Chuck Jones Cartoons From the Golden Age of Television

The Dot and the Line

My favorite cartoon when I was a child was from Chuck Jones in an animated 10-minute short called The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics.

The cartoon addresses relationships and appreciation of others. Originally done up as an illustrated book by Norton Juster, Chuck Jones animated it and it is delightful. I've included it below in a YouTube file.

In the book, Mr. Juster uses only black and red to tell the story of a straight line that is in love with a red dot, and the line's efforts to woo her away from his rival, a sloppy, cringing squiggle. It is a touching story and the film adds extra layers of meaning.

This is an elegant story and animation that has become a classic among cartoon enthusiasts.

Award Winner: The Dot and The Line, 1965

Marvin the Martian

NASA (public domain).
NASA (public domain).

World War II thru the Cold War

I have always been fascinated with animation and the following material comes from my own childhood experiences in the 1960s-1970s, along with exhibits that have been shown at The Ohio State University's Cartoon Museum, state and university library collections, state historical society exhibitions, and lectures on cartooning and animation given in our community.

Based on Ohio artists and famous cartoonists that studied at OSU, some of these lectures have also included famous animators such as Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. The various institutes go out into the schools, community centers, and retirement centers to present very interesting exhibits and films. Much of the information work in this article was included at a presentation I attended in the community. I was privileged to hear the WWII veterans and retirees' own memories of the era involved.

The Beginning

Chuck Jones was a master animator and animation director for Warner Brothers for many years during a time when individual film cells were hand-drawn and colored. It was a lot of work and the creative process involved backbreaking concentration at the same time that it offered rewards The benefits included pride in a job well down and a product that attracted a fan base of all ages in nearly all countries for decades. Through through licensing, the Looney Toons® Store, new animators, and refreshed traditional characters in new cartoon shows on TV, the legacy of Chuck Jones will live a long time.

In addition to animation, he was skilled at the art of drawing cartoons, and in screenwriting, producing, and directing cartoons of all lengths. Beginning with Warner Brothers as an assistant animator back in in 1933, he worked in animation throughout The Great Depression and World War II. He stated that he learned to be funny at Warner Brothers in 1942 with his parody of the juvenile literature of the era - Rover Boys. His was called Dover Boys.During WWII, Chuck Jones also worked with another of my favorites, Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel), who did a lot of political cartooning that many folks have not seen.

Historic Chuck Jones

The Complete Uncensored Private Snafu
The Complete Uncensored Private Snafu

Mel Blanc and Bea Benadaret (from Green Acres and Petticoat Junction) and others are the voice stars.

 

WWII School for Soldiers: Private Snafu

Chuck helped Dr. Seuss to produce Private Snafu, a set of educational cartoons for the US Army during the Second World War.

The series educated soldiers about spies and a poor work ethic in a risque tone that soldiers apparently appreciated.

Chuck also worked with Seuss on a several animated versions of Dr. Seuss books especially How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). I watch that one every year on TV.

Some of Jone's work has been censored because it was related to World War II and the propaganda promoted and distributed by the government and the media about our opponents among the Japanese, Italians, and Germans. Some of the Jones characters were portrayed as very racist and antagonistic throughout the the war, in newsreels and cartoon "shorts" shown in American movie houses.

Some of these films can still be viewed on YouTube. They used to be shown on Saturday Morning TV cartoon shows at the same time that Hogan's Heroes and McHale's Navyparodied the war in the European and the Pacific Theaters, but the propagandist cartoons were pulled in the late 1960s - 1970s as the Civil Rights Movement rose. Although American veterans protested against Hogan's Heroeswith angry phone calls, it remained on the air for some time; but the propaganda cartoons disappeared from most US TV markets.

Some examples of the WWII Era Merrie Melodies/Looney Toons work is available at Japanese and American Media in Propaganda.

Chuck Jones: Encouragement To Artists Of All Ages

Anyone can negatively criticize - it is the cheapest of all comment because ti requires not a modicum of the effort that suggestion reguires. -- Chuck Jones

The Chuck Jones Experience

Favorite Chuck Jones Looney Toons

Reruns of cartoon of favorite Looney Toons characters were available on Saturday mornings, late afternoons, and sometimes in the evenings as summer replacement shows when I was growing up. A lot of these characters were quite daft and made me laugh, but by favorites would have to be:

Bugs Bunny, Pepe LePew, Marvin Martian, and Foghorn Leghorn.

As an adult, I find that the first two are still my favorites. Foghorn Leghorn still makes me laugh and Marvin is strange, but I still like him. And Michigan J, Frog and Daffy Duck seem funnier to me now.

Pepe LePew

Pepe LePew always chased the ladies until that decided they wanted to be caught, and then he ran away terrified. Most of the time, the lady he was chasing was not actually a skunk, but a cat that had somehow come by a white strip through a dripping pain can or some other unfortunate event. Sometimes, the cat was not even female, but Pepe thought it was. All of these cartoons are hilarious - I wonder what the French and cats think of them? 

Model For a Rooster: Senator Cleghorn

Wacky Chicken

Foghorn Leghorn was reportedly patterned after a southern sheriff and/or politician and was directed in this first cartoon featuring him (below) by Robert McKimson. Mel Blanc voiced the rooster and drew some characteristics from the character of Senator Claghorn on the old Fred Allen Radio Series.

The most comic thing about the blustering rooster to me is that he never lets anyone get a word in edgewise.

The rooster resulted from the influence of a radio character, a southern sheriff, on comedian and voice actor Mel Blanc in 1945. Senator Gleghorn's characteristics were added later, when the whole country was imitating the Senator from the radio show amd films. I don't know whether Chuck Jones directed any of the rooster's cartoons, but the combination of the two southern stereotypes, Seantor and Sheriff,  is very funny in a rooster.

Bugs the Hairdresser

What's up, Doc?

The cartoon below is one of my favorite of Bugs. He escapes a monster's mutilation by furnishing cosmetology services.

Everywhere, Bugs Bunny needs to escape some life-threatening danger, and he always extracts himself with wit.

Introduced in 1938, Bugs evolved and also participated in the WWII propaganda cartoons. On the positive side, he also was featured in at least one of the Private Snafu educational films (I wonder how risque he was?). In 2002, TV Guide named Bugs Bunny "Number One" among the Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters, because he is the iconic smart-aleck American comic. I guess he is!

Martian Chronicles

Marvin is odd - funny and dangerous - but he's another one that belongs to Chuck Jones. When I was a child, Marvin made me scream with laughter.

The character has a large cult following, even though he first appeared in 1948, and his image appears on the two Martian research rovers the USA has traveling across the surface of Mars since the 1990s.

The last I heard, in 2009 one of the Martian rovers was stuck in a sandtrap -- Bugs could get him out with his own brand of golf swing. Meanwhile, the rover took pictures of itself.

Marvin - Studying Man

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Comments & Slapstick 28 comments

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

I think I read on someone's hub that G-Ma has a personal story about Chuck Jones. Maybe she'll stop by and share it! Great hub, Patty!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

A personal story would be very much fun to hear. I am going to go look for it. Thanks KCC! And maybe she will post it here as well.


G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

That was great and as a child I sat on his lap and he gave me his autograph...sadly I have no idea where it went...but he was at a SquareDance convention my folks danced in...

I don't remember the the Line and the Dot at all...but it was so good...Thanks for sharing that as well as the others, which I have seen...:O) Hugs


Triplet Mom profile image

Triplet Mom 7 years ago from West Coast

Oh I would love to hear that personal story too. I miss all these old cartoons.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

G-Ma! - Thanks 100 times for posting your story here. He was at a Square Dance convention - what fun. Maybe the autograph will turn up somewhere yet. Don't you love the Dot and the Line? Glad you liked the film.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Triplet Mom - Yes, some of the newer cartoons are pretty negative.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

OMG! You have just put together some of my all time favorites!!!!!!!! Holy cow. What a fantastic piece here, Patty. Great info I didn't know about and am thrilled I do now. We have It's a Joke, Son. "Just one little kiss?" lol. Thank you thank you thank you!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Frieda Babley! - I had no idea you liked these as much as I do. We must become friends for life :)


RVDaniels profile image

RVDaniels 7 years ago from Athens, GA

Finally a hub about a great topic-cartoons! They were so good before japanime!


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Just a bit of trivia which you probably know anyway Patty. SNAFU was a common WW11 acronym, usually applied to the results of an admin or HQ error. - Situation Normal, Another F*** Up! Very popular with the British and Commonwealth forces too.

Now back to watch line and dot.

Cheers, Peter.


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Right, seen it. and narrated by the oblately spheroid Robert Morely. Steven Wolfram would undoubtedly go bananas over it as well.

Thanks Patty,

TOF


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

That's ROBERT MORLEY? I completely missed that.

It's been a long time since I heard the definition of SNAFU, so I'm laughing because I'd forgotten. FUBAR is the next degree in that adjective, is it not. What's the superior form, Peter? lol LOL

RVD - anime does not have actual movement, from what I see, but one made me laugh - Excel and the pet dog she was always threatening to eat.


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 7 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

FUBAR? Sorry Patty, Haven't struck that one. I guess that it'd lift paint.

Cheers.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Apparently also WWII or at least "Saving Private Ryan" - F####ed Beyond All Recognition.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

Wow! I am such a huge cartoon freak, and Chuck Jones and the Warner Bros. stuff was always my favorite. I'm shocked that I have never seen Dot and the Line before. That was fab! This is quite the thorough look at "The Master," and I'll come back often to catch a little Martian or the Haircut! Thanks!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

When the cartoon museum reopens in the fall, I'll likely be abl3 to add more. Glad you enjoyed it, Christoph.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 7 years ago from California

Yeah, I'm a huge fan too and I'd never seen the opening cartoon. This is good stuff. Jones (and the crew he ran with.. Mel Blanc does not get the credit he deserves despite getting a lot of credit)... was work is genius. Just look at the personality he can impart to a line (prior to all the angles and stuff). How many animators can make a line have that much life. Amazing. (as for the dot, well, she's fickle and beneath the line, in my opinion... but that's a window on a different mindset outside of this conversation lol).


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Dot's a bit more like characters in "Flatland, a Romance in Many Dimensions" - another favorite.


Robert 7 years ago

Thanks Patty great hub cartoons are cool. Check out this link for the history of the cartoon. :o)


RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

We recently obtained DVD's with many of the cartoons we grew up watching. My kids love them. in fact, they prefer them over the ones they are showing on TV today. Watching Bugs fool Elmer Fudd gets them rolling on the floor. But give a romantic skunk any day of the week :) or a KABOOM martian.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

KABOOM just made me laugh out loud. Thanks for that!


srpatterson profile image

srpatterson 7 years ago from Dublin, Ohio

What a great set of cartoon works.


RobGems.ca 5 years ago

10/16/10

My Favorite moment In "the dot & the Line" cartoon is this visual observation: I Don't know if you know about cartoon/animation logos,but the Line showing the various visual patterns to the dot reminds me at one second of the familiar design of the 1963 Screen Gems "Dancing Sticks" logo,which also is oulined by various dots & lines in it's pattern. Chuck jones may have not been Allowed to inform anyone of this realization in design & Patterns (Since it was an MGM Film, not a Columbia film)So He kept mum about it. when Norton Juster wrote the book originally, he had mathmatics &Patterns of simple Geometrics in mind for romantic illusion.Mr. Jones Must have really appreciated Mr. Juster's Books as he had Dr.Seuess'(then again ,Jones & Seuss originally collaborated together in the 1940's on the "Private Snafu" war cartoons, so the friendship was more than mutual).that he did two more projects for MGM On two other of His (Juster's) Books: "The Bear that Wasn't" (1967) & "The Phantom Tollbooth" (both live action & animated feature,1970).One funny thing about Mr. Jones' Long storied career was the time he put a Cartoon-hating Executive Producer Like Eddie Selzer In his place About not appreciating Cartoon Bulls, Bullfights, & French-Speaking skunks In general. He proved Mr. Selzer wrong on all three personal matters. You can find something humorous in Anything if you put your mind to it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Wonderful and historically insightful comments. I love this matieral. Thanks RobGems.


RobGems.ca 5 years ago

12/8/10

A correction I must make about the hub I sent in 3 weeks ago: Frank Tashlin wrote the book "The Bear That Wasn't", not Norton Juster. This I revealed in an old copy I have of Chuck Jones' book "Chuck Amuck". Sorry for the misconception.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks very much!


Sasha'sOnHubShell profile image

Sasha'sOnHubShell 5 years ago from Florida

This is AMAZING, I'm such a fan of these classic characters! I have a certain extreme affection for Michigan J. Frog and was so happy to see his name here! If you'd care to to take a look, here is my dedication to the history and behind the music of

Michigan J. Frog: From unnamed amphibian to critically acclaimed cultural icon in The US Congress National Film Registry

Thanks So Much, really loved this Hub.

Happy Holidays! -Alexandra


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

Thanks Sasha! He's certainly a favorite character of mine.

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