Isadore "Friz" Freleng
(1905-1995) was a prominent animator and director of the Looney Tunes
and Merrie Melodies
animated shorts during The Golden Age of Animation
and The Dark Age of Animation
. Friz got his start during the twilight years of The Silent Age of Animation
, working for Walt Disney
alongside Ub Iwerks
and Harman and Ising
on the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
comedy shorts. After Disney left, he stuck around with Hugh and Rudy at the Charles Mintz studio, even getting the chance to direct on one Mintz Oswald, "Fiery Fireman", before they were fired.
However, he would later leave the studio to go to the then new Leon Schlesinger cartoon studio alongside Harman and Ising
when they requested his help in making their Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid
short subjects. Even after Harman and Ising left the studio in '33, Friz came back to Leon to help him touch up some rejected "Buddy" comedies. Friz would continue to be a prominent director in the 30's, cranking out many classic cartoons-including "I Haven't Got A Hat", the debut of his character Porky Pig
in 1935. However, in the late 30's, Friz became interested in MGM's big budget animation department and quit Leon's studio to work there...only to be put onto the mediocre "Captain and the Kids" cartoon series with little to no creative freedom like he had at Leon's studio. Friz despised working on the cartoons, and as soon as his contract expired, he fled the studio and went straight back to Termite Terrace, where he would work until its demise in the early 60's.
Friz is legendary among animation fans for his strong emphasis on literal, mechanical musical timing - while all of the staff at the studio were capable of this, nobody used it in quite the way Friz did. While Friz's animation tended to be more earthbound than the other directors, he still cranked out some worthy classics, such as the groundbreaking Roger Rabbit Effect
short "You Ought to Be in Pictures
", "The Wabbit Who Came To Supper", "Rhapsody In Rivets", "Three Little Bops", among others. He also directed many, many shorts featuring Sylvester and Tweety.
After the original Warner Bros. animation studio shut down, Friz teamed up with its last chief executive, David DePatie, to form a new studio on the original lot named De Patie Freleng Enterprises
. With this studio, they not only attempted to revive Warner Bros. cartoons but also created the smash hit Pink Panther
theatrical and TV cartoons, as well as several specials based off of Dr. Seuss
books. Friz also directed animation for the bridging segments of The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Show
and even made a few anthology movies like The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie and 1001 Rabbit Tales.
Friz passed on in 1995; Chuck Jones
dedicated his last cartoon short, made the following year, to his passing.
Some say he was the inspiration for the character of Yosemite Sam (both short, red-haired, mustachioed, and hot-tempered).
Warner Bros. Theatrical Cartoon Filmography
Tropes that apply to Freleng and his work:
- Butt Monkey: Before inflicting this on his own crew, Friz himself claimed he was a victim of this. When he first got a job animating on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit for Walt Disney, Walt and Friz did not get along, mainly because Walt proved to be a harsh taskmaker, constantly forcing Friz to rework scenes. His fellow animators, including Harman and Ising, loved playing pranks on him, including setting stacks of paper on fire under his chair, and poking fun at his short height by dragging him along off the ground.
- Fire and Brimstone Hell: "Satan's Waitin'", though a lot of his cartoons (pre- and post-1948) feature devils and characters ending up in Hell ("Sunday Go to Meetin' Time," "Devil's Feud Cake," the aforementioned "Satan's Waiting," etc).
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Lots of his cartoons have businesses and/or products that are named after himself or members of his animation crew (i.e. "Friz Soda," "Hawley and Pratt, Attorneys At Law"* , etc).
- Ink-Suit Actor: Freleng can be seen as one of the Gremlins From The Kremlin in Russian Rhapsody (along with a lot of other animators and members of the Warner Bros. Animation Department, such as Chuck Jones, Henry Binder, Ray Katz, Leon Schlesinger, etc) and as astronomist I. Frisby in Chuck Jones' Bugs Bunny cartoon The Hasty Hare.
- Inspired By: You Ought To Be In Pictures was based on Friz's experiences of leaving WB for MGM.
- Mickey Mousing
- Prima Donna Director: Friz was this, apparently (which explains why people have claimed that Yosemite Sam was Freleng's Author Avatar). He often forced his animators to redo scenes over and over again. One of those animators, Manuel "Manny" Perez (who was given the title "Friz's Whipping Boy"), later said in an interview that he grew to hate the guy.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: You Ought To Be In Pictures.