Original storyboard (5.75” x 6.5”) by Chuck
Jones, mixed media (graphite, watercolor & colored pencil) on MGM
storyboard paper for his 1970 television special, "Horton Hears a Who!"
Preliminary work began on the second Dr. Seuss
and Chuck Jones collaboration before their “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole
Christmas” even aired.This included not
only pre-production watercolors by Jones, but also layout designs by the
inimitable Maurice Noble.However, it
would be four more years before their labors would bear fruit and the special
would make its premier, March
19th, 1970 on U.S. television.
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!"