Jack King (animator)

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For other people with the same name, see Jack King (disambiguation).

James Patton "Jack" King (1895–1958) was an American animator and short film director best known for his work at Walt Disney Productions.

Career[edit]

Born in Alabama, Jack King began his animation career in the silent era in 1920 working at Bray Productions animation studio. King successfully made the transformation from silent to sound cartoons and relocated to the West Coast of the United States, where he joined the Disney studio in 1929.

In 1933, animation producer Leon Schlesinger was setting up a new animation studio, Leon Schlesinger Productions. The studio would continue producing the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series for Warner Bros. The studio was set on the Warner Bros. lot on Sunset Boulevard. Schlesinger was in need of a new staff for his studio and started hiring people who used to work for other animation studios. Among them was animator Jack King, who "was probably the first Disney animator Schlesinger hired". [1]

By June 1933, Schlesinger had mostly finished hiring staff and started producing animated short films. Tom Palmer had been appointed production manager and director, with Jack King as the head animator. Among the staff were two former associates of King from Disney, animators Paul Fennell and Bill Mason. [1] According to animation historian Michael Barrier, Schlesinger placed former Disney animators in charge of the studio in hopes of effectively competing with the Disney studio. [1]

Tom Palmer left the studio after completing only two short films. He was replaced as director by Earl Duvall, a former story man for both the Disney studio and Harman and Ising. Duvall himself left the studio after completing five short films. Schlesinger was in need of new directors, and even composer Bernard B. Brown received credits for directing two Merrie Melodies shorts. By early 1934, Schlesinger appointed Friz Freleng as the main director of the Merrie Melodies series and Jack King as the main director of the Looney Tunes series. [1] King handled many of the studio's cartoons starring Buddy.

By 1935, Buddy was being phased out in favor of new characters. Among them was Beans, an anthropomorphic cat. King directed A Cartoonist's Nightmare, Beans' fist starring role. [1] King directed a total of 8 animated shorts featuring Beans. Michael Barrier describes Beans under King's direction as resembling the Mickey Mouse version of the early 1930s. Their designs were certainly similar, with both characters having a white face and black body. But in characterization Beans was a pint-sized hero, resembling the plucky, boyish, and heroic Mickey featured in The Klondike Kid (1932) and The Mail Pilot (1933). [1]

Also in 1935, the studio gained a third full-time director, working in addition to Freleng and King. He was Tex Avery, a former inker for the short-lived Winkler Studio and the Universal Studio Cartoons. Avery directed a single film starring Beans, Gold Diggers of '49 (1935). He used Porky Pig as the main star of his following films. Meanwhile, King continued using Beans as the main star of his own films. In 1936, Beans and most of the characters introduced the previous year, with the exception of Porky Pig, ceased being used by the studio. Barrier suggests that Leon Schlesinger may have been giving Avery a vote of confidence, when deciding to keep only Porky as a continuing character and to drop Beans. This decision came at the expense of King and his work. [1]

Jack King directed only three animated shorts starring Porky Pig. By April 1936, King was hired by the Disney studio again. [1] Part of the reason he went back to Disney was the promise that he would be able to direct cartoons in color, which he had been unable to do previously. Friz Freleng and Tex Avery were the only directors that Schlesinger allowed to direct color films for much of the 1930s.

At Disney, King emerged as the director of a new series of short films, featuring Donald Duck as the protagonist. [1] Serving as one of Disney's key animation directors, King directed many classic Donald Duck cartoons (such as Donald's Dilemma) until his retirement in 1948.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Barrier (2003), Warner Bros., pp. unnumbered pages

Sources[edit]

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