The artist responsible for this background painting had an indirect connection to Bill Hanna from before she was born.
This is from the Snagglepuss cartoon “Be My Ghost,” and the background artist is Neenah Maxwell. Here are some of the other backgrounds.
Here’s what the above drawing looks like without the entrance on an overlay.
The door on the background below is on a cel.
Maxwell arrived at Hanna-Barbera around 1960 and was gone by 1963. Where she came from and where she went in a complete mystery. If I had to speculate, I imagine she might have worked at one time in the ink and paint department at MGM.
On-line death records show that Maxwell was born in California on May 22, 1934 and died on January 21, 1997 in Ventura, California. Her mother’s maiden name was Hanson. But it was her father who Bill Hanna knew and worked with for over two decades.
You won’t find a Neenah Maxwell in the 1940 census. But you will find a Virginia Lee Maxwell living at the Los Angeles home of Carman G. Maxwell and his wife Dorothy, whose maiden name was Hanson. C.G. Maxwell is none other than Max Maxwell, who was production manager for the Harman-Ising studio when Hanna was hired there in the early ‘30s to work as a janitor. Both Maxwell and Hanna were enticed to leave Harman-Ising for MGM in 1937, and Maxwell managed the production end of the cartoon studio for the 20 years it was in existence. California birth records state Virginia Lee Maxwell was born on May 22, 1934, so there’s no doubt she’s Neenah Maxwell. If I had to guess, Neenah was a pet name. And if I had to guess some more, if she had an interest in art, her dad would have found a way to get her a job in the studio (both Hanna and Barbera found work for their children when they opened their own studio). Incidentally, her uncle was Howard Hanson, an ex-Harman-Ising and MGM cartoonist who was the production manager at Hanna-Barbera from the start in 1957 and for almost the next decade. Hanson’s second wife was Vera Ohman, also a background artist at MGM and H-B.
Snagglepuss cartoons generally have a lot of fun dialogue—in this cartoon, Mike Maltese borrows his own “Odds, fish!” line from his great Bugs Bunny short “Rabbit Hood”—but the thing I remember about this from my childhood is the ghosts that roll up like old window shades and then disappear. Harum and Scarum did the same thing in the Snooper and Blabber cartoon “Real Gone Ghosts” a couple of years earlier (Maltese wrote that one, too). Snagglepuss tries it in this cartoon but fails miserably. He’s not a ghost, after all. C.L. Hartman is the animator.
I’m a big fan of the orange version of Snagglepuss, the one before he got his own series, the one where he’s a snooty villain who’s in control and knows he’s superior to Quick Draw McGraw or Super Snooper. But the pink one is funny, too, thanks to strong dialogue from Mike Maltese, the usual clever voice work of Daws Butler, and (at least in this cartoon) some attractive background work by Max Maxwell’s daughter.