Bob Clampett (1913-1984) was one of the pioneers of American Animation. While he was still in his teens, Clampett designed the first Mickey Mouse doll for Walt Disney. Shortly thereafter, Clampett went to work at the Harman-Ising studio animating scenes for the first Merrie Melodie ever made, “Lady Play Your Mandolin.”
In 1935, the studio was still looking for a star, and when Producer Leon Schlesinger suggested a cartoon version of “Our Gang”, Clampett created a fat little pig named Porky, and a black cat named Beans. Although Beans got top billing, Porky was the hit with audiences and became Warner Bros. first cartoon star.
That same year, Clampett was assigned as an animator and key gagman for newly arrived director, Tex Avery. Avery and Clampett named their dilapidated little building in the middle of the Warner lot, Termite Terrace in honor of the termites who they could hear busily chewing up the woodwork. Avery and Clampett forged a new direction in these cartoons by displaying a wild, irreverent sense of humor. This was the beginning of what later became known as the Warner style. It was here at Termite Terrace that Avery and Clampett created a character that gave Looney Tunes some of their wildest moments-Daffy Duck. Later, Avery and Clampett would be two of the principle creators of Warner Bros. biggest cartoon star, Bugs Bunny.
In 1937, Clampett was promoted to Director and for the next nine years would direct some of the funniest, wildest, and most memorable cartoons produced at Warner Bros. Studios. Some of these cartoons such as “Porky in Wackyland” (1938), “Corny Concerto” and “Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs” (1943) and “The Great Piggy Bank Robbery” (1946) are widely considered as classics. Clampett also introduced the Snerd Bird Beaky Buzzard in “Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid” and Tweety who Clampett patterned after his own nude baby picture in “Tale of Two Kitties.”.
In 1946 Clampett left Warner Bros. and opened his own studio. Three short years later, Clampett created a live daily puppet show featuring a sea serpent named Cecil, his best pal, a little boy with a propeller cap named Beany, and a likable villain, Dishonest John. “Time for Beany” was a three-time Emmy winner for best Children’s program. In 1961, Beany and Cecil debuted on ABC with their own animated show which ran for five years straight on the network and to this day can be seen worldwide.
Clampett once described what he saw as the magic of animation. “An artist can take pencil and brush in hand and on a piece of paper can create a setting, be it an ancient city or a strange planet, and then animate figures doing anything at all that comes to his imagination. No other medium allows the creator to control every detail on every frame so completely.”