Oregon Cartoon Institute

Archive for 2011|Yearly archive page

Test Your Mel Blanc Knowledge

In News on June 23, 2011 at 5:56 am
1. Mel Blanc’s favorite character was:
.
a) Sylvester the Cat, because Sylvester was the closest to his own, normal speaking voice
.
b) Woody Woodpecker, because Woody’s laugh was perfected in the halls of Lincoln High School
.
c) Bugs Bunny, because a doctor was once able to bring him out of a long coma by asking to speak to Bugs
.
Answer: c
.
Editor’s note: Mel Blanc asserted that Bugs Bunny was his favorite character, however all three answers are statements taken from his autobiography.
.
.
2. Melvyn Jerome  Blank changed his name because
.
a) Melvyn Douglas didn’t want the competition
.
b) a teacher said “You’ll never amount to anything. You’re just like your name – a blank.”
.
c) he didn’t know what his real name was
.
answer: b
.
Editor’s note: “c” may in some sense also be true — the name Blank may have been given to an ancestor at Ellis Island by an government worker too impatient to discover/spell/record the real name. For all we know “a” is true as well
.
3. Mel Blanc began his life long smoking habit of one pack a day….
.
a) at age 27, when he left Portland for Hollywood
.
b) at age 19, when he joined the KGW Hoot Owls as a cast member
.
c)  at age 8, when he began  selling newspapers on street corners in downtown Portland
.
answer: c
.
4. Mel Blanc’s weekly salary as director/writer/producer/performer on Cobweb & Nuts, a daily one hour Portland radio show was
.
a $220
.
b $89
.
c $15
.
answer: c. He and his wife budgeted $1 a day for food (for both of them)
.
5. As a young Portland creative, Mel Blanc rented a house in
.
a) NW Portland, close to where Will Vinton later opened an animation studio
.
b) SW Portland, close to the radio station on 6th & Alder, where he worked
.
c) NE Portland, close to the Hollywood Theater, which he loved to attend
.
d) SE Portland, just off Hawthorne, with all the other cool kids his age
.
Answer: d
.
6: Mel Blanc moved from Portland to LA in 1935 because
.
a) Warner Brothers was hiring geniuses – Chuck Jones, Tex Avery  and Bob Clampett – and he knew that was where he belonged
.
b) his wife missed her parents
.
c) he didn’t want to start selling insurance door to door
.
Answer: c

===================================================================

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.

Advertisements

Mayor Sam Adams Declares June 29, 2011 Mel Blanc Day In Portland

In News on June 18, 2011 at 12:22 am

Whereas Mel Blanc, whose chosen art form, in its vitality, innovation, excellence, and wide popular appeal, expresses what is unique about Portland; and

Whereas appreciation of his genius recognizes no national boundaries, with Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and Daffy Duck well beloved around the world, as are the many other cartoon characters to which he lent his voice; and

Whereas he discovered his gifts here in Portland: in Neighborhood House in South Portland, where he learned to play the violin; in the halls of Lincoln High School, where he perfected the laugh he gave to Woody Woodpecker; in the ballroom of Multnomah Hotel, where he sang and played the ukulele; in the Oregonian Tower, where he performed on KGW’s Hoot Owls, and, later, on his own show, Cobweb & Nuts, on KEX; and

Whereas this summer marks Portland’s first public celebration of Mel Blanc, with Oregon Jewish Museum offering a Mel Blanc exhibit and Oregon Cartoon Institute offering the Mel Blanc Project, a series of public history/arts education events ranging from lectures to guided tours of Mel Blanc’s Portland; and

Whereas on June 29, in Lincoln Hall, where Mel Blanc himself sat as a high school student, Craig Adams, early Portland radio historian, and Robyn Tenenbaum, current Live Wire radio producer, will induct Mel Blanc into Oregon Cartoon Institute’s Hall Of Fame; and

Whereas the City of Portland recognizes the significance and importance of Blanc’s creative genius, which he cultivated and expanded here,

Now, therefore, I, Sam Adams, the Mayor of the City of Portland, Oregon, the “City of Roses,” do hereby proclaim June 29, 2011 to be Mel Blanc Day in Portland, and encourage all residents to celebrate this day.

========================================================

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.

Eden’s Melting Pot: South Portland Raises Mel Blanc, Judy Margles Speaks @ IFCC/Wednesday, June 22, 7:00 PM

In News on June 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

This image is from the wonderful new exhibit, That’s All Folks! The Mel Blanc Story, which opened at the Oregon Jewish Museum earlier this month.

Portland is a city Jewish pioneers helped found and govern. Mel Blanc’s family moved here from San Francisco — what drew them? What did it mean to be Jewish in Portland during Mel Blanc’s growing years? Who else lived in South Portland? Mel Blanc ascribed his astounding ear for dialect and accent to the multi-lingual environment of South Portland. What was the neighborhood like?

Guest speakers: For this lecture we are partnering with the Oregon Jewish Museum.  Judy Margles, Oregon Jewish Museum director, will bring to life the immigrant neighborhood in which Mel Blanc grew up, the Portland Public Schools he attended, the many languages he heard spoken around him, and the role of Neighborhood House, in his development as an artist. Neighborhood House, a building which still stands, is where Mel Blanc first learned to play a musical instrument and began his career as a performer.

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.

Pedalpalooza Mel Blanc Bike Tour/June 18, 3:00 PM @ Lair Hill Park

In News on June 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

.
Mel Blanc, man of 1,000 voices, best known as the voice of Bugs Bunny and a host of Looney Tunes voices and personalities, grew up right here in Portland! Join historian Dennis Nyback (collector of rare, forbidden and forgotten films and fascinating morsels of Portland history) on a tour of Mel’s Portland. Be prepared to discover some quirky facts of Portland in the late 1920s and early 1930s! Stop by the Oregon Jewish Museum exhibit or check out the Mel Blanc Project Lecture Series taking place this month to learn more about this legend.
.

What: Mel Blanc Bike Tour

When: June 18, 3:00 PM

Where: Lair Hill Park, SW 2nd Ave and Woods St Take Trimet (Meet us inside the park!)
.

Who: Led by Meghan Sinnot & Dennis Nyback

Here’s more information about Mel Blanc.

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.

I’m In The Market For You: Portland Pop Stars Inspire Mel Blanc @ IFCC/ Wednesday, June 15, 7:00 PM

In News on June 10, 2011 at 4:09 am

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

7:00 PM

Ethos at IFCC, 5340 North Interstate Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Admission: $10 ($9.00 for PSU students, Ethos Music Center students, members of Oregon Historical Society, and members of Oregon Jewish Museum)  

Purchase a ticket for this event here.

This lecture will introduce the audience to three Oregon performers whose ascent to stardom Mel Blanc directly witnessed. Portland born and raised George Olsen shot to national stardom when Fanny Brice heard him and brought him to the Ziegfeld Follies in New York. He became a Broadway star and sold millions of records — all in front of Mel Blanc’s impressionable eyes.

Lee Morse was an Oregon born, Idaho raised singer who also sold tons of records, and was a big star on the radio.

Del Porter was a friend of Mel Blanc’s, a fellow musician, who as part of the singing group The Foursome, performed on Broadway and appeared behind Eleanor Powell in Born To Dance (1936). Porter was from Newburg. In the following clip he sings with Spike Jones and the City Slickers, a band which evolved from  Del Porter’s own band, The Feather Merchants.

Guest speakers: Dennis Nyback, singer & historian of American popular song, and Rick Meyers, musician & music historian. Dennis and Rick have performed together in the past, and this lecture may well burst into song – as these two music historians discuss the music Mel Blanc heard, and made, here in Portland.

Films: Dennis will show films of Portland bandleader turned national superstar George Olsen, Oregon born singer-songwriter Lee Morse, and Del Porter, the Newberg born friend of Mel Blanc’s who beat him to the Big Screen.

Purchase a ticket for this event here.

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.


Timeline Of Mel Blanc In Portland

In News on June 2, 2011 at 11:03 pm
  • Born May 30, 1908, in San Francisco, to Frederick and Eva (Katz) Blank
  • Arrives in Portland in 1915
  • Begins taking violin lessons at Neighborhood House, studies for eight years.
  • Begins selling newspapers on street corners downtown (and smoking a pack a day) 1916
  • Sees his first animated cartoon, Felix Saves The Day, starring Felix The Cat, in 1922.
  • Spends the entire summer indoors, grounded because of a swimming accident (jumping off the Steel Bridge into the Willamette) which caused the death of a friend. Receives a radio from his father during this time. Radios are so new that this one was built from scratch by an inventor. Mel falls in love with the medium. 1922
  • Appears on Portland radio, as part of a childrens group, a one time event. 1923.
  • Witnesses George Olsen, a local jazz band leader, become a huge Broadway star. 1923
  • Joins the Hoot Owls, as a listener, 1923.
  • A teacher tells him he will never amount to anything, he’ll be “just like his name, a blank”.
  • Begins spelling his name “Blanc”, 1924
  • Invents the Woody Woodpecker laugh in the halls of Lincoln High School.
  • Plays sousaphone ( tuba) with three different dance bands in Portland.
  • Drops out of Lincoln High School.
  • Joins the Hoot Owls as a cast member, 1927.
  • Becomes a local celebrity 1930
  • Goes to SF to work in radio, then to LA. Cannot find work. 1932
  • Meets and marries Estelle in LA, brings her to Portland. They live near Hawthorne & SE 22nd. 1933
  • Has his own radio show, Cobweb & Nuts, 1933 – 1935
  • Tired of low pay, they move to LA, 1935
  • Gets Warner Bros audition, 1937.
  • Begins making movie history — immediately.


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.

Now Cut That Out! Portland Theaters Educate Mel Blanc @ IFCC / Wednesday, June 8, 7:00 PM

In News on June 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

7:00 PM

Ethos at IFCC, 5340 North Interstate Avenue, Portland, OR

Admission: $10 ($9.00 for PSU students, Ethos Music Center students and faculty, members of Oregon Historical Society, and members of Oregon Jewish Museum)

Purchase a ticket for this event here.

This lecture will introduce a downtown Portland bristling with theaters, a world inhabited by Mel Blanc first as a consumer and later as an entertainer. Because Portland was on the Orpheum and Pantages vaudeville circuits, Mel Blanc was exposed to all the big name comedy acts – the same ones which played New York and Los Angeles theaters.

Guest speakers: Local theater historians Steve Stone and Gary Lacher, co-authors of Theaters of Portland, talk about the Portland Mel Blanc grew up in, with downtown streets lined with vaudeville theaters and movie houses, and a mayor, George Baker, who was himself in show business. Stone and Lacher will describe the theaters Mel Blanc attended, and Dennis Nyback will give a quick overview of the intersection between vaudeville and Hollywood.

Films: Dennis Nyback will show films of some of the vaudeville performers (Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor) Mel Blanc would have seen perform live during his Portland years. Later Blanc would perform alongside these same stars on national radio and television.

 

 

.

Purchase a ticket for this event here.

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.

Treg Brown, The Man Who Hired Mel Blanc

In News on May 31, 2011 at 8:04 am

Mel Blanc had been trying, and failing, to get an audition at Warner Brothers for months. The man who had been denying him the chance finally died, and Treg Brown took his place. When Mel Blanc came in to check, yet again, to see if Warner Brothers needed his talents, Brown gave him a listen.

Treg Brown, like Blanc, was a musician. This wonderful documentary fleshes out how meticulous the sound design was on the cartoons coming out of Termite Terrace.

When Mel Blanc went to work for Leon Schlesinger, he joined a company of artists who were already pushing the envelope in terms of creativity and innovation. Sound designer Treg Brown and musical director Carl Stalling matched the visual intensity of directors Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Frank Tashlin, and Chuck Jones step for step. Mel Blanc had found a second home for his talents.

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

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

Bugs Ain’t A New Yorker, Doc!

In News on May 31, 2011 at 7:32 am

To the Editor,

In the October 8, 2010 Sunday New York Times, Dan Barry describes the voice of Bugs Bunny as one of “those many distinctive voices channeled by Mel Blanc” and correctly identifies Bugs’ accent as a “Brooklyn-Bronx blend”.

Just for the record, Mel Blanc grew up in Portland, Oregon.  He developed his amazing vocal chops doing voices on Portland radio starting in 1927.   When he made the leap from Portland to Hollywood, he arrived a fully formed voice artist.  It is a tribute to Mel Blanc’s craft and talent, and one might add genius, that the world thinks Bugs grew up in Flatbush.

Sincerely,

 Dennis Nyback

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

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

Radio Daze: Hollywood Behind The Microphone

In News on May 25, 2011 at 4:36 pm

What: Screening Series Night 4

Where: The Secret Society
              116 NE Russell
              Portland, OR

When: Tuesday, May 31, 7:00pm – 10:00pm

How Much: $6 suggested donation

Radio Daze: Hollywood Behind The Microphone

Mel Blanc first performed on radio when he was 15 years old. Although he would become more famous for his work in animation, radio was Mel Blanc’s first love. He remained active in it his entire life. This program includes Dennis Nyback’s favorite radio themed cartoons and short films from 1929 to 1943.
.
Coo Coo Nut Grove  (1936) WB Cartoon.
Caricatures of
Jean Harlow,
Bette Davis,
Joe E. Brown,
Hugh Herbert,
W.C. Fields,
Clark Gable,
Groucho and Harpo Marx,
Johnny Weissmuller,
Mae West,
Lionel and John Barrymore,
Laurel and Hardy,
Edward G. Robinson,
Fred Astaire,
and George Raft dance and drink.  A caricatured Ben Bernie MC’s as the radio broadcasting bandleader.  Jokes comment on the feud between Ben Bernie and radio journalist Walter Winchell.
.
Hi De Ho (1934)  Live action short. Cab Calloway appears at the Cotton Club, on a show being broadcast on the radio.  One of his fans is a railroad porter who is worried that while he is on the road his wife ( Fredi Washington) will betray him. Cab advises the man to buy a radio to keep his wife happy and at home.
.
Captain Henry’s Radio Show (1933)   Live action. One of the most popular radio shows on the 1930s was the Maxwell House Showboat  This film shows a broadcast which includes the popular radio performers Annette Hanshaw and Lanny Ross.
.

I Love to Singa  (1936)  WB Cartoon   Young Owl Jolson is a disappointment to his classical music loving father.  Kicked out of the house, he finds redemption singing jazz on an amateur hour radio show hosted by Jack Bunny.

Midnight Melodies (1936)  Loretta Lee,  Ed Paul,  Jack Gilford   Live action. Incredibly rare film featuring the Ed Paul Orchestra doing a radio broadcast.  Featured throughout is the  young comedian Jack Gilford, making his first of many film and television appearances, but eight years before his next film appearance.

GI Journal with Mel Blanc (c1944) Live action. Army-Navy Screen Magazine recreation of a radio broadcast features Mel Blanc as the character Sad Sack. Extremely rare footage of Blanc performing live. Also featuring Lucille Ball and  Kay Kyser.

God Bless America (1943)  Live action. Technicolor clip from This is the Army (1943).  Features  Kate Smith introducing the famous Irving Berlin song in the form of a radio broadcast heard by the nation and by soldiers over seas.  Among the listeners are George Murphy, who later became a United States Senator, and a fresh faced nobody named Ronald Reagan.

All films from The Nyback Collection

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

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