Wednesday, February 05, 2014


Arthur, Danny and Jules on the set of THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES:  THE ENCHANTED WORLD OF DANNY KAYE (1972)  Arthur became good friends with Danny during the two specials they made with him.  There is a Great behind-the-scenes vintage documentary on the DVD that RANKIN/BASS shot to sell the series to the networks.  Unfortunately, only one episode was made.  The doc features some great Jack Davis presentation art!



THE STARVING ARTISTS "Batman meets Joe Walsh" (+playlist)

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

LA TIMES story is on the internet now...,0,1139440.story#axzz2sQFqhsf9

Original New York Times review

Mad Monster Party (1968) Screen: 'Monster Party':Local Theaters Show Animated Feature By HOWARD THOMPSON Published: March 8, 1969 MOST of the so-called kiddie movies unloaded on weekends at neighborhood theaters are absurdly awful. But "Mad Monster Party," which Avco Embassy is showing today and tomorrow, at matinees only, is another matter entirely. In this peppery and contagiously droll little color package, a collection of animated puppets scamper across some clever miniature sets, exchanging sass and barbs and occasionally warbling some sprightly tunes. The rubbery-faced puppets themselves are modeled after the best-known movie "monsters," including the Wolf Man, Dr. Jekyll, Quasimodo, Yetch (Peter Lorre), Dracula, and Frankenstein's Monster. What a party list for a weekend on a Caribbean isle, where Baron Frankenstein has summoned his old pals to name his successor. This is his nephew, an All-American boy who soon yearns for his uncle's secretary, a delectable doll of a redhead. The jealous monsters then cook up some intrigue. The picture clips along breezily in a flow of wise-cracks and slapstick. And the voices applied to the animated figures—Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller are credited with their own—are a riot. So are a banquet scene and a kitchen tour when the chef (Mafia Machiavelli) ticks off the menu. Add a red-hot rock quartet of beatle-mop skeletons. King Kong drops by for the finale, a takeoff on that monster classic, complete with toy airplanes. But the two funniest party guests are Count Dracula ("Time for my coffin break") and Miss Diller) "Boy, do you need a manicure!" she tells the Wolf Man, after he kisses her hand) As directed by Jules Bass and produced by Arthur Rankin Jr. with some gifted technicians, this party should make everybody chuckle, the tots and their escorts, and even the monsters at heart. The Program MAD MONSTER PARTY, directed by Jules Bass; produced by Arthur Rankin Jr.; a Rankin-Bass Production, presented by Avco Embassy. At neighborhood theaters. Running time: 93 minutes.

NEWS update

I am told that the NEW YORK TIMES article on Arthur Rankin, Jr. may hit the internet tonight and the papers either tomorrow or Thursday.  I wasn't interviewed by the writer BUT I know Maury Laws was...I did supply the photographs.   The LA TIMES article written by Elaine Woo should hit the paper tomorrow BUT there is a chance it may not be until Thursday too.


Look for an article about Arthur in the LA TIMES in the next few days and a mention in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.  I spoke to both of them today.  Looks like EW will devote
more attention to RANKIN/BASS when they feature the 50th Anniversary of RANKIN/BASS'


Monday, February 03, 2014

Arthur Rankin, Jr.

The following text appeared in today's Bermuda newspaper:

"We regret to announce the death of Mr. Arthur Gardner Rankin Jr.,
beloved husband of Olga, of Hamilton Parish, in his 90th year.
he is also survived by his sons Gardner and Todd,
"son" Masaki,, stepson Serge and many friends both here and abroad.

A private graveside service and reception to celebrate his life
are being planned for a later date.

In lieu of flowers, friends may make a donation to
The Bermuda National gallery at City Hall, Church Street, Hamilton 

The Masterworks Foundation at Botanical Gardens, Paget DV04 Bermuda

or Bermuda Diabetes Association at Po Box DV5 06 ,   Devonshire DVBX.

Bulley Graham Rawlins Funeral Home."

I am glad to know after all you'll be able to come and take part in the 
celebration of Mr. Rankin's life and career.
I wish you safe travel when the time comes and blessings to all Mr. 
Rankin's family and loved ones.


"Five years ago when I decided that the first Tolkien property that I could handle was 'The Hobbit,' it was because of the main character himself,"  "The hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, has attitudes and characteristics described by Tolkien that are animatable. When you see him struggling to keep up with the others on his adventure, you feel sympathy for him." "The title of the picture is 'The Hobbit,' our star is the hobbit, and the hobbit is what the picture is about. He's a catalyst to all the bizarre things happening to him. Without that sympathetic character as a thread, you can't get away with doing a picture about goblins and dwarves."
"Maybe the new fantasy market-the popularity of movies like 'Star Wars'-has come from Tolkien,"  "The old wizard with the Force in 'Star Wars'-that's Gandalf, the wizard of 'The Hobbit.' The young fellow having adventures-good versus evil-that's the White Tower versus the Black Tower in 'The Lord of the Rings."
"If 'The Hobbit' is a success on television, we will release it to the theaters,"  "Then we will go on to complete our next Tolkien work, which will continue the characters we have established in 'The Hobbit,' and will be adapted from 'The Hobbit' and the last book in the Ring trilogy, 'The Return of the King.' At this point we are scripted, the music is composed and recorded, our backgrounds are painted, the sound track is partially completed, and new characters are designed-such as Frodo Baggins."
"Orson Bean has a demeanor and a voice quality and a private style of life that is very much like a hobbit," 
"I love to hear Dick (Richard Boone) snarl, and fume, and wreak vengeance," "And Dick says he loves to play bad guys because there's more dimension to the villain. But he didn't know Tolkien, and Dick's son is a Tolkien aficionado. 'Dad, are you sure you can handle this?' he said to Dick. 'Please don't louse it up.'" "I kept saying, 'Dick, you're not broad enough,'" "Finally, he burst into flame. He hit Orson with the coffee and the music stand and the script. And we had our dragon."
"I borrowed from a lot of sources, but the Rackham influence is heavy. I couldn't think of anyone better in the history of illustration to visualize Tolkien than Rackham-but the color sense is Tolkien's and mine." "I like monochromatic works and I saw the whole picture in a series of monochromatic designs. There are about a dozen major sequences and each has its key color. The Hobbit Hole is springtime greens; the Gollum's cave, purples; the goblins' place, red; Smaug's cave, golden..." "But wherever Tolkien said that anything was a certain color, we have used that color. On the screen, Gandalf has 'a tall pointed blue hat, a long gray cloak, a silver scarf... a white beard... and immense black boots,' just as he has here on page 17 of your paperback edition (R/B Hobbit movie book)."
 Orson Bean:
"Like Bilbo, I'm approaching 50," said Bean, "and I have a basically comfortable life, filled with spoons and jams-and still, I get into adventures. For the past seven years, I've been living an adventure. My wife and I sold our house in New York and moved to Australia for a year; then we came back and spent almost three years bumming around the country in an old '61 VW van. We put the kids in school wherever we happened to be, but mainly we reveled in being rootless."
"I didn't use a voice change to do Bilbo," "I have a distinctive voice anyway. I did an attitude change, making Bilbo kind of fussy-fussy and proper-then gradually dropped the fussiness and properness as the madness of battle really affected him."


Sunday, February 02, 2014



Arthur Rankin, Jr.

ARTHUR RANKIN, JR., Producer/Director and co-founder of RANKIN/BASS PRODUCTIONS, passed away early January 30th at his home in Bermuda due to several health issues at the age of 89.  Along with his partner Jules Bass, he created the longest-running, highest rated TV special of all-time with the ANIMAGIC stop-motion production of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER in 1964.   This year will see the 50th airing of this classic and will be celebrated in a very significant way in 2014.
Mr. Rankin's career has included so much more than that one special.   With his partner and Co-Producer Jules Bass, he went on to produce such holiday classics as FROSTY THE SNOWMAN, THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS (with the heat miser and the snow miser), SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN' TO TOWN, HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL, RUDOLPH'S SHINY NEW YEAR, JACK FROST, THE EASTER BUNNY IS COMIN' TO TOWN, etc.   His TV specials have become as much a part of the holidays as Christmas trees and Easter eggs.  Many generations of fans have grown up on these holiday classics.
After breaking in to the film industry with Mr. Bass in the early 1960's with the syndicated series THE NEW ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO and THE TALES OF THE WIZARD OF OZ, the General Electric company decided to sponsor their very first special RETURN TO OZ for the NBC GENERAL ELECTRIC FANTASY HOUR.  This relationship lead to the formation of an Entertainment division at GENERAL ELECTRIC called TOMORROW ENTERTAINMENT and they would finance all of the RANKIN/BASS productions.   "After we made Rudolph," says Rankin, "Our phone was ringing off the hook.  Can we have one of those?  we had shows running on all three networks simultaneously."  His core group of such talented people as Jules Bass, Maury Laws, Paul Coker, Jr., Don Duga, Tad Mochinaga, Masaki Iizuka, Romeo Muller, Jack Davis, etc. made this all happen.  RANKIN/BASS PRODUCTIONS were based in New York BUT also set up shop in Japan and Canada.
In the later half of the 1960's, the studio began to branch out and produce feature films with Joseph E. Levine including MAD MONSTER PARTY starring Phyllis Diller and Boris Karloff, THE DAYDREAMER with an all-star cast including Ray Bolger, Ed Wynn, Tallulah Bankhead and Burl Ives and their first feature film in ANIMAGIC called WILLY McBEAN & HIS MAGIC MACHINE in 1965.  In the 1970's they produced the classic full-length feature THE LAST UNICORN and many live action films including THE BERMUDA DEPTHS and THE LAST DINOSAUR for the ABC FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE.
The studio had a long running relationship with writer Romeo Muller and he won a PEABODY for RANKIN/BASS' THE HOBBIT, which was the very first film rendition of a Tolkien work.  RANKIN/BASS went on to produce the sequel RETURN OF THE KING as well and were a major influence on the recent films.
Arthur Rankin also brought many Saturday morning cartoon series to the television screen including THUNDERCATS, THE KING KONG SHOW, THE JACKSON FIVE SHOW, THE OSMONDS, KID POWER, THE TOMFOOLERY SHOW and many more.
 With co-producer Peter Bakalian, he continued to Produce films such as the theatrical THE KING AND I and another holiday special sponsored by the Coca-Cola company called SANTA BABY!
In 2012, Arthur worked with RANKIN/BASS Historian/Biographer Rick Goldschmidt and Wes Garlatz to release a lavish 15th Anniversary book on his entire career called THE ENCHANTED WORLD OF RANKIN/BASS:  A PORTFOLIO (MISER BROS PRESS).  His career is also well documented in the books MAD MONSTER PARTY and THE MAKING OF THE RANKIN/BASS HOLIDAY CLASSIC:  RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER.
"Arthur will be missed by many," says Goldschmidt.  "His work has touched several generations of Entertainment fans and will continue to live on forever.  I am so elated he was able to see his work documented and the effect it has had on his many fans all over the world."
He is survived by his wife Olga, a Greek-born actress who in 2010 became the oldest newly graduated lawyer called to the Bermuda Bar — as well as sons Todd and Gardner.


We just located a bunch of pictures of Arthur directing and animating in the early days of RANKIN/BASS PRODUCTIONS, when they were still known as VIDEOCRAFT INTERNATIONAL and working at DENTSU.  We hope to share them when they arrive from Japan!

A 78 rpm record from Arthur's mother..