Robert “Bob” McKimson
Robert (Bob) McKimsonOccupation / Title:
13/10/1910Date of death:
Bob McKimson was one of the most-underrated and overlooked animators who worked at Warner Bros. during the golden age of animation. He directed many Academy Award-nominated shorts as a part of Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies series, creating characters such as Foghorn Leghorn, Hippety Hopper, Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester Jr., and the Tasmanian Devil along with many more.
At Disney, McKimson worked on animating Mickey Mouse as well as Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons, before leaving to work a new cartoon studio, the Romer Grey Studio, which was short-lived, and folded a year later in 1931.
After Harman and Ising formed their new studio to release cartoons through Warner Bros. with Leon Schlesinger co-producing, McKimson was hired on as an animator, and remained after the dispute resulting in the departure of Harman and Ising.
McKimson was known for his quick abilities to draw cleanly, and accurately, and became one of the most talented studios working for Warner Bros. Cartoons. He worked under many directors that passed through Warner Bros., including Friz Freleng, Frank Tashlin, Tex Avery, Chuck Jones and Bob Clampett. Through the 40′s, he animated many of the studio’s Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons, drawing Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Buddy and many other characters in between.
In the 40′s, under the direction of Bob Clampett, McKimson developed Bugs Bunny’s signature pose of leaning against a tree while eating a carrot, an iconic image still in circulation today.
In 1944, McKimson had the chance to direct The Return of Mr. Hook, a WWII cartoon short. In 1946, he was officially promoted to director status, after Bob Clampett left the studio, and his work was heavily influenced by past directors at WB. His first full-colour Daffy Duck cartoon was Daffy Doodles (1946), and in the next seventeen years, McKimson became Warner Brother’s longest continual employee, directing 175 cartoon shorts within his time there. Cartoons produced from this period include Acrobatty Bunny (1946), Gorilla My Dreams (1948), Rebel Rabbit (1949), Hare We Go (1951) and Rabbit’s Kin ((1952).
At Warner Bros., McKimson created many minor as well as major cartoon characters, and contributed to the development of character personas onscreen in later cartoons. In addition, McKimson directed every Foghorn Leghorn cartoon, featuring the Southern rooster, joined by a cast including Br’er Dog, Miss Prissy, for sixteen years.
In 1948, introduced another character to the Looney Tunes roster, the kangaroo Hippety Hopper, first featured as a running gag alongside Sylvester the cat in a series of twelve cartoons, one of which was Hop Look and Listen in 1948. In 1954, McKimson unveiled the creation of the Tasmanian Devil in the uproarious cartoon Devil May Hare (1954), alongside Bugs Bunny, and remains to this day, one of the studio’s most popular characters. In 1957, McKimson directed Speedy Gonzales in Tabasco Road, an Oscar-nominated short.
In the early 60′s, Warner Bros. decided to shut down its cartoon department, finding it to be no longer as profitable as it used to be, and McKimson was one of the last original directors to remain, alongside Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones.
After the launch of Freleng and DePatie’s production company, McKimson joined the team as a director and continued working on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons that were sold to Warner Bros. At this production house, McKimson directed the very popular Inspector, helming five cartoons for the series including Cock-ADoodle Deux Deux (1966), as well as Toulouse La Trick (1966).
McKimson went back to Warner Bros. when they opened up the animation studio briefly again in the 50′s, and directed some of the studio’s last Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons before the studio closed completely. These cartoons introduced new characters such as Cool Cat, Merlin the Magic Mouse, and Bunny and Claude.
In the 70′s, McKimson went back to collaborate with DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, working on Pink Panther shorts, as well as Saturday morning cartoon shows for television syndication, such as The Houndcats, and What’s New, Mr. Magoo?
In 1977, on his 66th birthday, McKimson died suddenly of a heart attack right after receiving a clean bill of health from his physician. He was having lunch with Friz Freleng and animator Gerry Chiniquy at a Burbank restaurant.
In 1984, ASIFA honoured McKimson posthumously with the Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons . New York : Applause Theatre & Cinema Books , 2006 . Print.