Paul Terry produced a series of cartoons which were very successful in theatrical release, later moving into television.
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|Headquarters||K Building, New Rochelle, New York, United States|
|Key people||Paul Terry|
Before TerrytoonsBray Studios in 1916, where he created the Farmer Al Falfa series. He would then make a Farmer Al Falfa short for Edison Pictures, called "Farmer Al Falfa's Wayward Pup" (1917), and some later cartoons were made for Paramount Pictures.
Around 1921, Terry founded the Fables animation studio, named for its Aesop's Film Fables series, in conjunction with Amadee J. Van Beuren. Fables churned out a Fable cartoon every week for eight years in the 1920s. In 1928, Van Beuren, anxious to compete with the new phenomenon of talking pictures, released Terry's Dinner Time (released October 1928). Van Beuren then urged Terry to start producing actual sound films, instead of post-synchronizing the cartoons. Terry refused, and Van Beuren fired him in 1929. Almost immediately, Terry and much of his staff started up the Terrytoons studio.
HeydayThrough much of its history, the studio was considered one of the lowest-quality houses in the field, to the point where Paul Terry noted, "Disney is the Tiffany's in this business, and I am the Woolworth's." Terry's studio had the lowest budgets and was among the slowest to adapt to new technologies such as sound (in about 1930) and Technicolor (in 1938), while its graphic style remained remarkably static for decades. Background music was entrusted to one man, Philip Scheib, and Terry's refusal to pay royalties for popular songs forced Scheib to compose his own scores. Paul Terry took pride in producing a new cartoon every other week, regardless of the quality of the films. Following the success of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Paul Terry considered doing an animated feature film adaptation of King Lear starring Farmer Al Falfa. However, after seeing the failure of Max Fleischer's Mr. Bug Goes to Town, and the additional failures of Disney's Pinocchio and Fantasia he decided to abandon the project. Until 1957, screen credits were very sparse, listing only the writer (until 1950, solely John Foster, then Tom Morrison thereafter), director (Terry's three main directors were Connie Rasinski, Eddie Donnelly and Mannie Davis), and musician.
Terrytoons' first distributor was Educational Pictures, specialists in short-subject comedies and novelties. The Fox Film company (later known as 20th Century-Fox) released Educational shorts to theaters in the 1930s, giving the Terry cartoons wide exposure. Farmer Al Falfa was Terry's most familiar character in the 1930s; Kiko the Kangaroo was spun off the Farmer Al Falfa series. Most of the other cartoons featured generic animal characters. One of the stock designs was a scruffy dog with a black patch around one eye; Terry ultimately built a series around this character, now known as Puddy the Pup.
Paul Terry may have realized that Educational was in financial trouble, because he found another lucrative outlet for his product. In 1938 he arranged to release his older cartoons through home-movie distributor Castle Films. Educational went out of business within the year, but 20th Century-Fox continued to release Terrytoons to theaters for the next two decades. With a new emphasis on "star" characters, Terrytoons featured the adventures of Super Mouse (later renamed Mighty Mouse), the talking magpies Heckle and Jeckle, silly Gandy Goose, Dinky Duck, mischievous mouse Little Roquefort, and The Terry Bears.
Despite the artistic drawbacks imposed by Terry's inflexible business policies, Terrytoons was nominated four times for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film: All Out for V in 1942, My Boy, Johnny in 1944, Mighty Mouse in Gypsy Life in 1945, and Sidney's Family Tree in 1958.
Changing handsThe studio was sold outright by the retiring Paul Terry to CBS in 1955, but 20th Century Fox (TCF) continued to distribute the studio's releases. The following year, CBS put it under the management of UPA alumnus Gene Deitch, who had to work with even lower budgets.
Deitch's most notable works at the studio were the Tom Terrific cartoon segments for the Captain Kangaroo television show. He also introduced a number of new characters, such as Sick Sick Sidney, Gaston Le Crayon, John Doormat, and Clint Clobber. Deitch brought much creativity and life to the Terrytoons cartoons, but because he was only 31 years old when he came to the studio, he wasn't entirely welcome. An internal battle was fought by studio stalwarts and Deitch was forced out. Soon after Deitch moved to Prague where as of March 2011 he continues to live and work.
After Deitch was fired in 1958, Bill Weiss took control of the studio. Under his supervision, Heckle and Jeckle and Mighty Mouse went back into production. Besides the three core directors of the Terry era who were still involved as animators and directors, two Famous Studios stalwarts joined the crew, Dave Tendlar and Martin Taras. Other new theatrical cartoon series included Hector Heathcote, Luno and Hashimoto San. In addition, the studio began producing the Deputy Dawg series for television in 1960. Another television production for the Captain Kangaroo show was The Adventures of Lariat Sam, which was written in part by Gene Wood, who would later become the announcer for several TV game shows, most notably, "Family Feud".
Phil Scheib continued as the studio's musical director through the mid-1960s when he was replaced by Jim Timmens and Elliott Lawrence.
The most notable talent at Terrytoons in the 1960s was animator/director/producer Ralph Bakshi, who got his start with Terrytoons in the 1950s and later helmed the Mighty Heroes series. Bakshi left Terrytoons in 1967 for Paramount, which closed its cartoon unit later that year. He would later go on to produce Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures for television in 1987.
Post-historyAfter the departure of Bakshi after 1966, the studio petered out and finally closed in 1968. However, the film library was still regularly rereleased to theatres by Fox, thus ensuring its existing cartoon library a long life in TV reruns. Its last short was an unsold TV pilot called Sally Sargent, about a 16-year old girl who is a secret agent.
The Terrytoons cartoons (especially Mighty Mouse and Deputy Dawg) were syndicated to many local TV markets, and they were a staple of after-school and Saturday morning cartoon shows for over three decades, from the 1950s through the 1980s, until the television rights to the library were acquired by USA Network in 1989. They have seen relatively little air time since then.
In the 1970s, the CBS Films properties were spun off to create Viacom, which itself re-merged with CBS in 1999.
In the late '70s, Filmation Studios licensed the rights in order to make a new Mighty Mouse series. Later in 1987, Ralph Bakshi produced Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures which lasted for two seasons. Bakshi and John Kricfalusi inspired the staff to try to get as much Jim Tyer-style drawing in the show as possible. Tyer, a stand-out Terry animator of the original cartoons with a unique style, became a strong influence on the artists of the Bakshi series.
In 2002, the Terrytoons characters returned to television in original commercials for Brazilian blue cheese (for what is now America's Dairy Farmers) and a fine wine.
Through the years that have followed since the last Terrytoons TV series material in 1988, the rights have been scattered as result of prior rights issues and corporate changes involving Viacom (the ownership and distribution history is noted below). However, some Terrytoons shorts are believed to be in the public domain, and have been issued on low-budget VHS tapes and DVDs. The first official release of any Terrytoons material by CBS DVD has been announced (Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures was issued January 5, 2010).
Licensing and merchandisingcomic books, with the company's characters initially licensed to Timely Comics, a predecessor of Marvel Comics, in the early 1940s. Later, St. John Publications took over the licensing, publishing comics featuring such characters as Mighty Mouse, the magpies Heckle and Jeckle, Gandy Goose, and Little Roquefort. The first such St. John comic was Mighty Mouse #5 (Aug. 1947), its numbering taken over from the Timely run. St. John's Terrytoons comics include the field's first 3-D comic book, Three Dimension Comics #1 (Sept. 1953 oversize format, Oct. 1953 standard-size reprint), featuring Mighty Mouse. According to Joe Kubert, co-creator with the brothers Norman Maurer and Leonard Maurer, it sold an exceptional 1.2 million copies at 25 cents apiece at a time when comics cost a dime.
- Independent (1930–1955, as company);
- Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. (1955–1971, as company and underlying rights to library);
- Viacom (1971–2006, underlying rights to library);
- CBS Corporation/CBS Television Studios, a division of CBS Corp. (2006–present, underlying rights to library).
- Educational Pictures (1930 until 1936)
- 20th Century Fox (1936 until 1971; and theatrical re-distribution rights until 1994);
- Paramount Pictures (re-distribution theatrical rights, 1994–2006; and from 2006 forward, only on behalf of CBS);
- CBS Home Entertainment, through Paramount Home Entertainment (home video and DVD rights);
- CBS Television Studios through CBS Television Distribution (television syndication rights, 1956–present).
- Tom Terrific 1957
- Mighty Heroes 1966-1967
- Deputy Dawg 1962-1963
- The Astronut Show 1965
- The Hector Heathcote Show 1963
- The Adventures of Lariat Sam 1961-1962
- Paul Terry at the Internet Movie Database
- Terrytoons at the Internet Movie Database
- TerryToons at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Post Paul Terry era filmography
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Although it has been said that Terrytoons were considered to be of low quality, these cartoons still have a following today.
Reblogged from http://tralfaz.blogspot.com/
Terry’s works remain in tune
By JACQUELINE PERELSON
Mighty Mouse was born in New Rochelle. So were Heckle and Jeckle, Tom Terrific, Deputy Dawg, Dinky Duck and Hector Heathcote. They were born on the drawing boards of Paul Terry's Terrytoons animation studio located in this Westchester city for more than 40 years. This fact will be proclaimed for all to examine when the New Rochelle Council on the Arts holds a Terrytoons retrospective with an exhibition, reunion dinner, animated film showings, and other events, from Wednesday, Feb. 10 to Sunday, Feb. 28.
Whether seen in a “trailer” after a movie or as the main attraction on early morning television, these cartoon stars and others, including Billy Bear, Farmer Al Falfa, Little Roquefort and Sidney the Elephant, remain nostalgic memories for children of all ages.
Dwarfed by the impact of Disney, the work of Terry and his studios has not been given its due, said Eli Bauer, a former Terrytoons employee, and others who are planning this event. Which is the reason behind the celebration.
Doug Crane of New Rochelle, a former Terrytoons animator, agreed. “If we don’t do it now, the history of Terrytoons will be lost and people will forget it was ever in New Rochelle,” he said, just as they have forgotten that the West Side of New Rochelle was a movie production area in the ‘20s.
Descriptions of the days at Terrytoons are a series of name-dropping sessions. Comedian Dayton Allen was the voice of Heckle and Jeckle, as well as Deputy Dawg, and Dick Van Dyke did Barker Bill. There are remembrances by Bauer of visits to the studio by Jonathan Winters and Carl Reiner , who brainstormed gag ideas and also did voice-overs.
Bauer and Jules Feiffer worked desk to desk. Feiffer “knew that he would go on,” said Bauer. His time at Terrytoons “was part of his growth period” during which he was doing “Sick, Sick. Sick” for the Village Voice and working on a book of the same title.
Bill Tytla, who animated a “Night on Bald Mountain” for Disney’s “Fantasia,” started at Terry. As did Ralph Bakshi (creator of “Fritz the Cat,” “Heavy Traffic” and “Lord of the Rings) when he was just a “young kid.”
Bauer’s wife, Dianne, remembered studio employees working closely together. “This one would say ‘How about a wartime character?’ and somebody else would say ‘Right, he could be a Minute Man,’ with a third saying ‘How about a Minute-and-a-half Man because he’s always late.’ And as they pitched the story they would use different voices. The head of the story department was Tommy Morrison, now deceased, who was the voice of Mighty Mouse,” she said.
Everyone connected with Terrytoons depicted it as a spawning ground for talent throughout the animation industry with alumni going off to Disney, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation and other studios.
Crane, an animator, recalled Terry as “a tough old codger. A businessman, not an artist, who was smart enough to hire the right guys. The right guys, according to Crane, were Connie Rasinski and Artie Bartsch, both deceased, plus Johnny “Gent” Gentilella and Larry Silverman. “When I walked in there I was fascinated by the smell of the paint... I could see Connie from my desk and I thought he was cracking up. He would do a little action, look in the mirror and sit down and animate,” said Crane.
On Thursday nights Rasinski would teach animation to fledgling artists at Terrytoons and that was how a whole generation of animators learned its craft. “It’s a tough business trying to make these things move right,” Crane said. “Disney wasn't the only one who did animation,” he emphasized.
“I think that Terry gave to the world a lot of smiles in bad times and he was there for a long time. If a man does nothing but lift your spirits when you're down he’s done a great thing.”
For while Terry was the first to acknowledge that Disney was the “Tiffany's in this business” and he “the Woolworth’s,” Terrytoons was a pioneer in the field of animation and created characters that are still popular today.
With a background in newspaper art, the California-native came East in 1911, worked for the New York Press and also drew a comic strip called Alonzo. On the side, using a secondhand camera, Terry began developing techniques for animation.
“At one time he devised an early matte system in which the background would be photographed separately and then the characters and action sandwiched together to make a print. His first film was animated on paper with the background overlaid on a cel (clear acetate sheet),” said Leonard Maltin in his book “Of Mice and Magic.”
Terry sold his first animated film “Little Herman” to Thanhouser, a New Rochelle-based film company, but not before screening it for some neighbourhood youngsters in the company’s projection room. There he learned a valuable lesson.
He learned that cartoons were for “kids.”
According to Maltin, Terry said, “When they ran the picture, these kids began to squeal. And that tipped me off to the idea to draw things that would appeal to kids; because if they laughed at it, the adults wouldn’t have to know if it was funny, or whether it wasn’t, because kids’ laughter is so infectious. I decided right then and there, you make pictures for kids.”
Which he did. First as the creator of Farmer Al Falfa as a staff animator for John R. Bray and then as initiator of a series of animated cartoons based on Aesop’s Fables for Howard Estabrook. After an interruption for Army service in 1917, Terry was associated with Fables Studio, Van Beuren Productions and in various partnerships.
Terry and the late Frank H. Moser formed a partnership in 1929 with $500 in capital. They worked together until 1935, when following the studio’s move from New York City to 271 North Ave., New Rochelle, Terry bought out Moser for $24,200. A year later Moser initiated a lawsuit against Terry claiming “fraud,” but lost. The remaining firm, known as Terrytoons, moved to 38 Centre Ave. in 1949.
Terry, who lived in Larchmont until his death in 1971, headed the firm until 1956 when the studio was sold to CBS. Terrytoons closed its doors for good in the early ‘70s and its film library remains in the hands of Viacom.
“We knew we were part of a mass market,” said Bauer, who was with the studio from 1957-62 during its CBS era. In those days the studio produced 12 new cartoons a year and re-released 12 from their film library, generating a considerable output annually.
“We considered ourselves visual writers,” said Bauer, who worked as a story layout and design staffer. “We started a cartoon with a series of gags and then added the dialogue, unless the gag itself had to do with the dialogue. There’d generally be a conflict (between the characters) and that would involve a series of gags.”
The early days attracted many young and eager artists, writers and aspiring animators to the studio’s doorstep. They included the late Tommy Morrison, whose mother worked at the studio and is now celebrating her 102nd birthday in New Rochelle, and the late Philip A. Scheib; as well as Jack Zander and Joe Barbera. William Weiss was in charge of the business end as executive producer and was assisted for many years by Nicholas Alberti.
When CBS took over, Gene Deitch brought in a new crew of young talent which featured Bauer, Doug Crane, Al Kouzel, Ernest Pintoff, Howard Beckerman, Paul Terry still at work years later and Tod Dockstader. The outfit also included future super-stars Feiffer and Bakshi. Looking back, Crane recently asked, “Wasn’t it a thrill when you watched those films when Mighty Mouse came to the rescue? We thrilled and cheered. We knew he’d come through.”
And now this retrospective is coming through to ensure Terrytoons’ place in history.
JACQUELINE PERELSON is Lifestyles Editor of The Standard-Star, New Rochelle.
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I thought it was strange how Leonard Maltin trashed Terrytoons in his book OF MICE AND MAGIC. I have frequently run across references to the Fleischer studio being poorly thought of by the rest of the animation business, so Terrytoons and Fleischer would have been alike in that regard. It just isn't being fair to act like only Terrytoons was regarded in that way.
I also thought it was odd what this author said about Paul Terry being a success while other ( he says ) more talented people didn't make it. We who watch these cartoons need not concern ourselves with such things today. The whole point of watching cartoons is ordinarily entertainment, rather than an endless denunciation of whoever made them for purposes that are never made clear to us.
Terrytoons were at one time released by Educational pictures, whose symbol was Aladdin's lamp.
Educational released through 20th Century Fox. With the demise of Educational, 20th Century Fox took over distribution..
Mighty Mouse model sheet
Heckle and Jeckle
Oil Can Harry and Pearl Pureheart
Who are like different versions of the "Oilcan Harry" and "Fanny Zilch" of the older Terrytoons.
Xmas Cards reblogged from http://tommandjerrie.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-terrytoon-xmas.html
Connie and Marie Rasinski
Terrytoons studio card
And here are some of the Terrytoons.
OF MICE AND MAGIC By Leonard Maltin: