Monthly Archives: December 2009

Image of the Day: Feed the Kitty

FEKI-01-003 copy

Original model drawing (graphite and colored pencil on 12 field, two-hole punch animation paper) by Chuck Jones for his 1952 "Feed the Kitty" short cartoon. 

Pussyfoot it may be to millions of fans, but to Chuck Jones
Pussyfoot had no permanent name, “…call [him] Everykitten.”   Jones continues, “All the kitten had was the
ability to love, so drawing him was comparatively simple.  A kitten’s ears are much bigger in relation
to the face than an adult cat’s, and as in all young mammals, his forehead is
very high.  I wanted him to be so darling
that you feel you must pick him up and hug him, which is precisely what I
wanted Marc Anthony to want to do.”

“We have something to say in this world of art, no matter how small. The instrument is strength. It’s power. It’s the freedom of my soul.”

I'm Cheryl Posner, Executive Director of Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.  I'd like to share a story that inspires me:  It's about the women of Shiraz, Iran, who play in the Fars Women's Chamber Orchestra.  Their conductor is probably the only man in the entire country who would be permitted to lead this all-female group.  He's blind.

(Thank you, Los Angeles Times, for placing this story on the Sunday edition's first page!)

Please read the story, hear the music, and listen to the sound of freedom in your own heart.

Ali Jafarian & Fars Women's Chamber Orchestra LA Times 12.20.09

(Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times)

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

 

March
18, 1955

 

Post
# 62

 

Dearest
Linda,

 

Your
last letter sounded like you were at that time immersed in spring fever, a
malaise inducing acute ennui, madness, and I-don’t-give-a-damn-it is.  I know it too well and yet it probably
is far worse in a climate where spring really means something.  When the first tree makes its tentative
budding, yet winter is still everywhere else, it must arouse a dreadful
impatience and a longing to be quit of cold and to repose warmly in the sun in
green grass and bright blossoms. 
God!  I’m getting spring
fever myself, just talking about it.

 

One
thing is, Spring Fever is cured by Spring.  When it comes.  If
it ever comes.

 

We
will be over to see you in three weeks. 
It seems a long time.  You
will be graduating in only ten weeks. 
That doesn’t seem so long. 
It has been ten weeks since we have seen you, though, and that seems an
eternity.  I really miss you this
time.  It seems like you may grow
up, become a woman, get married, have fifteen children, and pioneer the
transmutation of the baser metals in the time you have been away.  I miss you indeed, yet I know that
these years in this environment have been productive happy ones for you and I
do not begrudge them in any fashion. 
Your conduct this year particularly pleases me.  You took several very nasty bumps, of
one kind and another, in 1954 and your recovery from them all has been
admirable in all ways.  If Dottie’s
promptness and faithfulness in writing has brought happiness to you, I want you
to know that everything you have done this year: your grades, your letters,
your attitude, and every other aspect of your personality, has brought great
happiness to her.  And to me, of
course.

 

Nana
has mastered the TV set to the point that she can watch a program, manufacture
a doll, entertain guests, brew and drink coffee, smoke a cigarette, read a
letter, write a letter, and keep an eye on all neighborhood dogs and children
simultaneously.  Pretty good for a
growing girl.  She even saw a large
whitish whale cavorting a couple of hundred yards off her house the other
day.  Smart whale, knowing where to
elicit an appreciative audience.  
Mother is an amazing woman. 
It is fantastic to visit her and observe the coterie that attends her.  That a woman of her age, 67 this year,
can attract so many friends and draw them to her with real magnetism, after all
nothing forces them to drop in on her, is a glorious and wonderful thing.  I hope that many people love me at that
age.  Or at this age, for that
matter.

 

Tonight
we go to the Irelands where I am to stand-in for [your headmaster] and talk
about the [school].  Tell [him] I
have one advantage: I can say nice things about him, but he can’t say nice
things about him.

 

Love,
love, love

Chuck Jones’ letters to his daughter, Linda

 

March
18, 1955

 

Post
# 62

 

Dearest
Linda,

 

Your
last letter sounded like you were at that time immersed in spring fever, a
malaise inducing acute ennui, madness, and I-don’t-give-a-damn-it is.  I know it too well and yet it probably
is far worse in a climate where spring really means something.  When the first tree makes its tentative
budding, yet winter is still everywhere else, it must arouse a dreadful
impatience and a longing to be quit of cold and to repose warmly in the sun in
green grass and bright blossoms. 
God!  I’m getting spring
fever myself, just talking about it.

 

One
thing is, Spring Fever is cured by Spring.  When it comes.  If
it ever comes.

 

We
will be over to see you in three weeks. 
It seems a long time.  You
will be graduating in only ten weeks. 
That doesn’t seem so long. 
It has been ten weeks since we have seen you, though, and that seems an
eternity.  I really miss you this
time.  It seems like you may grow
up, become a woman, get married, have fifteen children, and pioneer the
transmutation of the baser metals in the time you have been away.  I miss you indeed, yet I know that
these years in this environment have been productive happy ones for you and I
do not begrudge them in any fashion. 
Your conduct this year particularly pleases me.  You took several very nasty bumps, of
one kind and another, in 1954 and your recovery from them all has been
admirable in all ways.  If Dottie’s
promptness and faithfulness in writing has brought happiness to you, I want you
to know that everything you have done this year: your grades, your letters,
your attitude, and every other aspect of your personality, has brought great
happiness to her.  And to me, of
course.

 

Nana
has mastered the TV set to the point that she can watch a program, manufacture
a doll, entertain guests, brew and drink coffee, smoke a cigarette, read a
letter, write a letter, and keep an eye on all neighborhood dogs and children
simultaneously.  Pretty good for a
growing girl.  She even saw a large
whitish whale cavorting a couple of hundred yards off her house the other
day.  Smart whale, knowing where to
elicit an appreciative audience.  
Mother is an amazing woman. 
It is fantastic to visit her and observe the coterie that attends her.  That a woman of her age, 67 this year,
can attract so many friends and draw them to her with real magnetism, after all
nothing forces them to drop in on her, is a glorious and wonderful thing.  I hope that many people love me at that
age.  Or at this age, for that
matter.

 

Tonight
we go to the Irelands where I am to stand-in for [your headmaster] and talk
about the [school].  Tell [him] I
have one advantage: I can say nice things about him, but he can’t say nice
things about him.

 

Love,
love, love

Image of the Day: Horton the Elephant

82877-1.hi res

A Brief History of Chuck Jones and Ted Geisel:

  • Chuck Jones and Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) met in 1943.  Dr. Seuss was then Captain Geisel, in charge of the animation and documentary arm of the first motion picture unit, commanded by Colonel Frank Capra and quartered in the old Fox Studio on Sunset Blvd. and Western Ave.
  • There they designed and created the Private SNAFU Armed Services training films featuring the trials, tribulations and trepidations of the worst soldier in the Army, Private Snafu.
  • After the war, Major Geisel retired to his home in La Jolla, hoping to escape Hollywood chicanery: he was robbed of writing credits on an Academy Award-winning documentary (as many others have been) and was denied proper recognition for writing the Oscar-winning UPS animated cartoon Gerald McBoing-Boing.  He was given a very meager credit, no share in the film's glory, and $500.00, which was all the payment he received.  Even this $500.00 must ahve appeared generous in comparison to the $50.00 that Leon Schlesinger paid him for the rights to Horton Hatches the Egg.
  • Not surprisingly, Geisel was not eager to have more of his books made into film, but Chuck Jones persuaded him to allow Jones to direct and produce Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (released December 18, 1966.)
  • Shortly thereafter, they began collaboration on Horton Hears a Who!, which finally premiered on March 19, 1970 after several years in production.
  • Dr. Seuss, quoted in the Memphis Press-Scimitar on Friday, March 13, 1970: "I'd foresworn Hollywood until Chuck [Jones] did the Grinch.  I can't really draw–that is, I can't make a representational drawing and that rather hampers an animator.  I was never happy with my work in animation before Chuck."
  • Dr. Seuss, quoted in the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle on Sunday, March 15, 1970: "Horton Hears a Who! is one of the few Seuss books with a sociological theme.  I got to worrying about whether big countries were listening to little countries."  (Horton, a soft-hearted elephant, hears the Who cry from Whoville, which is so small its world is a speck of dust.)
  • Originally conceived as a one-hour special as reported in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, September 20, 1967 for color airing in 1968.  Eventually the film was a half-hour special and aired in March of 1970.
  • The script was finalized in August of 1969 (two years after the beginning of pre-production!)  The story begins:

On the fifteenth of May/In the jungle of Nool,/In the heat of the day,/In the cool of the pool,/He was splashing…/Enjoying the jungle's great joys…/When Horton the Elephant heard a small noise.

  • Dr. Seuss pronounced Seuss like 'sauce' and said that he chose his nom de plume because he felt children's authors didn't get enough respect.
  • Chuck Jones voiced the character of Junyer Kangaroo, "Me, too!"