Arthur Davis (animator)
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|Arthur "Art" Davis|
June 14, 1905|
Yonkers, New York
|Died||May 9, 2000
|Other names||Arthur Davis, Art Davis|
Davis got his start at a young age at the New York studio of Max Fleischer, and is reputed to have been the first in-betweener in the animation industry. Another of his distinctions was that he tapped out the famous "bouncing ball" of the "Follow the Bouncing Ball" cartoons of the 1920s. While one of the Fleischer brothers played the ukulele, Davis would keep time with a wooden stick with a white thumbtack on the end, which was photographed and incorporated into the films as the actual moving ball. Later he was an animator for the Charles Mintz studio. While there, he helped create and develop Toby the Pup and Scrappy with fellow animators Dick Huemer and Sid Marcus. Davis would eventually be promoted to director and remained at the studio even after it became Screen Gems in 1940.
In 1942, Davis left Screen Gems along with Frank Tashlin for Warner Bros. Davis worked as an animator for Tashlin's department until 1946 when it was assumed by Robert McKimson. Later that same year, when Bob Clampett left to start his own studio, Davis took over Clampett's unit.
Davis directed a number of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, with a tone somewhere between those of Clampett and McKimson. He had a distinctive characteristic visual style, which can be seen as far back as Davis' Columbia shorts, in which the characters move from the foreground to the background, as well as from side to side, using all axes of the animation field. His department was shut down only three years later in 1949 when Warners was having a budget problem. Davis then was taken into Friz Freleng's unit, and served as one of Freleng's key animators for many years, until the studio closed.
Thirteen years later, Davis directed a cartoon for Warners again, using Freleng's unit. (There were several shorts released around this time, from not only Freleng's unit but Chuck Jones' as well, with the direction credited to varying subordinates.) This cartoon, Quackodile Tears, was also his last Warners short. After the studio closed in 1963, Davis went to Walter Lantz Productions as an animator. He left Lantz in 1965 to work briefly for Hanna-Barbera Productions, before moving over to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises to direct Pink Panther shorts and other cartoon series.
Outliving most of his peers, Davis died on May 9, 2000, aged 94.