Bob Clampett - Writer

Animator. Nationality: American. Born: San Diego, California, 1915 (?). Education: Attended Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. Career: Cartoonist for Los Angeles Times while still in school, then strip cartoon contract with King Features; 1931—joined Warner Brothers as animator, working mainly on Bosko and Buddy series; director of animation 1937; 1948—briefly a consultant to Columbia, then worked mainly in television: puppet series Time for Beany from 1949; other series include Thunderbolt the Wonder Colt , Buffalo Billy , Top o' the Morning , Wm. Shakespeare Wolf , and Beany and Cecil ; also made commercials. Died: In 1985.

Films as Animator:


When's Your Birthday (Beaumont) (sequence)


Get Rich Quick Porky ; Injun Trouble ; Porky in Wackyland ; Porky's Bedtime Story ; Porky's Hero Agency ; Porky's Poppa ; Rover's Rival


The Daffy Doc ; The Lone Stranger and Porky ; Porky and Daffy ; Porky in Egypt ; Porky's Five and Ten ; Porky's Naughty Nephew ; Porky's Party ; What Price Porky


Ali Baba Bound ; Chicken Jitters ; The Film Fan ; Jeepers Creepers ; Kristopher Kolumbus, Jr. ; Naughty Neighbors ; Patient Porky ; Pied Piper Porky ; Polar Pals ; Porky's Hotel ; Porky's Last Stand ; Porky's Movie Mystery ; Porky's Picnic ; Porky's Tire Trouble ; Scalp Trouble ; Wise Quacks


Africa Squeaks ; The Chewin' Bruin ; Farm Frolics ; Pilgrim Porky ; Porky's Poor Fish ; Porky's Snooze Reel (co); Prehistoric Porky ; Slap Happy Pappy ; The Sour Puss ; The Timid Toreador (co); We, the Animals Squeak


A Coy Decoy ; Goofy Groceries ; The Henpecked Duck ; Meet John Doughboy ; Porky's Pooch ; Robinson Crusoe, Jr. ; Wabbit Twouble


Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid ; Cagey Canary (co); Crazy Cruise ; Eatin' on the Cuff ; The Hep Cat ; Horton Hatches the Egg ; The Impatient Patient (co); A Tale of Two Kitties ; Wacky Blackout ; The Wacky Wabbit ; Any Bonds Today (co)


Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs ; A Corny Concerto ; Falling Hare ; An Itch in Time ; Tin Pan Alley Cats ; Tortoise Wins By a Hare ; The Wise Quacking Duck ; Booby Traps


Birdy and the Beast ; Buckaroo Bugs ; Draftee Daffy ; Hare Ribbin' ; The Old Grey Hare ; Russian Rhapsody ; Slightly Daffy ; Tick Tock Tuckered ; What's Cookin' Doc?


Baby Bottleneck ; The Bashful Buzzard ; Book Revue ; A Gruesome Twosome ; Wagon Heels


Bacall to Arms ; The Big Snooze ; The Great Piggy Bank Robbery ; Kitty Kornered ; The Goofy Gophers (co)


It's a Grand Old Nag (+ pr)


Bwana Devil (Oboler) (prologue, + ro)


Bugs Bunny—Superstar (compilation) (+ ro)


By CLAMPETT: articles—

Funnyworld , Summer 1970.

Classic Film Collector (Indiana, Pennsylvania), Summer 1971.

The Velvet Light Trap (Madison, Wisconsin), Fall 1975.

Classic Images (Muscatine, Iowa), June 1984.

"Creating the Warner Bros. Animation Style: an interview with Bob Clampett," with T. Andrae, in Animatrix (Los Angeles), no. 9, 1995–1996.

On CLAMPETT: articles—

Technicien du Film (Paris), 15 December 1982–15 January 1983.

Lenburg, Jeff, in The Great Cartoon Directors , London, 1983.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 9 May 1984.

Obituary in Film Comment (New York), November-December 1984.

Classic Images (Muscatine, Iowa), December 1984.

Corliss, Richard, in Films in Review (New York), November 1985.

Schneider, Steve, in That's All Folks , New York, 1988.

* * *

Arguably one of the most creative and instrumental cartoon directors at Warner Brothers during the 1930s and 1940s, Bob Clampett started his cartooning career while still at school when King Features offered him a job drawing a newspaper Sunday strip. His earliest contact with animated cartoons was when he joined the Harman-Ising unit at Warner Brothers as an inbetweener; he was soon working as an animator on the very first Merrie Melody cartoon. At this early stage it is difficult to pick out one person's contribution, but Clampett was soon animating and suggesting stories and gags for most of the cartoons in production.

After his apprenticeship was served, Clampett was elevated to a full director to fill the space left by Frank Tashlin. Clampett made a hopeful start on an animated version of Edgar Rice Burrough's science-fiction stories John Carter on Mars , but it unfortunately never came to fruition. His first directorial role was an animated segment for a Joe E. Brown feature called When's Your Birthday , in which the zodiac signs become animated. Chiefly directing Porky Pig cartoons, he injected a wild, flighty surrealism close to that of his colleague Tex Avery, yet in a style all his own. The ludicrousness of a "rubberized" dog ( Porky's Tire Trouble ), a camel doing a highland fling ( Porky in Egypt ) or Daffy Duck inflating and deflating like a balloon, having just escaped being in an iron lung ( The Daffy Doc ) are all excellent examples of the Clampett philosophy of throwing logic to the wind.

Not until the war years and his being allowed color did Clampett pull out all the stops and inflict on audiences his own particular no-holds-barred kinds of zaniness. Armed with some excellent animators (Bob McKimson and Rod Scribner, among others) and his layout man Mike Sasanoff, who helped with just about every aspect connected with the production, Clampett made some of the wildest, most bizarre shorts ever put out by Warners. Parodies were also a good stock-in-trade for Clampett. His Corny Concerto flattens Disney's Fantasia by using Elmer Fudd as Deems Taylor to introduce the mayhem, including Bugs Bunny as a ballerina. Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs ribs Disney's Snow White by putting the whole cast in blackface, while Bacall to Arms deflates the Humphrey Bogart feature To Have and Have Not and Kitty Kornered parodies the effect Orson Welles's radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds had on the general public.

Only one really perennial character was to emerge from Clampett's pen, that of ("I T'ot I Taw a Putty Tat!") Tweety-Pie, and Tweety only survived when refined, remodelled, and placed in a Award-winning cartoon directed by Friz Freleng after Bob had left Warners. It would seem as though Clampett's characters were too bizarre to survive the test of time and become standard Warner featured stars.

After leaving Warners, Clampett helped other Warner drop-outs to remodel Columbia cartoons and made a pilot cartoon to launch Republic Pictures' Trucolor color system. But his true glory was yet to come—in television— and with puppets. Time for Beanie was the most successful and popular children's puppet show on TV in the 1950s, watched by young and old alike. It reached out to all ages with its action, adventure, in-jokes, and dreadful puns featuring Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent, Dishonest John, Cap'n Huffenpuff, and, of course, Beanie, whose propeller cap became a necessity for every American child in that era. The popularity of this puppet show inspired Clampett to revert to form and make an animated series of Beanie, syndicated throughout the world.

—Graham Webb

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