Oregon Cartoon Institute

Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Last Chance! The Mel Blanc Exhibit At OJM Closes Sept. 12, 2011

In News on September 8, 2011 at 3:32 am

For people who love thinking about pop culture, and for the smaller subset of people who love thinking about pop culture in Portland, this past summer contained an embarrassment of riches. Oregon Jewish Museum’s That’s All, Folks: The Mel Blanc Story exhibit plus Oregon Historical Society’s Oregon Rocks exhibit equalled an unparalleled opportunity to examine Rose City’s cultural past.

There was considerable overlap in the subject matter of the two exhibits.

Mel Blanc was a musician. He grew up surrounded by live music. By 1915, the year Mel Blanc (then Mel Blank) arrived, Portland had 70 movie theaters. Gary Lacher’s and Steve Stone’s research uncovered the interesting factoid that when the Blank family got here from San Francisco, they moved right next door to a nicklodeon. That’s how many theaters there were! Everywhere you turned around! Mel wrote in his autobiography about how he loved them.

He loathed  school, but he loved theaters. “Silent” movies were not silent,  but were accompanied, either by a solo pianist or by a small (or large) orchestra. Recorded music had yet to be invented, so vaudeville theaters disseminated pop music via live music acts of every description – singers, instrumental soloists, and bands of every type.

Mel Blanc was studying violin himself when he became enamored of the deadpan comic timing of violinist “Ben K. Benny”, the vaudevillian who later sawed his way to the top as Jack Benny. Blanc cites Benny as his favorite vaudeville act – he saw him perform every chance he got,  paying his way in with cash he made selling Portland newspapers. Once in Hollywood he worked with Jack Benny for years, both on radio and on television.

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However it was Portland’s music scene which first attracted the attention of the young, gifted performer.

He must have heard an awful lot about Louis Kaufman, the musical prodigy who outgrew the opportunities for training here in Portland and went to Julliard in 1915 (the year Mel Blanc arrived). Kaufman, like Blanc, played the violin. Like Blanc, he started in Portland and wound up in Hollywood.

He saw Portland bandleader George Olsen ascend to Broadway, and later Hollywood.

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He saw Portland musician Del Porter, a personal friend, duplicate that feat.

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When George Olsen was recruited by Fannie Brice for Broadway, his replacement at the Multnomah Hotel was Herman Kenin, another Portlander. Kenin gave Mel Blanc some of his first professional gigs.

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Portland presented Mel Blanc with enough union scale work as a sousaphone player in dance bands that he was able to take full advantage of the low paying, but tremendously foundational, voice artist gig he was offered at KGW Hoot Owls in 1927. The Hoot Owls show included live music, comic sketches, and a great deal of topical reference and improvisation. The atmosphere of barely contained creative anarchy was similar to what he would later encounter in Los Angeles, at Termite Terrace.

Portland radio historian Craig Adams documented Mel Blanc’s shift from musician to voice artist in this timeline, constructed from newspaper accounts.

If you would like a window into the Jazz Age Portland which produced Mel Blanc, go see That’s All, Folks!: The Mel Blanc Story exhibit at Oregon Jewish Museum.

But go right away! The exhibit comes down on Sept. 12.

If you would like a delightful overview of Portland music, concentrating on Portland rock, head over to Oregon Rocks at Oregon Historical Society.

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The Mel Blanc Project  was a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

“Despite what some might term the “frivolous” nature of my job, I consider myself an artist, and cartoons, art.” Mel Blanc

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Mel Blanc, Music Educator

In News on August 31, 2011 at 3:31 am

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Heather Perkins was the first person to point out to us that Mel Blanc was first and foremost a musician. As we journeyed through preparations for the Mel Blanc Project, we came to understand how profoundly true this observation was.

Mel Blanc was first trained as a musician. He first performed as a musician. He was first discovered in Portland playing with a band. He supported himself in Portland as musician. He was discovered at Warner Brothers by a fellow musician.

Last week, WNYC’s John Schaefer wrote that ,

….like many American kids, my first experience of an orchestra and a conductor was through cartoons, specifically through Bugs Bunny cartoons. As a kid, I had no idea what “The Rabbit of Seville” or “What’s Opera Doc” were parodying.  When I got older and first heard Rossini’s Barber of Seville and Wagner’s cycle of Ring operas, I experienced that shock of recognition – “oh, that’s where that Bugs Bunny music comes from!” – which would become a recurring theme in my listening life. 

From the Great American Songbook, small combo jazz by Raymond Scott, tone poems by Mendelssohn… over the years I would listen to these very different types of music only to realize I’d heard them before. 

In Bugs Bunny cartoons!

When I mention this to people, I am no longer surprised when the response is “that happens to me all the time too!”

If you would like to stretch your musical horizons in ways other than watching Warner Brothers cartoons, on Sept. 9 & 10. at the Hollywood Theater in Portland, Oregon, Heather Perkins, the aforementioned originator of Oregon Cartoon Institute‘s Mel Blanc Project, will perform a live soundtrack to a rare screening of Starman: The Evil Brain From Space, a 1950’s Japanese TV special.

From the press release:

For this special performance, Perkins is pulling out all the stops. “I will be moving a version of my entire studio into the theater,” she says, “so I am basically building a huge new instrument with many heads, each with evil brains of their own.” As the film plays behind her, Perkins will work magic on her eclectic array of gadgetry – perhaps a Vocoder for the Evil Brain sound or some keyboard blips for gunbursts, and definitely a Waterphone to get the show started. A liquid-filled brass instrument, the Waterphone produces “a sound you have heard a million times maybe without knowing what it was,” Perkins explains. “It can sound evocative if played right, but one false move and it sounds truly screechingly awful.  I’m not sure which outcome to hope for, honestly.”

Here’s another musical Portlander, this time repurposing Rossni:

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The Mel Blanc Project  was a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

“Despite what some might term the “frivolous” nature of my job, I consider myself an artist, and cartoons, art.” Mel Blanc


Happy Birthday, Bugs!

In News on July 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Mel Blanc had been at Termite Terrace for three years when he, Ben Hardaway, Frank Tashlin, Tex Avery and Bob Clampett collectively gave birth to a wisecracking rabbit who loved to outwit, and, more than occasionally, smooch, his enemies.

A Wild Hare opened on July 27, 1940.

“Who were the leading men of the early  1940’s? Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney. Bugs possessed Gable’s impertinence,

Bogart’s coolheadedness,

and Cagney’s New York bred toughness.

We cheer him on because he has the moxie to say and to do what he wants. If only we were so dauntless. To top it off, he gets away with it. Bugs Bunny appeals to the rebel in all of us.” Mel Blanc in That’s Not All, Folks!:

Happy birthday, Bugs!

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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

“Despite what some might term the “frivolous” nature of my job, I consider myself an artist, and cartoons, art.” Mel Blanc

Tour Mel Blanc’s Portland: July 23 & July 30

In News on July 22, 2011 at 2:03 am

Where are you in Mel Blanc’s Portland?

Find out on July 23 and on July 30. The tour begins at 1:00 PM at the Hollywood Theater.

Suggested admission: $10.00! Remember to bring train fare for the MAX; we’ll be headed  to downtown Portland.

Here are some of the stops. Tour guides Bill Crawford and Dennis Nyback will provide the historical context for each site. Some stops will include screenings of  films from Dennis Nyback’s archive.

All quotes, unless otherwise indicated, are from That’s Not All Folks! My Life In The Golden Age Of Cartoons And Radio, by Mel Blanc and Philip Bashe.

Hollywood Theater:

Mel Blanc writes: “Once each show (Cobwebs and Nuts, for which he served as writer, producer, director and star) had taken shape, we relaxed, sometimes by driving down to the Hollywood Theater for a late afternoon movie.”

Steel Bridge:

Mel Blanc writes about playing hooky with high school friends: “Betcha can’t dive off the bridge,” he challenged, pointing to the steel structure connecting the east and west halves of the city. It had to be at least thirty feet high. Too young and impulsive to assess the potential dangers, the three of us dove in repeatedly, sometimes turning somersaults in midair.”

Sharon Wood Wortman, Portland’s leading bridge historian, confirms that the Steel Bridge is the only Portland bridge which matches the description Mel Blanc gives. She adds that he would have been trespassing on railroad property, since the lower level was at that time was reserved for trains, and pedestrians were forbidden.

Multnomah Hotel (now Embassy Suites): 

Ronald Kramer writes in Pioneer Mikes, A History of Radio and Television in Oregon: “Blanc was playing violin in Herman Kenin’s Orchestra when Degree Team member Harry Grannatt heard him sing and play his ukulele during one of the Multnomah Hotel’s Breakfast Club programs.

Mel Blanc writes: “For the next two years, when I wasn’t behind the microphone, I was playing dance halls throughout the Northwest…At intervals, I’d set down my cumbersome instrument and step out front to sing, all the while watching impeccably attired young men make plays for begowned girls with bobbed hair.”

Charles F. Berg Building:

Mel Blanc writes: “Our little radio troupe was called the Degree Team, and all members were accorded descriptive appellations. My friend, Harry Granitt, an insurance salesman, was nearly seven feet tall, hence his sobriquet The Grand Stringbean. Charles Berg, who ran a downtown department store, was The Grand Screecher. Because of my faculty for fetching laughs, I became The Grand Snicker.”

The Degree Team was the collective name of the innovative media pioneers who performed on KGW radio as The Hoot Owls, a program conceived and produced by Charles F. Berg, whose name appears on his downtown building.

Lincoln High School (now Lincoln Hall):

Mel Blanc writes: “Lincoln High had a cavernous hallway that produced a resounding echo; acoustically optimal, I determined, for trying out this new voice I’d been practicing: a shrill cackling laugh.”

Mel Blanc failed to match that manic cackle up with Happy Rabbit, the prototype for Bugs Bunny. He finally found a home for it with Woody Woodpecker.

This is not a complete list! Just some of the stops on the tour.

Because several of the buildings on the tour are architecturally significant, we have invited Sara Garrett, the executive director of MotivSpace, along as a guest speaker.  Sara received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Physics and Building Science from Portland State University, and is completing the final steps for her Masters in Architecture with the University of Toronto.

In addition to our walking tours, a visit to the Oregon Jewish Museum’s Mel Blanc exhibit is a great way to explore the importance Mel Blanc’s Portland years played in his overall development as an artist.

“Despite what some might term the “frivolous” nature of my job, I consider myself an artist, and cartoons, art.” Mel Blanc

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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.


Katie Schneider Nails Mel Blanc’s Portland Years

In News on July 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm

In this beautifully written article for Tablet, Portland author Katie Schneider reports on her visit to Oregon Jewish Museum’s current exhibit That’s All Folks! The Mel Blanc Story. As she walks the reader through Mel Blanc’s early life, Schneider uses her novelist’s eye for detail to pick out the milestones which also served as touchstones of Jewish identity.

His first foray into voice artistry:

Among the first people (six year old Mel Blank) befriended were the elderly Jewish couple who ran the local grocery; they spoke Yiddish, and the boy became fascinated with the strange dialect and its intonations. He learned to imitate it. It was, by his own admission, the first voice he ever performed.

His first time on stage:

Some of his earliest gigs were with the South Parkway Minstrels, an amateur vaudeville club in Portland. The Minstrels were part of Neighborhood House, founded by the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women to help South Portland’s immigrants.

Getting married:

He married Estelle Rosenbaum in a secret civil ceremony before finally having a Jewish wedding on Lag B’Omer.

His Warner Brothers breakthrough:

Leon Schlesinger, Warner’s head of animation, asked him to voice one of the studio’s newest animated stars, a bow-tie wearing pig named Porky.  “You want me to be the voice of a pig?” Blanc replied. “That’s some job for a nice Jewish boy.”

His most famous creative achievement, Bugs Bunny:

When Blanc came on board, the famous hare was named “Happy Rabbit.” That, Blanc believed, was too bland. The bunny needed personality, and that personality, in Blanc’s mind, took the shape of a fast-talking tough Jew from Flatbush Avenue.

A fast talking tough Jew from Flatbush Avenue who had never actually set foot in New York, that is. Mel Blanc writes in his book that as a young man he longed to travel to New York, but that he never had the bus fare.

He did make it to LA. Schneider quotes Judy Margles’ observation that Mel Blanc’s journey, from South Portland to Southern California, “mirrored the life of the Jewish community Portland at the time, spanning tradition and assimilation. He was like his friends. They wanted to get out. They wanted to be part of the larger world.”

This tension, between tradition and assimilation, is one of the engines which drove Mel Blanc’s creativity. What does it mean to be a Jew in the West? How do we construct our identities? How much of the past comes with us into the future?  What is essential? Who decides?

I believe Mel Blanc’s engagement with these deeper questions is the source of his strength as an artist. His early life in a multilingual immigrant community provided the seedbed for this lifelong fascination. But questions which deal with identity are not limited to the Jewish community. These are questions all Americans explore. We are a nation of immigrants.

The essence of our national character is that it doesn’t know itself, that it has no core — that it consists of one long negotiation between heterogeneous elements that resist synthesis.  That is, of course, what makes American culture so alive and dynamic and fertile — its improvisatory nature, its fundamental instability, which is also a fundamental openness to anything. Lloyd Fonvielle

Is there a better description of Mel Blanc’s stable of voice characterizations, from wide eyed Tweety Bird to bombastic Foghorn Leghorn, from perpetually enraged Daffy Duck to perpetually bewildered Barney Rubble, from hungry Wile Coyote to amorous Pepe LePew to good natured Porky to “ain’t I a stinker” Bugs, than “one long negotiation between heterogeneous elements that resist synthesis” ?

Fonvielle, himself a Hollywood screenwriter, goes on to defend pop culture as a crucible of American identity, particularly when it comes to the pleasures and the responsibilities of freedom.

Liberty, in a political sense, would have no “legs”, would close on Saturday night, if it weren’t reflected in this liberty of the everyday imagination — and this liberty of the imagination could probably not have survived if we were required to take it too seriously, to think it through . . . if it weren’t dressed up in shameless, unadulterated hokum.

Do  Americans use pop culture to wrestle with/explore/come to our own understanding of “e pluribus unum” ?

Jon Stewart seems to think so.

Plurality is at the heart of the American promise of freedom. We don’t all have to be the same. A natural consequence – we have to live with the conflicts and tensions which come with difference. Freedom is no free lunch.

Freedom, it turns out, is a long slog.

That’s where comedy comes in. Katie Schneider identifies herself as having been “raised on Warner Brothers cartoons.” Lloyd Fonvielle’s argument takes that claim seriously.

Thank you, Katie Schneider, for your guided tour of  the Oregon Jewish Museum’s wonderful exhibit. This exhibit is the first ever, in all time, to examine Mel Blanc as an Oregonian and as an artist.

Here are the amateur radio performers who first coached an extremely talented Portland teenager to professional success. These are the men, who, in their explorations of the lively, dynamic, and fertile new artform called radio, gave Mel Blanc the key to his future.

Go see for yourself the life journey of this American artist.

The Oregon Jewish Museum exhibit, which has multimedia interactive elements, draws on family photos and heirlooms loaned by the Blanc family. It will be up until September 11, 2011.

Oregon Jewish Museum

1953 NW Kearney, Portland, Oregon

(503) 226 -3600

http://www.ojm.org

“Despite what some might term the “frivolous” nature of my job, I consider myself an artist, and cartoons, art.” Mel Blanc
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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Join the Portlanders who plan to deepen their Mel Blanc knowledge by attending a walking tour of Mel Blanc’s Portland, held on Saturday July 23 and on Saturday July 30. Led by Bill Crawford and Dennis Nyback, the tours leave from the Hollywood Theatre at 1:00 PM.


Mel Blanc Sells A Record, 1951

In News on July 10, 2011 at 5:10 am

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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Join the Portlanders who plan to deepen their knowledge by attending a walking tour of Mel Blanc’s Portland, held on Saturday July 23 and on Saturday July 30. Led by Bill Crawford and Dennis Nyback, the tours leave from the Hollywood Theatre at 1:00 PM.

No Truth To The Rumor Johnny Depp Attending Mel Blanc Day @ Lincoln Hall! (Although We Wouldn’t Let On If There Was)

In News on June 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Yes, he has gone on record with his love for Bugs Bunny. Yes, he looks like Portland could definitely show him a good time. No, we have no reason to believe Johnny Depp is attending the fourth and final Mel Blanc Lecture, which will be delivered tonight in Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Avenue, at 7:30 PM.

But if it takes the hope of seeing one of America’s great screen actors sitting next to you in Mel Blanc’s high school auditorium to get you to come to this event, please continue to crush on Johnny, and come tonight as we honor Mel Blanc (1908 – 1989).

This event is free.

Here’s some more Mel Blanc love, from another Hollywood peer:

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People who will be there: Dennis Nyback, Anne Richardson, Craig Adams, Robyn Tenenbaum, Sean McGrath, Courtenay Hameister, Amos Hunter, Honky Tonk Prison, VOX: A Spoken Word Chorus, Karin Magaldi, and, on 16mm film, Mel Blanc himself.

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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Join the Portlanders who have deepened their knowledge by attending the entire lecture series,  Mel Blanc: The Portland Years.

VOX Performs Live @ Lincoln Hall/ Mel Blanc Day, June 29, 2011, 7:30 PM/ Free admission

In News on June 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

VOX, a unique spoken-word chorus, performs poetry as music. On June 29, 2011, they come to Lincoln Hall as part of  Mel Blanc Day celebrations.

This event is free.

VOX leader, Eric Hull, explains:

We will be performing the Mayoral Proclamation with our tongues firmly planted in our cheeks.  Combining the irreverent spirit Mel Blanc brought to his work with the regal tone of the proclamation — and throwing in some classic Looney, I say, I say, phrases — we will help give the occasion the joy and pride it deserves.

VOX performers participating in Mel Blanc Day @ Lincoln Hall: Bill Barry, Gary Brickner-Schulz, Eric Hull, Robin Mc Alpine, Sam Mowry and Jamie Rea.

Photo credit: ONSCREEN Imaging.

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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Join the Portlanders who have deepened their knowledge by attending the entire lecture series,  Mel Blanc: The Portland Years.

Mel Blanc Day @ Lincoln Hall/ Wednesday June 29, 7:30 PM. Free admission!

In News on June 26, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Hoot Owls, Cobwebs & Nuts: Portland Radio Nurtures Mel Blanc

In the fourth and final lecture in the Mel Blanc Lecture Series, which takes place 7:30 PM at 1620 SW Park Avenue on June 29, we will turn our attention to radio.

What role did Portland radio play in creating the Man With A Thousand Voices?

KGW’s Hoot Owls, a weekly hour and a half long show with more than one million listeners, began broadcasting from the Oregonian Tower in 1923. Mel Blanc became a card carrying member, as a listener, that same year. He joined the cast in 1927. He moved to KEX to create in his own daily  show, Cobwebs & Nuts, in 1933. He left for Los Angeles in 1935.

We asked Craig Adams and Robyn Tenenbaum to come help us unravel the question of the influence Portland radio had on Mel Blanc.  We call these events “lectures”, but it might be more accurate to call them onstage conversations, which the audience is invited to join.

Portland early radio historian Craig Adams will talk about Portland’s early adopters, who created radio here when it was a brand new technology/artform. He’ll tell us about the radio Mel Blanc grew up with, and later came to help create.

Robyn Tenenbaum, producer of Live Wire Radio, brings two of Live Wire’s most illustrious stars, Courtenay Hameister and Sean McGrath, with her. All three will provide their updated perspective of Portland radio.

Film archivist Dennis Nyback will show a GI Journal, featuring Mel Blanc performing live as a voice artist. A rare 16mm film, which also features Lucille Ball and Jerry Colonna. Dennis will also show I Love To Singa (1936), a Warner Brothers cartoon spoofing The Jazz Singer which stars a young Owl Jolson making his radio debut.

Vox, a vocal/spoken word choir, will perform Mayor Sam Adams’ official proclamation that June 29, 2011 is Mel Blanc Day in Portland.

Mel Blanc T shirts will be given to the winners of our Mel Blanc Trivia Contest.

Opening the evening is Portland’s hot ukulele band, Honky Tonk Prison, led by Amos Hunter.

At the end of the evening, Craig Adams and Robyn Tenenbaum will induct Mel Blanc into Oregon Cartoon Institute’s Hall of Fame.

This evening is co-sponsored by Oregon Cartoon Institute and PSU School of Fine & Performing Arts.

Lincoln Hall, Mel Blanc’s former high school, is located at 1620 SW Park Avenue, in Portland.

Special thanks to civic minded Oregon Cartoon Institute member and calligrapher extraordinaire, S. W. Conser!

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Oregon Cartoon Institute’s Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Another recommended method of deepening your knowledge is to attend the entire lecture series,  Mel Blanc: The Portland Years.

Mel Blanc’s Portland Years: Craig Adams Explains It All For You

In News on June 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm
Portland radio historian Craig Adams and  Live Wire Radio producer Robyn Tenenbaum will give the fourth and final Mel Blanc Lecture on Wednesday, June 29, in PSU’s Lincoln Hall, at 7:30 PM.
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This event is free and open to the public.
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CRAIG ADAMS’ MEL BLANC TIMELINE can be found in its entirety on his wonderful website, www.pdxradio.com.
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CHILDHOOD
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On May 30, 1908 Melvin Jerome Blank was born in San Francisco to Frederick and Eva (Katz) Blank.  Mel had a four year older brother Henry Charles.
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In 1915 the Blank family moved to Portland when Melvin was six years old and lived at 225 1/2 Sherman St.  Mel grew up in a diverse area of South Portland where  he spent his boyhood listening to conversations between people of various nationalities.  Those conversations would later become the genesis of his mastery of dialects and accents.  Mel attended Shattuck Elementary School, Commerce High School & Lincoln High School.
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On Dec 14, 1917 Mel participated in the “Winter Swimming & Diving Meet” at Couch School tank.  Eight year old Melvin Blank was part of the 60 foot dash event.
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By 1920 the Blank family had moved to 543 S.W. 5th Ave.
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This image is from http://www.pdxhistory.com.
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On April 2, 1923 Melvin Blank was admitted into the “Keep Growing Wiser Order of Hoot Owls” along with nearly 200 others from all over the United States & Canada.
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TEEN AGE MEL EXPLORES HIS TALENTS
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On June 23, 1923 Mel was first featured on the KGW program “Stories By Aunt Nell” from 3:30 to 4pm.  Here’s Mel’s first write up:  “For the entertainment of the children, this afternoon Melvin Blank, a boy with a good voice, will sing a number of solos, accompanied on the piano by his brother, William Blank.  Aunt Nell will read additional chapters from Allen Chaffee’s story of “Sitka, The Snow Baby.”  Children love the story of the little Polar cub and his adventures and messages come in daily asking for another story about him.”
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On Nov 2, 1923 Mel participated in the semi-annual “Frosh Frolic” to the delight of the freshmen: Violin selections, Melvin Blanc with Clara Tasker accompanying: recitation, “Daddy” by Estelle Weinstein.
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On Feb 29, 1924 Melvin Blank was a guest on KGW’s “Hoot Owls.” 15 year old Mel performed two numbers he had carried out at Lincoln High’s Commerce Vaudeville show, the same night.
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This  1926 news photo is from  www.pdxhistory.com .
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On April 29, 1925 Melvin Blank was part of the supporting cast of “A Single Man” presented by “The Council of Jewish Juniors” held in the Woman’s Club building (12th & Taylor Sts.) at 8:15pm.  H.H. Davis wrote the amusing comedy.
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On Nov 22, 1925 Melvin Blank was a part of the “South Parkway Club Minstrel Show” held at the Neighborhood House (2nd & Woods Sts.).  Featuring Max Rosumny performing the song “Goin’ South.”
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On April 29, 1926 Melvin Blank participated in the four act play “Disraeli” held at the Heilig Theater by The Center Players.
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On Oct 13, 1926 Mel was teaching the ukulele at “The B’nai B’rith Center” in preparation for the Winter season.  “Twenty-Five have signed for the Ukulele Club which will start its practice at 8 o’clock under the direction of Melvin Blank.”
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On Oct 23, 1926 Mel entertained at “The B’nai B’rith Center” Sport Party. “About 45 couples attended.  Several features were given and among them Melvin Blank entertained the guests with several selections on the ukulele and some song hits.”
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PROFESSIONAL RADIO DEBUT
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In 1927 Melvin Blank became a regular member on Portland’s KGW Hoot Owl broadcasts.
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND & RETURNS, Part ONE
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In 1928-29?  With his deep bass tooting and his Yiddish stories, Mel won enough fame to land a job at San Francisco’s KFWI.  However, Mel couldn’t save the station from going bankrupt.
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This  photo is from www.pdxhistory.com.
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On Nov 8, 1929 Mel Blanc returned to the KGW Hoot Owls with a Milt Gross story of his own about the goose that laid the golden eggs.
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On March 26, 1931 Mel Blanc officially became “Musical Director” of the 11-piece “RKO Westerners” orchestra at Portland’s “RKO Orpheum Theatre”.
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND & RETURNS, Part Two
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On May 17, 1931 it was announced Mel was leaving Portland  (again) for NBC San Francisco (KGO).  It was “Mel’s work on NBC Orange network broadcasts originating at KGW on the Hoot Owls that won him some fame in radio circles in California.”
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On June 3, 1931 Mel Blanc made his NBC Orange “Pacific Coast Network” debut on the program “The Road Show”.  Mel sang in dialect the song “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and telling the story of “George Washingcohen at Wally Fudge.”  The program was not carried on KGW.
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On June 23, 1931 KGW listeners had their first opportunity at 9:30am to hear Mel Blanc since he moved to NBC San Francisco.  He was featured on the program “The Entertainers.”

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On August 13, 1931 it was announced NBC’s San Francisco based “The Road Show” had been canceled.  Mel returned to KGW in Portland where they immediately debuted a new show in which Mel was the main character, entitled “De Inside Dope On Heestery”.  The program was heard at 9pm every night except Wednesday’s and Sunday’s.  The show also featured Rita Bell & Albert Gillette and ran until Sept 12, 1931.  Mel was also back on The Hoot Owls and featured on other KGW shows.
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On Sept 24, 1931 (Follow-up) “The Road Show with Mel Blanc as master of ceremonies made a hit last Summer and many and bitter were the complaints when due to the terrific expense of the production, NBC saw fit to side track it.”
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND & RETURNS, Part THREE
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On March 1, 1932  “Mel Banc left for Los Angeles. On April 6, 1932 Mel Blanc began on KNX Los Angeles at 3pm.  Mel would also be heard later over “The Don Lee Columbia Network”, serving CBS’s West Coast affiliates only.
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On Oct 25, 1932 it was announced Mel Blanc was working at KHJ Los Angeles.  The station was the flagship of the West Coast “Don Lee Broadcasting System,” DLBS.  Mel was a regular on the networks “Merrymakers” program, heard on KOIN in Portland.
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On Feb 17, 1933 Mel Blanc appeared on the DLBS Network program  “Happy-Go-Lucky Hour” at 2:15pm, doing one of his Yiddish stories.  This show was heard on KOIN.  Another appearance on March 7, 1933.
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On May 24, 1933 it was announced Mel Blanc was just married a few days ago and the couple were moving to Portland.
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On June 1, 1933 “Mel Blanc and bride were both heard over Portland’s KEX at 9:30pm on “Circus Court of The Air.”
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On June 14, 1933 Mel Blanc and wife began the program “Cobwebs and Nuts” on KEX, running Monday through Saturday 11 to midnight.  “To describe it, is too much trouble, but it can be said the thing will be conducted by Mel Blanc.”  [Mel was one of the first disc jockey’s, spending part of the program talking back to recordings.  This mentioned on 4-7-49.]
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On Nov 29, 1933 Mel launches an additional program called “Hi-de-ho-ho Corporation” on KEX at 9pm. This program is 15 minutes long and runs Monday’s, Wednesday’s & Friday’s.  It lasted until December 27, 1933.
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MEL LEAVES PORTLAND, Part FOUR
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On June 15, 1935 the last “Cobwebs and Nuts” program aired on KEX. Mel and Estelle Blanc move to LA.
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On Feb 7, 1937 Mel Blanc was heard for the first time in a “Looney Tunes” animated short, released from Warner Bros. on this date, “Porky’s Road Race” with cast Joe Dougherty & Billy Bletcher.  [Porky’s Road Race Copyright – July 3, 1937]
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On Sept 30, 1937 Mel Blanc is already referred to in print as “The Man of a Hundred Voices”.
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The  June 29 Lincoln Hall lecture  celebrating Mel Blanc Day is a six way panel discussion between Dennis Nyback, Anne Richardson, Craig Adams, Robyn Tenenbaum, Sean McGrath and Courtenay Hameister on the topic of Portland radio: past, present and future.
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For Mel Blanc scholars who want to bone up before June 29, Craig Adams published a timeline of Mel Blanc’s Portland career on his website, http://www.pdxradio.com.
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The Mel Blanc Project  is a series of public history/art education events made possible in part by a grant from the Kinsman Foundation and by a grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

For more information about Mel Blanc, see the Archives of this website.

Another recommended method of deepening your knowledge is to attend the entire lecture series,  Mel Blanc: The Portland Years.