Monthly Archives: December 2010

Why Santy Claus, Why?

First awakened by the jingling of a loosened ornament from her Who Christmas tree, little Cindy-Lou Who's plaintive cry of "Why Santy Claus, why," startles the Grinch and one of the great scenes from Chuck Jones' classic "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" unfolds.  The acting is subtle and impressive; Jones often said, "An animator is an actor with a pencil," and no where in this film is that more evident than here.  

CJ75-303-1 WITH ORIG BG copy
Original production cel of Cindy-Lou Who with its matching original production background.  In the 1970s while the production art from the film was stored at UCLA's film library, a water pipe burst and many pieces suffered water damage as seen in the background of the above piece.  

Of course, this post is really about the incomparable June Foray, the voice of Cindy-Lou Who.  Chuck Jones writes in his Chuck Reducks, "One of the few misconceptions about June is to think of her wonderful talent as "voice over."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  June is worthy of the gift-word: actress.  She imbues a part with herself, be it a Mama Bear or the deadly cobra Nagaina in Rikki Tikki Tavi.  As a vocal Grandma Moses, she brought the redoubtable Granny to life for Friz Freleng; for me, she did the loving mother seal in Kipling's The White Seal.  She created three different witches named Hazel for Disney, MGM and Warner Bros., all with different personalities but all with undeniable knowledge of Shakespeare's squacky trio.  She could transfer her throat from a sweet Cindy-Lou in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to a bellowing Red Riding Hood in Little Red Riding Rabbit…  From Natasha to (an asexual) Rocky, she dominated Bullwinkle and company for many years.  Indeed, she is one of the few actresses I know who would understand John Barrymore's assertion that "an actor cannot say 'pass the butter' without understanding who said it, where it was said, and under what circumstances it was said."  In fact–and I speak with the deepest respect for him–I can only compliment Mel Blanc by saying that he could be called the a male June Foray."

  Craig Kausen June Foray

Craig Kausen (Chuck Jones' grandson) and voice actress extraordinaire June Foray at a reception held in her honor at the Chuck Jones Gallery.   

about Boris Karloff, the man whose voice tells the story…

That's the title at the top of the page from the MGM press booklet for the 1966 Chuck Jones-directed animated television special, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" that introduces Boris Karloff. It goes on to reveal some fascinating aspects of Karloff's character and reads in part:

"When it comes to villains, Boris Karloff is the epitome, so for Dr. Seuss' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS–a tale of a Christmas villain, Karloff is the appropriate narrator.

"Both Jones and Dr. Seuss agreed that Boris Karloff was the only man to tell the tale over the colorful animated film.  The choice was not so much for the association with Karloff's monster roles (although the Grinch is somewhat of a monster in the beginning of the story) but because of the rich mellow voice of this distinguished actor.  He can sound miserable and mean on the one hand, and bright and cheerful on the other–both qualities necessary to the story of HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.

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Chuck Jones and Boris Karloff during the taping of the audio for the animated film, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

"Through the years, Karloff has played literally hundreds of different characters–so many that he honestly can't remember them all… In fact, this past year has been a busy one for him at MGM, where he also did the role of Mother Muffin in an episode of "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.", and still another character portrayal in the MGM feature presentation, "The Venetian Affair".

GRINCH PRESS BOOK

The multi-page Press Book (each page hand-typed!) from MGM for the release of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

"Today, Karloff commutes between Hollywood and London, where he maintains a flat, and a cottage in Hampshire.  Says he, "You know, it's a funny thing, when I'm in England and I speak of California–that's home, but when I'm here, I think of England as home".  

"His chief interests are flower gardens, poetry and the stage.  He's an avid fan of cricket and Rugby football–in all, quite a mild, cultured, soft spoken English gentleman–a complete contrast to most of his menacing characters on the screen."

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Original pencil on animation paper drawing of Boris Karloff as the Grinch (with the Cat in the Hat hat on) by Chuck Jones; created during the audio taping of Karloff's narration of the classic animated film.  

The Grinch Storyboards & Presentation Story…

Chuck Jones' daughter, Linda, likes to recount that when she was a young girl her father would often 'act out' the cartoons he was working on for her, voices, gags, action, everything.  Chuck explains in his book, Chuck Reducks, how he went on the road with the Grinch storyboards and their presentation saga…

"…off to New York to sell the idea to a sponsor.  (Today you sell your film to the network; in the those innocent days–1966–you sold to the sponsor, guaranteeing financial support, before you could proceed to the network.)

"That sounded easy enough.  After all, I could take great pride in the wonderful story and full professional storyboard, and I could–and did–act all the parts (even Cindy-Lou Who) while presenting the board–twenty-six times!

"Yep.  Twenty-six times I did my dog-and-pony, or rather dog-and-grinch, act for the icy-eyed acres of advertising agency people before I could find a buyer."  (Eventually the Foundation of Commercial Banks became the sponsor, much to the surprise of Chuck, for who would think that they of all people, would want to promote an entertainment where the main character says, "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store?")

SEUSS JONES BANKERS
Ted Geisel (second from left) and Chuck Jones (second from right) pose with members of the Foundation of Commercial Banks for a publicity photo before the airing on December 18, 1966 of the animated television special, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

And speaking of advertising agencies…below is a telex (pre-fax, pre-email, pre-skype!) from the Chicago office of the giant Leo Burnett advertising agency (think Mad Men) to their New York office counterparts extolling the virtues of Jones' storyboard presentation and how it would behoove them to make sure one of their big clients (Kellogg's or Campbell's Soup) became the sponsor of this most watched and beloved holiday special.  An amazing read, isn't it?

LEO BURNETT TELEGRAM

The Hollywood Christmas Parade–1966

In 1966 The Hollywood Christmas Parade featured a large green Santa Claus.  Constructed from wire and papier maché and made by ink & paint maven Auril Thompson (pictured below), the Grinch rode in the back seat of a convertible Cadillac down the parade route (via Hollywood & Sunset Blvds.)  Keeping the myth alive, his whereabouts after the parade are unknown, but we do know his spirit lives on every year when the Chuck Jones-directed and produced "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" airs on television in homes around the globe.  

GRINCH AURIL THOMPSON copy       LLOYD VAUGHN GRINCH HOLLYWOOD PARADE

The slightly blurry photo to the right is of Lloyd Vaughan, an animator of much distinction, who worked in Chuck's unit at Warner Bros. beginning in the early 1940s and continued to work with Jones throughout the MGM years and beyond.  Mr. Vaughan died at the age of 79 in 1988.

 

Dr. Seuss characters, names and all related indicia are trademarks of the 1984 Ted Geisel Trust and © Turner Entertainment, Inc. 2010.

“Cartoon Therapy” at the Chuck Jones Gallery–Santa Fe

Staci Matlock of the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the Saturday morning Chuck Jones Film Festival held this past Saturday at the Chuck Jones Gallery on Palace Avenue in Old Santa Fe.  

You can read how the term "cartoon therapy" came to be by clicking on this sentence.

Ricardo cate
 Ricardo Cate, author of the comic strip Without Reservations, talks Saturday at the Chuck Jones Gallery holiday cartoon festival about coming up with ideas and characters on a daily basis and lets the audience throw out ideas for new drawings. –  Photo by Natalie Guillen/The New Mexican

Chuck Jones Gallery–San Diego Welcomes Lawrence Leichliter

Finishing off a day-long series of special events in the gallery on Saturday, December 4, the Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego welcomed PEANUTS director and animator Lawrence Leichliter.  Seen here dedicating original artwork from a PEANUTS special with a remarqué (please note the 'sad' little tree next to him, so "Charlie Brown!",) Leichliter greeted several hundred collectors, including the Lemaster's (see below.)

Larry with the Lemasters (Large)

Starting the day off was an hour long Chuck Jones Film Festival:

Film Fest 2010 (Large)

And after the reception for Leichliter, our very special clients were treated to a magnificent "Roast Beast Feast" at the local restaurant, Lou & Mickey's, and had the opportunity to chat with Larry in a more intimate setting.

Roast beast feast (Large)

To wrap up this wonderful day (and evening) Linda Jones Clough (Chuck's daughter) explained to those assembled why she wasn't paying too much attention to what Chuck was doing in 1966 (she was busy being a Mom to three kids, ages 6, 4, and 2. See the actual card below the photo.)

Linda reading christmas card (Large)

Kausen New Year Card 1967

“Seuss Menagerie to Star on Sunday” — The Debut of “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on December 18, 1966

We just came across this wonderful article in the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity's archives that appeared in the Los Angeles Times the week before the Chuck Jones directed "Dr.Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" was to make its debut on CBS (pre-empting "Lassie, no less) on Sunday, December 18, 1966.  In the same box with the clipping (it's a wonderful read BTW, click it to enlarge) were these two photographs.  The top one shows Chuck Jones working with Boris Karloff during the taping session for the soundtrack and the bottom one is (from left) Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, Les Goldman and Chuck Jones admiring the album covers of Seuss' "Horton Hatches an Egg" and the upcoming "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (it with cover art by Chuck Jones.)

Of course, what delights us most of all, is the photo in the article of Chuck Jones looking very Grinch-y indeed as Ted Geisel adds his own twist on the Grinch look.  Can you imagine how much fun it must've been to have been in the room with those two?  Oh, heavens, the mind reels!  

Seuss menagerie photo collage copy

The art for the album cover:  

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Things You Learn While Doing Other Things

This morning as I was drinking my morning coffee and doing Saturday's Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle this clue caught my eye: 50 across, "1890s warning song for sailor's."  All I could think of was "Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning, red sky at night, sailor's delight," but that didn't fit, so I worked around it, until…

I figured it out, "asleep in the deep," which, of course, made me realize that Chuck Jones' 1962 cartoon "A Sheep in the Deep" title was a pun on the song (it had to come from somewhere, right?)  Then I did a search for it online and found a recording of the song by Thurl Ravenscroft (the voice of Tony the Tiger) and the man who sang "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch," for the Chuck Jones directed 1966 television special, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"  It couldn't get any better!  So, for your listening and viewing pleasure, I bring you Mr. Ravenscroft singing "Asleep in the Deep" along with Jones' "A Sheep in the Deep."

 


And here's yesterday's puzzle (which you can see I'm short two answers, 35 down and 55 across, let me know if you have the answers!)

 477

 

Video excerpts from the June Foray Reception at the Chuck Jones Gallery–Orange County

Our reception for legendary voice actress, June Foray (Witch Hazel, Granny, Cindy Lou Who, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha Fatale,) started off with a beautiful sunset over the Tustin Marine Corps Base (just to the southwest of our gallery) and went on into the night with a crowd of collectors & well-wishers.  Miss Foray, a vibrant 93 years old, spoke during the evening with hundreds of her fans, food was consumed — there was even music (coming soon!)  All-in-all a lovely evening.  More video to come, watch this space.

(P.S. that's Craig Kausen, Chuck's grandson, on the left of the last photo.)

Last Minute Preparations for the June Foray Show Tonight

Preparations continue for the June Foray reception and "Roast Beast Feast" exhibit at the Chuck Jones Gallery in Tustin this evening from 4 to 8 PM.  3065 Edinger Ave.  Tustin@ChuckJones.com or 800-959-7175.  

11:54 AM PST: We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties and there is no sound with the video, hope to fix that problem, please check back!

12:31 PM PST: Problem fixed!  Play on…