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Recently I wrote a piece in on the history of animation training. I mentioned the wonderful animation school in Paris called the Gobelins School and their relationship to the Euro group CARTOON. Ed Jones of ILM, Jacques Muller and I were guests of the Gobelins and Cartoon in 1988. I got a nice note from the schools director Eric Riewer.
typical French animation studio

just to set the record straight, I would like to rectify some facts about Gobelins, l’école de l’image. The animation department was indeed founded by Pierre Ayma, a Frenchman and not a Belgian, back in 1974, and soon became the leading animation teaching institution in France and even in Western Europe. When Cartoon, based in Belgium, was created by the European commission’s Media organisation as its animation branch to help develop the animation industry in Europe and encourage animation projects, particularly TV series, Pierre Ayma was brought on board as a consultant because of his long experience in animation training.

Cartoon however, be it in 1998 or even before and for a few years after, helped finance adult training courses in some aspects of animation production (storyboard, backgrounds, scenario but not character animation) that was quite separate from the character animation two year course founded in 1974 – since 2005 it is a three year course - that was and still is based on strong drawing skills. So it was not exactly the Euro boost from Cartoon that made the Gobelins character animation department a leader in animation training, but Pierre himself and the strong support from the French studios who supplied many teachers, and its track record of training fine animators for studios around the world.

I myself took over the animation department in 1998, after Pierre Ayma had left the previous year because of poor health. ( Pierre Ayma died in 2004). I urge you to look at our website to see our latest student films. –Eric Riewer

Merci Eric, I shall check it out!

Birthdays: Gore Vidal, Mikail Lermontov, Harvey Kurtzman the creator of Mad Magazine, Chubby Checker, James Herriot, Eleanor Duse, Emily Post, Leo McCarey the director of the Marx Brothers Duck Soup and many Laurel & Hardy shorts, Steven Reich, Dave Winfield, Tommy Lee, Neve Cambell

1226- Saint Francis of Asissi died at 44. He seldom bathed and he asked his followers to strip him naked so he could leave the world as he came in. Whew, open the window! They all sang his Canticle of the Animals, then he exclaimed 'Welcome, Sister Death." His gravesite was kept secret until 1818.

1855- American James McNeill Whistler arrived in Paris to study painting. He had tried to apply to West Point for a military career but failed the entrance exam. Years later he joking told friends "If I hadn't identified phosphorous as a gas I'd be a major general by now!'

1895-The Red Badge of Courage first published. Despite being one of the best books on the average soldiers experience author Stephen Crane was never in the Civil War or any army. He died of tuberculosis at age 26.

1910- English comedians Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel first arrive in the U.S. with a touring British vaudeville company.

1941- Warner Bros. THE MALTESE FALCON premiered. Screenwriter John Huston asked if he could direct an adaptation of this old Dashell Hammett hard boiled mystery, which had been already made into movies twice. This version became the most famous. The name was kept despite producer Hal Wallis wanting to change it to THE GENT FROM FRISCO. The starring role of Sam Spade was originally offered to George Raft, who turned it down. Jack Warner was amazed that homely looking little contract actor Humphrey Bogart had shown the potential to be a romantic leading man in 'High Sierra', now the Maltese Falcon established him as a major draw. Warner joked to Bogie about his looks in referring to his contentious arguments with his wife Mayo-"I don't know what women see in you, but the more pots and pans she hits you in the kisser with, the more the dames love you!" Peter Lorre who played Joe Cairo in the film, provided the inspiration of the future cartoon character Ren from Ren & Stimpy. "You fat, bloated idiot! I'll kill you!"

1955- Good Morning, Captain. The Captain Kangaroo kiddy Show debuted on television. Where's Mister Greenjeans?

1955- The Mickey Mouse Club TV show premiered. Remember Spin & Marty and Adventures in Dairyland? The young mouseketeers were chaperoned by Disney story artist Roy Williams. Williams was a strikebreaker in 1941 and reportedly was so pro-company that there is a legend that he is buried in Forrest Lawn in his Mickey Mouse Club sweat shirt and ears. The series was revived in the 1977 and 1990s. Notable mouseketeers include Annette Funicello, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. Jessica Simpson was a finalist but didn't make the cut. “Who’s the leader of the Band that’s Made for you and me…?
Roy Williams, courtesy of

1957-Walter Lantz's The Woody Woodpecker T.V. show debuts. Woody was a star of shorts since 1941.

1957- Jayne Mansfield met Greta Garbo and asked for her autograph.

1961- The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered. It made stars of Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and was written by ex-Sid Caesar writer Carl Reiner and Rocky & Bullwinkle writer Alan Burns.

1967- Folksinger and union activist Woodie Guthrie died of Huntington’s Chorea at age 55. His family dumped his ashes in New York Harbor then went to Nathans on the Coney Island Boardwalk for hot dogs, Woody’s favorite.

1992-Controversial and bald Irish pop star Sinead O’Connor caused a fuss by tearing up a picture of the Pope on the show Saturday Night Live. She was later booed off stage during a concert at Madison Square Garden.

1995- After a long sensationalist trial turned into a media spectacle, celebrity O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the double murder of his second wife Nicole and pizza delivery man Ron Goldman. He was later convicted in a wrongful death suit brought in Civil Court by Nicole’s family.

2003- The Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas comes to an end after a large Bengal Tiger attacks Roy Horn and tears his throat open in front of an audience. Most thought it was part of the act. This tragedy had an impact upon the Dreamworks animated show Father of the Pride, which featured the ambiguously gay lion tamers as stars.