DePatie-Freleng Enterprises

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DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
Former type Partnership
Industry Animation
Fate Partnership dissolved, remainder acquired by Marvel in 2009, and its intellectual properties acquired by several properties since Friz Freleng's death and then.
Successors Marvel Productions
Founded 1963
Founders Friz Freleng
David H. DePatie
Defunct 1981
Key people David H. DePatie
Friz Freleng
Products Television shows
Theatrical shorts
Television specials
Title sequences
Television commercials
Owners Friz Freleng
David H. DePatie

DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (also known as Mirisch-Geoffrey-DePatie Freleng Productions when involved with the Mirisch brothers and Geoffrey Productions and DFE Films) was an American animation production company, active from 1963 to 1981. Based in Burbank, California, DFE produced theatrical cartoons, animated series, commercials, film title design sequences and television specials. Notable among these are The Pink Panther film titles and cartoon shorts, as well as the Dr. Seuss cartoon adaptations made for CBS and ABC. Most DFE productions are now owned by Marvel Entertainment (subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company), with some exceptions.[1]

Origins[edit]

DFE was founded by two former Warner Bros. Cartoons employees, director/producer Friz Freleng and executive David H. DePatie, after Warner Bros. closed its animation studio in 1963. Although Freleng and DePatie were no longer working for Warner Bros., a generous gesture from a Warner executive allowed Freleng and DePatie to lease the former Warner cartoons studio on California Street in Burbank, complete with equipment and supplies for a few dollars each year. Although DFE's initial business was commercials and industrial films, several lucky breaks put the new studio into the theatrical cartoon business.

Director Blake Edwards contacted DFE and asked them to design a panther character for Edwards's new film, The Pink Panther. Pleased with the design for the character, Edwards contracted with DFE to produce the animated titles for the film. Upon the film's release, the titles garnered a tremendous amount of attention, so much that a large amount of the picture's gross is believed to have been generated by the success of DFE's title sequence.

DFE soon agreed to a contract with United Artists to produce a series of cartoon shorts featuring the Pink Panther, which would include over 100 shorts for both theatrical release and television through 1980. Also in 1964, Freleng and DePatie's old employer Warner Bros. contracted with DFE to produce new Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for television.[2]

DePatie and Freleng found themselves overflowing with work. Many of the animators who had worked at Warner Bros. in the 1950s and 1960s returned to the old Warner cartoon studio to work for DFE. The first entry in the Pink Panther series, The Pink Phink, was directed by Freleng and won the studio its only Academy Award in 1964. In 1967, DFE would receive another Academy Award nomination for The Pink Blueprint.

List of theatrical and television cartoons[edit]

In a short matter of time, DFE began producing television shows as well as theatricals and specials, becoming a competitor to Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. The studio's various cartoons, specials and shows are listed below.

Ending graphic for Looney Tunes under DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, circa 1965.

Theatrical series[edit]

Original series

TV series[edit]

Commissioned series

TV specials[edit]

Original specials

Commissioned specials

TV commercials[edit]

Film and television title design[edit]

Other cartoons and television series[edit]

The Pink Panther theatrical series of cartoons became the basis of a Saturday morning television series, The Pink Panther Show, which also included theatrical cartoons of The Inspector and eventually The Ant and the Aardvark, Roland and Rattfink, and The Texas Toads (Tijuana Toads). Like most animated television cartoons at the time, The Pink Panther Show contained a laugh track with narration.

The cartoons were edited and in some cases re-dubbed to meet television standards and practices for content. The Pink Panther Show had several incarnations during the 1970s. The show was very popular on NBC's Saturday morning line-up, starting as a half-hour program and expanding a few years later to 90 minutes each week.

The studio provided the animated sequences for the 1969-1970 television series My World and Welcome to It based on the drawings of James Thurber.

DFE was one of the subcontractors for the 1960s Warner Bros. cartoons, along with Format Films. The Looney Tunes shorts made by the studio can be easily identified by their modernized "Abstract WB" opening and closing sequences. DFE continued to do Warner cartoon work into the 1970s, with the Looney Looney Christmas Tales Holiday special. DFE also created Return to the Planet of the Apes, which ran on NBC from 1975 to 1976 and The Oddball Couple, which ran on Saturday mornings on ABC from 1975 to 1977.

One of the studio's television specials was 1973's The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas, with Tommy Smothers voicing the little bruin who goes out to find Christmas (in the human world) while his fellow bears head for hibernation. DFE was also responsible for a number of Dr. Seuss specials, including The Cat In The Hat and different incarnations of The Grinch.

Former Warner Bros. Cartoons employees at DePatie-Freleng[edit]

In the beginning, DePatie-Freleng had virtually the same facilities, personnel and producer as Warner Bros. Cartoons. Although Chuck Jones would later work with DFE on a few Looney Tunes and Seuss projects in the 1970s, Jones and most of his group of artists ended up at Sib Tower 12 Productions independently producing new Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM.

Although many DePatie-Freleng employees contributed greatly to the success of its product, story artist and Disney and Warner alumnus John W. Dunn created most of the studios' new cartoon series, both for theatrical release and for television. These series included The Ant & The Aardvark, The Tijuana Toads, Here Comes The Grump, and Roland and Ratfink, among others.

Many of the DFE cartoons were written and storyboarded by Dunn, including the first Pink Panther cartoon, The Pink Phink. Dunn's drawing style also found its way into the DFE cartoons.

The list below features many former Warner staffers, but also includes former Disney, MGM and Lantz staffers as well.

Producers[edit]

Directors[edit]

Writers[edit]

  • John W. Dunn
  • David Detiege
  • Friz Freleng
  • Rudy Larriva
  • Len Janson
  • Don Jurwich
  • Bob Kurtz
  • Jim Ryan
  • Nick Bennion
  • Al Bertino
  • Tom Dagenais
  • Dale Hale
  • Michael O'Connor
  • Sid Marcus
  • Irv Spector

Voices[edit]

Music[edit]

Later years[edit]

Inflation, the increasing costs of producing theatrical cartoons, and the pressures of producing TV series cause the quality of DFE's output to drop in the mid-to-late 1970s. In 1981, Freleng and DePatie sold DFE Films to Marvel Comics, and Freleng returned to Warner Bros. Animation to produce a series of feature films featuring vintage Warner cartoons with new connecting footage. DePatie made the transition to become the head of Marvel Productions, as DFE was renamed.

Although Marvel produced mainly superhero cartoons and animated series based on licensed toy lines (including Hasbro properties), it continued to produce new productions starring the Pink Panther (titles for Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther and a special for television, Pink at First Sight). MGM would later credit a 1993 revival series of the Pink Panther as a joint venture between MGM, Mirisch-Geoffrey-DePatie-Freleng and United Artists, a decade after DFE's merger with Marvel and Mirisch/UA's merger into MGM.

In the 1990s, Marvel sold its animation catalog to Saban Entertainment. In 2001, Saban, Fox Family and Fox Kids were sold to The Walt Disney Company, with the Dr. Seuss material and all other licensed properties belonging to their respective owners. Disney also bought Marvel Comics in 2009, bringing the all-original DFE library and the Marvel Comics-based DFE library full circle.

While the television catalog has largely changed hands over the years, the theatrical cartoons continue to be owned by their original distributors: United Artists (via its current corporate parent, MGM) for the Mirisch Company cartoon library and Warner Bros. for the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The exceptions include all Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons (owned by Warner Bros.), all cartoons produced for United Artists (owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), the Dr. Seuss cartoon specials it produced (currently licenced from copyright owner Dr. Seuss Enterprises through Warner Bros.), Doctor Dolittle and Return to the Planet of the Apes (owned by 20th Century Fox), What's New, Mister Magoo? (owned by DreamWorks Classics) and The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (currently owned by Lionsgate).[citation needed]
  2. ^ a b http://bakertoons.blogspot.com/2010/12/david-h-depatie-interview-part-1.html?m=1>

External links[edit]