Van Beuren Studios (pronounced Van Burr-en, by the way), lasting from 1928 to 1936, is the least known cartoon company of The Golden Age of Animation, yet its brief history is dotted with interesting films and major animation talents.If asked what Van Beuren Studios was famous for, most people today would probably look at you with a blank stare, not knowing that the little known production company also helped lead the pack when it came to classic cartoons of their time.Van Beuren Studios was started by an upstart named Amadee J. Van Beuren. Paul Terry was also involved in the studio’s history, but later left to start his own production company, called Terrytoons. Van Beuren’s most recognized characters were called “Tom and Jerry,” but bear no relation to the cat and mouse characters released by MGM Studios eight years later. Their success was modest, yielding 26 cartoons in all. Aesop’s Fables, the studio’s other front runner gave rise to the now not so recognizable Cubby Bear, one of the series’ stars.Walt Disney Studios had already made a splash with music and sound effects in their early toons, and Van Beuren promised to follow suit and do the same later on. The producers hired Disney veterans Burt Gillett and Tom Palmer to create a new series in hopes of jump-starting the B-list studio’s reputation. The somewhat well-received series was called “Rainbow Parade”, a series of lavish Silly Symphonies clones, also starring licensed characters like "Toonerville Folks" and "Felix the Cat".Despite the studio’s mild successes during its waning years, it was forced to closed its doors when RKO Radio Pictures decided to release Walt Disney cartoons, rather than those produced by Van Beuren.—description cited from Toonjet.Com.Like many non-Disney/Warner Bros. cartoon studios, critics and historians generally tend to give Van Beuren the footnote treatment, writing off the cartoons as cheaply produced drivel—but this isn't quite true. For all the sloppy animation and one-note characters, there are some inspired gags here and there, as well as some very good musical scores provided with each cartoon. Despite this, many of the shorts were scattered and lost for a long time, due to their public domain status and lack of care. The fact that the studio's role in the History of Animation was very minor and tangential compared to the other studios didn't help. Fortunately, thanks to recent DVD collections, especially from Thunderbean, the bulk of this studio's sound output is available on DVD for viewing. Research copies of the entire Van Beuren sound output are available for animation historians on Jerry Beck'sCartoon Research website.
Works of the studio:
Aesop's Film Fables
Amos N' Andy
The Little King
Tom and Jerry: No, this isn't the cat and mouse duo we're talking about here. note Though makers of Vanilla Edition collections of public domain cartoons like to capitalize on people assuming otherwise.
Toby the Pup: Van Beuren took over production of this short-lived series after the Charles Mintz studio abandoned it.
Burt Gillett's Toddle Tales
Rainbow Parade: A series of lavish color cartoons, starring such fare as Molly Moo-Cow, Parrotville, and Toonerville Trolley.
Felix the Cat: Three of the Rainbow Parade shorts were centered on him in an attempt to revive the series and give Van Beuren a true star character. Unfortunately, Felix lost all of his established personality and was turned into a stock Funny Animal.
Sound Film Filmography
Dinner Time: Dec. 17 Aesop's Fables—Paul Terry
1929 (all copyright dates)
The Faithful Pup—May 4—Aesop's Fables—Paul Terry, Harry Bailey
Body Horror: In a scene in a Tom and Jerry short, where they are visiting the Swiss Alps, they eat a strange kind of cheese that causes swiss cheese like holes to open up in their body!
Brawn Hilda: Katrinka in the Toonerville Trolley series.
Butt Monkey: Mr. Bang in the Toonerville Trolley series.
Captain Ersatz: Milton Mouse, who was an obvious ripoff of Mickey Mouse. Incidentally, by the time of "Hot Tamale", Milton looked identical to another Mickey Mouse clone: Foxy, of Warner Bros. cartoons. As with Foxy, Walt quickly got wind of Van Beuren's ripoff and forced them to never use Milton again. This didn't stop them from creating another, less blatant ersatz of Mickey, called Cubby Bear.