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AnimatorsStop Motion

George Pal in Hollywood

George Pal came to America in 1940 with a contract to make animated shorts for Paramount. His Madcap Models (later Puppetoons) were a instant success, and Paramount played up, for publicity purposes, the unique methods Pal used: stop motion and replacement animation.

Mike Van Eaton recently shared this rare publicity photo with me (click picture above to see larger, fuller image). That’s actreses Martha O’Driscoll with Pal in the Paramount commisary, with “Sarong-Sarong” the star of the third puppetoon, Hoola Boola (1941). The caption on the back says “More than 7000 miniature, stringless manikins were used for the eight minute film”.

Here’s a short scene from Hoola Boola, featuring Jim Dandy and Sarong-Sarong:

  • doug holverson

    So how big of a crew and shop does it take to make over 7000 puppets in a respectable time?

  • jordan reichek

    ‘Hoola Boola’ is absolutely one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon mankind. period.

    God bless you, George Pal, and your Nordic tenacity.

  • John A

    What happened to all the models? Does Paramount have them all stuffed in a vault somewhere?

  • a reader

    I don’t think Hungarians would be described anywhere as “nordic”, but they definitely have tenacity.

    IIRC the puppets belonged to Pal, not Paramount, and they weren’t made to last a long time. Very few exist today apparently although some collectors have one or two somewhere-someone had a Jasper puppet that was shown on the internet a long while back. They’re larger than one would imagine.

  • George Pal gives me some Hungarian pride.

  • Doug Drown

    Pal was a visionary, incredibly creative AND tenacious, and was reputedly one of the nicest producers/directors anyone ever worked with — a genuinely kind and affable man.

    It never occurred to me to wonder what happened to all the puppets.
    I would think they’d be quite valuable today.

  • Ahh….a Puppetoon post.

  • Why don’t you post an entire Puppetoon? It seems to me like there needs to be a George Pal Puppetoon post (from BrewTV), because it would be nice if I could see one again. “Jasper and the Haunted House”, “John Henry”, and “Tubby the Tuba” are the only ones I could find. Sure, they are classics, but we would like to see them. Arnold Lebovit is crazy about removing Puppetoons as Viacom is removing…. well, copyrighted stuff — posted from people who just can’t respect how America works and all of the producers, directors, writers, cameramen, etc.

    I’d buy “The Puppetoon Movie – Special Expanded Edition” but it’s just kinda expensive and inconvenient.

  • I’m just gonna say this! Using one new model after another to create movement in a Puppetoon…WHAT A WASTE!!!

  • Mike Hankin

    Although the amount of puppets used in a single Puppetoon is quoted as anything between 7,000 to 9,000, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Only very rarely a whole new puppet was created, with the normal approach being to use and reuse sections of a puppet. Hence, for instance a walking cycle, once the parts are made, can be used over and over again.
    The Puppetoon figures were mostly made out of wood (although wire and rubber and other materials was often used for arms and other parts), so unlike rubber displacement models last better. The bulk of these figures were ‘loaned’ to another company after the demise of the Puppetoon studio, but never used. They recently came to light and were sold in bulk, only to be resold as lots on the Profiles From History auction site. Consequently, the puppets are now wide spread amongst collectors.
    Thankfully, UCLA are taking good care of the precious 42 prints of the Puppetoon series, waiting for the day when they can be seen in all their glory.