  She seemed quite impressed with you.  I noticed an odd thing about your grades, though:  first period A, second period B+, third period B-, fourth period C+, a sort of slow deterioration seems to set in through the day.  I suppose if there was a fifth period it would be C then C-, then D+, D, D- and so on into the horrors of failure, expulsion, petty theft, murder and the penitentiary.  Probably just as well there are only four periods.  I think you’re doing a grand job with them.  Seriously, though, are you getting enough rest?  I know that on that schedule it is a little difficult and I’m not sure that I can tell you what to do if you are not, but please don’t get all run down (Brother, I sound just like a parent.)

We went to a round dance class last night, advanced, no less.  A night of very hard work, indeed, but fun.  My big problem in couple dances is to overcome a ferocious mental handicap.  You see, when I was in my teens, I was not taught to dance.  For some reason I missed learning when I should have, that is at fourteen or thereabouts.  And then everyone was dancing and I could not bring myself to the humiliation of asking for help, so I pretended that I didn’t like dancing, which by now I didn’t.  And eventually I came to believe that I couldn’t: a truly terrifying thing to happen to a young person in as much as it shuts the door on so much teenage enjoyment and activity.  I would go to parties in complete misery, yet unable to stay away from them because staying home was a worse choice.  I would meet a sweet, pretty girl and sometimes charm her with a choice of words that was beginning then to have a certain glibness, only to lose her immediately the music started, either to some other boy, or in glum mute inability to tell her that I could not dance.  So the wells of my verbosity would dry up and she would look at this hapless dolt and soon find an excuse to leave my company. 

My sisters tried sporadically to teach me, but by then my belief in my own awkwardness had solidified into a certainty that I was a hopeless case, doomed forever to the status of wall-flowery and perhaps to a wifeless and childless manhood.  Thus when square dancing came into my life, I was captivated, enthralled to find that I could do it.  I!!  What a magnificent thing!  And then the stinker appeared.  I discovered when we left our beginner’s class that I was expected to dance a round dance between each set of two squares.  How I ever got courage enough to even try the Varsouvianna I’ll never know.  It took months for me to learn the first verse, but try it I did and learn it I did and from that day I knew that I could dance any dance any other layman could.  I knew it in my mind, but my heart and my subconscious mind would and still do take over occasionally.  One of them will jump up in the middle of a dance and scream in panic:  Here!  Here!  You can’t dance…you’ll be humiliated in front of all these people!!  Run for the hills!!!  And so my mind goes blank and only with the most intense exercise of will can I drag it back from the brink of what seems then to be disaster.  This usually happens when we are learning a new and complicated round.

How do you like the role of mother confessor?

That’s all for now…..

Your greedy old beast of a father

P.S.  Love.

P.P.S.  Kisses

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

# 21 Post:

Friday, October 17, 1952

Dear Linda;

Your report from [your counselor] arrived yesterday, a very good one, too.  She seemed quite impressed with you.  I noticed an odd thing about your grades, though:  first period A, second period B+, third period B-, fourth period C+, a sort of slow deterioration seems to set in through the day.  I suppose if there was a fifth period it would be C then C-, then D+, D, D- and so on into the horrors of failure, expulsion, petty theft, murder and the penitentiary.  Probably just as well there are only four periods.  I think you’re doing a grand job with them.  Seriously, though, are you getting enough rest?  I know that on that schedule it is a little difficult and I’m not sure that I can tell you what to do if you are not, but please don’t get all run down (Brother, I sound just like a parent.)

We went to a round dance class last night, advanced, no less.  A night of very hard work, indeed, but fun.  My big problem in couple dances is to overcome a ferocious mental handicap.  You see, when I was in my teens, I was not taught to dance.  For some reason I missed learning when I should have, that is at fourteen or thereabouts.  And then everyone was dancing and I could not bring myself to the humiliation of asking for help, so I pretended that I didn’t like dancing, which by now I didn’t.  And eventually I came to believe that I couldn’t: a truly terrifying thing to happen to a young person in as much as it shuts the door on so much teenage enjoyment and activity.  I would go to parties in complete misery, yet unable to stay away from them because staying home was a worse choice.  I would meet a sweet, pretty girl and sometimes charm her with a choice of words that was beginning then to have a certain glibness, only to lose her immediately the music started, either to some other boy, or in glum mute inability to tell her that I could not dance.  So the wells of my verbosity would dry up and she would look at this hapless dolt and soon find an excuse to leave my company. 

My sisters tried sporadically to teach me, but by then my belief in my own awkwardness had solidified into a certainty that I was a hopeless case, doomed forever to the status of wall-flowery and perhaps to a wifeless and childless manhood.  Thus when square dancing came into my life, I was captivated, enthralled to find that I could do it.  I!!  What a magnificent thing!  And then the stinker appeared.  I discovered when we left our beginner’s class that I was expected to dance a round dance between each set of two squares.  How I ever got courage enough to even try the Varsouvianna I’ll never know.  It took months for me to learn the first verse, but try it I did and learn it I did and from that day I knew that I could dance any dance any other layman could.  I knew it in my mind, but my heart and my subconscious mind would and still do take over occasionally.  One of them will jump up in the middle of a dance and scream in panic:  Here!  Here!  You can’t dance…you’ll be humiliated in front of all these people!!  Run for the hills!!!  And so my mind goes blank and only with the most intense exercise of will can I drag it back from the brink of what seems then to be disaster.  This usually happens when we are learning a new and complicated round.

How do you like the role of mother confessor?

That’s all for now…..

Your greedy old beast of a father

P.S.  Love.

P.P.S.  Kisses