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Jack Zander Interview

Pelican magazine ad

Animation World Magazine has an interview with 99-year-old animation veteran Jack Zander whose career includes stints at studios like Romer Grey, Van Beuren, MGM and Terrytoons, as well as running his own commercial studios Pelican Films and Zander’s Animation Parlour. I saw Zander speak in LA about five years ago and his memory was impressively sharp. In fact, he seems quite sharp in this interview as well, though it would have been a more interesting chat if the interviewer had been more familiar with Zander’s history. As it is, it’s still worth a read.

Last year on the Cartoon Modern blog, I highlighted a couple advertising productions by Zander which have been lost to time. I thought I’d share a few more Zander artifacts. At the top of this post is a late-’50s magazine advertisement for his studio Pelican. Below is a 1962 Pelican-produced ad for Jax Beer designed by Chris Ishii and animated by Emery Hawkins. Click on the image to see a set of stills from the spot. And below that is another one of the Jax commercials. The comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May provided the tracks for the Jax spots.

Jax Beer commercial

  • When characters are designed this simply yet appealing, I really can’t see any excuse for not being able to produce animation this good today. It is stylized and somewhat economical in its movement, but it is a far cry better than any of the Flash produced, shifting cutout stuff that has taken over the industry today. I wish producers would stop churning out this contemporay dreck as per their cheapskate clients, and instead insist upon the additional money needed to create something as fun as this Jack Zander animation.

    But will it ever happen? No…(sigh)

  • Bugsmer

    That’s a great little commercial you posted, Amid. I recommend that people watch this before they read the article, to get some perspective. It’s not too many people you hear about having worked at Romer Grey’s studio. Interesting article.

  • DanO

    When i first got out of college i was toiling around NYC and trying to get a gig at any of the animation studios there. I remember stopping by Zander’s Animation because it was the most amazing place. I couldn’t even believe they did work there – it looked like a game room! There was a pool table right in the middle and what seemed like every kind of funky chair ever made. The elevator opened up into this huge, bright, space with high ceilings and the desks were actually hidden away behind a wall. They kindly sent me on my way, but that must have been a great place to work.

  • Arnold

    It won’t happen until a client with real taste appears. Unlike Flash, taste can’t be bought.

  • Jack Zander gave me my first staff animation job when I graduated from Cal Arts. He was quite a character, and I’m glad to see that someone has printed an interview with him! He’s still going strong at nearly a century. Hadn’t changed a bit when I saw him in LA five years ago at the same event Amid was at, I believe.

    Jack also gave Dean Yeagle his start, and Mark Mayerson also worked there. The Zander studio was a very interesting place known as the “Disney’s of the East” because of its high production values.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    The kind of attention to detail in animation I wish people understood today.

  • Merrill

    What a fantastic article! Mr. Zander is 99 years old? I’m only 60 and haven’t been that lucid for years. Thanks for the opportunity to read about the golden age of animation from someone who lived it.

  • Fay Pressley

    Jack Zander passed on 12/17/2007. He was a sweet and wonderful man and will be missed by many.

  • Unfortunately,I never had the good fortune of working with Jack,but I did meet him on a warm summer day up at his son’s Mark country
    place in Millbrook N.Y. I had flown down there with Mark in his classic Piper Cub airplane from Glens Falls. What a treat it was to finally meet his Dad,at that time well into his eighties as he swept into the yard on his sparkling large BMW motorcycle. Belated condolences to Mark and the rest of Jack’s family on losing a father and a legend.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Bothering to update on a 3 year old entry, I noticed many of the Pelican ads for Naragansett Beer can now be seen on YouTube, including the one seen in the stills above that has the Jax logo replaced with Naragansett (I guess Pelican made ads for both beers at the time and simply switched the names for each market).