Caricatures of Hollywood celebrities have been common practice in animated cartoons since the silent era. And comedians authorizing their personas for animation go back just as far (Otto Messmer’s series of Charlie Chaplin cartoons may have been the first). Since then, the essence of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Three Stooges, et al.Ã¢â‚¬”all the way through Rodney (Rover) Dangerfield and coming up next fall, Jerry Seinfeld (Bee Movie)Ã¢â‚¬”live on in animated form. The cartoon counterpart for Mexican comedian Cantinflas continues today in animated shorts south of the border.
Comedy writer/actor/comedian Bill Dana created a Hispanic personality, Jose Jiminez, as a character for THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW in 1959. As Jiminez, Dana appeared on all the top variety shows, nightclubs, made record albums and even had his own TV series (although titled The Bill Dana Show, the 1963 NBC series starred Jose).
Mark Evanier has posted several times recently about Dana and what a fine comedian and writer he was. In the mid 1960s, Dana apparently explored the possibility of adapting Jose Jiminez to animation. Jose appeared briefly in the 1966 Hanna Barbera TV special (which he wrote) Alice in Wonderland or What’s a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (which is being rerun on Boomerang Sunday Feb. 25). He also made a deal with Paramount to make an animated short, that was probably created as a pilot for a series.
But Jose Jiminez just didn’t cut it as an animated character. The Paramount short, posted below, is pretty darn poor. I WANT MY MUMMY was released in March 1966 and hasn’t been seen since. It wasn’t even shown on Nickelodeon when they had the package of Paramount theatricals they used to run on Cartoon Kablooey and Weinerville, perhaps not wanting to take a chance that Jose might offend Hispanic people. It was co-written by Dana and cartoonist Howard Post, who was running the studio at the time. Post started production on the film when he was abruptly replaced by veteran animator Shamus Culhane. That might explain some of the films crudeness. Or maybe not. This was Culhane’s first credit for Paramount as directorÃ¢â‚¬”not a good startÃ¢â‚¬”in a job he’d hold for a year and a half before being replaced himself by Ralph Bakshi. That’s Bob McFadden doing all the other character voices.
Submitted for you approval, Jose JiminezÃ¢â‚¬”Cartoon Brew’s Forgotten Cartoon Legend of the week.
(Thanks Mark Evanier for the Jose album cover at top)
Previously on the BREW: