Scrappy, Edith, and Jackie: Together Again

Edith Fellows, Cora Sue Collins, Jackie Moran, and Dickie Walters. All were Columbia child stars, and all were called into service to help promote Scrappy. We’ve brought you photographs of the kids with Scrappy merch several times over the years–here, here, and here. And at long last, I’ve scared up some more of these stills.

Here’s Edith Fellows with a bunch of Scrappy balloons–a piece of Scrappyana which I’ve never seen before.

Edith Fellows with Scrappy balloons

And here she is wearing a Scrappy Thrift Club pin and brandishing her Scrappy bank and Scrappy Thrift Club membership card.

Edith Fellows and Scrappy bank

This is Scrappyland’s own Scrappy Thrift Club card, whose original owner apparently decided to make an unfortunate joke when filling it out.

edith-card

Here’s the bank itself (ours is in a darker shade than Edith’s).

Scrappy bank

And here’s the Scrappy pin she’s wearing.

edith-thrift

Here are Edith and Jackie Moran, her costar in a 1936 Columbia feature titled And So They Were Married, wearing snappy Scrappy cloisonne pins.

edith-pin

Lastly, here’s an extreme close-up of the pin itself, from the Scrappyland collection. (It’s nicely done, with a surprisingly posh feel–maybe the closest thing I’ve seen to a Scrappy luxury item.)

Scrappy pin

That photo of Edith and Jackie was apparently taken in April 1936. I’m not sure when the two of Edith alone were, although the box the Scrappy bank came in carried a 1935 copyright.

At this point, it seems like there’s a pretty decent chance that even more of these photos of child stars and Scrappy are out here. Keep an eye out for them for me, would you?

The Saga of 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

For years, this site has featured a couple of photographs of the Charles Mintz Studio staff which apparently date from 1930 or 1931 and were provided to us by Dick Huemer’s son, Dr. Richard Huemer. They were taken when the studio was located at 1154 N. Western Ave. in Los Angeles.

A bit later, the company moved a couple of miles away to larger quarters at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. Here, courtesy of Tim Cohea, is a staff photo taken outside its new home (click on it for a larger version).

Mintz Staff 1932

As you can see, someone scrawled “1932” on the bottom left-hand corner of the photo at some point. In 2009, Mike Barrier published a snapshot taken outside the studio and figured–based on Film Daily Yearbook entries–that Mintz moved into this facility in 1933. Let’s just say that this photo was taken circa 1932-1933.

In 2006, Mark Mayerson published some nifty photographs of Irv Spector and friends hanging around outside 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. Mark’s post also included a copy of the above photo (provided by Jerry Beck) with identifications by Mintz staffers Ed Friedman and Ben Shehnkman. Here they are:

  • Back row: unknown, Herb Rothwell, I. Ellis, Frank Fisher, unknown, unknown, I. Klein, unknown, Manny Gould, fourteen unknown women (presumably of the ink and paint department), Clark Watson, unknown, unknown, Don Patterson, Sid Glenar, Rudy Zamora, Jules Engel, unknown, Phil Davis, Ray Patterson, Joe Vough
  • Middle row: four unknown women, Bud Crabb, unknown, unknown, Al Rose, Al Gould, unknown, Ed Solomon, unknown, Felix Alegre, unknown, unknown, Preston Blair
  • Front row: Ben Shenkman, unknown, Sid Davis, Ed Moore, John Roth, Emery Hawkins, Lou Lilly, Bill Higgens, Charles Mintz himself, unknown, unknown, Ed Rehberg, Irv Spector, Judge Whitaker

It’s tough to line up every identification with the correct person in the photo, but the names are a good reminder that a bunch of people who were prominent in the animation industry for decades to come worked at Mintz. The photo also includes nearly three times as many people as the more populous of the two earlier group shots, suggesting that the studio had done a lot of growing.

Here’s a 1936 photo of the studio’s exterior that Jud Hurd–best known as the editor of Cartoonist Profiles, but also, briefly, a Mintz employee–published in his book Cartoon Success Secrets.

Jud Hurd

7000 Santa Monica Blvd. wasn’t built for the Mintz operation, but it was a rather new building when the company moved in. An article by James V. Roy at ScottyMoore.net, the official site of Elvis Presley’s guitarist, says that it was erected by the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1929. That was also the year that Victor was acquired by RCA.

In November 1930, The Film Daily Reported that RCA Photophone, the RCA division involved in synchronized movie sound, was headquartered at 7000 Santa Monica.

RCA Photophone

By February 1932, according to The Film Daily–and for reasons unknown to me–RCA had left the building. Something called Wafilms, headed by Walter Futter, moved in.

Wafilms

As of November 1932, Sol Lesser, who would shortly acquire the movie rights to Tarzan, was running his Principal Pictures studio out of the facility. Here’s a Film Daily ad.

Principal Pictures

Whether Mintz occupied the building at the same time as Wafilms and/or Principal, I don’t know. But the “The Charles Mintz Studio” emblazoned over the entrance suggests it became the primary tenant. According to Mike Barrier’s post, it would remain at 7000 Santa Monica until 1940, when Columbia moved the operation–then known as Screen Gems–to a building less than a mile away at 861 Seward Street.

In October 1941, Broadcasting reported that something called Miller Radiofilm was moving into Mintz’s old quarters.

Miller Radio

What happened to the property after that? I provided a clue six paragraphs ago when I referenced the official Scotty Moore site. What’s it doing discussing the history of 7000 Santa Monica Blvd?

That’s simple. The building became the headquarters of Radio Recorders, a company which became legendary as the finest recording facility in Los Angeles.

Elvis and Dudley Brooks in the studio at Radio Recorders, 1957. From Elvis-ForEveryone.com

Elvis and Dudley Brooks in studio at Radio Recorders, 1957. From Elvis For Everyone

I’m not positive when Radio Recorders moved into the building, but it wasn’t all that long after Mintz/Screen Gems left it. The 1944 Billboard Music Year Book lists the company and gives that address.

Radio Recorders stayed there for years, expanded into an annex around the corner, and played host to recording sessions by Presley as well as Louis Armstrong, Chet Baker, The Beach Boys, Pat Boone, The Carpenters, Rosemary Clooney, Ornette Coleman, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Peggy Lee, Johnny Mercer, Charlie Parker, Buddy Rich, Igor Stravinsky, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, and…well, you get the idea. Everything from “Jailhouse Rock” to “Purple People Eater” to Mel Blanc’s Capitol Records Bugs Bunny and the Tortoise album was created there.

Basically, we’ve all spent our lives listening to music recorded at the former Charles Mintz Studio. We just didn’t know it–or at least I didn’t.

When Record Recorders closed at the end of 1977, Billboard called it the end of an era. In recent decades, several different companies operated production facilities at its former studios, including one which reverted to the original name. But when I pulled up the address in Google Maps Street View, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wasn’t even positive the original building was still standing.

Turned out that it was there, but apparently unoccupied. Note the “Available” sign.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd. August 2014

There’s a sign commemorating Record Recorders outside the building, above a “No Trucks” symbol. Here’s a closer look, borrowed from Discover Los Angeles.

Radio Recorders sign

It says that the building dates to 1928, disagreeing slightly with the Scotty Moore site. But I don’t see any evidence that anyone remembers that the Mintz Studio was once on the premises. If nobody remembers your cartoons, you don’t get a plaque.

Still, the building, though now obscured by gates and a humongous tree, is readily recognizable from that 1932-ish staff photo.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

Incidentally, Street View also reveals that the lot across the street at 7001 Santa Monica, where a lumber materials store stood in the 1930s, as indicated in the photos Mark Mayerson posted, is now a Shakey’s.

And that’s the story of 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. Except for one thing.

After Google Street View captured that image with the for-rent sign, the building got rented. As of last month, it’s the home of LAXART, which describes itself as “an independent contemporary art space supporting artistic and curatorial freedom.” That doesn’t sound like it has much in common with Charles Mintz’s goals when he was producing Scrappy and Krazy Kat cartoons there. But it feels good to know that the building is still standing, still occupied, and still a place where creativity happens. And hey, it’s open to the public–so the next time I’m in L.A., I plan to drop in.

Postscript: No piece about the present status of former Mintz Studio buildings is complete without a nod to Joe Campana’s marvelous “Ghosts of the Charles Mintz Studio,” a 2007 visit to Mintz’s earlier Western Ave. neighborhood.

What if Scrappy Had Lived?

As you may well know if you’re reading this website–and you are–Columbia’s Scrappy cartoon series lasted from 1931-1941. He wasn’t drawn in a consistent fashion during that time: In fact, he sometimes looked like he was different people in different scenes in the same cartoon.

But when the Scrappy cartoons ended in 1941, the character was frozen in time. He has remained a creature of the 1930s, unaffected by later trends in animation design.

But…

Here’s a box from home-movie purveyor Official Films. It contains a Krazy Kat cartoon, Railroad Rhythm. But the box, which I’m guessing dates from the 1950s or 1960s, features a number of characters–and two of them are Scrappy and Oopy drawn in a distinctly more modern style.

modernscrappy

Here’s a close-up:

modscrappy2

Basically, if UPA had decided to produce a Scrappy cartoon, it might have looked something like this. And given that its cartoons were released though Columbia, it probably could have done so, although I’ll bet the idea never, ever crossed anyone’s mind.

Why Scrappy and his brother got streamlined for this packaging, we’ll never know. Perhaps Official wanted to bring the characters up to date. Or maybe the artist simply drew them in his or her own style rather than mimicking the Mintz look. The box also depicts Krazy Kat using a stock image from the 1930s, so the whole approach is mysterious.

Bonus: Dailey’s Studio in Delano, California–the store which originally sold this home movie, and affixed its sticker to the box, covering Scrappy’s cowlick in the process–is apparently still in business. Judging from how it looks in Google Maps Street View, it may not have changed much since it was selling old Mintz cartoons on 8mm:

dailey

Scrappy at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair

When the Scrappy series began in 1931, it had a premise. It really was about a little boy doing little-boy things, and cartoons such as Yelp Wanted and The Little Pest, despite their extreme lack of structure, had at least rudimentary plots.

By the time Columbia released The World’s Affair in 1933, however, all that had changed. This cartoon shows multiple telltale signs that a studio has tired of a series: It has a topical hook (it’s set at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair), it’s a spot-gag cartoon, and it’s rife with celebrity caricatures.

The cartoon begins with an elaborate production number featuring Fred Fisher’s song “Chicago (That Toddlin’ Town)”–which was apparently already a standard even though it was a mere eleven years old at the time. Then a bunch of spot gags involving inventions, technical progress being the theme of this World’s Fair even more than usual.

And then in rush the celebrities: an especially loose-limbed FDR, Mussolini with a bucket of spaghetti, Von Hindenburg with a mug of beer for Scrappy, George V, Chevalier (who gets beer down the trousers), Gandhi and Durante in their diapers, Einstein, and others. They’re all swell folks.

Between this short, Scrappy’s Party, Movie Struck, and Hollywood Babies, an awful lot of the Scrappy cartoons of 1933 were celebfests. (I sort of like old cartoons which are overly dependent on caricatures, such as Mother Goose Goes Hollywood and Hollywood Steps Out, but I feel sheepish admitting it.)

Scrappy and Oopy don’t have all that much to do in The World’s Affair except grin, wear top hats, and tap dance, but they do it well. (Oh, and Oopy gets to smoke a cigar.) The animation of them is pretty darn charming–which is good, since the “story” and gags are so lazy.

Here’s a bit of good news: The Scrappy series eventually got a second wind. Some of the best shorts appeared long after thing one, including The Puppet Murder Case and Let’s Ring Doorbells, both of which were released in 1936. Neither of those ones are on YouTube at the moment, but I hope to be able to share them here someday.

Bonus non-Scrappy footage: Here’s some live-action newsreel footage of the 1933 World’s Fair.

The Marvelous Mystery Scrappy Artist of Peterson Manufacturing

Back in the 1930s, a company on Fifth Ave. in New York called Peterson Manufacturing licensed the rights to issue Scrappy art supplies. The packaging it created for these products has some of the nicest art I’ve seen in the whole world of Scrappyana.

I’ve shared these two images before:

Scrappy Paint Set

Scrappy Rainbow

And here’s another one, courtesy of Friend of Scrappy Jerry Beck–who recently spotted it in Leonard Maltin’s collection. It shows Scrappy sculpting a life-sized statue of his brother Oopy.

Scrappy Clay

These three boxes were clearly illustrated by the same person. I’ve never seen any other Scrappy art that was clearly by that artist.

Did Peterson get this art from the Mintz Studio, or did it company whip it up on its own, as manufacturers of Scrappy products often seemed to do? I don’t know. Either way, these drawings of Scrappy, Margy, and Oopy have considerable verve and charm.

I’d never seen Peterson’s Scrappy Modeling Clay box until Jerry brought it to my attention–and I’d like to think there’s more Scrappy art out there by this artist waiting to be discovered.

More About Scrappy and Wanton Violations of Prohibition

After watching The Beer Parade, Dr. Richard Huemer–the son of Scrappy’s creator–shared this New Years’ card which was sent to his father by Joe De Nat, the Mintz studio’s musical director:

Joe De Nat Card

The card depicts Scrappy and his Mintz stablemate Krazy Kat pumping beer into a mug inhabited by a piano player and a mermaid (presumably representing Mr. and Mrs. De Nat). Assuming that the references to 1933 and the new year mean that the De Nats distributed this card around January 1, 1933, prohibition was still in effect, but the recent election of FDR meant that its days were clearly numbered.

Betcha a lot of folks sent out cards with similar themes that year…

Scrappy Mintz, Master Brewer

Kindly ignore the fact that the cartoon above was obviously shot off a screen during a public performance, and therefore features cameos by the people sitting in front of the videographer. It’s The Beer Parade, by the original Scrappy team of Dick Huemer, Sid Marcus, and Art Davis. This is one of the most amazingly Scrappy-esque of all Scrappy cartoons, and you need to see it. (I learned it was on YouTube when Devon Baxter linked to it in the pre-UPA Columbia cartoon group on Facebook.)

Plot summary: Scrappy and Oopy joyfully serve beer by the barrelful to dozens of drunken elves until Old Man Prohibition shows up. The boys and the little men assault him from the ground and the air–even using explosives–until he chooses to bury himself. Whereupon the good times roll once more.

(I particularly like the moment when Oopy, having rigged up a rope to trip Old Man Prohibition, tugs at it to verify that it’s tight enough to do the job.)

The cartoon is an obvious allegory concerning prohibition and its repeal. But it was released on March 4, 1933, when the federal ban on alcoholic beverages was still in force, so its celebration of unrestrained imbibing was anticipatory.

FDR, who famously made repeal part of his campaign, had taken office in January; a couple of weeks after the cartoon debuted, he signed the Cullen-Harrison act, which permitted the sale of wine and 3.2 percent beer starting the following month. In December, prohibition on the federal level was fully repealed.

Prohibition was never enforced all that rigorously in cartoon land. The 1929 Silly Symphony The Merry Dwarfs presaged The Beer Parade by showing its title characters quaffing beer; 1931’s Lady Play Your Mandolin, the first Merrie Melody, takes place in a saloon and is full of tippling animals, although it’s possible that it’s set in Mexico. But the sheer quantity of beer in The Beer Parade–served by two small boys without any adult supervision–remains startling. It’s unimaginable that anyone would have made a cartoon with this theme a few years later. Or today.

(Scrappy and Oopy aren’t shown drinking in the cartoon, but they are depicted brandishing foamy mugs themselves, and do seem to be in an awfully exuberant good mood.)

Bonus: Here’s the excellent original poster for The Beer Parade, which is preserved at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library. (Thanks to Nick Richie for alerting me to it.)

The Beer Parade

Scrappy’s Going to Bermuda

If you’ve spent any time at all on this site, you know that there’s no end to ways in which Columbia promoted Scrappy in the 1930s. I’m happy to say that I don’t know about all of them yet.

For instance, I just learned that the British territory of Bermuda used the little guy as an ambassador of goodwill at an apparently elaborate exhibit in New York City in 1936.

The March 15, 1936 issue of a publication named The Motion Picture and the Family has the scoop.

Scrappy in Bermuda

There’s a lot to ruminate over here:

  • The whole affair seems to have been–like other Columbia marketing blitzes–wrapped up in the theory that cartoons were a form of education. Especially Scrappy cartoons. (I especially like the title of the presentation “The Value of Cartoons, Pedagogically.”)
  • It’s nice to see that Lester Gaba, the man who sculpted Scrappy out of soap, participated in the festivities.
  • The story says that cartoons of Scrappy traveling to Bermuda and spending time “in the Island Paradise” were part of the program. Were these created especially for this event?

Earlier, The Film Daily ran two brief items on the Bermuda exhibit, both emphasizing the serious, uplifting nature of it all.

February 3:

Scrappy in Bermuda

February 21:

Scrappy in Bermuda

Googling around the Web, I haven’t found any other references to this exhibit.

Like many things about Scrappy, the details in these articles sound dreamy, apocryphal, and generally made-up rather than factual. But boy, do I ever hope that animation or other materials relating to “Scrappy’s Going to Bermuda” are out there somewhere waiting to be uncovered…

A Columbia Art Extravaganza

Back in the early 1930s, Columbia Pictures published tomes consisting entirely of amazingly splashy ads for its upcoming movies. These Columbia yearbooks don’t show up for sale often, and when they do, they don’t come cheap.

But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Margaret Herrick Library has done us all a favor by scanning in the 1933-1934 edition of the book. You can view it–or even download it in PDF form–here.

Naturally, our primary concern here at Scrappyland is the yearbook’s Scrappy-related pages. I wrote about them years ago–pilfering images from an eBay auction–but they’re well worth re-celebrating.

Here’s a dazzling spread about Scrappy and his Mintz stablemate Krazy Kat–which, as with the other images here, you can view in larger form by clicking.

Scrappy and Krazy Kat

Here’s another rather amazing ad which has Scrappy heading up a parade of characters, with Mickey Mouse–maybe the biggest movie star of the era, period–back in the crowd.

Scrappy Parade

And here, just to make Mickey seem even less important, is a mere half-page promo illustrated by someone who didn’t know what Mickey Mouse looked like. He may have been “always good,” but he was no Scrappy.

Mickey

I’m confused as to why Mickey (and the Silly Symphonies) appear in this 1933-1934 volume at all.  In 1930, Disney decided to move distribution from Columbia to United Artists; by mid-1932, after completing its obligations to Columbia, it did so.

Perhaps this book–despite the 1933-1934 date–came out at in the first half of 1932, when Columbia was still distributing Disney shorts but knew that the jig was about to be up. That might explain why it promoted them so half-heartedly.

The rest of the Columbia yearbook is devoted to upcoming live-action movies. I’ve never heard of some of them, and some titles don’t appear in IMDB, suggesting that their names changed before release, or maybe that they weren’t made at all.

The splendiferous artwork oozes with pre-code excitement. (It’s even better in color, as you’ll see if you peruse it at the Academy’s site.) I wish I knew who painted it all. And even though it has nothing to do with Scrappy or animation, I can’t resist sharing a few of the spreads here.

Columbia ad

Columbia ad

Columbia ad

Columbia ad

Columbia ad

Columbia ad

Columbia ad

Behold a Beautiful Scrappy Poster

I’ve come across reproductions of several Scrappy posters over the years and own a few original ones which I haven’t yet posted on this site. But Scrappyland reader Vince Bellassai recently acquired the niftiest one I’ve ever seen–and he was nice enough to share it with us.

Scrappy's Party

It’s for Scrappy’s Party (1933), which was one of the last Scrappy cartoons that Dick Huemer worked on. And the poster looks very much like his work. I like everything about it–especially the expressions on Scrappy, Oopy and Yippy.

Vince had the poster restored and is selling it on eBay. The price is a bit outside Scrappyland’s budget, but the piece is a gem and an extreme rarity. He says that he knows of no other recorded sales of any Scrappy poster for a specific short–and neither do I.