Friday, March 30, 2012


It’s politics as usual in this 1956 film Popeye for President! Popeye and Bluto are both running for President and need only one more vote to break the tie… and that vote belongs to Olive Oyl. Dirty tricks abound as they vie for her vote. 

Planned to be timely, this film was released in 1956 just as a real Presidential campaign was in progress. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the extremely popular Republican President was being challenged by Democrat Adlai Stevenson. This was a rematch from four years earlier when Eisenhower first defeated Stevenson.

Some other interesting things to note. The 'story credit' in this film is given to Jack Mercer. In addition to story development, Jack Mercer also did the voice of Popeye. Mercer had been working as an in-betweener at Fleischer Studios in 1935 when he was overheard by Lou Fleischer singing in Popeye’s gravelly voice. Lou immediately put Mercer to work doing Popeye’s voice. In addition to working as an animator in training Mercer became an extremely versatile voice artist providing Popeye’s voice as well as the voices for many other Fleischer films.
Jack Mercer and Popeye   Collection: V. Mahoney
Mercer had a real talent for developing story ideas. He submitted hundreds of them, many of them ideas for Popeye films. Although Famous Studios had a story department all staffers were encouraged to come up with story ideas, and if a concept was accepted a staffer was paid an extra fee. 

Here’s two story proposals that were submitted to Famous Studios for a film to be titled Popeye for President--- both were written by Izzie Klein, who was part of the Famous Studios story department. These are two different proposals for a film with that same title, neither of which were used, though one has a slight resemblance to the final film of that name. It may be that Jack Mercer, who received the screen story credit for this film, used this basic idea and elaborated on it, producing the final story. You can click on the pages to enlarge for reading...

The two story proposals below, “TWO SCRAMBLED YEGGS“and “GUIDES AND DOLLS” are samples of other story ideas that were submitted by Jack Mercer. I get a big kick out of reading these stories in this early form…….

BTW- Seymour Kneitel was the Director of Popeye for President.

Scripts: Collection of Virginia Mahoney
Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto are copyright King Features Syndicate, Inc. TM Hearst Holdings, Inc.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This past January I posted several pages from the Standard Production Reference, the Fleischer Studios document developed by Seymour Kneitel and Izzy Sparber for in-house use. Often referred to as "The Bible," this is such an interesting piece of animation history I've now posted the complete document on this blog. To view it go to the black bar near the top of this page and click on “The Standard Production Reference.”

Some Background:
In my dad’s library there was a copy of the book Animated Cartoons by E.G. Lutz. Prior to the development of in-house animation manuals, such as the Standard Production Reference, Lutz was the first and most important book that existed on animation and how to do it. First published in 1920 it covers the early history of animated film, technical information,  details on how to animate people and animals in various activities… walking, running etc, plus ideas on how to create comedy on film. Below I’ve posted a few spreads from Lutz to give an idea of the book early animator's such as my dad used as a reference. (FYI: click on images to enlarge for reading)

To view more images and information about this very interesting Lutz book see Michael Sporn’s excellent discussion on his animation Blog: