Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mighty Mouse's Triumphant Return

When Gene Deitch took over the day to day operations of Terrytoons in the mid-1950's, one of his radical decisions was to discontinue the studio's long-running characters like Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle. While many enjoyed the new concepts and ideas Deitch was trying out, 20th Century-Fox wanted cartoon stars for its releases. That's perhaps one of the reasons that Gene Deitch was let go, and Bill Weiss put in his place. The first thing Weiss did was order Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle back into production. The first result of this was the 1959 Mighty Mouse cartoon "Outer Space Visitor", which we present to you now, through the good offices of Robair who is starting to go through my old tapes and get this stuff up on YouTube.

This cartoon was directed (and probably also animated) by Dave Tendlar, who had just recently joined the Terrytoons staff after spending most of his career up to that point at Fleischer Studios and Famous Studios/Paramount Cartoons. Tendlar had been a valued animator and a gifted character designer, and most of the animators in his unit were top draftsmen.

Tendlar would soon be joined at Terrytoons by one of his lead animators, Martin Taras, who would help resurrect Heckle and Jeckle. The Heckle and Jeckle revival was significantly more successful than Mighty Mouse's, which only lasted for three films- this one, "Cat Alarm" and "The Mysterious Package". There were perhaps a dozen Heckle and Jeckle films made in the 1960's, with most of them being produced in the 1960-1961 time frame, with the last one, "Messed Up Movie Makers", being released in 1966, a project of longtime studio animators George Bakes and Al Chiarito.

After Terrytoons, Dave Tendlar would freelance for many other studios, including Ken Snyder, Filmation, Hanna-Barbera and Hal Seeger. He retired in the early 80's and died in 1993.

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