LANTZ_1948 LANTZ_1948

Walter Lantz in 1948

Posting random classic photos has become the raison d’être of Facebook, but I just couldn’t resist sharing this vintage 1948 photo of pioneering animation producer Walter Lantz and his characters. There is so much goodness here – that zany painting of Woody Woodpecker, those cool off-model Woody stuffed dolls – not to mention Lantz himself holding an Oswald Rabbit plushie, and that scary Andy Panda doll giving him the evil eye.

This publicity still was released in August 1948 by the “World Wide Photo” news service. This was a period when Lantz had broken with Universal and his studio was about to close (temporarily). The caption on the back reads:


In his office in Hollywood, animated cartoon motion picture producer Walter Lantz sits with dolls inspired by some of his cartoon stars. He holds Woody Woodpecker and Oswald Rabbit. Alongside of him are Andy Panda and another Woody Woodpecker. The last named is also shown in the painting hanging on the wall. Lantz, a graduate of the Arts Students League in New York City, began in the animated cartoon field in 1916.

(Thank you, Jim Engel)

  • uncle wayne

    As one who has a (mass) collection of [nothing but] toon plushies, this is a REAL Treat on an ugly (unly) Wed. raining morn!! Thank YOO!!!

  • Joe

    Great pic Jerry. That same year Fred Moore and Ken O’Brien did some great work for Mr. Lantz on “The Mad Hatter” and “Banquet Busters”.

    Seeing this picture gives me the feeling it was an end of an era for animation. UPA found a place at Columbia and a new style was on it’s way.

  • That must be the Fred Brunish painting Mark Kausler told me he saw when he visited Lantz’s studio!

    • Jim Engel

      I’d say that’s correct, Thad. I have the original photo, and even blowing it up, the signature’s not crystal clear, but it looks like Fred Brunish for sure.

  • “The last named is also shown in the painting hanging on the wall.” The politely dull description and the painting itself seem to come from different planets.

  • That painting belongs in a museum!

  • top cat james

    I’m assuming the Homer Pigeon and Lil’ Eightball dolls were just out of frame.

  • Yes, Thad, that is the Fred Brunish painting that, along with his Andy Panda oil, was hanging in the old Seward St. studio’s conference room. Brunish’s Andy Panda oil looks just like the title card from 1947-48 Andy cartoons. I hope whoever owns these paintings is taking very good care of them!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      We hope Mark!

  • Funkybat

    I never knew Lantz’s studio closed in the late 40s, or that he briefly released his cartoons through United Artists. Did Universal later on take over ownership of those cartoons, or are they still in UA’s hands? If there were “lost Woodys” out there, I’d hope they don’t stay lost forever.

    • John Semper Jr.

      Walter retained ownership of every cartoon he ever produced. I don’t believe anybody else ever actually “owned” any of them, the studios just had the license to distribute them. When I made my short film about his life, which he produced, circa 1980, (and which Jerry nicely included in his first DVD volume of Woody cartoons) Walter had a large vault full of 16mm and 35mm prints of all of his cartoons in the ground floor of the building in which he had offices. The collection of cartoons went all the way back to his silent “Dinky Doodles” live-action/animated shorts in which he starred. For a brief time, I had full access to all of them (I literally had the key to the vault). To my knowledge, there are no “lost Woodys.”

      Before he died, Walter sold his characters and his library to Universal, and he donated all of his existing papers, art and materials to (if I’m not mistaken) UCLA.

  • Kevin S.Butler the rabbit doll that Mr.Lantz is holding”Oswald The Lucky Rabbit”?

    • John Semper Jr.

      Yes, I believe that’s the later incarnation of Oswald.

  • That painting’s great. Hope it’s still around!

  • I wouldn’t call those Woody dolls “off-model” at all. I want one!