Font Size

Living proof it is a wonderful life, the Bob Clampett family.

I first met Bob Clampett, Key Warner Brothers animation director, creator of TIME FOR BEANY and THE BEANY AND CECIL SHOW, when he and his wife Sody came to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.

I was impressed by his friendliness.

I, 1978 I invited Bob to come to Toronto for three days in August 1979. Bob came. With him came Sody.

I spurn government funding. I have never had money. My work funds itself. This means I have to promote. I have to blow the horn LOUD and LONG.

This, of course, is distasteful to the tasteful. Many have called me a shameless self promoter. Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso said, “It is good taste not bad taste which is the enemy.” I am with them.

Toronto is a city which culturally has always had its head up its ass.

The official spirit of Toronto has always been and is now: STAMP OUT FUN (  ).

I invited the then Mayor of Toronto to welcome Bob to Toronto. His office said he was spending the weekend with his kids. I wondered what kid would not want to watch great cartoons and meet one of the acknowledged masters behind their creation.

Failing to get the Mayor I knew I had to get someone BETTER than the mayor.

I asked my friend Jane Jacobs (author of two of the most important books we can read, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES and DARK AGE AHEAD, her last, which, like the first infuriated many who said she was wrong. She was not. She is not. The dark age is now. The light has gone out).

Mrs. Jacobs said, “I know nothing about cartoons. I do know about and value you. I will do it if I can speak about your value to Toronto.”

She did (to the consternation of more than a few who had no idea who she was).

She brought a wonderful gravitas to the event.

Her presence gave the event a credibility it would not otherwise have had to those who knew and valued her ideas.

Lotta Dempsey was a wonderful writer for THE TORONTO STAR ( ), then a senior, who had a television show aimed at seniors. Bob Clampett guested on it.

When it was being filmed one young man read out to her the questions she was to ask in a voice so low I could not hear it myself. When Lotta Dempsey said, “I did not hear the question he then shouted it at her.”

The energy in the room was like a storm at sea. She was visibly drowning.

The crew seemed to view her as senile.

Suddenly Lotta Dempsey said to Bob, “You are helping me.”

Bob had quietly taken over direction of the show.

With his direction calm settled on the set. The interview was filmed.

I was actually able to witness Bob directing.

One of the young teenagers who came out to the event was a mildly autistic man with a speech impediment who always asked wonderful questions with a great deal of difficulty as a result of which he was always laughed at.

When he spoke with Bob the mockers mocked as they always did.

What Bob did was extraordinary. He quietly silenced the mockers, gave the young man his complete attention, listened to his questions (which were first rate) and answered them. They engaged in a wonderful conversation that became so relaxed that the young man’s stutter almost vanished. It was a wonderful lesson in the power of love to heal.

As someone who had witnessed first hand the sterility of events where creators meet the public only to have the host, some academic or television personality, ask the questions which had been asked in every published interview I wanted something more, something new.

Think of all the times for example you have gone to hear someone whose work you admire only to have the questions you wanted answers to unasked while the ones you have seen and read in countless interviews asked yet again.

Now imagine that when you arrived the host of that event (for animation fans think Jerry Beck, Charles Solomon–both of whom are wonderful people) said, “Hello, I’m Jerry Beck. Here’s Bob Clampett. Now I’m moving to the back of the room so that you feel free to ask the questions YOU want.”

That is what I did. I did it for three wonderful days.

Luckily a young Canadian film maker and writer, Jaan Pill, asked if he could have exclusive journalistic rights. I gave them to him. Jaan recorded on audio tape nearly every moment of those three days.

First there was an animation workshop at Toronto’s John Leech Animation studio. While I had contacted most animation studios in Toronto as well as Sheridan College I found zero interest. It was the studio I had not contacted (did not know they existed) that contacted me. When I welcomed them on board and suggested a wor5kshop they jumped at the opportunity. Jaan Pill  (  ), of course, was there as was I.

Jaan discovered that no Canadian film publications were interested in Bob. He gave me the tapes. Here is the workshop Bob gave at the John Leach Studio: .

Bob’s enthusiasm was/is infectious.

One of the key moments of those three days was when young animation students were given privately complete access to Bob for two hours. Imagine Charles Solomon doing that. Imagine your teachers at whatever animation school you are going to doing that. I was not there. For that two hours I showed cartoons to the rest of the audience. Thanks to Jaan Pill here is that moment:   . Thanks to Jaan I, you, we are there.

I spent several years transcribing those talks. I have found no publisher for them in Canada nor in The United States. I have self published them.

Admission to my events has always been by donation. The curious thing about that is that while we can charge a fortune for something and people will gladly pay it the minute we say, “By donation” many automatically give as little as they can give and that with the attitude that in the giving they re doing a favour. In fact, the rule is the more they possess the less will they give while those who have little often give more than they can afford to and with that gift they add their love (which, of course, can not be bought).

The reason my programs are by donation is so that EVERYONE can come.

By everyone I mean those least able to pay. While some insist that by donation means they have the right to give as little as they please the ones I am interested in come to me and say, “I can’t pay you money. Can I help?”

I say, “Of course you can.”

Why? Because I grew up dirt poor.

One fellow wrote me that seeing one of my shows and hearing me speak at twelve inspired him to enter animation as a career only to find that after all these years he has worked on nothing anywhere near as exciting or interesting as the films he saw then.

Chuck Jones often said that the most common thing he heard from peo0-ple in charge throughout his career was “THATSNEWTAKEITOUT” expressed as one word.

When I first spoke with Tex Avery on the phone he said, “Son, I don’t want to talk about those old films.”

I said, “Neither do I. Here’s what I want to do.”

Tex said, “That is new. I will talk with you.”

Here is Jane Jacobs welcoming Bob Clampett to Toronto:  .

Some in that audience tried to silence her.

No one could silence Jane Jacobs.

As for the City of Toronto, well, it still sees no value in my work. Not only that for decades the City Of Toronto has done its best to silence myself and many (far too many) others.

This is not a battle to be run from. It must be engaged. The real life of this city (which is not the government approved life) must be saved.

I asked Bob Clampett what he most wanted. He said, “To be remembered.”

Michael Barrier fueled my interest in Bob Clampett with the interview he self published in FUNNYWORLD: .

Bob Clampett is remembered by Reg Hartt with with great love. He more than deserves every ounce of it. As does his family.

When Bob passed in 1984 that autistic kid called. His voice was wet with tears. Was Bob Clampett loved?

Yes, indeed he was. True creators are always more interesting than their work. They have to be to create interesting work. How do we lead an interesting life? We do what interests us. In his teens Bob turned down a high payi9ng job as a newspaper cartoonist to work for far less less at Leon Schlesinger’s animation studio.


Because he loved the potential of animated cartoons. I share that love.

Two of Bob’s best films are banned. They are recognized as along the greatest animated cartoons ever made. One is listed high on the list of the all time top fifty best.

As it is far too many  Covid threatens the life of The CineForum

You can help if you wish. In return I will send you a gift. Send what you can to:

In return I will send you a something special.

Thank you.

-Reg Hartt, Toronto, 2021.

As Jane Jacobs noted not only Toronto but all cities, all governments, are destroying the real order of life with their pretended order. Especially now. Read her last book, DARK AGE AHEAD. It was published in 2004. Critics said, She’s wrong.” Many educated folk say they have a hard time understanding her ideas. I said to her son, Jim, “The reason the educated have a problem with your mother’s ideas is because she wrote from the perspective of the dirt poor. The educated are incompetent by the time they are finished.” Said Jim, “You’re right.” , .

Laura Lind wrote in 1992, “Reg Hartt’s CineForum is everything Jane Jacobs wrote about in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.” What makes that statement particularly true is that my work in this city has never been valued by the people who run this city. I have been under attack from the moment I started in 1968. Said David Beard in a Toronto Star piece from 1980, “Reg Hartt is overworked, under-financed and snubbed. We should be paying tribute to him”




« »