Looney Tunes collaborators Tex Avery and Michael Maltese will be honored in a double centennial tribute by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Linwood Dunn Theater at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood.
“Putting Looney in the Toons” will showcase several short cartoons on which Avery and Maltese worked together as well as samples from their individual careers in animated theatrical films. The screenings will be complemented by audio presentations of rare recorded interviews with both Avery and Maltese discussing their careers with film historian Joe Adamson. And finally, the evening will feature a panel discussion with Brenda Maltese Moulthrop, daughter of Michael Maltese, and several of Avery and Maltese’s collaborators, including Martha Sigall, Jerry Eisenberg, and Don Jurwich.
As per the Academy’s press release, “Avery and Maltese, both born in 1908, crossed professional paths at the Warner Bros. animation studio back when it was Leon Schlesinger Productions. Avery [above, drawing while producer Fred Quimby looks on] began his career at Walter Lantz’s Universal cartoon studio, working on Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. In 1935 he moved to Warner Bros., where he would create Daffy Duck and crystallize the personality of Bugs Bunny. From 1941 to 1954 Avery directed cartoons for MGM, introducing audiences to Screwy Squirrel, Droopy Dog and a whole new style of animated humor. In 1954 he initiated his final theatrical cartoons for Walter Lantz, including several Chilly Willy classics.”
Also at MGM, Avery created George and Junior, reportedly based on characters found in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. His first short at the studio, the Fred Quimby-produced Adolf Hitler parody The Blitz Wolf (1942), was shortlisted for that year’s Academy Award in the Short Subject, Cartoons category.
More from the Academy’s press release: “Maltese [above] began at Warner Bros. in 1937 and actually appeared on camera as a studio guard in You Ought to Be in Pictures, a 1940 Porky Pig short. After working with Avery and many other Warner Bros. directors, Maltese would go on to collaborate primarily with Chuck Jones, writing and storyboarding some of the most memorable Warner Bros. cartoons ever made, including What’s Opera Doc?, Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century and One Froggy Evening.”
Tickets to “Putting Looney in the Toons: A Double Centennial Tribute to Tex Avery and Michael Maltese” are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID. They may be purchased by mail or at the Academy box office during regular business hours. Tickets also may be purchased online at www.oscars.org/events until noon PDT on the day of the event. There are no minimum order requirements and no transaction or processing fees.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved. The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood. Free parking is available through the entrance on Homewood Avenue. For more information, call (310) 247-3600.
Photos: Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library.