[Click here to read the Corny Cole interview that Willie Ito, Corny's former colleague at the Disney and Warner Bros. studios, writes about below.]
From Willie Ito: It's been awhile. Being retired from animation has offered me a chance to do more children's books. I am enjoying not having to commute daily on the Los Angeles freeway traffic. I just got back from a hectic weekend in San Diego. I was on a panel at Comic-Con with three of my old cohorts discussing Hanna-Barbera and the animation of the '60's.
My son-in-law found your interview with Corny Cole about our days we worked together. I'd best correct some things before a wrong impression spreads any further.
Corny and I shared the same bullpen when we were inbetweeners on Lady and the Tramp. I was taking night classes at Chouinard as was Corny. We became fast friends and since I was carless at that time, Corny drove me to school. We were both in Don Graham's life drawing class. During this time, Chuck Jones and his animators sat in on the classes. I was also attending T. Hee's animation class. Since UPA was the hottest studio in town, I was anxious to do well in my term assignment with my character designs.
Corny mentioned that I absconded with Disney property. The story became a bit exaggerated in his telling. Since I was a student with limited income, I couldn't afford all the colored pencils I needed to complete my assignment for T. Hee; so, in essence, I took home pencil stubs from my own work and went to get a few other colors from art props. As Corny would tell this story at parties, it became more exaggerated and soon I was taking home discs and practically everything that was not nailed down. I was very aware of studio security, and being at a studio such as Disney was very intimidating in itself.
Yes, it's true. We kept the tradition of a deep-dish martini or two at the Smoke House alive. I was still twenty years old and not accustomed to libations. During one of these infamous lunches, I did indulge in one too many. When we got back to the studio after lunch, I did knock on Chuck's office door and passed out. I awoke around 4 p.m. on his couch and the gang was having their jollies over the incident. I never did up-chuck (pardon the pun) on Chuck's floor. Again for the purpose of funny party stories, I let Corny tell it his way.
Corny always had some sort of a thing against Chuck. I was very cool with everything at Looney Tunes. I told Chuck that I enjoyed the layout side of animation. Friz was looking for another layout man so he asked Chuck if he could borrow me for six weeks. Hawley Pratt took me under his wing and trained me. My first WB screen credit was on Prince Violent, later changed by the networks to Prince Varmint. Meanwhile, Bob Clampett heard of me and offered me a layout and character design position. To the chagrin of Chuck and Friz, I made the move and the rest is history.
I realize stories being passed down tend to change. Termite Terrace is what Corny was referring to when we trashed the studio on the last day. Everybody got into the game. However, stacks of cells were spread over the worn hardwood floors with obvious slivers and we all surfed on it leaving a trail of colors. The old desks were readied for the bonfire.
Those of us that were on the panel at the con are now the top of the heap. I was surprised at the fans that knew us and did their homework. Because of that, I hate to have any false impressions of my youth, especially the thought of being a kleptomaniac or for that matter, a drunkard. Otherwise, it's wonderful that historians like yourself will keep the legacy of the golden age of animation alive for future generations of animation fans.
[Posted August 24, 2013]