His full name was ROBERT EMERSON CLAMPETT, SR., but, WE, 1950's kids knew him as BOB CLAMPETT the creator of "TIME FOR BEANY".
Should my reader be unfamiliar with "Beany" and "Cecil". Perhaps you know two other of Robert Emerson Clampett's creations, "Porky Pig", and a little bird named "Tweety", but I'm getting a bit ahead of my story.
THE ROAD TO "THAT'S ALL FOLKS", WHICH IT WASN'T!
Several websites state that Robert Emerson Clampett, Sr. was born not far from Hollywood, California. That sounds great to those unfamiliar with Southern California, but Bob Clampett was born in San Diego, 126 miles southwest of Hollywood.
At least these websites had his birthday correct, May 8, 1913. His father was Robert Caleb Clampett, from Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland.
Bob's mother was Mildred Joan Merrifield Clampett. The reason for the Hollywood mix-up is, because, while Robert was still a toddler, the family moved there. I could not locate the reason for the move, but they moved into the house next door to Charlie Chaplain and his brother Sydney. At the age of four, Robert Clampett, started showing a budding talent as an artist.
In several interviews, Robert remembers watching his father play handball with silent film comedian Harold Lloyd and other Hollywood stars at the "Los Angeles Athletic Club". Which is a misnomer of a name, because it was also the "Social Club for the Male Hollywood Elite". Raising the question that I could not find an answer too. What was Robert Caleb Clampett's line of work?
Above, Robert Caleb Clampett and his son Robert Emerson Clampett in Hollywood.
At the age of 12, Robert saw the 1925, Willis O'Brien and Marcel Delgado, stop motion animated feature version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, "The Lost World".
According to Animation Historian Milt Gray, at this time, Bob Clampett was making crude hand puppets and one sock puppet of a dinosaur inspired by "The Lost World". That was according to Gray was:
a sort of prototype, a kind of nondescript dinosaur sock puppet that later evolved into Cecil.
We know that 14 years old Robert Clampett made a 1927 short comedy film entitled "The Gold Window". All that is known is that he Wrote, Directed and Starred in it, according to the website IMDb, but the story remains unknown..
While attending "Glendale High School", not located in Hollywood, but 10 miles north in the city of Glendale. Bob Clampett started drawing a cartoon strip about the nocturnal adventures of a pussycat. Robert's comic strip was so good, that the "Los Angeles Times" would publish it in their Sunday paper. The strip would lead to an offer of a "Cartoonist Contract", upon Clampett's high school graduation, of $75 a week from "King Features Syndicate, Inc.". At this time, "King Features" also allowed Bob Clampett to work, on Saturdays and vacations, at their studio.
1931 became a major turning point for Robert "Bob" Clampett.
At some point, Bob Clampett switched to "Hoover High School", also in Glendale. Like why the family moved to Glendale? I could not locate the reason for the switch of High School's and, then, just a few months before graduation, in 1931, Clampett left "Hoover" without qualifying for his diploma.
"King Features", next, re-entered Robert Clampett's life. They had so much confidence in the young artist, that "King Features" paid his tuition to the "Otis College of Art and Design". Where, the young man leaned to paint with oils and sculpt.
While his new schooling was taking place, Bob Clampett went to work for his Aunt. Charlotte Clark. owned a small doll manufacturing company and was looking for a doll that would increase her small business. According to the story, Bob came up with the idea of making a "Mickey Mouse Doll".
After the 1928 animated cartoon, "Steamboat Willie", was released, interest in the character of "Mickey Mouse" kept increasing. Robert went to the local movie theater and sat through "Mickey Steps Out" several times with his sketch book, but Aunt Charlotte was concerned about copywrites. So the two drove to the "Walt Disney Studio" and met with Walt and his brother Roy. Both men were delighted with the idea and the merchandising possibilities. According to Clampett:
Walt Disney himself sometimes came over in an old car to pick up the dolls; he would give them out to visitors to the studio and at sales meetings. I helped him load the dolls in the car. One time his car, loaded with Mickeys, wouldn't start, and I pushed while Walt steered, until it caught, and he took off.
Above, a still from "Mickey Steps Out" and below Walt Disney with the dolls.
Below the original 1931 doll designed by Bob Clampett being offered on a website for $2,250.00.
Charlotte Clark became the source of several of the original Walt Disney Character Dolls.
My source has been an interview with Bob Clampett at the following link:
Watching Walt Disney's "Mickey Mouse" cartoons and other animators work. Robert Emerson Clampett realized he didn't want to just draw comic strips, but become an animator. A position not offered by "King Features".
Leon Schlesinger was a shrewd business man before and during his time at "Warner Brothers". He signed a contract with the studio to create their cartoon series, "Looney Tones" in 1930. The same year he produced six "B" Westerns for Warner Brothers starring the unknown John Wayne.
However, Schlesinger, also realized he didn't have the expertise, yet, to make animated films. So, he hired Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising from the "Walt Disney Studio". Both animators were having problems with Walt. They brought their character of "Bosko" with them and set up a sub-contracting animation studio, "Harmon-Ising Productions". "Bosko", like many animated characters of the period were built upon racial stereotypes.
Above,, Rudolf Ising, at the "Walt Disney Studio", with "Bosko".
Still in 1931, 17 years old, Robert Emerson Clampett, went to see Leon Schlesinger. The official story states that Schlesinger was very impressed with a 16mm film Clampett had made. As a result, Robert was offered an "Assistant Animator" position, which he accepted.
Whatever the truth, during the "Great Depression", Bob Clampett turned down a $75 a week job with "King Features. For a $10 a week job at "Warner Brothers". How the young man was, if at all, to pay back "King Features" for "Otis College", I could not locate.
Leon Schlesinger now produced a secondary cartoon series he called "Merrie Melodies". The first "Merrie Melodies" entry was also the first animated cartoon Bob Clampett worked upon.
LADY, PLAY YOUR MANDOLIN! released August 2, 1931
The actual credited animators were, Rollin "Ham" Hamilton, Norm Blackburn, Isadore "Fritz" Freleng, Robert Clampett, Carmen Maxwell and Larry Martin. The six were assisted by Bob McKimson.
The cartoon starred the character of "Foxy", that would appear in only two other cartoons.
Bob Clampett was now sitting in on production meetings with his mentor Fritz Freleng. When he came up with his first story idea that was turned into the second "Foxy" cartoon.
SMILE, DARN YA, SMILE! released September 5, 1931
The only credited animators were Isadore Freleng aka: "Fritz", and Max Maxwell. Who was actually Carmen Griffin Maxwell. The two uncredited animators were Bob Clampett and Larry Martin.
In 1933, Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising and Leon Schlesinger spit. Harman and Ising went to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Schlesinger set up his own animation department in the old "Warner Brothers Studio", at 5800 Sunset Boulevard, in Hollywood. In 1928, the studio had taken over "First National Pictures" and acquired their large lot in the city of Burbank, in the San Fernando Valley. The Hollywood location would finally close in 1938.
For those of my readers interested in the history of Hollywood and the Studios. You might be surprised by what's in my article, "HOLLYWOOD: Segregated Housing, Motion Picture Studios and Movie Palaces", found at:
Leon Schlesinger lost the character of "Bosko" with the spit with Harman and Ising. So, he had a new character named, "Buddy", take over the role and to Schlesinger, it was as if "Bosko" had never left. On, September 9, 1933, the first "Buddy" cartoon was released and the character lasted through August 24, 1935.
According to animation historian, Leonard Maltin, in his 1987, "Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons". Bob Clampett described "Buddy" as a:
White Faced Bosko
In 1934, Leon Schlesinger made the observation that Hal Roach's popular, "Our Gang", comedies were nothing more than a bunch of kids playing around. Schlesinger decided he wanted an animated "Animated Our Gang".
In response, Bob Clampett submitted a drawing of a pig, he named "Porky", and a cat, he named "Beans". Along with an imitation of a can of "Campbell's Pork and Beans" turned into "Clampett's Porky and Beans" and sold the characters to both Fritz Freleng and Schlesinger.
I HAVEN'T GOT A HAT released March 2, 1935 was an early Technicolor Cartoon
Although his name is not on the above title card, Bob Clampett received third animation credit for the cartoon and full credit for creating "Porky the Pig". "Beans the Cat" would only be featured in nine cartoons and would not become the character Schlesinger was looking for to compete with "Mickey Mouse". Little did he realize that the lisping "Porky", Leon Schlesinger was known for his lisp, would become one of his characters that did compete with "The Mouse".
Above, Bob Clampett's original "Porky Pig" in "I Haven't Got a Hat". Below, Clampett's "Beans" is being taunted by ""Oliver Owl". Another character that didn't last long.
Below, some other members of Leon Schlesinger's "Animal Our Gang".
Schlesinger now offered a "money prize" to his staff for the best story idea. Bob Clampett won and his story became "My Green Fedora", released May 4, 1935. Clampett received on-screen credit with Charles Martin "Chuck" Jones and the basis for controversy between the two animators would begin.
The basic story has "Peter Rabbit" being made to babysit his baby brother. The brother is annoying "Peter" by constantly crying. This keeps going until Peter" puts on the hat of the title. Next, a weasel steals the baby rabbit and it's up to "Peter" to save his brother and come to realize how much he loves him.
Leon Schlesinger was surprised by the success of the animated features and made the decision to start a second animation unit. Which created the problem for the Producer of needing a third Director, enter Frederick Bean "Tex" Avery looking for a job. What, Schlesinger didn't know, was that "Tex" Avery had never Directed a single animated cartoon, but the Taylor, Texas, born animator knew what to say, or lie! He became the head of the new animation unit.
On the original "Vitaphone", 1927's "The Jazz Singer", sound lot owned by "Warner Brothers", at 1351 North Van Ness Avenue. Leon Schlesinger sent "Tex" Avery and Bob Clampett to start his second animation unit in a building near the lot's center.
The actual building was rundown and had been in disuse since 1931. It was used by gardening and custodial staff to store cleaning solvents, lawnmowers, brooms, etc. It wasn't long before the two animators discovered they weren't alone in their piece of paradise. The building was full of termites and the two christened their building, "Termite Terrace". A name that would be substituted for the "Warner Brothers" name, by insiders and film critics and historians, through the present day.
Avery and Clampett created what was considered an irreverent style that became the trademark of "Warner Brothers Animation". Shortly, the two men were joined by Chuck Jones, Virgil Walter Ross and Sidney "Sid" E. Sutherland.
For the next year the five men were left alone and very rarely did even Schlesinger visit "Termite Terrace". It has never been verified, but the story remains. That one day, Leon Schlesinger, visited the group and wanted to get out of the building as fast as possible, remarking:
Pew, let me out of here! The only thing missing is the sound of a flushing toilet!
In 1936, Bob Clampett wanted to leave "Warner Brothers", but Schlesinger offered him a promotion to Director and he stayed. His first assignment was a color sequence in the feature film, "When's Your Birthday", released February 19, 1937, and starring comedian Joe E. Brown and Marian Marsh. The animated Astrology sequence opens the motion picture immediately after the credits.
Bob Clampett received his first "Supervision" aka: "Director" credit and was given complete control over the animated short he was now assigned to make. However, his total budget was $3,000, as of this writing equal to $55,000, and four weeks to complete the below project.
PORKY'S BADTIME STORY released July 24, 1937
Above, "Porky Pig" is with his friend "Gabby Goat". Over time "Gabby" would be dropped. When this cartoon was remade as, "Tick Tock, Tuckered", released April 8, 1944, "Porky Pig" remained, but "Gabby Goat" was replaced by "Daffy Duck", but the remade cartoon was still "Supervised" by Robert Clampett.
"Daffy Duck", or more precise, his original form. Made his first appearance in "Porky's Duck Hunt", released April 17, 1937. The cartoon's credits showed "Fred" Avery with "Supervision", but "Tex" Avery with the story. The credited animators are, Virgil Ross and Robert Cannon.
However, the uncredited Bob Clampett animated Avery's creation, an anthropomorphic black duck that would evolve into "Daffy Duck".
In the above linked interview, Clampett stated the following about the assertive, unrestrained and combative "Black Duck". That kept getting the better of "Porky Pig".
At that time, audiences weren't accustomed to seeing a cartoon character do these things. And so, when it hit the theaters, it was an explosion. People would leave the theaters talking about that daffy duck.
Bob Clampett and "Tex" Avery's work had become very popular with audiences and, by this time, Bob Clampett was running a third animation unit for Leon Schlesinger. While, "Tex" Avery, was in charge of the main animation unit for what had now become "Leon Schlesinger Productions" a subcontractor to the studio.
Clampett and Avery, starting with "Daffy", were going completely against the "Walt Disney, Hugh Harmon and Rudolf Ising" norms of cartoon characters. As the two kept experimenting and pushing the envelope. .This was illustrated in Bob Clampett's:
PORKY IN WACKYLAND released September 24, 1938
The cartoon opens with a newspaper announcing a hunt for the rare "Dodo Bird", a Bob Clampett creation, and "Porky Pig" going after it.
The following link, as of this writing, will take my reader to the complete "Porky in Wackyland".
In 1941, "Tex"Avery left Warner Brothers animation and Schlesinger gave his premiere unit to Bob Clampett. Perhaps, adding to the views of some of the animators, especially Chuck Jones, that Robert Emerson Clampett was Leon Schlesinger's "Golden Boy". That went back to the stories and perceptions about the relationship between Schlesinger and Bob Clampett's mother.
In 1942, Bob Clampett made a cartoon with a play on Charles Dickens' title, "A Tale of Two Cities".
A TALE OF TWO KITTIES released November 21, 1942
Clampett created the three main characters himself. The title characters were based upon the popular comedy duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
In typical "Abbott and Costello" style, "Babbit and Catstello", attempt to capture the baby bird. However, the little bird is just too much for the two kitties to handle and he keeps getting the best of them. They even attempt to fly "Catstello", as a plane, into the nest and this results in a hilarious spoof of "Air Raid Warden's" and their duties.
It would be two years before the little bird returned, but when he did. He now had a name in:
BIRDY AND THE BEAST released August 19, 1944
"The Beast", was a large, unnamed, black cat. The cat had first appeared in the 1939 cartoon, "Naughty But Mice", that was Supervised by Charles "Chuck Jones", and looked like:
In "Birdy and the Beast", the large black cat had returned, but now looked like:
Chuck Jones made 13 of these training cartoons, Fritz Freleng 8, Frank Tashlin 4, Bob Clampett 2 and George Gordon 1.
In 1944, Leon Schlesinger sold back his animation assets to "Warner Brothers" and his production company was disbanded. However, Schlesinger continued to market the animation and became the head of "Warner Brothers Theater Services Unit". Which put him in charge of the studios movie theaters throughout the United States until his death on Christmas Day, December 25, 1949.
Back in 1945, Robert Emerson Clampett left Warner Brothers animation. Leaving controversy over his career within the animation department that surfaced in 1979. When Chuck Jones made and released the 98-minute, "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie". Which was a compilation of classic "Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies Cartoons". The name Bob Clampett is never mentioned, even when Jones shows clips of Clampett's work.
However, four years earlier, with the Orson Welles narrated, 1975, 90-minute, "Bugs Bunny Superstar", from Producer Larry Jackson. Jackson included three full length Bob Clampett cartoons and had an on-screen interview with him. The feature included one cartoon from "Tex" Avery and one from "Fritz" Freleng. Both Jackson and the film co-production coordinator, Soddy Clampett, Bob's wife for the last twenty years,, had asked Chuck Jones and voice-artist Mel Blanc to be interviewed for the feature, but both declined. Blanc, like Jones, had issues with Clampett and they may have been a factor in declining, Mel Blanc had been part of the Chuck Jones feature
Two of the key executives in "Leon Schlesinger Productions", Henry Binder and Ray Katz now moved to "Screen Gems", the animation arm of "Columbia Pictures". They brought Bob Clampett with them and he worked as a comedy and gag writer for a very short time.
He then went to work for "Republic Pictures", but that lasted for one cartoon, "It's A Grand Old Nag". Which was the total cartoon out of Republic Pictures, because the studio changed their minds over doing animation. While facing a growing financial situation that would caused the studio, in 1951, to create a television arm, "Hollywood Television Service". The arm's purpose was to sell syndicated viewing rights to Republic's old Westerns and classic Cliff Hangers.
IT'S A GRAND OLD NAG released December 20, 1947
The main characters for Clampett's Republic cartoon were parodies of known movie stars. Actress Hedy Lamarr became "Hay-dy La Mare", and actor Clark Gable was the obvious, "Clark Stable", Then there was the title parody, of the extremely sexual and attacked by censors, Jennifer Jones, Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotton, Western, 1946's, "Duel in the Sun". That became the cartoon's "Drool in the Sun". That same Samuel Goldwyn produced Western would be combined with Clint Eastwood's, Spaghetti Westerns, to become the parody, 1985's, "Lust in the Dust".
Kilroy was Here!
In 1949, Bob Clampett decided to make a move to the budding Children's television market.
The population of the United States was slightly over 149 million, but only 2.6 percent of that total were estimated to own a television sets. A year later, the population increased by slightly over a million people. The amount of television sets owned had risen to an estimated 9 percent of the population.
The cost of purchasing a television set was a major factor for the average American and made Clampett's move a risky undertaking at the time.
As an example, a 17 inch, 1950, black and white, table top model, Sylvania television set cost $179. That purchase price, as of this 2021 writing, would equate to $1,967. However, in value, because of technology, television sets Deflate not Inflate in cost. That same Sylvania 17 inch black and white television is valued at One Dollar and Fifty-Four Cents as I write this.
To illustrate the actual developing Children's television market Bob Clampett was entering when I was three years old. My article, "Children's TV in 1950's L.A. Sheriff John, Engineer Bill, Skipper Frank, Tom Hatten and Others" may be read at:
TIME FOR BEANY was first broadcast on February 28, 1949 in Los Angeles with a running time of 15-minutes
Above the main Los Angles poster-newspaper ad, for "Time For Beany". Which was a live puppet show on KTLA-TV, part of the Paramount Studios Television Network at the time, but was sent by "Kinescope" across the country to other television stations on the same Paramount Network.
My article, "The Start of Television Through Kinescope", can be read at:
Above voice actors, Daws Butler and Stan Freberg with the four main characters.
Butler would go on to voice the Hanna-Barbera characters of "Yogi Bear", "Huckleberry Hound", "Quick Draw McGraw" and "Wally Gator" among others. While, Freberg went on to be a major comedian and author, but also had provided many voices, with Mel Blanc, for the "Looney Tunes" series. He was also the voice of "Charlie Horse", in the one Bob Clampett, Republic Studio's cartoon.
The four main characters were:
"Dishonest John" aka: "DJ", the main villain.
Above "President Truman" meets "Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent" and the two sing the popular gag song, "Rag Mop". While, singer Dinah Shore became an obvious, "Dina Saur", and comedian Red Skelton, became "Red Skeleton".
Stan Freberg in his 1988 book, "It Only Hurts When I Laugh", tells the true story of Physicist Albert Einstein interrupting a high level United States Government meeting and leaving it saying:
You will excuse me, gentlemen. It's Time For Beany"
THUNDER BOLT THE WONDER COLT
One day, "Blunderhead, the World's Smallest Horse", no larger than a chipmunk, meets a genie. Who explains and gives him a "magical super suit". When "Blunderhead" puts the suit on, he becomes "Thunder Bolt the Wonder Colt". The defender of the animal kingdom and according to Bob Clampett, is now:
possessed with super strength, super vision, and the courage of a lion. While, like a bolt of lightening, he flashes through the sky to rescue those in trouble and protect those that need protection.
Below is the button that members of the "Thunderbolt the Wonder Colt Club" could get, if their parents sent in the required amount of money and proof of purchase of a "Challenge Milk" product. I had mine and wish I had it today.
MAN-EATING LIONS AND OTHER WORK
On November 26, 1952, the man behind both the Horror radio and television programs, "Lights Out!", Arch Obler, released the first full-length 3-D motion picture, "Bwana Devil". This was the first filmed version of the story of the "Tsavo Man-Eaters". These two male lions stopped work on the Kenya-Uganda railway between March and December 1898.
The short was Directed by Robert Clampett and included a 3-D sequence with his characters "Benny and Cecil". The two puppets were used to explain how the process worked and instruct the audience on the proper use of the Polarized 3-D Glasses.
In 1954, Bob Clampett Directed the children's television program, "Willy the Wolf".
Walker Edmiston had taken over from Stan Freberg and voiced "Dishonest John" on "Time For Beany". He was "Thunder Colt" on "Thunderbolt the Wonder Colt" and even had his own local, Los Angeles, television puppet show, seen below.
There was a second Bob Clampett, 15-minute children's program, in 1954, entitled "Buffalo Billy". All I could learn about it was that Clampett did everything including the voices.
Below is the outside of a Christmas Card, year unknown, from the Clampett's, Bob and Sody.
Here's another of those undated Christmas Cards.
The show was hosted by the animated "Matty
Mattel" and his sister "Belle". The program was called "Matty's Funday
Funnies" and originally showed full-length "Famous
Studio's Cartoon's". These included, "Casper the Friendly
Ghost", "Baby Huey" "Herman and Catnip" and "Little
On January 6, 1962, still in black and white, the original cartoons were dropped and replaced with animated versions of Bob Clampett's "Beany and Cecil".
The following link, as of this writing, takes my reader to one of the complete black and white episodes of the now, "Matty's Funnies: Featuring Beany and Cecil". Which was the first time Bob Clampett's characters were animated, but not by him.
Starting with the second season, the 26 cartoons, with inside adults jokes and political comments like the original puppet show, were all broadcast in color. They ran, initially, through June 30, 1962. After which, with another 78 cartoons from other sources, the show ran on Saturday mornings through 1967 in syndication under the "Beany and Cecil" name.