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Creator / Walter Lantz

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The other Walt of the Golden Age.

"I'm just a little old cartoonist, tryin' to make a buck."

A prominent animator and director of cartoons during The Silent Age of Animation, The Golden Age of Animation and The Dark Age of Animation, and was the creator of characters like Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, and most famous of all, Woody Woodpecker.

Incidentally, he and Walt Disney were great friends throughout their lives. This is likely due to both of their relationships with Universal Pictures.

His career spanned the entirety of the Golden Age of Animation. Lantz first started making cartoons for Universal in 1929 at the beginning of the sound era. 43 years later in 1972, Lantz's studio was the very last Golden Age animation studio to close. You can find more info on his cartoons, as well as a complete filmography of his work, here. An autobiography has also been published called "The Walter Lantz Story.", with a new one coming up called "Walter Lantz: Legends of Animation".


Works of Walter Lantz:

  • Dinky Doodle: A series of silent comedies in the vein of Max Fleischer's "Out of the Inkwell" series and Walt Disney's Alice Comedies, starring Lantz himself alongside his characters.
  • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (1929-1943): After Oswald was taken from Disney, Lantz eventually got hold of Oswald from Charles Mintz. This character would promptly become Lantz's first successful character. He lasted for 143 shorts under Lantz's tenure, making him Lantz's second most successful star.
  • King of Jazz (1930): The cartoon that Lantz contributed to this otherwise live-action feature was the first-ever Technicolor cartoon.
  • Pooch the Pup (1932-1933): A short lived attempt at giving Lantz an alternative series to Oswald. Lasted for 13 shorts.
  • Peterkin: A oneshot cartoon with a character designed by William Pogony.
  • Cartune Classics (1934-1942, 1953-1957): A series of oneshot cartoons starring misc. characters.
  • Meany, Miny and Moe (1936-1937): A 13 short series centered around a trio of monkeys that initially appeared in an Oswald short. This was one of many attempts Lantz made to find another star series.
  • Advertisement:
  • Boy Meets Dog (1938): A oneshot toothpaste ad (no kidding) based on the "Reg'lar Fellers" comic strip.
  • New Universal Cartoon (1938): Lasted for 16 shorts.
  • Baby-Face Mouse
  • Snuffy Skunk
  • Doxie
  • Nertsury Rhyme: 2 theatrical shorts from 1939.
  • Lil' Eightball: A blackface character that was one of several attempts to give Lantz a new star. Only lasted for 3 shorts in 1939.
  • Swing Symphonies (1941-1945): A series of Animated Music Videos, themed around Boogie Woogie tunes. Lasted for 14 shorts.
  • Homer Pigeon (1942-1956): A character that popped up in three shorts.
  • The Enemy Bacteria (1945): An instructional film made for the military.
  • Reddy Made Magic (1946): An educational film featuring the Alabama Power Company character Reddy Kilowatt.
  • Musical Miniatures (1946-1948): An offshoot of Swing Symphonies, centered around classical music. Lasted for six shorts.
  • Cola-Cola Ads (1948-1953): Over the course of several years, Lantz cranked out 19 ads for the classic soft drink.
  • Maw and Paw (1953-1955): Lasted for 4 shorts.
  • Chilly Willy (1953-1972): Lantz's third most well known star, lasting for 50 shorts.
  • Pepito Chickeeto (1957): A oneshot cartoon.
  • Sugarfoot (1954): A recurring character of Lantz, managed to get two theatrical cartoons to himself.
  • "Crazy Mixed Up Pup" (1955): One-shot cartoon directed by Tex Avery
  • Foolish Fables (1953-1955): Lasted for 3 shorts.
  • Hickory, Dickory and Doc (1959-1962): Lasted for 8 shorts.
  • Maggie And Sam (1955-1957): Lasted for 4 shorts.
  • Windy and Breezy (1957-1959): Lasted for 5 shorts.
  • Inspector Willoughby (1958-1965): Lasted for 17 shorts.
  • Take Heed, Mr. Tojo: A Wartime Cartoon that was outsourced to Lantz by Warner Bros. It was the fourth entry of the short lived ''Seaman Hook' series.
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein: The studio animated the opening cartoon for the film.
  • Sioux City Sue (1946): Lantz contributed a brief animated segment to this otherwise live action feature.
  • The Egg And I (1947): A promotional short made to promote Universal's 1947 feature The Egg And I. This short is currently lost.
  • The Story of Human Energy (1947): An educational film produced by Lantz for the Corn Products Refining Company.
  • Destination Moon (1950): At the request of George Pal, the films producer, Lantz contributed a brief animated segment starring the newly redesigned Woody Woodpecker, explaning rocket propulsion to the audience.
  • Jungle Medics (1960): This short was made as a possible pilot for a TV series, although it did get a theatrical release.
  • Space Mouse (1960): This short was the first animated appearance of a comic who was created for Lantz's comic books. Possible pilot for a TV series.
  • The Beary Family (1962-1972): Lasted for 28 shorts.

Tropes used in his works:

  • Animated Anthology: Lantz's long lasting hit program The Woody Woodpecker Show.
  • Art Evolution: The studio went through a fair amount of it, and its worth noting that before the 50s, the studio never really had an established house style. Their earliest work had a very rubbery, bizarre feel to it; Lantz began working with a hyper-cute style in about 1933, while the studio's other director, Bill Nolan kept with the original approach until his firing at the end of the following year, cementing Lantz's cutesy style as the one used by the studio. This lasted until 1938, when Lantz allowed a number of animators the chance of directing, leading the studio's cartoons in 1938-39 having a range of different styles. By the end of 1939, in part due to the success of the then newly-created Andy Panda, Alex Lovy had settled down as the main director, and their cartoons became amateurishly drawn, misguided attempts at imitating the West-Coast animation style pioneered by Disney and Looney Tunes shorts, and suffered from poorly timed animation with minimal fluidity and solidity. Shamus Culhane, upon his arrival in 1943, tried to beef up the studios art quality with Disney-esque articulation (coinciding with the hiring of former Disney artists such as Art Heinemann, Pat Matthews, Grim Natwick and Dick Lundy), with varying degrees of success, but this was impeded by indifference from many of the artists, as well as sloppy inking and inbetween work. Dick Lundy managed to bring genuine, albeit budget constrained, Disney-quality animation to the studio during his tenure, in addition to refining the designs of the studio's star characters into more appealing forms (courtesy of noteworthy Disney animator Fred Moore, who spent a brief stint at the studio during the late '40s). From the studio's re-opening in 1951 to its closure in 1972, Lantz finally converted to a stiffer and more conservative style (complete with bolder and more stylized linework) due to budget constraints.
  • Balloon-Bursting Bird: The 1970 Beary Family cartoon "The Unhandy Man" has Charlie Beary trying to install a garage door opener on his own. One of his attempts to get his garage door open involves a big balloon, which fails when a bird pops the balloon.
  • Benevolent Boss: Walter was considered by his employees to be one of the best employers to work for during the Golden Age. It helped that, unlike producers like Fred Quimby of MGM or Eddie Selzer of Warner Bros., Lantz actually liked making cartoons and had firsthand experience as an animator and director in addition to producing and even editing his own films, so he had a lot of understanding and sympathy for the artists in his studio. Animator Alex Lovy in particular praised Lantz for this in the Walter Lantz Story.
  • Bowdlerize: When Lantz brought his cartoons to TV, a lot of them went through heavy editing to appease the censors—and some, like "Abou Ben Boogie" and "Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat" were banned outright.
  • Cute Kitten: The short "Baby Kittens".
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Chilly Willy.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The bulk of the studios nearly 600 short output is unavailable, save what has been released on the two Woody Woodpecker DVD sets, but even those only make up 90 of his cartoons (although the number goes slightly higher if you count cartoons included in the extra features like Playful Pelican)—not even 1/6th of the studios output.
  • King Kong Copy: King Klunk, the Killer Gorilla that Pooch the Pup encounters in the eponymous short, is the very first example of this trope. The short is a direct parody of King Kong (1933), which was released only half a year earlier.
  • Long Runner: Lantz's studio was the longest surviving theatrical cartoon studio, thanks in part to Lantz being accustomed to working with low budget cartoons, and thus having no problem adjusting to the rise of the Dark Age. However, the studio finally gave up the ghost in 1972, as theatrical cartoons had become completely unprofitable by that point.
  • Missing Episode: Universal claims that some of the negatives to the studios early 30's output have been lost.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Some of his shorts demonstrated this, such as "Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat", "Abou Ben Boogie" and "The Greatest Man in Siam".
  • Off-Model: Lantz shorts were generally prone to shameless animation goofs, especially before the mid-1940s. Later cartoons made by the studio mostly averted this to a fault, often looking stiff and lifeless in the case of the Paul J. Smith-era shorts of the late 60s/early 70s.
  • The Pardon: One of the Inspector Willoughby shorts features a man trying to escape prison. During the last attempt, he tries to ram the gates but then Inspector Willoughby just opens them and informs him he's been pardoned. He then wants to be let back in prison.
  • Public Domain Animation: A handful of his shorts have slipped into the Public Domain, most notably the Woody Woodpecker short "Pantry Panic", as well as "Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat".
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Lantz started using this in his Dinky Doodle shorts, used again in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short "Puppet Show", the ending of "100 Pygmies and Andy Panda", and used it again in the bridging segments of The Woody Woodpecker Show.
  • Rotoscoping: Blatantly used at several points in "Just a Jitterbug".
  • Stealth Pun: Later title cards in his cartoons featured Woody riding a horse, while carrying a large lance poking through the words "A Walter Lantz Production".
  • Wartime Cartoon: Lantz did several of these, most notably "The Enemy Bacteria", as well as a Warner Bros. "Seaman Hook" short that was outsourced to his studio, the short being "Take Heed, Mr. Tojo". Even his mainstream theatrical shorts had some nods to the war going on, most notably "Ration Bored".
  • What Could Have Been: Lantz originally planned to make a feature-length animated film, riding off the success of Disney's Snow White, which would have been based on Aladdin and would have starred Abbott and Costello. Unfortunately, the project never got off the ground due to the lackluster performance of the Fleischer Studios film Mr. Bug Goes to Town. Which ironically canceled plans for feature length films from the rivals such as Paul Terry and Warner Bros.