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November 12, 2006
November 12th, 2006

Today is the 98th anniversary of the birth of my old mentor and friend Shamus Culhane. Have you ever heard of him?

Shamus (1908-1996)began as a errand boy at the Bray Studio in 1924, became an animator when sound came in, was a mainstay at Max Fleischers, went to Disney and animated Pluto, then did the Hi-Ho March of the Dwarves in Snow White, and some Honest John in Pinnochio. He also worked at Lantz, Schlesingers, Al Seeger. He had his own studio Shamus Culhane Productions, where he hired artists hiding from the Hollywood Blacklist. He did some of the earliest animated TV commercials. He was married several times, including the daughter of Chico of the Marx Brothers. He had a full life and loved sharing his experiences with others. He died in 1996.

Shamus took me under his wing and trained me not only in animation but in enjoying life. He liked mentoring young people and his life lessons are with me still.

Even with all the wonderful schools teaching animation, and I have taught in a lot of them, you should try at one time or another to apprentice under a master animator. Its a great way to learn not only the finar points of technique, but the oral traditions of our business and lessons in professional ettiquette and career discipline. And if you are an older artist, consider taking a young newcomer under your wing and pass on what you have learned. Someone took the time to show you, it feels great when you can pay it forward.

Otto Englander, young Shamus and Al Eugster, courtesy of Mark Mayerson and the Al Eugster collection.

Birthdays: Auguste Rodin, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Bahi-ullah 1817 founder of the Bahii faith, Elizabeth Cadie -Stanton, Cecil B. DeMille, Edward G. Robinson-real name Emanuel Goldenberg, Jack Oakie, Kim Hunter, Shamus Culhane, Charles Manson, Neil Young, Edvard Munch, Nadia Comenici, Tanya Harding, Dave Brain

1859- The first trapeze act was demonstrated at the Cirque Napoleon in Paris. The show caused such a sensation that the daredevil was immortalized by his tights becoming a fashion named in his honor- Jules Leotard.

1927- The Holland Tunnel completed. It runs under the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey. It’s not named for the Netherlands, but for the engineer Clifford Holland, who died shortly before it’s completion.

1933- Hugh Gray of the British Aluminum Company takes the first photographs of what he claimed was a monster in Loch Ness. He would be the first of many in modern times to have claimed to have seen Nessie.

1946- Disney's "Song of the South" with William Baskett as Uncle Remus. Despite hiring Jewish-Socialist screenwriter Maurice Rapf as PC protection, the film was still declared racist by the NAACP. Shame, because the character animation in it are still quite good.

1955- This is the date Marty McFly returns to in the film Back to the Future and Back to the Future II.

1975- Portland Oregon had a large dead gray whale on it’s beach. It decided it would be easier to dispose if they blew it up. As an audience watched they stuffed it with half a ton of dynamite. The explosion drew cheers from the audience, then everyone ran for cover as they were showered by chunks of smelly blubber and guts.