Norman McCabeOccupation / Title:
10/02/1911Date of death:
Norman McCabe was a British born Warner Bros. animator and director, with a long spanning career lasting well into the 90′s. He helped bring to life many cartoon series, as well as feature length animations, including work on the Oscar-winning Pink Panther feature film.
Family and early life
McCabe was born in England, but was raised in the United States.
In 1932, he became an in-betweener as well as an assistant animator at Harman-Ising Productions when the company was first producing cartoons for Warner Bros., through Leon Schlesinger productions. He worked in the Frank Tashlin animation unit, and helped launch the first Bosko cartoons which started the Looney Tunes series. That year, he was promoted to full animator, and soon became one of the top animators working at the Leon Schlesinger studios
Directed by Tashlin and later on Bob Clampett, McCabe drew the Porky Pig character in many cartoon shorts, including Porky In North Woods (1936), Scalp Trouble (1940), Coy Decoy (1941) and Dough for the Do-Do (1949). In 1940, McCabe was promoted to director, making black-and-white cartoons such as The Timid Toreador (1940), and Poky’s Snooze Reel (1941).
Through 1942-43, just before the States entered into the WWII, McCabe produced several now considered politically-incorrect cartoons that feature heavy racial stereotyping for the Looney Tunes series, and these wartime shorts include The Ducktators (1942) with dictator ducks that parody Hitler and Japanese Emperor Hirohito, as well as a goose Mussolini. This cartoon along with Confusions of a Nutzy Spy (1943) have been since banned from television.
In October 1943, with all of Hollywood contributing to the war effort, producing propaganda films for the United States government, McCabe decided to enlist in the Army Air Force First Motion Picture Unit. As corporal, he produced a couple more racist Army training films, such as Tokio Jokio (1943), also since banned for its unflattering portrayal of Japanese people.
After discharging from the army three years later, McCabe spent his career freelancing for commercial houses, producing animated commercials during the flourishing of the television age.
In the early 60′s, he returned to animation, creating the main titles for the 1963 feature The Pink Panther. A year later, he was working for DePatie-Freleng’s production house, and spent the next three years producing more Looney Tunes cartoons that were contracted to the company via WB. At DePatie-Freleng, McCabe also worked on cartoons series such as The Pink Panther, which lasted until 1967, as well as the other popular show at the time The Inspector. In 1966, McCabe directed The Super Six series, which was a regular CBC Saturday morning cartoon show.
Through the late 60′s and 70′s, McCabe worked briefly on The Batman/Superman Hour series, as well as Sky Hawks, later returning toDePatie-Freleng to work on many more Saturday morning cartoon shows made for television syndication. These shows included favourites such as What’s New Mr. Magoo?, and the All-New Pink Panther Show, lasting well into the late 70′s.
In the mid 80′s, McCabe oversaw the animation department in the new Transformers: The Movie, and animated a trilogy of new Daffy Duck cartoons that were sold to theatres. These were The Duxorcist (1987), Night of the Living Duck (1988), both horror-genre parodies, and Daffy’s Duck’s Quackbuster’s (1988).
When the animation department of Warner Bros. reopened up again in the early 80′s, McCabe worked there again, drawing feature length cartoons such as Bugs Bunny’s Third Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales (1982), Daffy Duck’s Movie: Fantastic Island, as well as a slew of cartoon television specials including That’s Warner Bros.! (1995). There, he oversaw the new animation department and trained new animators to work with Warner Bros. characters from the bygone “golden age”.
At the turn of the millennium, in 2000, McCabe was honored with the highest Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award from ASIFA, and that same year, he was again honored by the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Union with the Golden Award for 50 years of service within the animation industry.
In 2006, as the last surviving WB director from the 40′s “golden age”, McCabe passed away at the age of 94.
- Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons . New York : Applause Theatre & Cinema Books , 2006 . Print.