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Jack Zander (1908-2007)


Mark Mayerson has informed us that animator Jack Zander has passed away at age 99.

Zander cut his teeth as an animator at Van Beuren, Terrytoons and MGM (Harman Ising) Studios in the 1930s. After World War II, Zander’s New York studio was considered one of the best in the business. In addition to hundreds of commercials, he produced the TV special Gnomes (1980) and the infamous King Features TV special The Man Who Hated Laughter (1972). Mayerson has posted an overview of Zander’s career, with remembrances by colleagues and friends, on his blog

  • What was infamous about The Man Who Hated Laughter?

  • Chuck R.

    Leonard Maltin gives us a wonderful Zander drawing of Jerry Mouse in “Of Mice and Magic”. Zander’s handling of Jerry was amazing—he could stake his reputation on that character alone.

  • Brad

    What was infamous about The Man Who Hated Laughter?

    The fact that it was p*ss-poor in terms of story and animation?

    The whole idea was to cram as many characters into the story as possible, which meant there was little time to develop any of them. Basic plot-line: Popeye steers the Love Boat. Couple that with extremely limited animation and you have the recipe for a classic train, I mean shipwreck. Best part: Bluto meets Prince Valiant.

  • Re: Popeye meets the Man Who Hated Laughter..I only saw the original airing of this cartoon back in ’72 on the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie (or whatever it was called) and the two things that I remember best was hearing the great Jack Mercer voicing Popeye in a cartoon that I hadn’t already seen 500 times & a bit where Olive (clearly not Mae Questel) sings “Don’t I Look Dreamy in My New Bikini”.

    Jerry, any chance this cartoon showing up on one of the upcoming Popeye DVDs?

  • Christopher Cook

    It was officially titled “Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter,” with good ol’ Jack Mercer as Popeye. Go to this site:
    Then just scroll down to the entry.

  • Charles Brubaker

    RIP Jack.

    Zander was working right into the 1980s, when he had a short-lived cartoon segment on Saturday Night Live called “Tippi Turtle,” which was about a drunken turtle who played pranks on people. Only three shorts were made, I believe.

  • Cartoons just don’t get funkier than teaming Popeye with Hi & Lois–except when Daffy Duck got to meet with the Groovies Goolies!

  • Beyond the merits of those low budget TV specials, Jacks was one of the mainstays of the New York commercial animation scene. First at Focus, then Pelican, then Zanders’ Animation Parlour. If you watch the series MadMen on AMC, those ad execs had to go to guys like Jack Zander to bring their ads to life. Zander’s Animation Parlour was right on Madison Ave and 40th in the Young & Rubicom Building. Every morning I had to nuzzle into the elevator between hordes of grey-flannel suit execs to get to work. But Jack never forgot his roots as a studio animator. To the execs and production he was Mr Zander, but to his artists he was just plain Jack.

    I also have a bit I wrote on my blog
    I was proud to work for him and knew him as a friend.
    Adieu, dear Jack!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Charles Brubaker says:
    > RIP Jack.
    > Zander was working right into the 1980s, when he had a short-lived cartoon segment on Saturday Night Live called “Tippi Turtle,� which was about a drunken turtle who played pranks on people. Only three shorts were made, I believe.

    Oh I remember those! I’ve only ever saw one years back from a repeat on Comedy Central, involving him trying to send a package that had a balloon in it, just to get the post office in a frenzy over not being able to get a proper weight on it to send.

    As a few had said here before, he was involved in the Saturday Superstar Movie, “Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter”. While I had never seen this one myself, I know much of it’s plot from a pretty precise review of the film that Phil Hall once made a couple years back in his “Bootleg Files” column over at Film He didn’t really care much for any of the “Saturday Superstar Movies” as he dismissed them as mindless garbage (having also reviewed “Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet The Groovie Goolies”). I personally think of them as being launchpads for what appeared to be thinly-veiled, hour-long pilots of cartoons that may or may not get a chance of a season on the network. A few had from this presentation like Yogi’s Gang and The Brady Kids but that was about it. Having grown up in the days when ABC did the “Weekend Specials”, it was a more enriching experience for those of my generation.

  • Danny R Santos

    I remember Jack when I worked at the parlour, he was a good man. my condolences to Mark and the rest of the Zanders family.

  • Danny R Santos

    I remember Jack coming to the studio in leather chaps, because he rode a motorcycle. His son Mark ran the parlour at the time back in the early 90’s. Jack was very fond to be around with. He will be missed.

  • Nancy B

    Why are you mentioning just one thing that Jack did?

    He was the first animator of Jerry Mouse.
    He produced some of the finest commercials in the 1950s.
    He was a ‘front’ for blacklisted artists, hiring people who couldn’t work in Hollywood during the McCarthy period.
    He gave me, Dean Yeagle, Dan Haskett, Eric Goldberg, Maurice Hunt, and many other young animators work when other studios would not hire us.
    Best of all, he ran a fun studio. That Madison Avenue enterprise was deliberately decorated like a San Francisco whorehouse, with red plush upholstery on the walls and a disapproving ‘American Primitive’ woman’s portrait situated directly over the toilet–so that male customers would be ‘observed while in action’.

    Jack also rode a motorcycle into his eighties and could laugh at himself and at life in general. You couldn’t have asked for a better boss.

  • Bob McKnight

    I interviewed with Jack Zanders when I was 17 years old, still in high school. Worked at his studio some time later on many commercials and” The Gnomes ” TV speaical as an assistant animator. It was a great studio to work for. Learned alot from the great talent he had there. Jack gave me a break in the business. He’ll be missed.