Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kimba Konnections!

You Never Know What You'll Find on the Internet, part 3,421,705,116: Yesterday, I stumbled across a couple of neat discoveries concerning the American voice cast of Kimba the White Lion. Those of you who know about my interest in Kimba will recall that I met Ray and Sonia Owens and corresponded with Billie Lou Watt some years ago. The two other principals were Hal Studer (Billie Lou's husband) and Gilbert Mack. Mack's most notable voice on Kimba was the irascible parrot, Pauley Cracker. Well, Pauley's voice -- a slightly younger-sounding version of it, anyway -- seems to have turned up two decades before Kimba in a Popeye cartoon, The Hungry Goat (1943), as the voice of the goat character. Clearly, Paramount was eying the success of Bugs Bunny at Warner Bros. in this case and wanted to (no pun intended) horn in. Mack, who had a long radio career as a "man of many voices" (lasting into the CBS Radio Mystery Theater era of the 1970s) and did other incidental voices in several future Paramount cartoons, didn't get screen credit for his work here, more's the pity.


As a bonus, here's a 1980 clip from the soap opera Search for Tomorrow, with Billie Lou Watt appearing in live action as Ellie. She played this role from 1968 to 1981. Sorry for the low quality; it's amazing that this has survived at all given the ephemeral nature of soap operas!

3 comments:

Joe Torcivia said...

Chris:

Regarding “Paramount eying the success of Bugs Bunny” one need look no further than the OPENING of “The Hungry Goat”, where the Goat walks past the title credits – then reads them and reacts to them!

Two years earlier, Fred (‘Tex”) Avery had Bugs do exactly that in “Tortoise Beats Hare” (1941).

Still, this is a great cartoon and was at the tail end of Popeye’s best era, when the stories were VARIED and funny! And, he was ACTUALLY A SAILOR in this one!

Joe.

Chris Barat said...

Joe,

MGM had a period in the late 30s when they did something similar to Paramount, trying to do "sillier" and "wilder" cartoons in the Warner Bros. style. The best known of these is (I think) THE LONE STRANGER. But MGM didn't really get over that hump until (big surprise) it lured Tex Avery over from Warners.

Chris

Joe Torcivia said...

Yes, and then with Avery – and the emergence of Hanna and Barbera – MGM did the wildest cartoons of them all!

What a shame, the Tex Avery cartoons (Droopy excepted) have YET to be collected on DVD!

Warner went from once being the BEST studio in terms of classic animation releases (theatrical AND TV), to being perhaps the worst!