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The Folks at Terrytoons

When Gene Deitch was brought in to transform Terrytoons, he thought he had been dealt a lemon lot but instead found a fabulous group of talent both young and old with which to work.

An excerpt from Gene Deitch's book, How To Succeed In Animation (Don't Let A Little Thing Like Failure Stop You!).

On these pages are model sheets of some of the characters I created at Terrytoons, for which I had unfulfilled high hopes. For all of these, I made the original model sketches. Some of them were later refined by my key designers. Dewitt Clinton Clobber was my personal highest hope, and I drew all of the model sheets of him myself. Gaston Le Crayon went through several stages of development, with the final model drawn by Eli Bauer. John Doormat also evolved, with Al Kouzel coming up with the final model, and directing his best film, Another Day, Another Doormat, of which I am still very proud to have nurtured. On all of these characters, we tried very hard to develop in a multi-dimensional way, writing extensive character studies of each of them.

The Sidney model sheet was drawn by me. Foofle, the precursor of my later Nudnik character, was developed by me, but this production model sheet was drawn by Larz Bourne, Terrytoons' best traditional gagman and storyboard artist.

I'm proud to have been the first to bring the work of R.O. (Bob) Blechman to animation production, with his charming and incisive rendition of The Juggler of Our Lady. It was a great gas to put his tiny scribbly characters onto the huge CinemaScope screen! A couple of frames are reproduced here.

R.O. Blechman's The Juggler of Our Lady, a Deitch triumph.

R.O. Blechman's The Juggler of Our Lady, a Deitch triumph.

Here are my notes on the people of Terrytoons during my time there:

Connie Rasinski. One of the old-timers, and probably one of those initially resentful of an outsider being brought in to become creative chief, and one of the most difficult to convince that I was doing the right thing for Terrytoons. But Connie was a capable, professional director, and he did much good work for me.

Phil Scheib. On the basis of the old Terrytoons I had seen, I assumed that I would be stuck with cornball hack musicians, and I would have to find a way of sneaking in other composers if I wanted anything musically decent. However, after some nervous contact on both sides, I found Phil to be a real pro. I was able to release him from Terry's imposed limitations, and he ultimately created some great melodies and great scores for our new characters! Only on a couple of commercial projects we undertook did I feel the need of an outside composer. I got to like and admire Phil, and I remember him fondly. The rotten music for earlier Terrytoons was really Paul Terry's fault. In early sessions, Phil told me that when he had created what he felt were fine orchestral arrangements, Paul would sit in the recording studio booth, and when he heard that there were passages where the strings played, then they rested while the brass played, and so on, he was furious. Terry shouted, "I am paying for 30 musicians, and I want those 30 musicians to be playing all the time, not resting on my money!" And that was the origin of those muddled and over-busy musical scores typical of the early Terrytoons!

Tommy Golden. A good animator. His animation of our test Bert & Harry Piels commercial helped me bring this account to Terrytoons from UPA.

Ernie Pintoff. Ernie was a gifted, but temperamental eccentric. He liked to sit in his little room and play jazz trumpet for inspiration, thus rattling the nerves of other nearby animators.

Bob Kuwahara. A very talented animator, who later directed his own series, featuring a Japanese character, I think was called "Hashimoto."

Dave Tendlar. A gentle and likeable veteran.

Art Bartsch. Basically the creator of Mighty Mouse. Art was a skillful director and one of the best draftsmen in the studio.