Tee Hee Meets the Eames

Tee Hee meets Charles and Ray Eames

I was digging around for some UPA photos the other day when I stumbled onto this photo that I’d labeled “Tee Hee and visitors.” Tee Hee is, of course, the gentleman on the right–a sequence director on Pinocchio and the “Dance of the Hours” segment in Fantasia, before moving over to UPA where he worked with director Bobe Cannon on shorts like Gerald McBoing Boing, Fudget’s Budget and The Jaywalker. When I looked at this photo again though, I thought, “Wait a second…these aren’t any ordinary visitors…they’re the legendary husband-and-wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames!” At least I’m fairly certain they are. If anybody can confirm this, please do.

The cross-pollination between creative disciplines was an essential ingredient of the “cartoon modern” era. I wrote a little bit about Charles and Ray Eames and their relationship to animation on the Cartoon Modern blog. The story goes that Charles Eames was so impressed after he visited the UPA studio that he bought stock in the company. The Eames later created some animated projects and hired animation artists like John Whitney, Dolores Cannata, Ed Levitt and Chris Jenkyns. Here’s a film they produced in 1958 called The Expanding Airport:


  • Angry Anim

    This is so damn fantastic, Amid! Thanks for finding this and sharing. I WISH this is what airports evolved to… the mobile lounge is such an insane idea. I love it!

    • Funkybat

      The funny thing is, the “mobile lounges” *did* come to pass, but in a far less utopian way. At Washington Dulles Airport, which was designed by Eero Saarinen and built right around the time this film was made, they used vehicles like this to take you to and from the main terminal (the architectural gem) to the outlying terminal(s) where most flights arrived and departed from. I think a few of them are still in use.

      In reality, while the “mobile lounge” looked from the outside very much like what’s depicted here, inside there was little more than barely-cushioned bench seats surrounding the outer walls and inner core of the vehicle, and the ride was very diesel-fumey and bumpy. Also, to my knowledge, they never connected directly to the airplanes themselves, but to docks like the one seen at the beginning of that sequence. They also in later years seemed to be prone to breakdowns.

      At Dulles, most of them have been replaced by long, underground Jetsons-style moving walkways between the main terminal and the remote ones. It’s too bad they couldn’t deliver on their promise of being fume-free and luxurious, they were instead rather utilitarian and unpleasant to ride.

  • http://www.whereisolifant.com Doug Vitarelli

    you had me at “I was digging around for some UPA photos the other day”.

  • KentMansley

    That is indeed Charles and Ray Eames. What a great find. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Lippy

    LOVED this. Thank yoU!

  • Bill Perkins

    Hi Amid. Again that is Charles and Ray Eames and a great photograph of T. Hee. I had T. as an instructor at CalArts – 1977-79. Learned a great deal from him and as well a terrific man. Do you know if that book published about 5 years ago. Pictures from the UPA Studio can still be purchased ? If you can point me in the direction I’d appreciate it.

  • Adam Abraham

    This is for Bill Perkins, above. The book you mentioned is called “Inside UPA.” You may want to visit http://www.upapix.com to see about ordering a copy.

    Of course, you are also welcome to buy my UPA book, “When Magoo Flew,” which comes out next month! It includes over 70 images, some of which are also in “Inside UPA.”

  • Tstevens

    There was a really nice documentary on Charles and Ray Eames that aired recently on PBS’s American Masters. Here is the link…

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/charles-ray-eames-the-architect-and-the-painter/watch-the-full-documentary-film/1950/

  • Bill Perkins

    This is for Adam Abraham, above. Adam thanks for the tip I am really looking forward to reading your Book, its been on my radar since Cartoon Brew announced it was coming out. It was great having T. as an instructor. You can’t find his kind (or ANY of his Generation) anymore. The window of opportunity to be exposed to those instructors T, Ken O’Connor, Bill Moore, Elmer Plummer, was perhaps five years on the outside and I fell right into the middle of it. Glad I did. Again, Thanks for the tip.

  • http://MrFun'sBlog Floyd Norman

    T. Hee returned to Disney back in the sixties to work on some special project for Walt. Disney never produced the project T. developed but it was sure fun having him around to talk about the old days of Disney.

  • Rodan

    When I was 15 I use to call up T Hee when he was teaching at CALARTS. He was such a kind and accommodating man. I wish I had gotten to know him personally. Thanks for posting the photo as I haven’t seen very many good photos of T.

  • http://www.motionart.orgwww.linestorm.com Pell Osborn

    “The Expanding Airport” is amazing to see, Amid. Thanks for finding it. In Boston in the 1970′s, I worked occasionally on architectural presentation films for improved signage and other environmental elements in airports; and is it ever a pleasure to recognize the shameless shortcuts (as in, who needs animation?!)taken by the vaunted Office of Ray and Charles Eames to ram through this presentation for architect Eero Saarinen. And yes, that photo above certainly shows Ray and Charles Eames (fresh off their motorcycle, perhaps?) getting the storyboard tour from Tee Hee, possibly of “The Expanding Airport” project itself.

  • http://www.michelleisweird.com Rachel

    That is awesome?