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: