Frank Tashlin

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Frank Tashlin

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Weehawken, New Jersey


Frank Tashlin was a legendary Oscar nominated director, writer, producer who was among the first to transition from directing animated cartoons at Warner Bros. into live-action comedic features.

Career outline

Tashlin dropped out of school at 13 to work odd jobs, eventually landing a cel washer job at the Fleischer Studios. After staying at Fleischer Studios for over five years, at the age 17, Tashlin was hired to work as an animator by Paul Terry, inking the Aesop’s Film Fables series.

In 1932, Tashlin had enough experience to become an animator, and story-man at Van Beurren Studios where he was credited under the name of “Tish Tash”.  The only cartoon Tashlin directed for the studio was Hook and Ladder Hokum (1933), along with George Stallings who helped animate it.

A year later, after meeting Leon Schlesinger who was running the Warner Bros. Cartoon house, Tashlin was hired alongside Bob Clampett, and Chuck Jones. Tex Avery, who would later arrive at the WB studios, became a huge influence on Tashlin. 

Meanwhile, Tashlin worked on his own comic strip which was published daily in the Los Angeles Times, from 1934 to 1936 called Van Boring. Schlesinger ultimately fired Tashlin after Tashlin told his boss to “Go to hell” as Schlesinger had the audacity to ask Tashlin for a share of profits from his own comic strip publications.

After this he worked as a gag man at MGM studios, where he contributed to shows like Laurel and Hardy, and The Little Rascal, both live-action comedic shorts.

Schlesinger rehired Tashlin back soon after to WB, and there he helped create the first big star, Porky Pig. From 1936, Tashlin directed a series of WB cartoons, including 13 with the Porky Pig character. Along with Tex Avery‘s influence, the two animators pioneered fast cuts, and rapid editing, wild gags and extremely outrageous scenarios that would come to characterize WB’s golden age animation style.

In January 1939, Tashlin left WB to join Walt Disney Studios, working as an animator, director and storyman on the Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoon short series. He worked on shorts such as Donald’s Vacation (1940), and Mr Mouse Takes a Trip (1940). 

By 1941, Tashlin departed again to head the new animation department at Columbia Pictures. Tashlin’s most ground breaking work there was the updated Aesop’s fable The Fox and the Grapes (1941), as a part of the Fox and the Crow series.

By June 1942, Tashlin had returned to Warner Bros. and during his last stint at the studio he directed fourteen cartoons starring the classic WB characters: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Porky Pig. One of these shorts was nominated for an Academy Award The Swooner Crooner (1944), featuring Porky Pig auditioning celebrity impersonating roosters.

As a part of the war effort, in 1942, Tashlin directed four Private Snafu cartoons for the United States Army Air Force Signal Corps. Unit.

In 1944, Tashlin left to work for John Sutherland, directing and writing a series of stop-motion animated shorts. Wanting to work in features, Tashlin eventually moved on to writing scripts and gags for live-action feature films, using much of his experience derived from comedic animations to create humour in live-action films.

Tashlin worked writing for Eddie Bracken’s CBS radio show, Bob Hope’s The Paleface (1948) as well as The Marx Brothers’ Love Happy (1949). In 1951, Tashlin had the opportunity from Bob Hope to direct some scenes of his picture, The Lemon Drop Kid, and in the following year, Tashlin would begin writing and directing a series of comedic features. These included The First Time (1952), Son of Paleface (1952) and the Jayne Mansfield comedy The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), Artists and Models (1955). Tashlin would work on six other Jerry Lewis comedies, including The Geisha Boy (1958), The Disorderly Orderly (1964), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) and The Private Navy of Sgt. O’Farrell (1968). 

In addition, during the mid 40’s, Tashlin became a children’s book author, releasing titles The Bear That Wasn’t, The Possum That Didn’t, The World That Isn’t, and The Turtle That Couldn’t. These four books were adapted by Chuck Jones in 1967 into a single full-colour cartoon short animation for MGM.

In 1972, Tashlin passed away at the age of 59 in Hollywood, California. 



  • Lenburg, Jeff. Who’s Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film & Television’s Award-Winning and Legendary Animators. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2006. Print.

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