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Overview for Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones

Chuck Jones



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Also Known As: Charles Martin Jones,Chuck M Jones,Charles M Jones Died: February 22, 2002
Born: September 21, 1912 Cause of Death: congestive heart failure
Birth Place: Spokane, Washington, USA Profession: Director ... screenwriter producer director animation consultant animator executive puppeteer portrait painter author extra actor seaman


lay in "Hook, Line and Stinker" (1958), "Hip Hip-Hurry!" (1959), and "Hopalong Casualty" (1960). In later episodes, the Coyote sought outside help to further his goal of capturing the Roadrunner, with the hapless canine generally ordering elaborate, but dysfunctional devices from the ACME Corporation which invariably betrayed his naive faith in them.

In addition to working with an impressive stable of continuing characters, Jones also excelled at one-shot cartoons. The most celebrated example might well have been "One Froggy Evening" (1955), an unsettling allegory about a singing frog. Retrospectively christened Michigan J. Frog, the character became the symbol of Warner Brothers' WB Network in the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, many fans, historians and fellow animators believed that Jones achieved his masterpiece with "What's Opera, Doc?" (1957) which miraculously condensed Wagner's 14-hour "Der Ring des Nibelungun" into a classic six-minute cartoon starring Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. The extraordinarily lavish spoof of opera required 106 shots whereas a typical cartoon used around 60. Also a wicked parody of Disney's "Fantasia" (1940), background artist Maurice Noble's monumental designs and melodramatically theatrical color schemes were unlike anything previously seen in a Warner Brothers cartoon. "What's Opera, Doc?" wittily analyzed the long-running battle between Elmer and Bugs, and recast it in larger-than-life terms complete with original songs and a hilariously animated ballet. In 1992, the film was justly selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry, while it was voted by 1,000 animators as being the greatest cartoon of all time.

After being fired from Warner Bros. due to violating his contract in writing the animated feature "Gay Purr-ee" (1962), Jones went to MGM where he produced and directed a memorable series of "Tom and Jerry" cartoons from 1963-67, while forming his own company, Tower 12 Productions, with producer Les Goldman. He redesigned both Tom and Jerry in a style that was reminiscent of his days at Warner Bros., while also utilizing many of the sight gags he mastered there, particularly with the Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartons. The cartoons were a mixed bag, with some recapturing the magic of the old Hanna-Barbera efforts, but the studio ultimately pulled the plug. Jones subsequently kept working through his own production company, Chuck Jones Enterprises, primarily on TV specials like "Dr. Seuss' 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'" (CBS, 1966) and "Dr. Seuss¿ `The Cat in the Hat¿" (CBS, 1971). Back in the feature world, he produced, co-wrote and co-directed with Abe Levitow the cartoon portion of the film version of Norton Juster's book, "The Phantom Tollbooth" (1969). In 1970, he began producing projects for ABC under his Chuck Jones Productions banner, including "The Curiosity Shop" (ABC, 1971) and "The Cricket in Times Square" (ABC, 1973), before heading back to CBS for "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" (1975).

After co-directing "The Bugs Bunny/Road-Runner Movie" (1979) and serving as an uncredited creative assistant on Steven Spielberg¿s "1941" (1979), Jones settled into a semi-retirement in which he lectured, led workshops, painted and received numerous awards, tributes and accolades. He made cameo appearances in "Gremlins" (1984) and "Innerspace" (1987), and was an animation consultant on Roger Zemeckis¿ "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988). Following work as an animation writer and director for Joe Dante¿s "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990), he signed a deal with Warner Bros. to produce and direct new animated shorts featuring classic as well as possibly new characters. He went on to make "Chariots of Fur" (1994), a new Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoon that was produced and directed by the 82-year-old Jones. The following year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was given an honorary Oscar at the 1996 Academy Awards. In 2000, he created the new cartoon character, Thomas T. Wolk (aka Timber Wolf), which was featured in 13 shorts that were released online. Just two years later, on Feb. 22, 2002, Jones died from heart failure at the age of 89.

By Shawn Dwyerrkpie hat and scarf, who debuted in "Naughty but Mice" (1939) and appeared in several more cartoons before being retired in 1947. Other early highlights included an odd series of five cartoons starring Inki, a little stereotyped "African" in his topknot. These dreamy dialogue-less adventures tended to concern Inki's tumultuous efforts to hunt a lion, as showcased in "Little Lion Hunter" (1939), "Inki and the Lion" (1941) and "Inki and the Mynah Bird" (1943). While some of Jones' early films were charming, others were cloying, but they often tended to be beautifully crafted. By his own admission, his efforts lacked a sense of humor, and it would take him some time to display the sassy irreverence and skillful comic timing that would eventually characterize his best work.

Working with the characters that would make him an animation legend, Jones directed the second and third appearances of the prototypical Bugs Bunny in "Prest-o Change-o" (1939) and "Elmer's Candid Camera" (1940), which starred Merrie Melodies star Elmer Fudd (voiced by Mel Blanc). Tex Avery would finally crystallize the rabbit's personality later in "A Wild Hare" (1940), and once he had a firm grip on the character, Jones became one of the best directors of the character, as clearly evidenced by the time of the classic "Case of the Missing Hare" (1942). Jones was the driving force behind a number of other popular Bugs Bunny cartoons, including "Hare-Raising Hare" (1946), in which Bugs is pitted against a Peter Lorre-like mad scientist and a large, orange-haired, sneaker-clad monster; "Baby Buggy Bunny" (1954), in which the foundling Bugs takes into his care is actually the notorious gangster Babyface Finster; and "Bully for Bugs" (1953) in which he accidentally burrows into a Spanish bullring ¿ uttering the classic line "I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque!" ¿ and tangles with an angry bull.

Under Jones¿s direction, another popular Merrie Melodies character, Daffy Duck, was portrayed as a cowardly self-preservationist continually undone by his own greed or selfishness. Jones' trilogy of cartoons starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd ¿ "Rabbit Fire" (1951), "Rabbit Seasoning" (1952) and "Duck! Rabbit! Duck!" (1953) ¿ were masterfully subtle and imaginative examples of character animation as the three very different personalities interacted in a variety of situations involving hunting and whether it was truly rabbit season or duck season. Jones also derived much comic mileage from placing Daffy in wildly incongruous settings such as in "The Scarlet Pumpernickel" (1950), "Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century" (1953) and "Robin Hood Daffy" (1958). This tendency was amplified to a nearly cosmic degree in "Duck Amuck" (1953), a classic example of reflexivity in cinema, in which Daffy was explicitly presented as an animated figure tormented by a mostly off-screen animator.

Jones won Warner Bros. an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject with "For Scent-imental Reasons" (1949), which starred one of his most popular creations, the amorous French skunk Pepe Le Pew. The formula for these cartoons was fairly rigid: a female cat somehow has a streak of paint drawn down the middle of her back and Pepe mistakes her for another skunk. Immediately smitten with love, he pursues her while being totally oblivious of her revulsion to his odor. Jones created an even more minimalist situation for his most successful creation, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote series. The formula was totally inflexible: each cartoon was set in the desert; the Coyote always chased the Road Runner, whom he never caught; the Coyote was always done in by his own efforts; and the characters never spoke. At their best, they had an absurdist, existential quality, as on disp

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