Toby The Pup in The Showman (1930) Toby The Pup in The Showman (1930)

Toby The Pup in The Showman (1930)

The Holy Grail for many of us cartoon historian-types are the lost RKO Toby The Pup cartoons. Originally released in 1930 and 1931, twelve cartoons were produced by Charles Mintz and directed by Dick Huemer concurrently with Mintz Krazy Kat cartoons for Columbia. Poor Toby’s films were never released as home movies, nor sold to television, and have been considered lost (and forgotten) for decades. The good news: in recent years several rare prints have resurfaced. Historian David Gerstein has just “restored” a large fragment from The Showman (originally released November 22, 1930) and posted it on You Tube. It was missing a few shots and its front title cards, and the original soundtrack is lost. However, David has reconstructed the opening credits, and synched the cartoon to other period musical scores, most from Mintz composer Joe DeNat. He did a great job with it – and here it is, six minutes of pure 1930s cartoon fun:

  • Pure cartoon crack!!!

  • Very nice job on the soundtrack, although I would’ve preferred Pink Floyd.

  • Woohoo! Another Toby unearthed!!!

  • this is really exciting!!!

  • greg m.

    I find it amazing that various companies during that period had their own versions of mickey mouse featured in their cartoons. So who was first?? Does anyone know?

    • John

      Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

      • Pete

        Actually, Felix the Cat predated Oswald by a couple years. Bosco, Foxy, Oswald, Mickey, Toby – studios were basically trying to confuse the audiences with similar character designs.

      • Not “confuse,” but it was just a “stock” character design that was proven successful.

    • juan alfonso

      I think it may have been Van Beuren,with two very Mickey-mousish mice playing in a store.

  • Uncle Juan

    What a find!!

  • Lovely sick skeleton ending!

    Given the date there’s a good chance a soundtrack has made it down the years on disc somewhere – for the time being though that was a great looping job :)

    Ta to David and yourselves for making it available!

  • Steve Stanchfield

    Truly Holy Grails. I loves these and the early Scrappys Dick Heumer directed- I wonder if the Vitaphone project folks have this track….

  • Directed by Dick Huemer, no less!

  • Spencer Morin

    Anyone else get reminded of Ignatz from the Krazy Kat strips when they look at Toby the Pup?

    Maybe it’s just the style, call me crazy.

  • Norman

    This gem is noteworthy for all of the stated reasons PLUS: a rare saxophone spit valve gag. Also, that non-moving piano shadow at around 1:50 deserves a Winsor McCay award for anticipating limited television animation by over a quarter century.

    • s.w.a.c.

      The sax gag threw me for a loop, I know these early ‘toons indulge in a bit of outhouse humour, but that was a first for me.

  • The appearance of the faux-Mickey is startling. They didn’t even try to hide it with fox ears or anything.

    Mr. Gerstein could probably find a silent-film-fan piano player to ad lib something that would more closely fit the piano playing, particularly the glissando gags. Or Possibly even they might have a good guess as to which song is being mocked there.

    Quite interesting to see. Thanks!

  • Cole Johnson

    Another classic bit of animation history pulled from oblivion by David Gerstein. This guy should be at a major film archive doing restorations!

  • This Toby the Pup restoration is wonderful! Thanks, David!

  • Jeff Haynes

    Somewhere I have a Toby cartoon on vhs. I think it was by Snappy Video. Toby is in a

  • Truly a classic. Great job with the soundtrack, David! I wouldn’t have known any better if I hadn’t read it was reconstructed.

  • juan alfonso

    I saw this cartoon as a kid(no,I’m not a fossil,I saw it on cuban tv)along with a ton of Mintz cartoons and anything else they had in stock until I left Cuba.Too bad the tons of reels at CMQ channel 6 were destroyed and the old toons replaced with russian and communist-area produced animation.

  • Aniboom: Listen closely and the “seams” will show; I wasn’t always able to find thematically appropriate music that was the right length, so certain tunes stop before they’re actually over, or include awkward jump-cuts.

    Juan Alfonso: Interesting to learn that the Toby shorts were part of a TV package overseas. Many of the surviving Tobys derive from French prints today, so they certainly got around in some form—just not here.

    • Kristjan

      Hello, David! I want say that fake titles look pretty convincing, but how many Toby’s are still lost?

      • Kristjan

        David answered my question on his blog.

    • juan alfonso

      CMQ just grabbed whatever cartoons were still around,whether theatrical or not.I saw ‘Fantasia” one time(on my bw tv no less!).They even showed silent Farmer Alfalfa cartoons which had a soundtrack tacked on,both the Mintz Oswald and the Lantz Oswald,Van Beuren,Fleischer,George Pal Puppetoons,you name it,just to fill air time.The newest cartoons were Pow Wow the indian boy and the Huckleberry Hound show,plus the russian/Comecon stuff.The only cartoons I’m sure were from a package were the ones with “U.M.” and “NTA” at the beggining.
      Thanks for bringing back Toby!

      • Chris Sobieniak

        My mom’s earliest memories of TV often included what she said was a lot of silent cartoons, no doubt perhaps the same as you saw in your youth. The 1950’s often saw a lot of unusual stuff during the afternoon for children coming out of school.

      • juan alfonso

        This was still going on as of early 1968,and the cartoons were shown after chinese shadow puppets and episodes of a “Rocketman” serial every day from 7 am to 3 pm,when “The Circus” came on(basically circus acts performed in front of a one-camera setup).This went on every day including Sunday.
        What jogged my memory of this particular “Toby” were the dancing birds,with the odd human-style noses.This was usually reserved in most cartoons to owls and penguins.I love the hawaiian “girl” gag,pretty risque until you realize it’s Toby in drag.

  • Pietro A. Shakarian

    Great short, DG, and nice work on the titles! Your soundtrack is also pretty well done too (a lot of Mintz Krazy Kat here — I could detect “Slow Beau”, “Honolulu Wiles”, “Jazz Rhythm”, and, I believe, “Sole Mates”). Again, great job — another lost classic found!

  • I wonder what happened with the original soundtrack. Some of this works, but much of it is about a second ahead of the action. Nice try, and with a bit more experience and realization, maybe this could have been made to seem like an authentic (almost) legitimate track.

  • What a delight this one is! I had never seen any Tobys until a few years ago; my father had told me they were all lost. Actually, I now know of 6 that survived: The Museum, Halloween, Down South, The Milkman, this one, and Circus Time. The latter is in UCLA archives, and they want big bucks to license it; the restoration work, I’m told, was paid for by Jerry Beck. To those who speculate that the sound track survives on a disc somewhere: unlikely, since the Tobys I obtained in France all have titles saying “RCA Photophone Recording” (sound on film). Could be archived on an acetate disk somewhere, I suppose.