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Whatever happened to Molly Moo Cow?

Yesterday the Library of Congress announced its latest inductees to the National Film Registry, which included work by these notables in (or related to) animation: Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942), Ed Catmull’s A Computer Animated Hand (1972) and George Pal’s live action War Of The Worlds (1953). Great choices, well deserved!

But where is the love for the groundbreaking Van Beuren cartoons of the 1930s? When will the Library of Congress recognize the greatness of Cubby Bear, Waffles the Cat and Molly Moo Cow? Vincent Gargiulo created this faux commercial from 1986 for the 50th anniversary VHS edition of Van Beuren’s Molly Moo-Cow & The Butterflies. Gargiulo says “only 4 copies were sold”.

(For high quality DVD copies of Van Bueren cartoons, visit Thunderbean Animation)

  • Why not do a faux trailer from UAV on the 40th Anniversary Edition of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”?

  • And coincedentally, because Marc Brown uses old cartoon character names, the “Arthur” TV series had “Mary Moo-Cow”/

  • Thanks Jerry for featuring this. It’s an honor to be on the Brew! I mostly make live action films but am in deeply inspired by animation, especially the classics. I studied a Snow White 50th Anniversary Trailer and thought it would be funny to give a cartoon of a slightly lesser caliber the classic Disney treatment.

    P.S. That “Butterfly” song starts to get catchy when you hear it 50 times.

    • The Gee

      Good job on that.

      Now I wish there were such a feature length film. And, that it would be a film that challenges us to better understand…the butterfly.

      If anyone can teach us, Molly Moo Cow can…and once she starts, she will milk it for all it is worth.

  • Toonio

    When I thought I knew most of the cartoons from the 30’s, this post comes along to prove me wrong.

    Thanks for info Jerry!

  • uncle wayne

    omg! What dazzling quality! Great to see “her” in such grand condition!! (I had never seen any of those films in ANY good condition!)

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I can see Jerry’s point here!

  • Y’know, I wonder if Molly Moo Cow is a public domain character, since Van Beuren went under circa 1936. She hasn’t appeared in ANYTHING for decades, so the copyright and trademark have probably long expired by now.

    I ask because i’ve contemplated making some comics centered around her.

    • I remember, sometime in the 90s when I worked for the Festival of Animation, meeting a guy who was determined to revive Cubby Bear, which he claimed was public domain. I wish I could remember who/where that was. His drawings were absolutely great.

    • Kristjan B

      “She hasn’t appeared in ANYTHING for decades” the same can be said about the rest of Van Buren library.

      P.s Happy New Year to the Brewmasters Jerry and Amid and everyone that loves animation. :)

    • Chip

      If you do make a Molly Moo Cow comic would you send me a link?
      That would be kind of cool.

  • Cubby Bear is hands-down my favourite cartoon series of all-time…

  • I am udderly captivated.

    Oh, wait… make that “udderless”.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      That is the real selling point isn’t it? :-P

  • Hulk

    I couldn’t find any clips on line of Waffles the cat. I’m curious. can anybody point me to some?

    • I shudder to get involved here, but here’s Waffles the Cat and Don Dog in FROZEN FROLICS (1930):

      Gotta love Waffles’ reaction when he thinks Don is dead.

      Waffles started as Henry, a fatter Felix ripoff playing opposite Farmer Al Falfa. In about 1928 his name changed to Waffles. In 1930, he got clothes and became the tall, cowardly Mutt to Don’s Jeff. And in 1931, Waffles and Don turned human, and Van Beuren’s Tom and Jerry were born.
      Aren’t you sorry you asked?

      • Paul Penna

        Is that the first or the only instance of a Jewish-stereotype penguin?

      • The Gee

        Unless I’m confusing penguins, I didn’t pick up on that.
        Is that one the same one who is a proud papa as a chorus line of penguin-icks waddles out?

        And, yet, as the line of kids DOESN’T seem to end, THAT is when he becomes overwhelmed and does a (brilliant) backwards Plop take?

        If the long filler stuff were not the short, including those excruciating long holds, there’s some nice sorta funny gags in it. Like, the dancing penguin while the otter or whatever was playing a tennis racket. One cut to focus on the penguin would have broken that up and made it funnier. That said, the staging is sound and the gag is “smart.” But, it went on too long with nothing happening.

        And, Waffle’s reaction to his pal being dead…Wow. That’s a true pal for ya. He probably eats while he cries, too.

        Thanks for sharing! And, yes, I feel foolish for expressing anything about this cartoon short. God help you all once I watch the Molly Moo Cow one.

      • Paul Penna

        Yep, those penguins. The first clue was his appearance: the nose and the hat. His final “Oy oys” cinched it.

      • The Gee

        I can’t bring myself to rewatch even some of it but I guess that little guy does have that going on, doesn’t he?

        Some of the scenes lasted so long and involved so much repetition, I just started analyzing character design choices. Admittedly, I was looking at the drawings moreso than the characters.

  • Robert Reynolds

    The greatness of Molly Moo Cow will be recognized when Pauly Shore gets an Oscar from AMPAS.

  • Molly Moo Cow deeply offended me when I was a toddler.

    • The Gee

      Speaking of offensive….cows are sacred…there is an Indian animation industry….

      Mollywood films….Bollywood….Man, if it were possible, someone should take that leap. That would be a full length feature.

      I’ll never do anything with it, for sure, even if I could.

  • Jody Morgan

    This may be the most attention Molly Moo-Cow has ever gotten.

    (I’m probably alone in this, but I sorta like her cartoons, particularly “Molly Moo-Cow and the Butterflies”; really, how can you go wrong with a cow pretending to be a butterfly?)

  • I’ll put in my vote for Van Beuren’s Tom & Jerry, who grew out of Waffles & Don. Far more interesting than any of Burt Gilett’s characters. (Though I have to admit, the use of Technicolor on the Rainbow Parades is intoxicating.)

  • Justin Delbert

    It is completely obvious that Molly Moo Cow is considered dead property. I’d like to see certain characters come back (Calvin and the Colonel anyone).

    • BananaMan

      Yea, and what about Farmer Al Falfa, Koko the Clown, Felix the Cat (which I’m currently producing), and Mighty Mouse?

  • John A

    Good Lord I absolutely love rubber hose animation!

  • Shenaniganza

    While other animation enthusiasts might piddle away their time watching Bugs Bunny do battle with a dim-witted hunter or gunslinging dwarf, those of us with more refined tastes will be watching Molly Moo Cow go head to head with the dreaded lepidopterist, the thinking man’s animated villain.

  • Fortunately, Steve Stanchfield’s Thunderbean animation still sells Cartoons That Time Forgot which includes beautiful copies of all of the Molly Moo Cow series as well as many other Van Buren shorts.

    • I thought that was Inkwell Images who sells CARTOONS TIME FORGOT.

  • Snagglepuss

    I give to you the quintessential Cartoon Brew headline.

  • joe heumann

    We love Molly Moo Cow and do some work on Molly and The Butterflies in our new book: That’s All Folks? Ecocritical Readings of American Animated Features.

  • Professor Widebottom

    After reading that only 4 VHS copies were sold I wanted to cry inconsolably in a corner for the rest of my life.

  • BananaMan

    Yep. The Rainbow Parade was no ordinary series of animated theatrical cartoons. Burt Gillet and Tom Palmer did a really nice job of directing those films, with Molly Moo-Cow, Felix the Cat, Toonerville Folks by Fontaine Fox, and others. It baffles me to see that all the Van Beuren cartoons are being ignored.

  • KevinCanada

    I just found a pristine copy of Molly Moo Moo and Robinson Crusoe (1936). It’s a B&W version. It’s in a can labelled National Film Board of Canada with the film title on it. Wondering what the rareness of it is?