Archive for the ‘grim natwick’ Category

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Exhibit: Berny Wolf 1911-2006

Berny Wolf at Iwerks

Berny Wolf holds up a model sheet he created
along with Grim Natwick for an Iwerks Willie Whopper
cartoon. (See Al Eugster’s Photo Album)

(Originally posted 9/13/06) We received the sad news today that veteran animator, Berny Wolf passed away a few days ago at the age of 95. Berny was a real gentleman, and his career spanned the entire history of animation… from Fleischer, where he rotoscoped Cab Calloway as a ghostly walrus for "Minnie the Moocher"; to Iwerks, where he designed characters and animated on Willie Whopper and Comicolor cartoons; to Disney, where he animated on Pinocchio, Fantasia and Dumbo. In the TV era, Berny was a mainstay at Hanna Barbera and FilmRoman, continuing to work into his 80s.

Here are some model sheets Berny created along with Grim Natwick at Iwerks…

Berny Wolf Model Sheet
Berny Wolf Model Sheet
Berny Wolf Model Sheet
Berny Wolf Model Sheet

In this thread at Animation Nation, Ben Burgess mentioned that Berny animated the scene of Jimminy Cricket on the seahorse in Pinocchio. I have a drawing from that scene in my own collection and didn’t even realize that it was from one of Berny’s scenes…

Berny Wolf Jimminy Cricket

Perhaps Berny’s most famous scene is one he animated when he was just 21 years old… the ghostly walrus from the Fleischer Betty Boop cartoon, "Minnie the Moocher". Dave Fleischer assigned Berny to rotoscope footage of Cab Calloway. He told me that he did the work at Max Fleischer’s original rotoscope rig- the one on which they had rotoscoped Ko-Ko the Clown many years earlier. The rotoscope machine was made from an old camera stand, and it stood in a dark, dusty corner of the camera room. For a week, Berny sat alone in the corner, perched on a high stool rotoscoping Cab Calloway. Here is the film…

Minnie the Moocher

Minnie the Moocher (Fleischer/1932)
(Quicktime 7 / 17 megs)

Berny was a quiet, unassuming man. Perhaps that is why many people today are unaware of his importance to the history of animation. He was the quintessential East coast animator until the end, often attending important meetings in an impeccable pinstripe three piece suit, complete with a watch chain and white carnation in the lapel. ASIFA-Hollywood offers its condolences to the family of Berny Wolf. He will be missed by all who had the honor to know him.

COMMENTS

On behalf of my father, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for being so interested in his work and his life. You cannot imagine what it has meant for our family to see his name in print with all the wonderful comments. I can forward photos of him in the past and at his 94th birthday if you like. He was very shy and did not like having photos taken.

Sincerely,
Lauren Wolf-Purcell

Please do send the photos. We’re building a digital archive of information on the lives of great animators. If you have anything you would allow us to digitize to represent your father in our collection, please let us know. -Stephen Worth, Director

Read Mark Kausler’s overview of Berny’s career at Cartoon Brew
Mark Evanier’s remembrances.
Ernesto Pfluger’s Spanish obit

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.
Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Exhibit: Natwick on Iwerks

Ub Iwerks

Ub Iwerks Self Portrait

One of the principle goals of Animation Resources is to tell the history of animation, not by character or studio, but through the lives of the people who made the cartoons. No single animator’s life and career tell the history of animation better than Grim Natwick’s.

Grim started in the 20’s animating silent Krazy Kat cartoons at the Hearst Studio in New York. He ended up at Fleischer, where he created Betty Boop. He received an offer to move West to join Walt Disney, but friends advised him that Ub Iwerks, who had just left animationresources.org to form his own studio, was the real creative spark behind the Mickey Mouse pictures. So Grim joined Ub instead, and ended up running the studio. A few years later, Grim became excited with the prospect of a feature length cartoon, so he went to Disney, where he ended up animating the title character. He returned to the Fleischers in Florida for a spell, and ended up back in Hollywood working for Walter Lantz on the wartime Woody Woodpecker cartoons. At an age when most of his contemporaries were retiring, Grim jumped into the modern stylization of UPA with both feet, and was instrumental in setting up their New York offices. He worked with Culhane, Ward and Melendez; and in his 80s, animated on Richard Williams’ Theif and the Cobbler. Here is a life that spanned the entire history of animation.

Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks

Walt Disney & Ub Iwerks

I’m very proud to introduce the first bit of information into the biographical database… an interview done with Grim in the at Animafestival 1982 produced by Reg Hartt. Michael Gowling ran a tape of Grim’s comments. In the interview, he talks about his entire career… animating Snow White, experimenting with timing on commercials at UPA, and sharing insight on the various people he worked with over the years. One particularly interesting part of the interview deals with Ub Iwerks, and Grim answers a question that many animation historians have been puzzling over for years… in his own unique way.

NatwickOnIwerks.mp3

Thanks again to Reg Hartt and Craig Davison.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.
Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

Exhibit: Three Interesting Documents

1931 Disney Letterhead

GRIM NATWICK JOB OFFER FROM ROY DISNEY

Ub IwerksUb IwerksIn 1930, Ub Iwerks unexpectedly quit Disney to form his own studio with Pat Powers. This left Disney in a very tough position. He had contracts to fill for cartoon shorts without a lead man to supervise. Disney hired Ted Sears away from Fleischer, and encouraged him to recruit other top animation talent in New York to fill the void left by Iwerks’ departure. Sears’ top prospect was his coworker at Fleischer, Grim Natwick.

Grim was comfortable in New York, and hadn’t considered moving West, but Sears told him that Disney was doing great work and there was money to be made. When Sears relocated to Hollywood, Natwick sent word with him that he was willing to talk with Disney about making the move. Roy Disney wasted no time in making the trip to New York to try to get Grim to commit. Grim invited him over to his apartment, and they spent the afternoon relaxing, eating and listening to a ball game on the radio- doing just about everything but talk business.

When time came for Roy to leave, he asked Grim what it would take to get him to join Disney. Grim really didn’t want to move, but he thought Roy was a nice guy, and he didn’t want to hurt his feelings. So he told him that he would go to Hollywood for $400 a week. (At that time, he was making $50 a week at Fleischer!) Roy told him that he would have to discuss it with Walt, and he would get back to him. Grim figured that he wouldn’t hear back, but a couple of weeks later, this letter arrived in the mail…

Grim Natwick Letter

Grim Natwick Letter

Grim was always the sort of person who welcomed new opportunities, and the prospect of making nearly three times what he was being paid by Fleischer was enough to make him willing to go West. He called a few of his friends who had already made the trip to Hollywood and asked them if the Disney brothers were on the level. His friends told him about Iwerks’ unfriendly departure from the studio, and they explained that Walt and Roy were just businessmen- that Iwerks had been the real creative spark behind Mickey Mouse. Some of Grim’s coworkers at Fleischer had already joined Iwerks at his studio in West Los Angeles, so Grim had them offer his regards to Ub. Within a few weeks, Grim was packed up in his car driving West to work for Iwerks for $75 a week!

Grim NatwickGrim NatwickIn his later years, Grim would laugh about being crazy enough to pass up $200 a week in the height of the depression. It’s likely that no one at the Disney Studio without the Disney surname was making that much at the time. Grim made a good choice though. When he arrived, Iwerks handed over the day to day supervision of the films to him, and he directed some wonderful Flip the Frog, Willie Whopper and Comicolor cartoons along with many of the same kid animators he had supervised at Fleischer. When Grim heard that Disney was starting work on a cartoon feature in 1934, he couldn’t hold off any longer. He joined the Disneys and did the lion’s share of the animation of the title character in Snow White.

For more on this subject, see… Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook

LETTER FROM CHARLES MINTZ TO VIRGINIA DAVIS

Virginia DavisVirginia DavisVirginia Davis played the live action Alice in Disney’s Alice Comedies, beginning with the first film, "Alice’s Wonderland" in 1923. Her family relocated to Hollywood from Kansas City to follow Disney, and in 1925, her mother decided the time had come to demand more money for her services. There was no lack of child actresses in Hollywood at the time, so Walt and Roy promptly called the bluff and replaced her. Virginia’s mother went to the department store and bought dolls of every major cartoon star of the day, and photographed Virginia holding them. She sent the photos to the producers of the cartoons, along with a letter subtly suggesting that “Disney’s Alice likes your cartoons!” It didn’t result in any jobs for the young actress, but it did produce one very interesting letter in response…

This letter is from Charles Mintz– the man who, along with his wife Margaret Winkler, engineered the takeover of the Disney Studio in 1928. Yes, this letter is proof that Disney’s “Alice” offered to work for the man who stole Disney’s “Oswald”!

Charles Mintz Letter

DICK HUEMER’S 1945 DISNEY CONTRACT

Dick HuemerDick HuemerI stumbled across a pair of contracts between Dick Huemer and the Disney Studios. The first was dated 1936, and the one I’m posting here is from 1945. The two documents are identical, with one small exception… the insertion of the clause, “…subject further to any subsisting and current agreements entered into with recognized labor unions having jurisdiction over the Employee”. This simple phrase was brought about by a battle that almost tore the studio apart. The fascinating story of the Disney strike is told in Tom Sito’s new book Drawing The Line. I hope that Tom or Steve Huelett will remark further on this document in the comments below and in The Animation Guild Blog.

Dick Huemer Contract

Dick Huemer Contract

Dick Huemer Contract

Dick Huemer Contract

Dick Huemer Contract

For more information on Dick Huemer’s amazing career, see… Dick Huemer’s Family’s Site.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryGrim Natwick

This posting is part of an online exhibit entitled Grim Natwick’s Scrapbook.
Animated CartoonsAnimated Cartoons

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Animation.