Friday, October 13, 2006

Irv Spector at the Mintz Studio

Updated October 15 with more information.

One of the nice things about this blog is when I'm contacted by people who have historical material to share. It was great hearing from Bernie Wolf's daughter, Laura Wolf-Purcell, who shared some photos and artwork. Now, I've heard from Paul Spector, son of animator Irv Spector, who sent these photos taken of the Mintz staff in the early 1930's. Paul writes,
I do feel compelled to tell you -- probably out of some journalistic integrity -- that they have been through what I will call the "light wash cycle" in Photoshop: converted to grayscale with minor sharpening, contrast, levels, blah blah. Not tremendously of course, but it does give you a better chance at identification of the cartoonists. I use an 800x600 monitor resolution...if they appear to small you might want to view them at that.
We need to identify the people in these photos. Click on any of them for a larger view.

In the photo above, Irv Spector is second from left in the dark sweater. Possible identifications are Al Gould third from right, Felix Alegre second from right and Ed Solomon at right. These guesses are based on a 1935 Mintz photo that Jerry Beck was good enough to send me that's published below.

When the Mintz studio moved to Los Angeles from New York in 1930, they were first located at 1154 Western Avenue in a space that had been occupied formerly by Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising. Harman and Ising occupied it in 1926 when they made Aladdin's Vamp. Furthermore, when they were making Oswald cartoons after Mintz took the character away from Disney, they also occupied this space, so Mintz had a former association with it. The first floor included a pool hall, and the animation studio was on the second floor. This information comes from Mike Barrier's book Hollywood Cartoons. For more views of the doorway to 1154 Western, you can go here to see some Al Eugster pictures from the same location.

Sometime after 1932 and before 1935, the Mintz studio moved to 7000 Santa Monica. Therefore, the above photo is from a different location and time period than the photos below, which were shot at the Santa Monica address.

In the photo above, Irv Spector is at the lower right wearing the dark blazer. Based on the 1935 photo below, I'd say that's Ed Rehberg at left with Sid Davis wearing the sweater at center.
I have a hunch that the above man at left wearing the white shirt is Preston Blair.

The man in the left foreground above is probably Ed Rehberg and at right is probably Sid Davis. Thanks to Paul Spector sharing these great photos with us.

Here's the 1935 photo supplied by Jerry. At least this shot has many, but not all, of the staff identified. I think it's a shame that the ink and paint women in many historical photos of animation studios go unidentified. If you can identify anyone in these pictures, please comment and I'll edit the entry to add the information.


Paul Spector said...

Appears to me that the first photo clearly shows nothing but sidewalk behind them, whereas the bottom photograph has them standing on a street corner (righthand-side of photograph) where that sidewalk would be (were it the same location, that is.) So, what studio was on Western, or No.Western. Was Lantz around there at all?

Jerry Beck said...

The studio was at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. The bottom three photos were definitely taken in from of the studio on Santa Monica Blvd. Thev only person I can absolutely identify is the bald guy in the bottom photo (wearing a sweater and leaning on the white pole) as Sid Davis.

Steve Schnier said...

Thanks for posting this, Mark. I like seeing old photos like this - They put things into perspective. Guys at the top of their games, 70-odd years ago. Hopes, dreams, plans...

It's nice to know that people remember them and their work. I wonder if they ever gave a thought to posterity?

Paul Spector said...

Steve - Yours is a very nice take on the photos. I only wish I had more from that era for Mark to post.

Re your comment on posterity. I would never be presumptuous as to speak for anybody from that era (not that you're asking), but I can tell you my own impressions, as related to me by my father. Since he didn't work in a vacuum, perhaps their were others who shared his view (now very subjectivly told through myself, as heard from the late 50's through the early-mid 70's.)

Whenever he spoke about the animation industry, and his own work and place in it, it was told with a combination of enthusiasm...or not, frequency of talking about a particular story...or not, etc. -- my elipse marks indicating varying levels between the two extremes (hope that makes sense.)Hence, I often (frequency) heard about his times at Fleischer, in Florida, and it was told with a fond enthusiam and remembrance. That would be not only the work itself, but the lifestyle, as it was always appended with how he and several others from the studio rented a house near everglades-type terrain and sat on the porch in after work yakking and sipping on a bottle (of course I can't vouch for all of them doing the latter!) while watching the sun set. So that's a good example of work, time and place: he was getting paid for work he really dug, was very young and single, and living in Florida. On the opposite end, when I got older I was surprised when I discovered on my own some of the work he did. Because either he didn't mention it at all or possibly only mentioned it briefly and in terms that never stuck in my mind.

So, to answer your question about posterity (finally): I assume you mean that at the point in time the work was created, did they think that 30 or 60 years down the line people would say write your own here I would have personally have to say no, and never spoke of it in those terms. But, I think they knew when the work they were doing was quality stuff, or not, and took pride in it at the time it was created.

That's all relative of course. In hindsight, would any Fleischer person who worked on Gulliver's Travels necessarily think it was a bad piece of work? What if it's compared to Snow White?

However, that was him reminiscing. Mostly, his mind was always wrapped around the work he was doing at the time. For the same reasons as above, you could tell when the process and the result was satisfying and enjoyable...or not, whatever the decade. I think they tried to do the best work they could at any moment/era (I am referring up to the mid-to-late-60's here, and, then do it again. (Oh hell, maybe I'm wrong about all this! What have the old animators said? lol Thanks for reading.)

Paul Spector said...

Jerry, I love the picture. Thanks. - Paul

Steve Schnier said...

Hi Paul, Interesting perspective. I know that with most of the shows that I work on, its done in the "here and now" - do the work, make it as good as time, budget, clients will allow. But there have been shows where the prevailing attitude was, "This is some kid's favorite show" or "Some kid is going to remember this" and a little extra effort or pride goes into it. Of course, you always remember the experience in terms of the people you worked with, rather than the physical work that you performed.

Michael Sporn said...

If you're talking about the Charles Mintz Studio, I think you HAVE to post a link to Joe Campana's Animation - Who & Where site where he shows some great photos and places the studio in current photos.