Tony Peters R.I.P.

Animation writer Antony (Tony) Peters passed away this past Sunday in New York. He was a longtime Asifa-East board member and veteran animation story artist on several Rankin-Bass classics, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Willie McBean & His Magic Machine and Tales of the Wizard of Oz. He also wrote episodes of Rocket Robin Hood and Grantray-Lawrence’s Marvel Super Heroes cartoons of the 1960s. Since then, he produced dozens of industrial and commercial films out of his studio, Instant Miracles in New York. David Levy has posted a proper obit on the Asifa-East website.

I met Tony once about fifteen years ago in New York and told him I was a big fan one his work on the 1960s Paramount cartoons. We both agreed his best film was The Itch (1965) – he was quite proud of it, in fact. So was Howard Post, its director, who told me how he decided to tell the story with Ronald Searle-inspired art style – and how he convinced actress Hermione Gingold, appearing on Broadway at the time, to come in to record, uncredited, the part of the wife. It hasn’t been shown much at all, and is one of the best cartoons the studio ever made — so here in tribute to Tony Peters, is The Itch:

(Thanks, David Burd)


  • http://showcase.media-freaks.com Free Animations

    Such a great loss for the cartoon animation industry. My condolences.

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    Top notch! The backgrounds, the character designs, very nice indeed.
    Thanks for posting this.

  • Iritscen

    Hear hear, great cartoon. And I’d fly to Paris too.

    P.S. Red Bull owes someone some royalties, methinks.

  • http://www.impko.com David Burd

    Thanks for The Itch! I’d never seen it and I don’t recall Tony mentioning it in the three decades I knew him.

  • http://www.cannedgeek.com/ Kyle

    What a strange and wonderful cartoon.

  • Brad Constantine

    Rest in Peace…thanks for posting.

  • http://www.germanshible.com German S.

    My condolences to his family. R.I.P.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    “Look love, I’ve grown wings–!”
    “SIIIILENCE!!!!
    I’m watching a very important cultural exchange programme from America!”
    “Yes, love…”

    I remember seeing this way back then, and thought this was one of the few bright spots during Post’s tenure at the studio, and glad to find out a little more on the guy who wrote this cartoon. I felt the backgrounds and approach in the story were quite unique for it’s time. Kinda like the deal with the nagging wife who spends most of the time in front of the ‘tele’, yet the one time she had to get up, her chair was so snug to still stay on her for a couple sections as she gets up. It’s a nice little bit I like seeing.

  • Terence Malloy

    This is far and away the best late Famous Studios short. The Searle-esque style really works, even under their budgetary and schedule constraints. And yes, Red Bull totally stole its act.

  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    I’m pretty sure the first night-time aerial view we see when he first learns to fly is a modified re-use from the first Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoon – right before he throws the Mad Scientist in the jail cell. . .

  • Chris Sobieniak

    You’re right J. J., I noticed how much ‘older’ that background look, but I forgave it anyway since this cartoon was still terrific anyway!

  • http://www.impko.com David Burd

    Understandably, the focus here is on The Itch. But I’d like to point out some of Tony’s other accomplishments. Although we wrote together, I knew Tony primarily as a cartoonist and animator. I used to paint cels in his studio way back when.

    Tony is credited with the storyboard for Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, but knowing his style I’m pretty sure those are his character designs. Someone else at Rankin-Bass may have sculpted the characters from Tony’s drawings.

    The art on Tales of the Wizard of Oz is definitely Tony’s and it’s his lettering in the titles. He had a very clean, simple style well-suited to low-budget production. Tony could get more mileage out of a cel than I ever imagined. The first day he showed me a stack of drawings and I said “What is that, the first scene?” He told me it was the whole film!

    I know this will make fans cringe but I believe Tony actually did the animation on the Marvel Super Heroes series (he used to complain to me about producer Steve Krantz many years after the fact).

    My favorite thing about working at Instant Miracles, his aptly named production company, was his file drawer filled with scripts and storyboards for unsold series. He had folders of drawings dating back decades for ideas he started to develop and never got into production for one reason or another. If a potential client asked “Do you have any ideas for a TV series?” there was an endless supply of possible answers. I think Tony overwhelmed them with so many characters and cartoons that they didn’t know what to pick.

  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    Chris – It’s not a direct “pull”. They must’ve had the original art and re-did it. They took the neon signs and other NYC/Times Square-like detail off. . .

  • David Levy

    Thanks for posting this Jerry.

    As president of ASIFA-East, I will greatly miss Tony Peters. For years (when I was working in midtown) I used to bump into Tony at the Time Square R station and we would ride down to the monthly board meetings together. We enjoyed many chats and got to know each other well.

    We even took the time to meet for lunch and once I invited him to Nick for a tour of Blue’s Clues. After that he never stopped teasing me that he and his wife could make a Blue’s Clues much quicker and without all those fancy computers.

    Once, when my first film, Snow Business, was about to play at the ASIFA-East jury screening, I heard Tony remark to someone else, “Gee, I hope this is good. He’s such a nice kid.” And, with that kind remark, I felt a little more at ease.

    I will miss his energy, unwavering support, and good humor.

    ASIFA-East webmaster Adrian Urquidez has posted a lovely tribute to Tony at http://www.asifaeast.com, which I strongly encourage all brew folks to read. My thanks to Candy Kugel, Howard Beckerman, and David Burd for putting the tribute together.

  • http://www.classicparamountcartoons.blogspot.com/ ParamountCartoons

    This cartoon reminds me of the Red Bull commercials.

  • Nick

    This has got to be the best Modern Madcap I’ve seen. I can also see it’s influence on Angels and Idiots.

  • http://www.jjsedelmaier.com J.J. Sedelmaier

    I’m with Nick ! This is way above what I expect from a Modern Madcap !

  • Enoch Allen

    My condolences.

    I am completely unfamiliar with his work, but judging from The Itch, it appears the animation world has lost a major talent!

  • Donna (DiLallo) Kuba

    I met Tony Peters and his wife Adrienne in New York City while working for the exhibit design firm DMCD back in the early 70′s. Tony was not only a talented artist, but a brilliant man who knew something about everything. Tony worked with DMCD on many early museum interactive programs adding his unique sense of humor to the driest subjects and making them fun. One time, he conceived a storyline for an interactive film that would tell a story to a point and then ask the viewer to make a decision. There were three possible directions the story line could go at each decision point and they all had to make sense with what ever decision might be made later in the program and with all possible endings. It was a complicated task, but, as I recall, he came up with a finished storyline, complete with drawings in less than two weeks. Tony would come into the office like a hurricane, come up with a concept for whatever we were working on, draw a mile-a-minute while simultaneously discussing the project, and leave us all totally exhausted by his monumental energy and drive. Once in a fit of inspiration he began to draw an idea. I tried to crane my neck to see what he was doing when I realized he was drawing his concept – at lightning speed as always – upside down so it was oriented to me sitting across the desk from him. I was just telling that story today to a co-worker when I decided to google his name and the company Instant Miracles and found this obituary. I had not been in touch with him for several years and am so sad to find he is no longer with us. I have so many stories about Tony – all fondly remembered, but one in particular I would like to tell here: Tony was a notoriously bad speller. Once when sending a drawing to me by fax, he spelled my Dona. I telephoned him and said, “Hey, you left an “N” out of my name.” On the next fax I received, my name was spelled Donnna, with a note saying that he was sending me the “n” he owed me. Tony didn’t owe me anything. he gave me years worth of laughter and wonderful stories to tell about an artistic genius. I will never forgt him and will always regret not having kept in touch over the last several years. I hope Marc Gregory will see this and receive my condolences.

  • http://www.sunnysmiles.us Scott Peters

    My Uncle Tony was such a talent. I unfortunately did not realize how great he was until after his passing.
    When I was getting ready to start my Pediatric Dental practice I approached him and aunt Adrienne for help with a logo and brochures. they brainstormed and came up with such an amazing logo and type that I was, and still am blown away!
    You can see the logo at my website: http://www.sunnysmiles.us
    I will alsway have my Uncle tony with me, and I think of him daily.
    Scott