Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Alex, Art and Aliens

Alex Lovy was the first person to be given credit as ‘Story Director’ on Hanna-Barbera cartoons and it’s a little confusing for some of us not in the animation business to figure out what Lovy did. The cartoons also boasted a ‘Director’ credit (to Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera) and in the 1960s, they also listed an ‘Animation Director’ (Nick Nichols, ex Disney) and a ‘Story Supervision’ credit (to Art Pierson, a former actor and writer and director of Broadway musicals).

To try to clear things up a bit, I asked Tony Benedict about it. Tony was the studio’s third writer and was hired in 1961. He explains:

Story Directors would time out the action and voice over recordings on to exposures sheets for animators.

Mark Evanier, probably known to TV watchers for his work on Garfield, wrote for Hanna-Barbera after Bill and Joe sold the company. He elaborates:

Alex did storyboards and directing. Hanna and Barbera were still officially the directors...which meant that Hanna was supposed to be the director. But more and more, he had other guys assisting him to the point where they did a lot more of it than he did. I would assume Alex was doing most of the timing and a lot of the boarding.

I'm sure H-B paid better
[than Walter Lantz, where Lovy was a director before going to Hanna-Barbera] ...and Lantz was going through a period then when he didn't have a lot of work and all his people were looking around for other employment to fill in gaps and such. I'm sure Alex thought he had a much rosier future with H-B and a better paycheck.

Alex was an incredible board guy. I don't recall if he got the credit on it but he did the storyboard on that Yogi Christmas Special I wrote. Another guy originally boarded it and used up all the time on the schedule that they had for boarding (about a month)...then handed in something completely unusable. Alex was called in and he had to board the thing in about four days.

It’s possible Alex was hired after production began on the 1959-60 season of cartoons (the second season of Huck, the first season of the Quick Draw McGraw Show and the Loopy De Loop theatricals). Some of the cartoons give a ‘Story Sketches’ credit to Dan Gordon. Lovy’s credit displaced Gordon’s, though Gordon was still at the studio.

Whether it’s a case of Lovy’s timing or the writing of Warren Foster and Mike Maltese, I don’t know, but the cartoons seemed to feature a lot of more dialogue about this time.

Lovy was the studio’s only story director until 1961 when others started getting credit, including former animator Lew Marshall, Paul Sommer (ex Columbia director) and Art Davis (ex Columbia and Warners director). A few years later, Art Scott’s name appears. By that time, Lovy had moved up to ‘Associate Producer.’

Lovy was born in Passaic, New Jersey on September 2, 1913. Available Census records suggest he was an only child and raised by his mother Charlotte. They were in New York City in 1930 where, three years later, Lovy went to work for the Van Beuren Studio, which also was the employer of one Joseph Roland Barbera (and Carlo Vinci and Dan Gordon). It closed in 1936 and Lovy began drawing comic books. Mike Barrier reveals Lovy migrated to California in 1937 when he was hired by Walter Lantz as a story sketch artist for writer Vic McLeod. He became a director the following year and not only directed the first Andy Panda cartoon but came up with the first, goofy-looking design for Woody Woodpecker. He was drafted into the Navy in 1942 and returned to cartoon directing at Columbia in 1947. He left the following year. Edith Gwynn’s syndicated Hollywood column of July 1, 1948 has this curious tidbit:

Walt Disney will soon have independent competition in the cartoon field. One Alex Lovy is heading a new outfit with a revolutionary pastel color process.

That’s going to remain a mystery for now. Lovy’s name doesn’t appear in theatrical cartoons again until 1955 when he returned to Walter Lantz to direct before being hired at Hanna-Barbera (his final cartoon for Lantz was released in 1960). H-B was his home until 1988, except for a year-and-a-bit-long period directing Warners cartoons (1967-68) and creating the forgettable Cool Cat and Merlin the Magic Mouse. He also set up his own company, filing for incorporation in California on December 17, 1962.

Lovy doesn’t strike one as a ladies man but it seems he had no problem attracting them. His first marriage—Lantz signed the marriage certificate as a witness—came to a somewhat unusual end. This is from the Los Angeles Times of April 4, 1939:

She had lots of signatures, but not the one she wanted.
This was the experience yesterday of Monte Maxine Lovy, 23-year-old auburn-haired waitress, when she appeared in a wheel chair in the court of Superior Judge J.T.B. Warne seeking a divorce from Alex Terry Lovy, cartoon animator, on the grounds of cruelty.
The signatures in possession of the young woman were on the plaster of Paris cast she wore on her left leg as the result of a break received about six weeks ago in an automobile accident. The signature she most wanted was that of the judge, who couldn’t grant the decree until there was corroborating testimony.
Through her attorney, F. Murray Keslar, Mrs. Lovy explained that her witness had failed to appear and the court continued the case until today. The couple were married last May 15 and separated one month and 15 days afterward when Lovy assertedly told her he was dissatisfied.

Lovy was married again by 1943. His wife’s maiden name was Dotzler and her sister had married Frank Tipper, an animator at the Lantz studio. California Voter Registrations don’t show a Mrs. Lovy in 1944 or ’46, but he remarried in July 1947 to Vivian Jean, who was also a cartoonist. Their daughter Nicki had a career, starting in 1966, at Hanna-Barbera and several other studios.

Both Lovy and Art Scott were story directors on shows like Peter Potamus and Secret Squirrel and both moved up to become associate producers (don’t ask me what it is an associate producer does). Scott’s animation history has been documented far better; you can read about him in THIS 2000 story from Animation World and especially in THIS great interview with John Culhane from 1978 (from Didier Ghez’ Walt’s People, Volume 9).

Scott was born in Astoria, Oregon on October 18, 1914. He grew up in Vancouver, B.C. and died in Los Angeles on May 19, 1999. In between, he provided Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee voices in 1930s Warners cartoons, spent time at Disney (originally as Dick Lundy’s assistant in 1940), produced and drew cartoons that accompanied Capitol kids record soundtracks, and attained immortality by singing the “ooo-OOOON” in the opening and closing of the Beany and Cecil cartoons; he was Bob Clampett’s animation director.

But Tony Benedict remembers him best as someone who traded a lot of good-natured barbs with Alex Lovy. Oh, and for aliens. The space kind. More on that in a moment. Here are some great drawings by Tony of Art and Alex in action. Click on them to enlarge.

Kids, if you’ve ever wanted to draw your own Art Scott, Tony shows you how. I can only presume the tea is a leftover habit from Canada.

Tony explains that Art took an immense interest in creatures from another world. Naturally, Tony had to satirise that.

The one thing I haven’t touched on is Alex Lovy’s special talent—his ambidexterity. He spoke to historian Joe Adamson about it and explained he could write with both hands at the same time, the writing of one hand being the mirror image of the other. How? “I don’t know,” he said to Adamson. “All I know is it sure makes a hit with girls.”

Maybe that’s why Lovy and Art Scott got along so well. Writing with both hands is a talent that, to most of us, is alien.


  1. Great drawing of Scott with the walkie-talkie by Benedict. It almost animates itself.

    Judging by the credits on "The Flintstones", Gordon appears to have been moved over to work on the development of that series for ABC by Bill and Joe, opening the door for Lovy's new position on the syndicated shows. Alex was never the type of director to rise high above the material he was given, but if he had a strong story to use he turned out a decent cartoon (and by his final 2-3 years at Lantz, it was clear his unit's cartoons were much better than the ones being churned out by the Paul J. Smith unit at the same time).

  2. The 'story director' sounds like an interesting position, not unlike a contemporary 'animation timer'.

  3. Nice to see that Art Scott had done some cartoon voices in the early days of animation.

  4. "Yowp-Yowp" Dodsworth,

    Alex Lovy and Art Scott were, during many time, associate producers from Hanna-Barbera.

  5. The truly unsung Art, at HB, and virtually every other studio-(he started at Bray for cryin' out loud) is also the most credited man in animation history- ART DAVIS!

  6. I've always assumed "story director" referred to storyboards. During 1974-77, H-B used the titles "storyboard editor" and "storyboard director" instead, but went back to "story director" from 1977-88. By 1988, they had completely dropped the title and just used the standard "storyboard" title (as did Ruby-Spears).

  7. Can anybody ID the gentlemen next to Alex Lovy on the left . This screen grab was taking from video clip of Magilla Gorilla story brainstorming session. I've ID'd Alex Lovy, Dan Gordon, Joe Barbera, Bill Hanna, Tony Benedict and Dalton Sandifer but I'm not sure who guy is on extreme left. Any ideas?

  8. Wayne, I checked with Tony Benedict. He says it's Lew Marshall, who would have been a story editor in the Magilla days. Tony was there so he ought to know.

  9. Thanks, Yowp. It's cool to put faces to names on credits we used to see all those years ago.