I recorded my first interviews with people in animation and the
comics in 1969, on my first visit to Los Angeles. Mel Blanc was
the first person I interviewed, and in the days that followed I
hauled a tape recorder (the reel-to-reel kindcassette recorders
were still very new) to interviews with Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett,
Billy Bletcher, Roger Armstrong, Carl Stalling, and Ward Kimball.
Future visits to California, and then to New York and other places,
yielded hundreds more interviews. Milt Gray was along for many of
my interviews, and he recorded many interviews without me in between
my visits to L.A.
The idea was to publish the interviews in Funnyworld, at
firstthe Clampett, Jones, Stalling, and Blanc interviews from
my first trip all wound up appearing therebut then Milt and
I began recording interviews on a much larger scale as research
for Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age.
Hollywood Cartoons quotes extensively from thousands of
pages of transcripts, but there was no way I could use even a small
fraction of the most valuable material. I'm sharing in
this section some of the most interesting interviews, in part or complete.
Jack Kinney is best known for his Goofy sports cartoons, and he talked about those cartoons and other aspects of his career as a Disney director in a 1973 interview and again in 1976.
Wilfred Jackson was the most admired by his colleagues of all the Disney directors, and an astute observer of Walt Disney and his studio. Milt Gray and I recorded two interviews with him, in 1973 and 1976, both long and rich with information and insights.
Gerry Geronimi was probably the Disney animation director most criticized by his colleagues, but he makes the case for himself in the interview that Milt Gray and I recorded with him in 1976.
I interviewed the great Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston in 1976 (with Milt Gray) and then again in 1987; the second interview is at this link.
Phil Monroe was a leading animator at Warner Bros. in the 1940s and also worked at UPA and other interesting places. Milt Gray and I interviewed him in Hollywood in 1976; a second Monroe interview, from 1987, is at this link.
Corny Cole was an animator and designer whose name is most closely associated with features like Gay Purr-ee and Raggedy Ann + Andy, but he also had a lot to say about his earliest days in animation, in the Chuck Jones unit at the Warner Bros. studio. Milt Gray and I interviewed him in February 1991, near the end of my research for Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age.
Fred Kopietz built a career in Hollywood animation around long stints with Lantz and Disney. He was never a "name," like the "nine old men," but his interview is in many ways an exceptionally complete picture of what it was like to work in the Hollywood studios in the "golden age."
Lynn Karp was a Disney animator who worked on Pinocchio and Fantasia but chose to make his career drawing funny-animal comic books.
Milt Kahl was a great animator for Walt Disney, and easily the most cantankerous of the famed "nine old men." Milt Gray and I interviewed him in November 1976, soon after he left the Disney studio, and he did not hesitate to voice his frustration with the studio's leadership.
John Hubley was the guiding creative force at the UPA studio when it was making its most important films, and he was later, with his wife, Faith, a leading independent animated filmmaker. I interviewed him in November 1976, a few months before his untimely death.
Robert McKimson was the dominant animator at the Leon Schlesinger (Warner Bros.) studio in the 1930s and early 1940s, and then one of the three directors who made most of the Warner cartoons for the next twenty years. My 1971 interview was one of the few with this neglected creator of Looney Tunes.
James Bodrero was an important member of Joe Grant's model department at the Disney studio in the late 1930s and early '40s. Milton Gray interviewed him, as part of the research for Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age, in January 1977.
was, with Rudy Ising, the man who brought Warner Bros. and
then MGM into the cartoon business. When I interviewed him in 1973,
we talked about his early association with Walt and Harman's ambitions
for the animation medium.
was a leading light at the Disney studio in its glory years. I interviewed
him in 1988, when we talked about his crucial role in the production
of such films as Fantasia, Dumbo, and Make Mine
Music. An audio
clip accompanies the interview.
Brad Bird wrote
and directed The Incredibles, the most exciting animated
feature of recent years. I interviewed him on February 16, 2005,
a few days before the Academy Awards ceremony at which The Incredibles
was a candidate for four Oscars.
burst into stardom sixty years ago, playing Davy Crockett during
the first season of Walt Disney's Disneyland TV show. In
this interviewa composite of three interviews I recorded in
2003 and 2004I spoke with him about Walt and about the twists
and turns his film career took at the Disney studio and afterwards.
was one of the great Warner Bros. cartoon directors, serving
two stints under Leon Schlesinger in the late thirties and early
forties. In between, he worked on Disney stories during that studio's
glory days and headed the Screen Gems studio when it enjoyed its
one creative surge. I conducted the interview with him hereone
of the few he ever gave, and the only one to discuss his cartoon
work in detailin 1971, a year before his death. An audio
clip of roughly a minute accompanies the interview.
Turner was a comedy writer for decades, generating laughs
with Bob Clampett, Jay Ward, and Norman Lear. He got his start writing
cartoon stories for Art Davis at Warner Bros. in the forties, teamed with Bill Scott, and those years are the subject of these extensive interview
another Warner Bros. alumnus, designed the groundbreaking Chuck
Jones cartoons of the early forties.I interviewed McGrew in 1995,
at his home in France. Accompanying this interview is an audio
clip of just under a minute, as well as five examples of McGrew's
for such Warner Bros. cartoons as My Favorite Duck and Flop
Goes the Weasel.
I recorded several interviews with Art
Babbitt, one of Walt Disney's leading animators in the thirties
and later one of his most implacable foes. Both sides of his Disney
experience are reflected in this 1986 interview, in which Babbitt talks
about working on The Country Cousin, one of the most charming
of the Silly Symphonies, as well as about his collisions with the
studio in court in the early forties. There's an audio clip.
I also recorded a third interview
in 1986 with Ward
Kimball, another of Walt Disney's great animators. Kimball
was always frank and opinionated in our interviews, qualities evident
in this transcript, especially in his account of how he fell under
the shadow of Walt Disney's disapproval in the early sixties, thanks
to a run-in over Kimball's role in the live-action musical comedy
Babes in Toyland.
M. Schulz, creator of "Peanuts," was by all reckonings
one of the last century's handful of truly great comic strips. I
interviewed Schulz in 1988 not for Funnyworld
or as part of the research for my book Hollywood
Cartoons: American Animation in Its Golden Age, but for
an article in the business magazine that employed me at the time.
The interview is, accordingly, business-focused, and licensing-focused
in particular, but I think its relevance to broader discussions
of Schulz's life and career is self-evident.
The first interview excerpts I published on the site were from my 1973 interview with David
Hand, Walt Disney's second in command during the production
of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi. There's also an audio clip.