Friday, September 26, 2008


I think that Jimmy Durante, W.C. Fields, and Laurel & Hardy are probably a few of the movie star personalities that are caricatured the most frequently in classic cartoons. That's just what I've observed, anyway, and I think that's who most audiences are used to seeing parodied the most.

BUT, there are so many classic cartoons from each studio that parodied so many other famous faces as well. And that's what today's post at my online land of wonderful cartoons is all about!

See how many movie stars YOU can name!

"Hollywood Steps Out", directed by Tex Avery, and Disney's "Mother Goose Goes Hollywood" are my two favorite cartoons about Hollywood caricatures. Just look at these for a second and take note as to how incredibly bold and solid these drawings are (especially "Steps Out")! If you ask me, these two cartoons are the ULTIMATE animated films about caricatures!!

Anyway this all got me thinking....... How come Hollywood celebrities of primarily the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and 50s were so easy and fun to caricature? I mean sure, some of the most famous faces alive today are caricature-able as well; Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams and the like. But those folks have been around for a good few movie-watching generations now. What about the celebrities of TODAY? Of course, we all get our share of Paris Hilton and Britney jabs every week online and in the magazines. But there isn't much caricaturing for fun's sake.

What if a cartoon were made today in Clampett's "Book Revue" style, with caricatures of today's big comedians? Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Sarah Silverman, etc. I dunno, the Napoleon Dynamite guy??

Why doesn't anyone do this anymore? Is the world a more sensitive place? Or would something like this not even work with today's celebs? Are today's stars simply not as interesting, entertaining, or defined as those of 1930s and 1940s Hollywood? Did the stars of yesteryear simply have more of a core to them, every star having something unique about them that separated them from every other star?

Hmm, I'm willing to bet that's it, but I still wonder. I'm not sure a cartoon featuring a Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston or Gwyneth Paltrow caricature could be as funny (compared to one with Bacall or Hepburn). All three of those women are the same person.

This is definitely something to think about! What do you guys think? Any theories, Eddie??

Well. G'night, everybody!


eyeslikesugar said...

I stumbled across this while looking up some more reference images for Durante. (Love his nose)

Nico said...

Whoa!! i've never seen that cartoon before, what is it?

Poor Buster. it's sad that his period of doing pictures with Durante was complete hell on earth for him

Monique Lopez said...

Wow what a wonderful little post! All the memories of watching those cartoons when I was little came flooding back. I loved them, even if at the time I only knew about half of them (which could still be considered impressive, leading to my dicovery and love of classic movies) ANYWAY. I think you hit a lot of points, Most major celebrities are all too pretty and lack the character that starts of the past possess, also cartoons like these arent really being made for fear of a lack of draw I guess.

You should check out for caricatures and cometary on today's "celebrities"

Also I hate Durante with a passion for killing Busters career, but you probably already knew that.

David said...

I don't think things have changed too much. Maybe there aren't as many cartoons are doing it, but there are also way, way more cartoons on now than there were back then. I may even argue that it happens even more now, as it seems like our culture has put more and more focus on the importance on celebrities.. I dunno, I didn't live back then. But The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park all regularly charicaturize (is that even a word?) celebrities. The drawings just aren't as sweet.

Just for kicks:

I think I had nightmares over their drawing of Michael Jackson for a few weeks...

Deniseletter said...

Hello Nico,nice to meet you.What an Excellent post!
Pertaining your question,maybe more celebrities are almost the same face avoiding oustanding traits that you can't remember,they're common faces acting the same parts and the same movies,because all is overshadowed by special effects,they are more important value than a certain actor or actress and the story included.
(excuse me for my english)

Caleb said...

Hi, Nico
This is a really great post. There were a few of these I never would have known. Don't forget Mae "Come up and see me some time" West.

As for today's celebrities, one problem would be plastic surgery. Everyone is sculpted down to have the most uninteresting features possible. It's more than just that tho, the old Hollywood photos show how much more fun these people were. It wasn't cool to take yourself seriously.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

This is a terrific post! It's really fun to compare the real pictures with the caricatures. Why not let Cartoon Brew know about it?

Kali Fontecchio said...

That was well-composedNico! Eddie was right!

trevor said...

Yeah, you're probably right there, Nico. Today's celebs are all alike, hence there's nothing very unique to caricature.

This was a fun post!

- trevor.

Molly said...

Is that Joan Crawford with Jimmy Stewart? I think so...

This was a lot of fun to look through! It makes me super happy to know that other people (who aren't grandpas) know who these celebs are!


It can't be said enough, Nico, great post!

Dominic Philibert said...

There all there !
All the greatest comedian actors!!!!!!!!


I talked about this some elsewhere, Nico, but I just thought of another point addressing your questions of why one doesn't see caricatures of Hollywood very often (if at all) anymore. All of the carcs you posted are from cartoons that were aimed primarily at children. Yes, of course, there are adult-oriented jokes sprinkled throughout (bubble dance?), but as it is today with animated shows and features, those are there to keep the animators/producers and the audience's ever-present parents from going insane. Pixar does this sort of pandering (for lack of a more positive term from my brain right now) rather well, as did shows like Animaniacs and Tiny Toons. I was just watching Wakko's New Gookie—am obsessed with Harpo Marx currently—and realized that a good half of the 4-minute sketch was dedicated to caricatured television personalities. (Not strictly Hollywood, since, again, screen exposure is much expanded in our day and age.) I think that if you look in the right spot you'll find plenty of modern caricature that's not bland, featureless, nor unfunny. And that 'right spot' is where it's always been—kid stuff.

I think there's definitely a furthermore to this train of thought (Pancake Mountain, YO GABBA GABBA, self-parody...) but let's just not go there.


Oh, and yes! Totally! Welcome to LA! You're in Glendale or thereabouts? We should do breakfast at EAT some Sunday. Social network personal message me or something, and my people will talk to your people, and we'll get together after that.

Pat McMicheal said...

Wow Nico, This is an excellent collection and I can tell you did a lot of research! Great job.
I noticed the Charlie Chaplin photo with the little boy on the stoop! That boy was Jackie Coogan ( who later played Uncle Fester on the Addams Family).

HenriekeG said...

Hooray, I found a new favorite blog! Thanks for posting :)

TimGal said...

I can answer your question about why we don't do caricatures of today's celebrities. Because today's celebrities have no character. Back in the early days, most of the movie stars were jewish, and nobody has more facial character than jewish people do! Most of them have funny eyes, big noses, big lips, etc. Or they used to. Not so much now. Today's celebs, well pretty much if you've seen one, you've seen them all. Nothing to really caricaturize. Just thought I would fill you in.