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Frames of Time...

040_04 - Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones was one of the greats of animation. Some of the cartoons he directed at Warner Bros have been considered to be the funniest and finest ever made. He contributed to the evolution of such classic characters as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, and his co-creation of Pepe LePew and the Road Runner/Coyote series are well known.

The times I met or saw Chuck in person, I was struck at his scholarly, almost superior attitude. Whereas Bob Clampett talked like an animation buff, and Friz Freleng talked like a businessman, Chuck talked like a college professor. Despite Chuck's attempt at a folksy demeanor, and many quotes from Mark Twain, he came across cold.

My first meeting with Chuck was while I was working an ASIFA-Hollywood animation art sale. This photo was taken at that event around 1980. I was handling promotions and sales. Chuck was there, as a favor, to add some name value. He hung around for a little bit signing autographs. At the time, I was simply one of the many enamored at meeting one of animation's true legends. Our talk was small, and Chuck was polite.

My next meeting was while working at Film Roman. It was still the early days of Phil Roman's studio. We were working in the old Filmation building on Riverside Drive. Since Phil had worked with Chuck for a few years in the 1960s, Phil and Chuck kept in slight contact. I believe Chuck was there to have a lunch with Phil. Phil proudly showed off his studio and crew as Chuck walked around the facilities.

At one point, someone mentioned the (then) recent box office hit, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? Chuck admitted he had seen it. At that point, an artist stated how amazing the technology was in the film. Chuck erupted into a tirade on the spot. "Technology didn't make that movie", he literally shouted, "Artists made that movie!" The room went silent. Then voices began mentioning that the art sure looked good. Chuck then passed out into another area and I did not see him again that day.

The final time I saw Chuck was at the West Coast debut of BUGS BUNNY ON BROADWAY. It was a concert presentation in which a live orchestra supplied the music to Warner cartoons. The show was at the Greek Theater, an outside venue. Being opening night, Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng were there to speak. After a few cartoons had been handled, Chuck and Friz came on stage to thunderous applause. Chuck quickly walked up to the mike and began to thank the audience. He then talked of talent at Warners. He mentioned how sad it was that the great directors were not also there that night. He spoke of Bob Clampett. He spoke of Tex Avery. He then spoke of Friz Freleng. Friz walked forward to the mike and stated, "I hate to ruin your speech, Chuck, but I am still alive." The audience burst into laughter. Chuck froze, and then he slowly smiled. He seemed to rush through a few other remarks and let Friz have the mike.

A year or two later, Friz Freleng died. Several months later, Chuck was at some sort of animation event. I read a report on the activities and they quoted Chuck's comments. It was very similar to the talk he gave at the Greek Theater. This time Chuck, the college professor, wasn't interrupted.

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