If you have the slightest interest in classic Hollywood animation, do not miss this colossal 1991 interview with Fred Kopietz conducted by Michael Barrier.
Fred who? Kopietz is not a household name by any stretch of the imagination, even amongst animation historians, but he was a distinguished contributor to the Golden Age of animation who worked on Flip the Frog cartoons with Ub Iwerks, Oswald cartoons with Walter Lantz, and animated for years at Disney. Barrier’s interview with him sheds light on familiar studios, artists, and cartoons from a completely fresh perspective. Kopietz is remarkably modest throughout the interview, so much so that one might not realize how respected he was by his peers. There’s a good reason that Ward Kimball used Kopietz as his right-hand man on the title song animation of The Three Caballeros.
At nearly twenty thousand words, Barrier’s interview contains a veritable treasure trove of stories and insights, such as how Kopietz helped Chuck Jones get his first job in animation, wonderful descriptions of Lantz’s studio operations in the 1930s, Kopietz’s frustrations with how credit was doled out at Disney, why he refused to work with Woolie Reitherman, and his disastrous experience trying to direct Beany and Cecil for Bob Clampett. Amusingly, the interview is also peppered with Kopietz’s recollections about where various artists lived owing to the fact that he had a real estate broker’s license.
(Photo: Fred Kopietz on the right, with Ward Kimball)