Scrappy is Ninety

Charles Mintz, creator of Krazy Kat for the screen, has just produced another cartoon comedy character. The new animated cartoon is called “Scrappy.” Instead of the usual animals featured in the current cartoons, the central figure will be a mischievous little character called “Scrappy.” Most of the comedy will be pantomime, but interpolated dialogue, music and sound effects will play an important part in the short.

—“Star Dust” newspaper column, June 14, 1931

If you went to the movies 90 years ago—on July 16, 1931, to be precise—you might have ended up as one of the first people in the world to see a Scrappy cartoon. That’s the day that the first one, Yelp Wanted, debuted, unleashing Dick Huemer, Sid Marcus, and Art Davis’s creation on the world. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, here it is again:

It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that Scrappyland is marking Scrappy’s first nine-tenths of a century by sharing his first cartoon. But here’s something you probably woudn’t have anticipated seeing here: a new Scrappy cartoon. As far as I know, it’s the first time anyone has animated Scrappy and Oopy since 1941’s The Little Theater:

Scrappy’s 90th Anniversary was produced by Noah Stone and a bunch of other Scrappy fans, all credited at the short’s end; I think them for relighting the torch after so many decades. I’m sorry that my friend Dr. Richard Huemer isn’t around to see it.

Here’s a Scrappy/Oopy drawing—also made to celebrate the anniversary—by Noah:

When Scrappyland debuted in 2005, Scrappy was a mere 73. Now it seems quite possible that this site will be around to mark his 100th birthday in 2031. Or at least I hope it will: I certainly have enough material to keep going, and it would be sad to think that the world might run out of Scrappyana to rediscover.

It’s been great fun helping to keep Scrappy from being entirely forgotten, and it seems fair to say that he’s at least a little less forgotten than he was when I came up with the odd idea of devoting a website to him. May the great Scrappy resurgence continue unabated.

Oh, and a footnote: It wasn’t until this very night that I realized that my wife was born on the anniversary of Yelp Wanted’s release. That’s right—I married someone who shares Scrappy’s birthday. Now I’m horrified at the thought that it could have been any other way.

A Brief Visit to Casa Mintz

Charles Mintz home

I’ve taken you to Charles Mintz’s first Hollywood studio at 1154 N. Western Ave. We’ve gone inside his second one at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. And I still need to recap my visit to 861 Seward, which is where Columbia moved operations after they took control from Mintz.

But for now, let’s take a detour from these studio trips to consider 717 N. Linden Dr. in Beverly Hills, the Spanish-style home where Charles Mintz lived with his family at the time of his death in 1939. There it is at the top of this post, in a photo I recently took while admiring it from the sidewalk and hoping there was nobody inside, peering out the window and wondering why I was casing the joint.

Mintz was not always a cartoon tycoon, of course. The son of a York, Pennsylvania grocer, he was born in 1887 and dropped out of high school but eventually graduated from Brooklyn Law School. By 1915, he was living in New York with his mother and siblings. According to one obituary, that was also the year he went to work for Warner Bros. as a booker. That’s where he met Margaret Winkler, who–in what sounds like a fairly meteoric rise–went from being Harry Warner’s personal secretary to running her own cartoon distribution company. Mintz married Winkler in 1923 and soon took charge of the business. You may have heard of the tiff he had with one of its clients, Walt Disney.

Eventually, Mintz concluded that his Krazy Kat Studio would be better off in Hollywood—presumbly a well-informed decision given his experience working with Disney and then producing Oswald cartoons there himself. (One article about the move referenced the superior recording facilities there.) He sent his staff off to the coast by train in February 1930—but stayed in New York himself.

The fact that Mintz ran a studio across the country, with his brother-in-law George Winkler managing operations in L.A., may say something about his level of involvement in its productions. Columbia’s business operations were headquartered in New York, so he had a legitimate reason to remain in the east. But really, if you had the opportunity to be a Hollywood movie mogul, would you turn it down forever?

When Mintz and family went westward, they lived at first in Beverly Hills at 611 N. Linden, a three-bedroom Spanish-style home built in 1926. In July 1930, it was on the market (“A BUY”) for $28,000, or $420,000 in 2018 dollars. (Which is not to say you could buy it for that price: Zillow estimates its current value at $6.3 million.) But perhaps the Mintzes rented, since a year later the Los Angeles Times real-estate section offered it for $350 a month, the equivalent of $5,600 today.

By 1936, according to the Movieland Directory, Mintz’s voter registration showed him living at 717 N. Linden, the home I photographed. According to LA Times classifieds, it had gone on the market in May 1935—a “real buy” for $26,500. In the depths of the depression, it was a buyer’s market: By August, the house remained unsold and the asking price was down to $22,000 (“1/2 original cost”), or about $400,000 in 2018 dollars. After September, the ads disappear, conceivably because Mintz had bought it.

I hope it’s not gauche to wonder about this: How rich was Charles Mintz, as the producer of moderately popular animated cartoons? In 1933, he had sold half of his studio to Columbia, which would scoop up the rest in 1937; what that meant for his own finances, I can’t say. As far as I know, Columbia owned Scrappy and reaped the rewards from character merchandise, not Mintz.

In any event, 717 N. Linden sounds like a prosperous person’s home: Built in 1924, it had five bedrooms, four baths, chauffeur’s quarters, and a three-car garage. It still looks pretty lavish today, and Zillow estimates its current worth at $9.8 million. Not that it’s on the market—though a rental down the block can be yours for just $24,500 a month.

(Side note: Someone, probably not me, should map out where all the Hollywood animation producers of the 1930s lived. For the record, Leon Schlesinger and his wife Bernice were over on Benedict Canyon, a little over a mile from the Mintzes.)

My knowledge of Beverly Hills real estate history is too skimpy to assess how prestigious the Mintzes’ neighborhood was when they lived there, but a fair number of notables have inhabited the vicinity. Actress Bessie Love, an Academy Award nominee for Broadway Melody, moved into 611 N. Linden with her husband William Hawks after the Mintz family moved out. The acting couple Lilyan Tashman and Edmund Lowe lived across the street at 718 N. Linden, in an apparent marriage of convenience; their home was known as “Lilowe” and they were said to hold extravagant orgies there. (It’s tempting to envision Charles Mintz either being appalled or invited, although Tashman died in 1934, before the Mintzes arrived on the block.) Later, Wimbledon champion Fred Perry lived at 718 N. Linden, possibly after Charles’s death.

Producer Sol Siegel was a neighbor. Aldous Huxley, Jeanette MacDonald, and Dorothy Parker also lived nearby at some point in the 1930s or 1940s. Eventually, writers Nora and Delia Ephron grew up on what had once been the Mintzes’ block. (Bizarrely, two minutes after I typed that sentence, I heard Nora’s upbringing there referenced on The Bold Type, a TV show my wife was watching in the same room.) And it’s probably just as well that Charles Mintz was no longer with us when Bugsy Siegel was murdered in 1947 at 810 N. Linden, home of his girlfriend Virginia Hill.

Within months of Charles’s passing, his home was back on the market, at an “attrac. price.” I hope that it wasn’t financial strain that prompted Margaret Winkler Mintz and the two Mintz children to decamp to a place a few miles away on S. Bedford. It was smaller, but sounds nice, judging from the old classifieds (“finest 2 sty. corner ever built”).

The current residents of 717 N. Linden have lived there since 1996–and boy, it would be neat if they know they lived in the House That Scrappy Built, Or At Least Bought.

Inside 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

With apologies to Joe Campana, here’s the Charles Mintz staff circa 1932 superimposed on their studio building in 2017.

Last fall, when I visited 1154 N. Western Ave.–Charles Mintz’s first Hollywood studio–I had to bask in its history from outside on the sidewalk. Some of the businesses that currently rent space in the building even had signage specifically requesting that you not ring their doorbells.

But on the same L.A. trip, I also went to Mintz’s second studio, at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.–and I strolled right in, hung around, and chatted with its occupants, who are well aware of their building’s connection to animation history and tickled by it. The lovably quaint Spanish-style structure is now home to LAXART, an experimental art space which would be worth visiting even if it weren’t hallowed ground for Scrappy fans.

I wrote about 7000 Santa Monica’s rich legacy in 2015. To recap, it was built in 1929 and originally served as RCA Victor’s west-coast headquarters. For roughly seven years it was home to the Mintz studio, until Columbia took over and relocated the staff to 861 Seward St. (I visited that, too, and plan to write about it.) Eventually, the ex-Mintz facility became Radio Recorders, a legendary recording studio where everyone from Louis Armstrong to Frank Zappa made music which the world still cares about.

Having taken a gander at the building via Google Maps long before I dropped by in person,  I knew that 7000 Santa Monica’s exterior was still very much recognizable as its 1930s self. It’s lost most of its roof tiles and gained a rather enormous tree and a gate–and sadly, it no longer says “The Charles Mintz Studio” and “Screen Gems, Inc.” above the door. But if Sid Marcus or Art Davis were teleported there today from the great beyond, they’d know exactly where they were.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd.

7000 Santa Monica Blvd. circa 1932, in Mintz’s staff photo (top) and in 2017

One of my big questions, of course, was whether the interior still looked like the inside of a 1930s animation studio. Well, not really. The place has been through a lot of reinventions over the decades, and presently has the open spaces, white walls, and lack of ornamentation that you’d expect of an art gallery. (When I was there, an interesting exhibit of Latin America video art filled it up.)

There was one element that looked like it had been there since Charlie Mintz’s day, because it almost certainly had: a built-in safe in an alcove-like area on the second floor. It was manufactured by the Cary Safe Co. of Buffalo, which Wikipedia says went out of business in 1929, the same year 7000 Santa Monica was erected. I don’t know offhand what a 1930s animation studio proprietor would have wanted to secure in a vault, but there seems a decent chance that Mintz used it for something. And while I didn’t think to ask, it’s nice to hold out hope that it’s currently locked up and filled with priceless Scrappy art which will some day be busted loose.

Cary Safe

Visiting LAXART and chatting with staffers Hamza Walker and Makayla Bailey about their building was a joy. Landmarks like Termite Terrace and Disney’s Hyperion studio were demolished long ago; 7000 Santa Monica–for all the ways it’s changed since the young men and women of the Mintz studio worked there–is living history that’s open to the public.

7000 Santa Monica entrance

On top, Charles Mintz and his sister Anna in front of his cartoon studio; below, LAXART program & curatorial assistant Makayla Bailey and executive director Hamza Walker in 2017

Let’s end this post with a cartoon produced in this building 83 years ago…

The Saga of 1154 N. Western Ave.

Artist’s conception of the Ries Bros. Building at 1150-1154 N. Western Ave.–the first west-coast home of the Mintz studio–from a 1926 issue of American Cinematographer

In February 1930, Charles Mintz did something rather unusual: He hired a private railroad car to transport his staff from Manhattan to Los Angeles, relocating an entire animation studio from one coast to the other.

A bit over 87 years later, I took a plane from San Francisco to LA and visited Mintz’s first west-coast headquarters (at 1154 N. Western Ave.) and second one (at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd.). I also dropped by 861 Seward St., which is where Columbia moved the studio, by then known as Screen Gems, after Mintz’s death. Between the photos I took and the stuff I’ve dug up about these three buildings, I have too much information for a single post. So let’s start at the beginning with the story of the building where Scrappy was born.

Once upon a time–as I learned from an excellent article by Robert Peters–there were five brothers from Akron who had moved to Hollywood in 1913 with their mother. Their names were Irving, Raymond, Park, Paul, and Frank Ries, and they all found work relating to photography and the movie business.

Irving, the eldest, had his identity stolen by a German spy who was executed during WWI; was cameraman for The Lucky Dog, the first film featuring both Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy; and eventually became a distinguished special-effects man who worked on the Gene Kelly/Jerry Mouse segment of Anchors Aweigh and Forbidden Planet. Frank, the youngest, ran his own photography studio which was actually a front for an operation which produced prodigious quantities of stag films; after arrests and jail time, he committed double suicide with his wife in a Chicago hotel room in 1947.

Probably the most lurid thing you’ll ever read on Scrappyland, from the Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1947

As for Ray, Park, and Paul, they founded a camera store/photo lab catering to the film industry, which was such a success that in late 1925 they began construction on a new $75,000 home for it at the corner of N. Western Ave. and Virginia Ave. The groundbreaking ceremony featured celebrities such as Baby Peggy–who, remarkably, is still with us. The new location officially opened on May 1, 1925, with festivities that attracted everyone from Priscilla Dean to Pal the Wonder Dog, the pooch who played Our Gang’s Pete the Pup.

Park J. Ries

Besides their own operations–ranging from a portrait studio to a camera repair department–the Ries Bros. Building included 19 offices on its second floor designed to be rented out to other film-related businesses. Among the clients were Disney animators Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, who, as Mike Barrier recounts in Hollywood Cartoons, took space in the building for two weeks in September 1926, during a studio vacation, and produced a cartoon called Aladdin’s Vamp with their Disney colleagues Ub Iwerks and Rollin Hamilton. In 1928, Hugh and Rudy returned to the building for about a year to produce Oswald the Rabbit cartoons for Charles Mintz, after the latter’s legendary break with Walt Disney.

The Ries Bros.’ Cahuenga storefront, which is only tangentially related to Scrappy, but too nifty not to show here

The Ries store’s time on N. Western Ave. was short-lived: Less than four years after it moved in, the brothers relocated it to Cahuenga Ave. (They also began producing wooden tripods which won the favor of notables such as Ansel Adams and are still available today.) But at roughly the time they left in 1930, Charles Mintz’s studio–still known at the time as the Winkler Film Corp.–rented a second-floor suite. Given that Mintz and his brother-in-law and associate George Winkler were well aware of the building from the brief period when Oswalds were produced there, it’s no surprise that they chose it for their newly-relocated studio, which got busy making Krazy Kat and Toby the Pup shorts–and, starting in 1931, the Scrappy cartoons of Dick Huemer, Sid Marcus, and Art Davis.

I don’t have any photos I know for sure to depict the interior of the Mintz studio at 1154 N. Western, but there’s presumably a decent chance that this one–from Dr. Richard Huemer’s, showing Jack Carr, Sid Marcus, and Dick Huemer with Toby–was taken there.

As for the exterior, we do have some shots of Mintz staffers hanging around outside the building, thanks to Mark Mayerson. In 2006, Mark shared a photo sent to him by Paul Spector, the son of animation-industry veteran (and Mintz employee) Irv Spector.

That’s Irv second from the left. Mark guessed that the photo might show Al Gould third from right, Felix Alegre second from right, and Ed Solomon at right. They’re standing in front of the door to 1154 N. Western, which led up to the studio and other tenants; the “entrance” sign is tantalizing, but I’m not sure what it’s for. (As quoted in Hollywood Cartoons, Mintz inbetweener Don Patterson said there was a pool hall downstairs, possibly in space the Rieses has vacated when they relocated their store to Cahuenga.)

Way back in the last century, Mark also posted some 1154 N. Western exterior shots from the collection of Al Eugster, showing Al with fellow Mintz artists.

In the top photo, from left to right: Al Eugster, Manny Gould, Allen Rose, and Harry Love. On the bottom, from left to right: Harry Love, Preston Blair and Allen Rose, with Al Eugster in front.

Mintz’s move west was followed by expansion: In December 1931, the Film Daily reported that the studio had tripled its staff and doubled the size of its quarters. Most likely, it was a need for even more space that prompted the company to move from 1154 N. Western Ave. to 7000 Santa Monica Blvd, where it could occupy a building of its own. When I wrote about that address, I published a staff photo taken there marked “1932.” But I’ve since come across a want ad placed by Mintz artist Ben Harrison, offering a reward for his lost music manuscript. It’s dated December 21st, 1932, and lists the N. Western Ave. address; if the studio left that building in 1932, it must have done so at the very end of the year.

Whatever the year, the Mintz operation did move out in the early-to-mid 1930s, and the building is still there in 2017. What has it housed for the last 80-plus years? Funny you should ask.

In 1934, someone located there was selling a mysterious electrical device of interest to beer parlors and restaurants.

In 1935, a director sought girls and children for a new production, which sounds like a likely story to me.

In 1937 you could write to 1154 N. Western for a free booklet on the secrets of songwriting.

That same year, another tenant had a need for salesman to hawk the “sweetest oil deal that has ever hit L.A.”

More salesmen were needed in 1939 for an unspecified purpose.

In 1942, a company called Champion sold its “battery rejuvenator” from the address.

In 1946, there was a business at 1154 N. Western that wasn’t as far-flung from what we talk about here at Scrappyland as most: Telecomics, which might have beat Jay Ward and Alex Anderson’s Crusader Rabbit to be the first made-for-TV animation if it had made its drawings, you know, move. (It was headed by Dick Moores, who drew Disney comics and was eventually best-known as the wonderful writer and artist of Gasoline Alley.)

In 1950, there was a steam-heat business there.

In 1954, a company in the building wanted to finance and promote inventions

In 1962, a school operated out of the building taught the noble science of shoe fitting.

In 1968, you could write to 1154 N. Western to get yourself a Russian pen pal.

In 1974, a syndicated newspaper column called “Kanine Korner” used the building as its mailing address.

In 1987, a landlord accused of treating tenants poorly was sentenced to perform community service at 1154 N. Western.

And at the same time, you could go to see movies about the Soviet Union.

Maybe any random office building that’s been around for more than ninety years has had a similarly eclectic list of tenants. But I’m still fascinated by the sheer randomness of occupants, in a structure originally catering solely to the film industry.

What was going on in the downstairs retail area over all these decades, I’m not sure. But in recent years, as shown in the Yelp photo below, the space had housed a party-supply shop and a market. If you squint, you can make out a Mickey Mouse poster in the market’s window, which is some sort of karmic commentary on the respective legacies of Walt Disney and Charles Mintz.

Anyhow, fast-forward to last week. Here’s what the Ries Bros. Building currently looks like.

The neighborhood that apparently had its fair share of Hollywood pizzazz in the 1920s has kept its buildings but lost its glamour; on the morning I was there, I couldn’t tell whether many of the retail businesses in the area were still extant or not.

On the ground level of the Ries Bros. Building, where the brothers’ camera store once operated, I found something called The Unincorporated Life which I thought might be a defunct bar. Turns out that it’s a still-in-business fashion school with a mascot who has a bit of a Mintz-esque look.

In fact, the Unincorporated Life robot looks like a relative of the ones in the Scrappy cartoon Technoracket (1933). A coincidence, presumably, but a happy one.

Image borrowed from Green Briar Pictures

Upstairs are several businesses, including a moving company, an insurance agent, and (retaining a tenuous link to the building’s showbiz past) a video-production facility. Perhaps one of them is in the space once used by the Charles Mintz studio. Or the studio’s precise quarters may currently be unoccupied: There’s a “For Lease” banner hanging off the balcony that’s been there for years.

I didn’t attempt to go inside–for one thing, several of the current occupants had signs requesting visitors not to ring the bell–but standing on the pavement, I tried to visualize what Charles Mintz’s young employees might have seen from the area immediately outside their place of business. They might well have had a splendid view of the not-yet-iconic Hollywoodland sign; now the Hollywood sign, it’s blocked rather precisely by a nearby billboard that may not have been there 85 years ago. (I hope no Mintz staffers witnessed the suicide of Peg Entwistle, a young actress who jumped off the “H” in 1932.)

A few doors down from 1154 N. Western is Stewart Plumbing, which says it’s been in the same building since 1920, and looks like it’s hardly changed at all. I can’t quite tell whether its current sign is visible in Mark Mayerson’s photo of Irv Spector and colleagues, which does show the Stewart building in the background. But it’s certainly easy to envision the Mintz studio calling in its neighborhood plumber to deal with any clogged drains it might have had.

As seen in my photo above, 1154 N. Western is just around the corner from 5454 Virginia Ave., where the Mintz staffers gathered for some photos made famous–at least to hardcore 1930s cartoon fans–by Joe Campana’s wonderful blog post “Ghosts of the Charles Mintz studio.” I didn’t see any signs that the building, which was originally a furniture store and later became a non-denominational church and then a synagogue, is currently occupied. But as I snapped photos, I did mystify a man seated in his parked car, right where the Mintz photos were taken.

Here’s the Mintz staff lined up for their team photo, circa 1930 or 1931.

The Mintz Staff

And here’s that 1926 rendition of the new Ries Bros. Building again, along with a Google Maps image capturing the same view in February of this year. For all that’s changed, I’m glad it’s still there and wish its current inhabitants well. Even if none of them have a clue that Scrappy cartoons were once made on the premises, as seems probable.

See you soon with news of my visit to 7000 Santa Monica Blvd, a place with a history all its own–and tenants who, I’m pleased to report, are well aware of their building’s Mintz legacy.

Etcheverry on Scrappy (and Oswald and Toby)


If there were a patron saint of Scrappy research, it would probably be Paul Etcheverry. Thirty-five years ago he and Will Friedwald wrote the seminal Scrappy filmography. And now, at this “Way Too Damn Lazy to Write a Blog” blog, he’s published part one of an article on the Mintz studio, with plenty of art, embedded cartoons, and, most importantly, wisdom. Go read.

The Scrappy Comic Strip! (Part One)

If you were alive in the UK or Australia in the late 1930s and read a comic book called Wags, you may be intimately familiar with the Scrappy comic strip. Otherwise, your opportunities to be exposed to it–at least in English–have been severely limited. Comics historian In 2010, comics historian Ken Quattro provided one example on his Comics Detective site. And that’s about it.

Me, I’ve shared examples of the strip in French and bizarrely retouched into the adventures of Shorty Shortcake. But it was only recently that I acquired some Scrappy tearsheets from somebody’s bound volume of Wags, circa 1938. I’ll post them here in a few chunks, with a bit of commentary.

Like much Scrappyana, the Scrappy strip is tantalizingly mysterious. Thanks to strip expert Allan Holtz, we know that the 1937 edition of Editor & Publisher included a listing for a Scrappy strip (“by Charles Mintz”) from Eisner & Iger Associates, an outfit run by Will Eisner and Jerry Iger. I know of no evidence it ever made its way into a newspaper, but Eisner and Iger made good use of what they’d put together by selling it to the French publishers of Bilboquet, repackaging it in Wags, and eventually de-Mintzing it to come up with Wonderworld comics’ Shorty Shortcake.

We don’t know who wrote or drew the strip, other than the safe assumption that Charles Mintz had nothing to do with it. Presumably, it was one or more artists from the Eisner-Iger shop rather than anyone who worked on Scrappy cartoons. I’ll have some more thoughts on candidates in future installments, but for now, I’ll just admit that I don’t see any evidence that Will Eisner himself did any of the art, as fun a notion as that is. (We’re actually looking for at least two artists, I think, since the style of the first strip varies sharply from later installments.)

Anyhow, here you go: chapters 1-6 of “Scrappy and the Border Patrol,” a tale which has virtually nothing to do with anything that ever appeared in a Scrappy animated cartoon other than the fact that it stars Scrappy, Margy, and Yippy. (Sorry, Oopy.)






Note that the “Universal Phoenix Features Syndicate” mentioned in the copyright notice was run by Eisner and Iger. I’m not sure offhand whether the repurposed strips were dailies or Sundays–and actually, come to think of it, I’m not even positive that the entire Wags run of Scrappy consisted of repurposed newspaper strips. Like I said, it’s tantalizing and mysterious.

More strips–and thoughts–to come.

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 Shenkman. 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, 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.


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 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.

An Odd Visit to the Mintz Studio

This uncredited article from the December 27, 1932 issue of something called The Hollywood Filmograph is weird. Was there a Scrappy short with caricatures of movie stars acting like Krazy Kats, whatever that means? Is the piece joking when it calls Charles Mintz a directing genius, considering that neither of the words in that description is accurate?

It’s so odd that I don’t know whether to trust any of the facts and figures in it which I don’t otherwise know to be true. But for the record, here it is.

Mintz visit

In Memoriam: Charles Mintz

Charles Mintz obituary
The above obituary for Charles Mintz, producer of the Scrappy cartoons, was published in Daily Variety for Tuesday, January 2nd, 1940. Its reference to Mintz having died on “Saturday” indicates that he passed away on Saturday, December 30th, 1939.

That was a surprise to me — I always thought he’d passed in 1940. Both the Etcheverry/Friedwald Animania article and Wikipedia state he left us on January 4th, 1940 — two days after Variety reported his death.

If you insist on additional evidence that Mintz died in 1939 — well, here’s his gravestone.

Charles Mintz Gravestone

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the history of animation knows that Variety‘s obit failed to capture Mintz’s role in it. He’s remembered as the guy whose hardball negotiating tactics with Walt Disney over the Oswald series, and underestimation of Disney’s vital role in the creation of his studio’s own cartoons, led to the creation of Mickey Mouse. Even in early 1940, it should have been clear that this was his claim to fame. (Sorry, Scrappy.)

The obituary credits Mintz with the Felix cartoons, mentioning neither Pat Sullivan nor Mintz’s own wife, Margaret Winkler, who did produce the Felixes, along with Fleischer Out of the Inkwell cartoons and Disney’s Alice in Cartoonland shorts. (Mintz was her employee before he became her husband.)

In fact, Variety didn’t even mention Winkler by name, though she did get her own obituary — longer than her husband’s — a half-century later when she died. She deserved it: Her career, though brief, was impressive in ways that Charles Mintz’s was not.

(Side note: The Mintz home on Linden Drive in Beverly Hills is still there. I wonder who lives in it now, and if they even know who Charles Mintz was?)

You don’t have to have a high regard for Charles Mintz’s role in the animation industry to feel a twinge of sadness over how it ended. In 1939, he was in debt to Columbia and was forced to sell his studio to the firm, which terminated him and put his production manager, Jimmy Bronis, in charge, followed by Mintz’s brother-in-law, George Winkler.

Not long after Mintz’s ouster, he was dead of a heart attack. And he was only fifty.

But here’s a bizarre surprise ending: When Columbia acquired the Mintz studio, it renamed it Screen Gems. It’s used the Screen Gems moniker off and on ever since for a variety of purposes. Columbia’s current owner, Sony, currently releases film under the Screen Gems label, including Resident Evil: Retribution, which debuted earlier this month.

That’s right: Charles Mintz’s studio still exists. Or at least that’s the way I prefer to think of it.