Chuck JonesOccupation / Title:
12/09/1921Date of death:
Spokane, WA, USA
Chuck Jones was a 14 time Oscar nominee who created over 300 hundred animated films, including some of Warner Bros. most memorable cartoon characters, as well as producing many television specials, and full-length features.
Family and early life
The third of four children, Jones’ family moved to Hollywood when he was only six months old where as a child he was exposed to the comedic masters of the day such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. During his youth he worked as an extra, and observed seeing Mary Pickford ride down Sunset Boulevard on a horse.
At the age 15, he left high school to study at Chouinard Art Institute, wanting to eventually move to Paris and paint.With the onset of the Great Depression, Jones’ plans were dashed and he was forced to sell pencil portraits on the famed LA Olivera Street in the 30′s.
At the age of 20, he got his first job as a cel washer and inker for Ub Iwerks.It was there as well that Jones met his first wife, with whom he would be married to for 40 years.
After working for various studios and gaining experience, with Walter Lantz as an inbetweener, and Charles Mintz, Jones ended up with an assistant animator job at the Leon Schlesinger Studio, on the lot of Warner Bros.Working in the “Termite Terrace”, Jones rubbed elbows with other legendary directors and animators such as Bob Clampett, Friz Freleng, Frank Tashlin and later Tex Avery.
In 1934, Jones was working as animator on Merrie Melodies, as well as an animator part of Avery’s unit, he worked on many early Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons. By the late 30′s, Jones made his directing debut in The Night Watchman, assuming later on the director seat vacated with the departure of Freleng.Jones directed the Two Curious Dogs cartoons in 1939, and directed the first ever cartoon starring Daffy Duck, Daffy and the Dinosaur (1939). Daffy Duck was inspired by Leon Schlesinger’s speech impediment.
In the 40′s, Jones created a new cast of cartoon characters, all of whom debuted in 1943′s Aristo Cats. He cast these characters into other cartoon shorts as well, including the pairing of Conrad Cat with Daffy Duck in Conrad the Sailor (1942). Another important creation of Jones’ was The Three Bears which first appeared alongside Bugs Bunny in a cartoon in 1944.
In 1942, Jones directed the now cult classic The Dover Boys at Pimento University, the longest cartoon ever produced by Warner Bros., focused on the escapades of three haughty college students whom all attend a prestigious university
With the onset of WWII at the time, Jones directed training films for the United States Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit, beginning in 1943. This included the Private Snafu series, and Jones also worked on the Franklin Roosevelt re-election film campaign, Hell-Bent For Election (1944)
In the mid-40′s, Jones developed the character of Pepe Le Pew for Warner Bros., and the French skunk was introduced in the Looney Tunes cartoon Odor-Able Kitty (1945), earning Jones’ an Oscar win five years later with For Scent-Imental Reasons, also featuring Pepe.
In addition, in 1950 Jones directed So Much For So Little, a short commissioned by the Public Health Service to raise awareness for health services needed by Americans.
Perhaps the most memorable characters to be created by Jones, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, first introduced in the WB 1949 cartoon Fast And Furry-Ous. Jones got the idea for a wild, coyote character from the Mark Twin novel, Roughing It, which describes coyotes as always being hungry.
His now-famous cartoons include Duck or Not to Duck (1943), Rabbit Fire (1951), Duck Amuck (1953), One Froggy Evening (1955), My Favorite Duck (1942), Rocket Squad (1956) and Duck Dodgers in The 24 1/2 Century (1953)
In the 50′s, Jones created many more cartoon characters for WB cartoons, including the bulldog Marc Anthony and his foil Pussyfoot, and the mischievous boy Ralph Philips. In the 60′s, Jones directed High Note (1960), and Nelly’s Folly a year later, also co-directed by Maurice Noble and Abe Levitow, as well as Now Hear This (1963)
In 1962, Jones founded Chuck Jones Enterprises, and worked with his old friend Dr. Seuss on animated specials adapted from Dr. Seuss books, including Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1962), Horton Hears a Who! (1970), and The Cat in the Hat (1971). Other works produced by his company include also fourteen half-hour animated specials, all directed, written and produced by Jones himself. These include: The Pogo Family Birthday Special (1971), Yankee Doodle Cricket (1974), The White Seal (1974), Carnival of the Animals (1976) and other such as Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Great Santa Claus Caper (1978), and Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Pumpkin Who Couldn’t Smile.
In 1963, Jones ended his associations with WB before the studio closed to direct the new series of Tom and Jerry cartoons that were being produced by MGM. While at MGM, he directed The Dot and the Line (1965), which won the Academy Award that year, and The Bear that Wasn’t (1967). In 1969, Jones helped Levitow direct, produce and write his first full-length animated feature, The Phantom Tollbooth.
Jones left MGM at the beginning of the 1970′s on January 1st, and entered into an agreement with Publishers-Hall Syndicate to develop cartoons based on The Wizard of Id and Andy Capp comic strips. Jones was appointed by ABC the head of children’s programming, and during his time there, he produced the acclaimed Curiosity Shop.
In association with WB once more in the 70′s, Jones worked on The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Movie, and oversaw the production of prime-time animated network specials such as Daffy Duck’s Thanks-for-Giving Special (1979), and Bugs Bunny’s Bustin’ Out All Over (1980).
In the 90′s, Jones created the animated titles for Gremlins 2, as well as animated inserts for Mrs. Doubtfire. After the revival of the cartoon department by WB in 1995, Jones directed young animators under his wing for Chariots of Fur (1994) which starred the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner, and Daffy Duck in Superior Duck (1996) and Father of the Bird (1997)
Jones also authored three books, his autobiography Chuck Amuck, William, the Backwards Skunk, a children’s book, and How to draw from he fun side of your brain.
In his lifetime, Jones won many awards, including the Smithsonian 150th Anniversary Medal of Achievement, the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In his last days, Jones was suffering from ailing health and died of congestive heart failure in February, 2002 with his wife at his side. He was 89.
During his time at Warner Bros. Cartoons, Jones was known for his stylized backgrounds, but also his infusions of character, humour and warmth into the characters, revealing more dimensions to them. Jones is considered by many to be a master of characterization and timing, and is reknown for his stylized backgrounds.
Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Mark Twain, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, his cat Johnson.
Honors and awards
Oscar: The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics 1966 Cannes Film Festival: Golden Palm 1966 Oscar for lifetime achievement: 2002 Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1974 Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Award: Golden Award 1984 Chicago International Film Festival: Special Jury Prize: The Magical World of Chuck Jones (1992) Denver International Film Festival: Special Jury Prize: The Magical World of Chuck Jones (1992) Directors Guild of America DGA Honorary Life Member Award 1996 World Fest Houston: Grand Award: Peter and the Wolf (1996) Danta Clarita International Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award 1999 Honorary Doctorates
- Chuck Amuck
- Chuck Reducks