The Roadrunner Story The Roadrunner Story

The Roadrunner Story

Once again, Martha Sigall explains it all:

For more Martha, buy her book Living Life Inside the Lines.

  • That’s a nice homage to the Road Runner, in particular in this period, next to his 60th anniversary! Thank You Martha!

  • Even if Paul Jullian was a member of SAG, he wouldn’t have been credited for the Road Runner’s “Beep Beep”, because of the deal with Mel Blanc. They should have at least put Jullian under “sound effects”.

    Thanks, Martha!

  • Keith Bryant

    Living history. I love it.

  • That was a wonderful telling of the Roadrunner story! Thank you very much for posting this! As a life-long Roadrunner fun, this telling brought a smile to my face today!

  • Gerard de Souza

    This sweet woman is the fly on the wall some of us wish we could have been. Thank you, Martha.

  • Vegaswolfie

    Beep… beep… the Roadrunner does beep – beep, driving around the out-skirts of Vegas, I have come across roadrunners on the side of the road, they will wait and jet across the road in front of you at the last minute and I will beep-beep my horn at them. So they do beep-beep.

  • Tom Heres

    I wonder if there is a way to legally change my grandmother to Martha.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Every animation buff should thank God for Martha Sigall. It’s hard to believe she’s relaying events that happened over sixty years ago – so lucidly, and with such minute attention to detail. What an amazing resource she is.

  • Anthrocoon

    Great stuff! I was aware of the Paul Julian beep-beep story already though. And, as songwriter Barbara Cameron told us in the 60s, if you’re on a highway and roadrunner goes beep beep, just step aside or you might end up in a heap. Roadrunner, roadrunner, runs on the road all day. Even the coyote can’t make him change his ways.

  • Man, what other Looney Tunes mysteries should we ask her?

  • ….Actually, what he said was “MEEP MEEP!” With an “m” not a”b”. He did it coming down the hall at home, too.
    Just for the record.
    Alison Julian

  • Jorge Garriod

    Tag this one under “living legend!” Wow!

  • It’s very cool to hear these stories from someone who was in the room, even if we may have read something about it already.

  • Thanks for the post Jerry. I’ll send the post and comments to Martha…

  • That was inspiring! Thanks for the post!


  • Bob Sigall

    Alison or Jerry: I’ve asked Martha about this a few times. It sounds like “Meep Meep,” but the second cartoon was called “Beep Beep.” Do you know why it got transposed?

  • Just one thing, when she pronunce the name of Mike Maltese she said his name “Maltees” with a typical american-english pronunciation, while I always said “Maltese” as it is written, due to the italian origins of this artist

  • I got her book as a birthday gift some years ago. It’s a great read. I loved reading about the time in the ink and paint room when all the girls made a bet about the outcome of the 1936 presidential election. Every girl said Roosevelt except for one who insisted that it would end in a tie. she lost the bet of course and had to bring cookies in for everyone the next day.

    The book is full of great anecdotes like that.

  • Ed

    Awesome. More stories from Martha please! :)

  • When I told Martha I was chatting with Marge Champion of the famous dancing team, Marge and Gower Champion — she said, “Margie Belcher! we went to school together.”

    You probably already know that Marge was the original model for Snow White, and married animator, Art Babbit.

  • Bob Sigall

    I read these comments to my mom today. She says she appreciates all the things you said. They’re so wonderful.

    Alison is right that he father said it more like an M than a B, but she isn’t sure how or why it was written as “beep beep.”

    She hopes you’re doing well illustrating children’s books.

    She thought she pronounced it as Maltese, (rather than Maltees).

    Then she recalled that Mike knew more Yiddish than she. “I thought he was Jewish. He was always talking in Yiddish. I said something to Mike about being a “New York mockie.” (A term she thought meant Jewish).

    “I’m not a mockie, Martha” he retorted. “I’m a wop!

    She told me that Mike was plumber’s helper before he got into the cartoon business. One day it was so cold, his overalls had frozen solid, and he decided to leave the business.

    He saw a sign, “in-betweeners wanted.” He didn’t know what an in-betweener was, but he applied and was hired. It wasn’t a good studio, but he got his start, then went on from there.

    Mike came to LA with his wife. He wanted to be an animator and thought of Disney.

    They lived near Wiltern and Virgina Avenues, and one weekend, walked up to Hollywood Blvd, to Grauman’s Chinese theatre, and down Van Ness, where they saw the sign “Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes” on a building.

    His wife says, tomorrow you ought to go in there. She said go look. That sounds like cartoons to me. The next day he went and Henry Binder offered him $18 a week.

    “I didn’t come across country for $18/week,” he objected.

    “What do you want?” Binder asked.

    “I’ll take $20.”

    “You’re hired.”

    Mike was an assistant, but was so funny, after a couple months there, they put him in the story department.

    “No, I want to be an animator,” Mike said, but but they put him in the story crew, which was a bunch of guys in 2 rooms: The New York boys and Kansas City boys. Bugs, Tubby and others were from KC. Mike and others from NY.

    Directors would give them a story idea, and say “give me some gags.” It was mostly gags, gags, gags.

    The story guys had to be able to draw, at least well enough to do story boards. They’d put in dialog, but that could change once the story board was done. They’d put them up with push pins on the wall and it could get edited.

    They’d work for 6 weeks to do a story, then the director would come back and see what they’d come up with. Generally, the animators had 6 weeks, the layout 6 weeks, and ink & paint had 4-5 weeks to complete their parts.

    We had 4 animation units, and each had a director, such a Friz Freling with 4 animators. Each unit produced cartoons, and the Ink & Paint worked on all of them. We had 20 inkers and 30 painters. During the war, it grew to 60 women altogether, when we were doing Snafus, plus animation for all the units.

    I have two more videos with her to edit, and will shoot more with her when I’m in LA next. I’m open to any topic suggestions you have. Aloha,

    Bob Sigall

  • I would like it if Martha did a video on the early Tex Avery character Egghead, and the early version of Elmer Fudd who resembled Egghead.

  • I’d like to know more about Robert McKimson. Nobody really talks about him.

  • Daniel Spencer

    What a treasure Martha Sigall is. A living link back to the termite terrace. She is a special lady, Just wish there were some new WB dvd sets coming out with her insightfull anecdotes on them

  • I like how Mike Maltese was sharing inside info with someone at another studio (I think Martha was at MGM when the Roadrunner went into production).

    I bought her book when it came out and I really appreciated reading about some people not to well known at Schlesinger/Warners. I think the way she was treated at the end at Warners was disgraceful.

    What would be nice to hear her comment about is the people like Tommy Bond, Jackie Morrow, Dorothy Varden, Elmore Vincent and others who voiced cartoons at the studio before Mel Blanc got there.

  • If it isn’t covered in her book already, I’d be interested to hear about any interactions with or memories of Leon Schlesinger.

  • Nice to hear this video and see it. I don’t have the bookk yet but hope to get it, it’s been only a two or few. I’ve always admired Art Davis as a director and especially those later 40s shorts like ”
    A Hick, A Slick and a Chick”, as well as Bob McKimson an I second Mr.Yowp’s request..