Chuck Jones’s pay stub for the week ending December 9, 1944. At the time, he was directing animated short films for Leon Schlesinger Studios.
On January 6, 1945, just a month after the pay stub, Chuck Jones’s famous skunk, Pepe le Pew, made his debut in “Odor-able Kitty”, which had originally been titled, “Forever Ambushed”.
The model sheets were drawn by Chuck Jones and used by the animators to stay “on model” during the drawing of the cartoon.
Side note: “Forever Ambushed” is a take-off on the title of bestselling romance novel of 1944, titled, “Forever Amber”. The book was eventually made into a film in 1947 by 20th Century Fox. The Chuck Jones pay stub is from the Linda Jones Clough archive.
These four artists, in their creative contributions to this year’s Red Dot Auction, a fundraiser benefiting the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity–a 501(c)3 public charity, have found inspiration in female beauty, whether the enigmatic smile of the “Mona Bunny” or the provocative deshabillé of the target of Pepé le Pew’s attention, each one has captured that magical essence that keeps wolf’s tongues on the floor, and skunks in hot pursuit.
Have you been online yet to view the work and pre-bid on your favorites at Heritage Auctions? These and other fabulous works of art are available for pre-bidding through April 29th. The silent auction will close on Friday, May 1st by 10 PM PDT. Tickets are available here.
Chuck Jones (center) and Unit "A" at Leon Schlesinger Productions, circa 1939, from the Dorothy Jones scrapbook chronicling Chuck's first few years as director. More memorabilia from this scrapbook is on display at the Chuck Jones Experience, Circus Circus, Las Vegas.
The perfect way to enjoy a Satruday: Turner Classic Movies will be honoring Chuck Jones's centennial year with a film retrospective on Saturday, March 24th. Click here for the play list and times. You'll be treated to a panoply of Jones's most cherished cartoons, starring your favorite Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, and Pepe le Pew. Make some popcorn and stay up late to watch his only feature film, "The Phantom Tollbooth" and look for him in a cameo role! I can hear the laughter already…can't you?
The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta just ended its 2011 festivities this past Sunday. The Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe has participated with the organizers several times, once even providing the "chase" flags (see below.)
But this year, one of Chuck's most beloved characters, Pepé le Pew, took a bow at the Fiesta and wowed the assembled with his larger-than-life presence as one of the participating balloons. Our friends, Yasine and Kyle (who took the photos below, thank you so much!), said it was great fun to listen in on people as the Pepé le Pew balloon took shape and they began to realize what character it was. Fractured French for everyone!
When Chuck Jones's 1949 short animated film starring Pepé le Pew, "For Scent-i-mental Reasons" won the Oscar for best short animated film at the Oscars held in March of 1950, he received many congratulatory telegrams (of course, he did not get the actual Oscar statuette, that honor was bestowed upon the producer, the irascible Eddie Selzer), but of all of the congratulations, the telegram below, from the inimitable Tex Avery is perhaps the most delightful. This artfact will be on display at the soon-to-open Chuck Jones Experience at Circus Circus in Las Vegas.
You might very well look at this image and ask yourself, "What do these characters have to do with our nation's founding?" Well wonder no more, here's the story as told to us by a very wise person…
In the middle 1970s Chuck Jones was producing and directing several half hour TV specials based on the George Selden "Cricket in Times Square" books and characters. The last of a trio of films starring Harry Cat, Chester Cricket and Tucker Mouse was "Yankee Doodle Cricket" and as was often the case with Chuck, he made a thorough investigation of the period (revolutionary, my good fellow!) and while working on model drawings, the look and feel of the film, he took that left turn at Albuquerque and created the drawing that was used as the line for this hand-painted limited edition cel that stars Pepe le Pew, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam as they witness Daffy Duck applying his "Daffy Duck" (did you think I was going to say his "John Hancock"?) to the Ducklaration of Independence.
Each "Ducklaration" in the edition has been hand-painted by expert cel painters, one color at a time (from darkest to lightest) on the reverse side of the acetate (cel) sheet, Chuck approved each by hand-signing each example. To add this special work of art to your collection, please contact your Chuck Jones Gallery art consultant and you will receive two free tickets to "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" on Saturday, August 6, 2011 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Irvine, California and two free tickets to the Chuck Jones Big Draw on Sunday, August 7, 2011 at SOCO (South Coast Collection) in Costa Mesa, California, a $150.00 value! San Diego: 888-294-9880; Santa Fe: 800-290-5999; Tustin: 800-959-7175.
Conceived as a new character for the short film, Forever Ambushed, Stinky became the familiar francophone-challenged skunk known throughout the world today as Pepé le Pew. The film was eventually retitled Odor-able Kitty and premiered on the silver screen nationwide January 6, 1945. It follows the misadventures of a bedraggled and abused tomcat who, wishing to avoid the derision and despair of life as an alley cat, paints himself black with a white stripe, rolls in Limburger cheese and wreaks revenge upon his tormentors as a sly skunk. At which point the French-accented skunk (Stinky/Henry/Pepé) brimming with amour (ooh la la, mon petit chou) enters and a Feydeau farce of co(s)mic proportions is born (beaucoups de rire). Although famed storyman Michael Maltese was to write the majority of Pepé’s ‘aromantic’ adventures (c’est bon!), the legendary Tedd Pierce penned (écrivait) this first cartoon (et très bien aussi!).
“Characters always start with an idea rather than a drawing. Before I drew Pepé for his first appearance in a cartoon, I knew something about his character, and I knew he was a skunk, but I did not know what he looked like. Live-action directors call casting sessions at this point to find an actor to match their notion of a character, but I begin drawing—my casting session. I did more than 200 drawings of Pepé before I was confident he would work according to our conception of him. From that moment on, he was as much subject to the limits of his physical ability as I am.
“When we were writing Odor-able Kitty, in which Pepé made his first appearance (under the name Henry), the odious Eddie Selzer [the producer at Warner Bros. Cartoons] tried to block the project on the grounds that skunks talking French are not funny. (The French themselves find these cartoons very funny.) But when For Scent-imental Reasons later won an Academy Award, Eddie Selzer contentedly collected the credit and the Oscar, which he took home.” — Chuck Jones, Chuck Reducks, Drawing from the Fun Side of Life
Filmography (all Jones, except where noted):
Odor-able Kitty (1945)
Scent-imental Over You (1947)
Odor of the Day (Davis, 1948)
For Scent-imental Reasons (1949 Academy Award-winner)
If you were expecting a St. Patrick’s Day-themed post today, we’re afraid you’re going to be disappointed and we hate to disappoint, but…
Instead, on our way to other things, we came across an original production drawing from the Chuck Jones directed short animated cartoon, “Louvre Come Back to Me” of 1962 of Pepe le Pew with a dog, simply saying “Something?”
Which immediately put us in mind of the delightful cel art edition created by Chuck Jones in 1983 (21 years later!) that the Chuck Jones Galleries have released from archive just for this post, so we can share it with you. Click the image for more details.
We are always delighted when we can put 2 + 2 together; to discover where inspiration springs (like Irish Spring–there’s the tie-in!) from and how one fine drawing, so full of character, found a second life as an edition that has pleased so many, so many years later.
"Scent-imental Over You" is the second Pepe le Pew cartoon directed by Chuck Jones. This 'Scent' was released in theaters nationwide on May 8, 1947, a couple of years after Pepe's first film, "Odor-able Kitty" and two years before Jones won his first Oscar (who, BTW, is going on holiday, watch this space for more news in the coming days as to his whereabouts…) for the Pepe le Pew vehicle "For Scent-imental Reasons".
This original production layout drawing by Chuck Jones of Pepe chasing after the poor little Chihuahua (who as a "Mexican Hairless" has disguised himself in his mistress's furs so that he would look more like the other dogs, alas to his chagrin) is graphite on 12 field two-hole punch animation paper. It will be featured in the Archive Art Exhibit at Art Partners Gallery this Saturday, February 5th at 7:30 PM. Throw on your snowshoes and come meet Craig Kausen, Chuck Jones' grandson, as he inaugurates the exhibit Chuck Jones: Frame by Frame, An Animator's Story at the gallery. More details? Call 847-517-5757!
The cartoon has Russian translations for the dialogue, but you'll get the idea…
Original layout drawing by Chuck Jones (graphite on 12 field animation paper, 10.5" x 12.5") from his 1962 Pepé le Pew short animated film, "Louvre Come Back to Me." Now we know how the Venus de Milo lost her arms!