Famous Paramount Animated Cartoons
|The Harvey Public Domain Cartoons: 1945-1950|
It started when Paramount was officially known as the "Famous Players-Lasky Corp.", with Paramount as their name in ads. J.R. Bray, noted animation pioneer, agreed to distribute his films through Paramount in the early 1920's. Soon afterward, Bray switched to Goldwyn.
In the late 20's, Paramount aligned themselves with two producers of cartoons. Max Fleischer and Charles Mintz. Mintz was the producer of Krazy Kat, while Fleischer had the "Inkwell Imps", featuring Koko the Clown. Fleischer's distribution arrangement with Paramount-Famous-Lasky, was arranged by Alfred Weiss.
Weiss turned out to be a crook, but Paramount bailed out Fleischer. As part of the deal, Paramount owned most of the stock of Fleischer Studios as well as the copyrights. When sound came along, Mintz left for Columbia, leaving Fleischer as the sole provider of animated cartoons.
Paramount's first sound cartoon star was Bimbo, but he was soon replaced by Betty Boop. By this time, Paramount, now known as the Paramount-Publix Corporation, had filed for bankruptcy. They also acquired a new cartoon star, Popeye in 1933.
During this time, Fleischer started making "Color Classics". He also developed a unique process in which cartoon backgrounds were actually three dimensional objects.
Paramount was out of bankruptcy by 1938. Fleischer Studios, whose name was never mentioned on the titles of the cartoons, but instead on posters, moved to Miami and made a feature film, Gulliver's Travels.
Betty Boop had retired by this time, leaving Popeye as the principal cartoon star at Paramount.
In 1941, Paramount released Mr. Bug Goes to Town, Fleischer's second animated feature. It flopped. However, Paramount encouraged Fleischer to produce some Superman cartoons. In late 1941, Superman premiered in Technicolor.
But not even the Man of Steel could save the Fleischers from being ousted in 1942. Paramount renamed the operation "Famous Studios", and moved the studio to New York. The following season brought changes. All cartoons were now in color, including Popeye. Superman was canceled. In addition, Little Lulu debuted as a Paramount star.
Famous Studios was not the sole provider of animated cartoons for Paramount Pictures. In 1941, producer George Pal started his Puppetoon series for Paramount. This series featured stop motion animation.
Paramount debuted many cartoon stars during this period. Casper, Little Audrey, as well as Herman and Katnip made their debuts in the late 40s.
There would be a zoomback to reveal a jack in the box with this Paramount logo on the side for their Noveltoons series. When Harvey Films bought the post 1950 cartoons from Paramount, they did a variation of this logo, and this opening may have inspired Harvey's.
The production of cartoon series continued through the 1950's. By this time, television came around, and the cartoon backlog was sold to various television distributors. In 1956, Famous Studios was renamed Paramount Cartoon Studios.
Popeye was retired in 1957. Also, in 1959, the Harvey comic characters retired from theatrical distribution. Paramount continued producing cartoons until 1967, when their new owner, Gulf+Western, closed the studio.
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