Read part 3 here.
Did The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat start production at the original studio, then completed at Marvel?
Yes, that was in mid-production when Friz and I shut down so I took it over to Marvel and basically it was the same production team because when I started the Marvel studio, it was kind of like when we started DePatie-Freleng, I reached in and took as many DFE personnel as I could and brought them over to Marvel when we started up at that studio.
And Pink Panther continued production right until the studio shut down?
That's right, and actually it went on a little beyond that because at Marvel we did a Pink Panther Valentine special for ABC called Pink at First Sight. That was done entirely when I was at Marvel.
Friz had no involvement with that special?
We got together on the original storyline and that was about it. The rest of the animation process we did entirely at Marvel.
To go back a bit, was Dr. Seuss, Ted Geisel, heavily involved with the TV specials?
Very much so. He was a very hands-on guy. He lived down in La Jolla and he would fly over here. During the course of the production it wasn't unusual to see him once a week. He was very instrumental in the creation of the series. Friz and I had a very good rapport with him. We enjoyed working with him and he enjoyed the studio and it was a far-cry from the bad experience he had with Chuck Jones on the earlier Christmas special.
So he enjoyed the specials the studio did.
Oh yeah. It was a very good relationship and everybody was pleased. I have sitting here front of me three Emmys that we won for Dr. Seuss specials, with Friz and I as producers. Yeah, it was a very successful operation and I often think of it as an important contribution to entertainment in general as we did with the Pink Panther. It was a very successful operation.
It's still on TV from time to time.
It's kind of convoluted because some of them were made for CBS and some of them were made for ABC and you never know when they're gonna pop up. And of course some of them were syndicated and I think I even seen one on Cartoon Network.
In the 1990s there was a new Pink Panther series where he talked.
We received a call from MGM that they wanted a new 16 or 17 half-hours of Panther for syndication. The only problem is, in order to get financing for it, is he's gonna have to get a voice. None of us wanted to do this. Finally, MGM persuaded everybody, our partners the Mirisch company, I assume you know the Panther copyright is owned by myself and my two partners, DePatie-Freleng and Geoffrey Productions, which is Blake Edwards company, and the Mirisch Company, which was the original producers. The three of us owned the copyright of the Pink Panther. So naturally we called the shots, but in this particular instance we were prevailed up to give the character a voice and the voice ended up being a fellow by the name of Matt Frewer. It was okay. To this day I prefer the pantomime version but the production was good. MGM, to accommodate this production, opened up a little animation unit over at MGM and it was the first time they had anything like that since the Tom and Jerry days. So that's where we did everything and it was renewed for the second year and I think we did another 16 or 17 of them, and that was it.
To go back to the studio, do you remember any of the musicians, like Bill Lava?
Going back to the Warner Bros. days, Bill Lava was the guy and the original Pink Panther theatrical shorts, Bill Lava did the music for alot of them. It was a mixed-bag with music because we insisted upon most of the music being the Mancini theme. So the rest of the background music that someone like Lava would do was minimal, because if you sit down and look at it, there was a liberal use of the Pink Panther Mancini theme. Another fellow that we used, quite liberally, was a fellow by the name of Doug Goodwin. You'll see his name all over the music credits.
Interview © Charles Brubaker
Pink Panther © Mirisch-Geoffrey-DePatie Freleng
Dr. Seuss specials © Dr. Seuss Enterprises