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The Old Family Toothbrush


There is still a lot of research to be done in documenting the silent era of animation. Leonard Maltin reports, on his Movie Crazy blog, of the screening of a true rarity/oddity at the recent San Francisco Silent Film Festival:

…a 1925 animated cartoon in two-color Technicolor. The Old Family Toothbrush features a character named Kid Noah in “A New Redhead Satire” filmed in Naturecolor, using the Wilson Wetherald Process. It was so startling to see a cartoon of this vintage in color that I picked up my camera and tried to capture a few frames (above)… The short itself is fairly amusing, executed in fairly typical New York cartoon-studio fashion of the period, with impressive personality animation of its leading character. Still, its origins are something of a mystery: the picture wasn’t registered for copyright, and I can find no evidence of it in my usual reference sources.

Do any of our readers have some clues about this mysterious new discovery?

  • Dave (Odd)

    Looks like another “mouse in distress” flick. When will people learn that if it didn’t work for Howard the Duck in the 1980s, it won’t work backwards in time to one of the cartoons that formed our cartoon consciousness either. Because our consciences are educated stupid. This looks like a gimmick to me.

  • I don’t know if this well help or not but is there any way we can see more frames?

  • These films aren’t quite as mysterious as all that. I believe Cole Johnson is the reigning expert on them—I’ll ask him to chime in. AFAIK, several survive in BW prints at the Library of Congress; I was witness as Cole and LoC’s Zoran Sinobad screened some DVD transfers from a French archive, identifying the first surviving color prints to be discovered about two years ago.

  • William D. Field

    So that Oswald two strip footage that opens “King of Jazz” isn’t the first color animation? Walter Lantz and Bill Nolan are gonna be pissed, wherever they may be.

  • Heavens no, the first documented animation to be released in color is attributed to Bray in 1917.

  • Joe

    …and Winsor Mccay hand-colored Little Nemo in 1911. I don’t know if that one counts, but it is color animation released in the silent era…

  • Darren

    Full color animation goes back further than the 1910s.

    There are 35mm magic lantern toy projector loops from Germany that are in full color and date to around 1908. Not two color but full.

  • Saturnome

    …And how about Charles-Emile Reynaud’s animated movies in full color that predates the Lumières films in the 1890s?

  • Jeff (Unca Jeffy) Overturf

    I love these discussions. Sooooo glad I found this forum. I am looking forward to contributing more, but I’m just a “shade-tree historian”, and you guys definitely have me out-ranked.

  • James Layton

    This short is in Kelley Color, not Technicolor. Wilson Wetherald Productions produced several animated shorts in color in 1925/6.