Sunday, December 14, 2008

Two Old Pros

Here's a lovely shot of Al Eugster taken by Harvey Deneroff in 1980 at Kim and Gifford Productions in New York. Al was 71, though he could pass for his fifties as his hair was still brown and he was trim. I knew Al at this time, working with him on a forgotten Saturday morning series called Drawing Power in the summer of 1980. Harvey was interviewing Al, who was a favourite interview subject for many young historians curious to know about the golden age at Fleischer, Iwerks and Disney.
Here is Buster Keaton in 1965 on the set of Film, a movie written by playwright Samuel Beckett and directed by Alan Schneider. Keaton would have been 70 at the time. Alex Robinson's friend's grandfather shot this and other stills (visible here) at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. The other shots are nice, but this is the keeper.

Neither of these men were doing their best work at the time of these photos, but they were still bringing their talents to whatever projects they could find. Keaton spent time as comedy relief in beach party movies and acting in industrial films; Al was stuck drawing limited animation for TV, doing his own clean-ups and inbetweens. Both preferred to keep busy and stay in the game. Both were professionals through and through, trying to make the best entertainment out of whatever they were handed.

(Keaton link via Mark Evanier.)


p spector said...

Charming post, Mark. Did Al ever mention watching silent film actors/comedians while he was growing up? I know many animators who came of age in that era did.

Thad said...

I don't think any animator worth knowing wouldn't list silent film as an influence.

Maurice said...

Comment 1) I hear so much about Buster Keaton's lifetime of stunts and injuries and how he would shake off those injuries so professionally. I can relate to that in some ways. (At ten years old I got run over by the tire of a truck and was hospitalized for six days with broken collarbone, cracked skull, ruptured liver and bruised lung, but I remember that it barely hurt at all.)

Despite this, I've never found any of Buster Keaton's work on VHS or DVD in any video store or library, and I take everyone's word that he was one of the best, if not the best, silent comedians. Charlie Chaplin is also good, and at least his work is better circulated ("The Gold Rush" is the best silent comedy I've ever seen so far).

Comment 2) You've previously, as far as I know, only done Disney mosaics and Lantz mosaics. My question is this:

Would Hans Perk know anything about the Felix The Cat cartoons of the 1920s? Did multiple artists draw Felix, or was it just Otto Mesmer animating? (If the answer to this question varies from cartoon to cartoon, I would pick "Felix in Hollywood" as an example.)

Mark Mayerson said...

According to Donald Crafton's book Before Mickey, until 1924 all the Felix animation was done by Messmer. In 1924, the number of Felix cartoons doubled, so guest animators were brought in to help with the increased workload. Those guests included Bill Nolan, George Stallings, Raoul Barre and Burt Gillett.

As Felix in Hollywood was released in 1923, it should all be Messmer's animation.

Maurice said...

Thanks, Mark.

(PS. My blog name, Mauricenator, might pop up every once in a while as it did in the Dec. 14th post.)