by R.C. Samo
April 28, 2012 – The Twelfth Annual Newport Beach Film Festival, showcasing talents in independent films, shorts, documentaries and animation paid tribute to one of the Godfathers of Animation, Charles M. Jones, more infamously known as, Chuck Jones.
The Chuck Jones Centennial Celebration of Animation began with several of Jones’ memorable animated shorts, such as “One Froggy Evening”, “Robin Hood Daffy’, ‘Ready, Woolen & Able” and “Brook Stick Bunny”, the realization that some of these cartoons were over 70 years old were unbelievable, as the hand drawn films are just as entertaining today.
“I wish as a child I would have known I’d be spending half my life talking about my father, I would have taken notes,” quipped Linda Jones, Chuck’s only child and co-producer on several productions with her father. Linda Jones professed that her father had a marvelous job when she was growing up, but believed a friend’s father had a better job as a baker.
“I thought it was amazing that she could go into the bakery and have cookie any time of the day,” said Linda Jones.
Referred to as “Chuck” by his grandchildren, Jones was born two blocks away from the Charlie Chaplin Studios in Los Angeles, CA. His father would rent houses with extensive libraries of quality books and made sure his children were well read. The elder Jones believed that nothing of value was ever said at the breakfast table, and reading a book was mandatory.
Jones, who would have been 100 this coming September 21, will have his work featured from Portland, OR to Louisiana State University then moving on to Pittsburgh, PA.
“The Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco will host the exhibit in 2013 and from there will move to the Smithsonian in 2014, it will probably be a 2 to 3 year tour,” smiled Craig Kausen, Chairman of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and Jones’ grandson.
A montage of Jones’ work from showing, featuring more than 300 of his animated shorts, features and his academy award winning film, “The Dot and the Line: A Romance of Lower Mathematics.” From Bugs Bunny, to Tom & Jerry to the “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Jones has been an inspiration to many artists, directors and creators, including Jeff DeGrandis, producer of “Anamaniacs”, “Ren & Stimpy”, “God, the Devil and Bob” and most recently, “Dora the Explorer”.
“Chuck was my mentor at Cal Arts (California Institute of the Arts), he invited us (himself and Chris Bailey) to his house and gave me my break. He didn’t know me from a hole in the wall but was more than willing to open the door for me,” beamed DeGrandis as he reminisced about Jones.
One of Jones’ most famous voice actor, best known for Witch Hazel, Granny, Natasha and Rocky the Squirrel, is June Foray, who was the first recipient of the, “Chuck Jones Centennial Award for a Lifetime of Creative Contribution.”
“I only ever did one take for Chuck, the first time I worked with him, I ask, ‘don’t you want me do a second take just in case if we missed something?’ and just said no, that it would be fine,” said the 95-year-old working actress who reprising the role of Granny the new Looney Toons Show on Cartoon Network.
Foray, stated that if not for Jones, she wouldn’t have received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was filling the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie and Jones called Warner Bros. demanding that she deserved proper recognition. Universal Pictures caught wind of this and since they were the ones producing the film, they funded the star.
Chris Bailey, the director of animation for blockbuster, “Hop,” and currently working on the “Despicable Me Ride” for Universal Orlando, was ever enthusiastic of paying tribute to his mentor .
“Chuck helped me through his positive energy. I wasn’t that good of an artist, but he was able to take what little material that was good and show me how to reshape it to improve my skills as an artist and animator. It was through him that I was able to improve,” said Bailey during the panel discussion following Saturday Morning Cartoon Tribute.
The festivities of his centennial will be held at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity on May 11, at 6 p.m. in Costa Mesa, CA. The Red Dot Auction will be a fund raiser with art submitted from around the world, both emerging and world-renowned to contribute their work.
Plans for the CJCC are to eventually expand, adding more to the Museum and having an art school on the premises.
For more information on the Red Dot Auction, visit www.chuckjonescenter.org. For reservations contact the Chuck Jonese Center for Creativity at 3321 Hyland Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. For more information, please call 949-660-7791 x 108 or email: [email protected]