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Forgotten Cartoon Legend #3 – Jose Jiminez

Jose Jiminez

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.—all the way through Rodney (Rover) Dangerfield and coming up next fall, Jerry Seinfeld (Bee Movie)—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 director—not a good start—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 Jiminez—Cartoon Brew’s Forgotten Cartoon Legend of the week.

(Thanks Mark Evanier for the Jose album cover at top)

Previously on the BREW:

&#149 Forgotten Cartoon Legend #2 – MUGGY-DOO BOY CAT
&#149 Forgotten Cartoon Legend #1 – SUPERKATT

  • Christopher Cook

    YouTube’s videos stop abruptly on me about two minutes in, so I can’t comment on anything except what I was able to see. The cartoon seemed to be atypical of Paramount’s mid-60s short subjects, just lying there in all its meager production values. Really not worthy of Bill Dana’s talents.

  • That was an awful cartoon. More like it, please!

  • Tom Wolper

    Thanks for putting the cartoon on YouTube. Like most “lost” cultural artifacts, it’s not that valuable, but it’s nicer to see old cartoons than to read somebody’s recollection from decades ago.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Oddly, I actually remember seeing this on Nickelodeon over a decade ago. if not on Cartoon Kablooey or Weinerville, then perhaps they might’ve stuck it on “Total Panic”, a 1989-90 effort Nick did Sunday mornings where some of the Paramount cartoons where usually sprinkled here or there, usually they had their OP end ED logos intact as well. The ending of this cartoon seemed familiar to me for that, also for the characature of someone I hardly knew!

    But yes, it’s a pretty sub-standard effort to say the least, nothing like what Culhane would do once he got up and running. This cartoon still had some of the Post-era lameness left in. The one I’d love to see again is “The Plumber”

  • Weird. The strip has the character’s name as “José Jiménez” (which is the correct spelling).

    As a native of Mexico, I really don’t find this offensive. Heck, the guy doesn’t even look Mexican, or sound Mexican…

  • oscar grillo

    If you are into wasting your time, why don’t you post an essay on “Bucky and Pepito”?

  • That cartoon was pretty bad.

    I used to own that record. I can still recall some of the jokes… “You mean you’re the REAL Anthony and Cleopatra. I thought you were Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.”

  • Markmerlin

    Pretty bad. Why do you suppose they depicted him as being two feet tall and having him referred to as “sonny” when he was obviously a full-grown adult? Weird!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    >Markmerlin says:
    >Pretty bad. Why do you suppose they depicted him as being two feet >tall and having him referred to as “sonny� when he was obviously a >full-grown adult? Weird!

    Heh, if you stuck a 6-year old in this cartoon it probably would’ve made better sense than this (heck the whole thing looks more like the Swifty & Shorty cartoons they did a few years earlier).

  • Is this the same character that was referenced in “The Right Stuff”?

  • jerry

    Is this the same character that was referenced in “The Right Stuff�?

    Yes it is.

    And Oscar, I’m just as fascinated by failed characters and animation as I am by the successful ones. I have no interest in doing an essay on Bucky and Pepito, but my annual San Diego Comic Con program, The Worst Cartoons Ever, features them very prominently. I’m sure, in that context, you’d enjoy them very much!

  • Thanks, Jerry. Now I remember I actually saw Bill Dana do his act on a PBS Special. ( “Once a 6’4″ man tried to beat me up. But I stopped him with just my index finger.” “Really? How did you stop him with just your index finger?”. “I pulled the trigger.” )

  • Shade Ford

    This is a vast improvement over the Modern Madcaps released during the early sixties. Paramount/Famous cartoons have been noted for their sense of uneasiness and painful violent scenes. And Winston Sharples’ music scores sometimes possessed a dirge-like, overly dramatic quality. Also, his scores were too repetitive. This all started to change when Howard Post took over. Post wanted Sharples’ scores to reflect a more diverse meloldic quality. Thus, this cartoon is a good example of Post’s changes. The music score has a bouncy,melodic sound and I found the dialogue punctuated with corny, yet amusing vaudevillian jokes. The backgrounds have a nice, impressionistic look. However, the animation is crude.