Joe by Gilbert Bundy

Joe [Deneroff] by Gilbert Bundy (1943)

The Joe in question is my father, Joe Deneroff, and the drawing by cartoonist and illustrator Gilbert Bundy was apparently done in 1943 when both were working in the US Army Air Force’s fabled First Motion Picture Unit FMPU),  based at Fort Roach (i.e., the Hal Roach Studio, Culver City, California). My mother said my father was hired by the Unit to work at their New York City facility in 1942;  in 1943, both units were consolidated in Culver City and my father moved out there, leaving his family behind. He only stayed for six months for reasons which are not entirely clear; a letter written during the time he was there indicated he was somewhat homesick for New York, but I suspect his health problems (which eventually led to his death in 1946) were a major factor in his return.

When he returned to New York, he became an animator with Famous Studios (he had previously worked for Fleischer from 1932-40), where he worked alongside his friend Jack Ozark. When he died, Jack kept the drawing, which my father kept in his desk, and gave it to me when I got to know him in the 1980s. Jack said that my father and Bundy worked together at the FMPU and that the drawing perfectly captured  the way my father acted and dressed.

In doing some admittedly cursory research. I could not find anything on Bundy and the FMPU; for instance, David Apatoff’s Illustration Art blog does note that:

… when World War II came along, Bundy decided for some reason to leave it all behind and volunteer to work as an artist in the South Pacific for Hearst newspapers.

In 1944, Bundy was accompanying the Marine invasion of Tarawa when a Japanese shell exploded in his small landing craft. …

Bundy returned to the U.S. but never recaptured the joy in his pre-war art. On the anniversary of his ordeal Bundy committed suicide, thereby rejoining his fallen comrades.

I would, of course, be delighted to hear from anyone who has any additional information on the matter.

Malvin Wald

Slavko Vorkapitch and Malvin Wald at the University of Southern California, 1950Screenwriter Malvin Wald died last Thursday, March 6, in Sherman Oaks, California, at age 90. I first got to know him casually when I was a student at the University of Southern California’s Cinema Department, where he taught part time. (He is pictured at left in 1950 while visiting USC with the legendary Slavko Vorkapitch, who is seated.) I got to know him better when, in 1981, I did research for his screenplay for Hollywood Local, a documentary on the history of Hollywood trade unions, which unfortunately never got produced. (It did however form the basis of a traveling photo exhibit.)

He had gained fame for co-writing Jules Dassin’s The Naked City (1949). which gained him an Oscar nomination, which spawned the whole genre of police procedurals, though most of his subsequent credits were for TV dramas; by the time I got to know him, he was heavily involved in documentaries, whose credits seem to be absent from his obituaries. As an active member of the Writers Guild of America, West, on whose board he served, Hollywood Local was right up his alley. As I was then getting involved in writing my history of early animation unions, I felt I had found a kindred spirit.

I later asked him to serve on my dissertation committee and he eagerly agreed. After I gave him a draft, he called to say that he had just finished reading the section on Dan Glass, an animation artist whose death from TB was a crucial event in leading up to the 1937 Fleischer strike. He was so taken with it that he wanted to work with me on a screenplay based on Glass’ story. I was flattered and protested that I wasn’t a scriptwriter; but after he pooh-poohed my claim, saying I was obviously a good writer and could easily write a script, I said yes.

Unfortunately, the project never went anywhere, and it turned out he was ineligible to serve on my dissertation committee, but we continued to keep in touch. Thus, when I was offered an option on a novel, I turned to him for advice; then, when script work started to dry up, he called me when he started writing magazine articles about film.

What I most remember about Malvin Wald was that he was a real mensch, whose passion for workers’ rights and whose commitment to help students like me was the real thing. I also fondly recall his good humor and lack of pretension. (An early memory was seeing him a USC banquet wearing a tux and his ubiquitous running shoes.) I’m sorry I lost touch with him later on, but his friendship is something I will always value.

I’m Back

It’s been almost 3 years since took what I thought would be a brief hiatus from my Animation Consultants International website when I took up teaching duties at the Savannah College of Art and Design. A lot has happened in the interim, most obviously the growth of the animation blogosphere, the widespread hysteria surrounding motion capture, and the comeback of 3D stereoscopic films. These and other topics that catch my fancy, including what used to be called live-action movies, will be grist for this blog; however; I will no longer provide links to stories around the world, but concentrate instead on analysis and commentary.

I will continue to maintain my list of Animation Studio Links, as there seems to be a continuing interest in it. (It was the one aspect of my site I continued to do maintenance on during my hiatus.) I will also make available past Commentaries and News on the Web.

As to my work, I continue to teach animation and cinema studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design, having shifted from the Savannah to their new Atlanta campus in June. After undertaking my current job, I gave up my consulting career and my life as a freelance writer; however, I am involved in various book projects, one of which appears close to fruition.

Due to these and other factors, I have decided to drop the name Animation Consultants International and opt instead for the more prosaic harvey @ deneroff.com. Also, I cannot vow that I will be posting material on a daily basis (as I once tried to do), but it certainly will be considerably more frequently than was the case over the past few years. In any case, it’s good to be back.