On A Desert Island With. . .

Bob Clampett

compiled by David Kilmer

Robert Clampett was born in San Diego, California on May 8, 1913. From the beginning, as is evident from the list of his favorite films, he was intrigued with and influenced by Douglas Fairbanks, Lon Chaney, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd, and began making film short-subjects in his garage beginning when he was about 12. In 1930, Leon Schlesinger was so impressed with one of Clampett's 16mm films, he offered him an assistant position at Harman-Ising Studio.

When the Harman-Ising directing team broke with Schlesinger in the mid-1930s and made their move to MGM, Leon Schlesinger cut a deal with Jack Warner to put together and run an animation unit at Warner Bros. It was in a barely renovated outbuilding that Merrie Melodies was installed. Bob and the other animation staff, which included Tex Avery and Friz Freleng, helped create Porky Pig and Warner's first hit theatrical series, Porky & Beans. Tex Avery and Clampett teamed in 1935-1936 at the beginning of the Termite Terrace years. Avery directed and Clampett acted as gagman and animator.

In 1937, Schlesinger promoted Clampett to full director, and Clampett rewarded him with such classics as Porky in Wackyland, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, and The Piggy Bank Robbery. Clampett also created "Tweety Pie," who debuted in 1942's A Tale of Two Kitties, and helped refine Bugs Bunny in such films as The Wacky Wabbit. In 1947, Clampett left the Warner Bros. studio to produce the his own puppet show for television, Time for Beany, which later became the basis for the cartoon series, Beany and Cecil, which he also produced.

Among those who claim Clampett as a major influence is John Kricfalusi, creator of Nickelodeon's Ren and Stimpy. Bob Clampett died May 4, 1984.

Bob Clampett's picks:
1. Snow White (Disney).
2. Fantasia (Disney).
3. Robin Hood (1922) by Allan Dwan. Clampett was a big fan of Douglas Fairbanks.
4. Gunga Din by George Stevens.
5. The Lost World (1925) by Harry O. Hoyt. The character of Professor Challenger inspired Beany & Cecil's Captain Huffenpuff, plus Willis O'Brien's stop-motion dinosaurs inspired Cecil.
6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) by Wallace Worsley (II) with Lon Chaney.
7. The Adventures of Robin Hood by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley with Errol Flynn.
8. Safety Last and, especially, The Freshman by Harold Lloyd.
9. Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin.
10. It Happened One Night by Frank Capra. The carrot scene inspired Bugs Bunny's carrot bit.
11. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Ruben Mamoulian with Frederic March.
12. Mike Todd's Around the World in 80 Days by Michael Anderson and Kevin McClory.
13. Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean.
14. Gold Diggers of 1935 by Busby Berkely.

A special thanks to Bob Clampett's son, Rob. Next month we will hear from executives at the Fox Kids Network.

If you are an animator or executive in the animation industry, and would like to play the Desert Island game, feel free to submit your picks to

David Kilmer is associate editor of Animation World Magazine.

Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to

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