The Info List - Walter Lantz

Walter Benjamin Lantz (April 27, 1899[1] – March 22, 1994) was an American cartoonist, animator, film producer, director and actor best known for founding Walter Lantz Productions
Walter Lantz Productions
and creating Woody Woodpecker.[2][3]


1 Biography

1.1 Early years and start in animation 1.2 The Oswald era 1.3 The Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
era 1.4 Retirement and death

2 Characters 3 Awards 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

Biography[edit] Early years and start in animation[edit] Lantz was born in New Rochelle, New York, to Italian immigrant parents, Francesco Paolo Lantz (formerly Lanza) and Maria Gervasi from Calitri.[4] According to Joe Adamson's biography, The Walter Lantz Story, Lantz's father was given his new surname by an immigration official who anglicized it. Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
was always interested in art, completing a mail-order drawing class at age 12. He was inspired when he saw Winsor McCay's animated short, "Gertie the Dinosaur". While working as an auto mechanic, Lantz got his first break. Wealthy customer Fred Kafka liked his drawings on the garage's bulletin board and financed Lantz's studies at the Art Students League of New York. Kafka also helped him land a job as a copy boy at the New York American, owned by William Randolph Hearst. Lantz worked at the newspaper and attended art school at night. By the age of 16, Lantz was working in the animation department under director Gregory La Cava. Lantz then worked at the John R. Bray Studios on the Jerry On The Job series. In 1924, Lantz directed, animated, and even starred in his first cartoon series, "Dinky Doodle", which included the popular fairy tale animated shorts Cinderella (1925) and Little Red Riding Hood (1925)[5]. Lantz soon replaced George "Vernon" Stallings as head of production at Bray. (In the 1920s, Bray began to concentrate on competing with Hal Roach, the "king of two-reelers"). Lantz moved to Hollywood, California, after Bray switched to a publicity film studio in 1927, where he attempted to set up his own cartoon studio with Pinto Colvig, but their sound cartoons never got produced. In the meantime, he worked briefly for director Frank Capra
Frank Capra
and was a gag writer for Mack Sennett comedies.[6] He also resorted to odd jobs, one of them being the chauffeur for one of Hollywood's most important moguls. The Oswald era[edit] In 1928, Lantz was hired by Charles B. Mintz as director on the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon series for Universal Pictures. Earlier that year, Mintz and his brother-in-law George Winkler had succeeded in snatching Oswald from the character's creator, Walt Disney. Universal president Carl Laemmle
Carl Laemmle
grew dissatisfied with the Mintz-Winkler product and fired them, deciding instead to produce the Oswalds on the Universal lot. While schmoozing with Laemmle, Lantz wagered that if he could beat Laemmle in a game of poker, the character would be his. As fate would have it, Lantz won the bet, and Oswald was now his character. Lantz inherited many of his initial staff, including animator Tom Palmer and musician Bert Fiske from the Winkler studio, but importantly he chose fellow New York animator, Bill Nolan, to help develop the series. Nolan's previous credentials included inventing the panorama background and developing a new, streamlined "Felix the Cat". Nolan was (and still is) best known for perfecting the "rubber hose" style of animation. In September 1929, Lantz released his first cartoon, "Race Riot". By 1935, he parted company with Nolan. Lantz became an independent producer, supplying cartoons to Universal instead of merely overseeing the animation department. By 1940, he was negotiating ownership for the characters with whom he had been working. The Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
era[edit] When Oswald had worn out his welcome, Lantz needed a new character. Meany, Miny, and Moe (three ne'er-do-well chimps), Baby-Face Mouse, Snuffy Skunk, Doxie (a comic dachshund), and Jock and Jill (monkeys that resembled Warner Brothers' Bosko) were some personalities Lantz and his staff came up with. However, one character, Andy Panda, stood out and soon became Lantz's headline star for the 1939–1940 production season. In 1940, Lantz married actress Grace Stafford. During their honeymoon, the couple kept hearing a woodpecker incessantly pecking on their roof. Grace suggested that Walter use the bird for inspiration as a cartoon character. Taking her advice, though a bit skeptical, Lantz debuted Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
in an Andy Panda
Andy Panda
short, "Knock Knock". The brash woodpecker character was similar to the early Daffy Duck, and Lantz liked the results enough to build a series around it. Mel Blanc
Mel Blanc
supplied Woody's voice for the first three cartoons. When Blanc accepted a full-time contract with Leon Schlesinger Productions/ Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
and left the Lantz studio, Woody's voice was taken over by Danny Webb and later by Kent Rogers. After Rogers went into the service due to World War II, gagman Ben Hardaway, the man who was the main force behind "Knock Knock", became the bird's voice. Despite this, Blanc's distinctive laugh was used throughout the cartoons. In 1948, the Lantz studio created a hit Academy Award-nominated song titled "The Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
Song", featuring Blanc's laugh. Mel Blanc sued Lantz for half a million dollars, claiming that Lantz had used his voice in later cartoons without permission. The judge, however, ruled for Lantz, saying that Blanc had failed to copyright his voice or his contributions. Though Lantz won the case, he paid Blanc in an out-of-court settlement when Blanc filed an appeal, and Lantz went in search for a new voice for Woody Woodpecker. In 1950, Lantz held anonymous auditions. Grace, Lantz's wife, offered to do Woody's voice; however, Lantz turned her down because Woody was a male character. Not discouraged in the least, Grace made her own anonymous audition tape, and submitted it to the studio. Not knowing who was behind the voice he heard, Lantz picked Grace's voice for Woody Woodpecker. Grace supplied Woody's voice until the end of production in 1972, and also performed in non-Woody cartoons. At first, Grace voiced Woody without screen credit, thinking that it would disappoint child viewers to know that Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
was voiced by a woman. However, she soon came to enjoy being known as the voice of Woody Woodpecker, and allowed her name to be credited on the screen. Her version of Woody was cuter and friendlier than the manic Woody of the 1940s, and Lantz's artists redesigned the character to suit the new personality. Lantz's harmonious relationship with Universal, the studio releasing his cartoons, was jarred when new ownership transformed the company into Universal-International and did away with many of Universal's company policies. The new management insisted on owning licensing and merchandising rights to Lantz's characters. Lantz refused and withdrew from the parent company by the end of 1947, releasing 12 cartoons independently through United Artists
United Artists
in 1948, into the beginning of 1949. Financial difficulties forced Lantz to shut down his studio in 1949. Universal-International re-released Lantz's UA (and several earlier) cartoons during the shutdown and eventually came to terms with Lantz, who resumed production in 1951. From this point forward, Lantz worked faster and cheaper, no longer using the lush, artistic backgrounds and stylings that had distinguished his 1940s work. Lantz used his TV appearances on The Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
Show (which began in 1957) to demonstrate the animation process. Later, Lantz entertained the troops during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
and visited hospitalized veterans. Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
was a good friend of movie innovator George Pal. Retirement and death[edit] By the 1960s, other movie studios had discontinued their animation departments, leaving Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
as one of two producers still making cartoons for theaters (the other studio was DePatie-Freleng Enterprises). Lantz finally closed up shop in 1972 (by then, he explained, it was economically impossible to continue producing them and stay in business as rising inflation had strained his profits), and Universal serviced the remaining demand with reissues of his older cartoons. In retirement, Lantz continued to manage his properties by licensing them to media. He continued to draw and paint, selling his paintings of Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
rapidly. On top of that, he worked with Little League and other youth groups in his area. In 1982, Lantz donated 17 artifacts to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, among them a wooden model of Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
from the cartoon character's debut in 1941. The Lantzes also made time to visit hospitals and other institutions where Walter would draw Woody and Grace would do the Woody laugh for patients. During the 1980s and 1990s Lantz served on the advisory board of the National Student Film Institute.[7][8] In 1990, Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1993, Lantz established a $10,000 scholarship and prize for animators in his name at California Institute of the Arts
California Institute of the Arts
in Valencia. Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
died at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California from heart failure on March 22, 1994, aged 94. Characters[edit] Some characters in the Lantz universe (both cartoons and comics) are Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit
(formerly), Andy Panda, Space Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Inspector Willoughby, Homer Pigeon, Chilly Willy, Lil' Eightball, Charlie Chicken, Wally Walrus, and many more. Awards[edit]

In 1959, Lantz was honored by the Los Angeles
Los Angeles
City Council as "one of America's most outstanding animated film cartoonists". In 1973, the international animation society, ASIFA/Hollywood, presented him with its Annie Award. In 1979, he was given a special Academy Award "for bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures", being the second animator to receive this award (the first was Walt Disney, who received it three times, while Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones
was in 1995 the third to receive the merit). In 1986, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[9][10]

See also[edit]

The Golden Age of American animation The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal
George Pal
(1985) (produced and directed by Arnold Leibovit) – a documentary about George Pal
George Pal
in which Lantz appeared as himself. Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz


^ Folkart, Burt A. (1992-03-19). "Walter Lantz, 93, the Creator Of Woody Woodpecker, Is Dead". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-22.  ^ "Meet my boss, Walter Lantz". The Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times. 2007-10-22. Retrieved 2011-11-22.  ^ Solomon, Charles (1985-12-29). "The Woodpecker and the Mouse : THE WALTER LANTZ STORY WITH WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS by Joe Adamson (Putnam's: $19.95; 254 pp., illustrated) and DISNEY'S WORLD by Leonard Mosley (Stein & Day: $18.95; 330 pp., illustrated)". The Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times. Retrieved 2011-11-22.  ^ Maria Gervasi was born on December 4, 1878 in Calitri
to Michele Arcangelo Gervasi and Maria Concetta Bozza ^ Fairy Tale Flappers: Animated Adaptations of Little Red and Cinderella (1922–1925) ^ Who's Who in Animated Cartoons: An International Guide to Film And ... – Jeff Lenburg – Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-01.  ^ Editor (June 10, 1994). National Student Film Institute/L.A: The Sixteenth Annual Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. pp. 10–11.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Editor (June 7, 1991). Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Student Film Institute: 13th Annual Student Film Festival. The Directors Guild Theatre. p. 3.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Brady, David E. (1994-03-23). "Walter Lantz, Creator of Woody Woodpecker, Dies". The Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times. Retrieved 2011-11-22.  ^ "Hollywood : Sidewalk Star for Walter Lantz". The Los Angeles Times. 1986-02-27. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 

External links[edit]

Walter Lantz Productions
Walter Lantz Productions
Collection..1940–1960. UCLA. Performing Arts Special
Collections. The Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
Cartune Encyclopedia Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
at Don Markstein's Toonopedia The Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
Studio at Don Markstein's Toonopedia Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
biography on Lambiek Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
on IMDb Animated Prologue for "The King of Jazz" by Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
on YouTube Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
at Find A Grave Archive.org

v t e

Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
by Walter Lantz

Cartoons & TV series

Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
filmography The Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
Show (1957–1958) The New Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
Show (1999–2002)


Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Pooch the Pup Andy Panda Woody Woodpecker Buzz Buzzard Chilly Willy Dapper Denver Dooley Sugarfoot Wally Walrus Gabby Gator Inspector Willoughby Mrs. Meany Maggie and Sam The Beary Family

Video games

Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau
Férias Frustradas do Pica-Pau
(1996) Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
Racing (2000) Woody Woodpecker: Escape from Buzz Buzzard
Buzz Buzzard
Park (2001) Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Theme Parks Adventure (2001) Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
in Crazy Castle 5 (2003)

Other film/TV appearances

Destination Moon (1950) Psycho III
Psycho III
(1986) Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
(1988) From the Earth to the Moon (1998) Son of the Mask
Son of the Mask
(2005) "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife" (2006)

Related personnel

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz

Universal Cartoon Studios

Kent Rogers Ben Hardaway Mel Blanc Grace Stafford Alex Lovy Shamus Culhane Dick Lundy Don Patterson Paul Smith List of Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker
merchandise Woody Woodpecker
Woody Woodpecker

v t e

Academy Honorary Award


Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
/ Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
(1928) Walt Disney
Walt Disney
(1932) Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple
(1934) D. W. Griffith
D. W. Griffith
(1935) The March of Time
The March of Time
/ W. Howard Greene and Harold Rosson (1936) Edgar Bergen
Edgar Bergen
/ W. Howard Greene / Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
Film Library / Mack Sennett
Mack Sennett
(1937) J. Arthur Ball / Walt Disney
Walt Disney
/ Deanna Durbin
Deanna Durbin
and Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney
/ Gordon Jennings, Jan Domela, Devereaux Jennings, Irmin Roberts, Art Smith, Farciot Edouart, Loyal Griggs, Loren L. Ryder, Harry D. Mills, Louis Mesenkop, Walter Oberst / Oliver T. Marsh and Allen Davey / Harry Warner
Harry Warner
(1938) Douglas Fairbanks
Douglas Fairbanks
/ Judy Garland
Judy Garland
/ William Cameron Menzies / Motion Picture Relief Fund (Jean Hersholt, Ralph Morgan, Ralph Block, Conrad Nagel)/ Technicolor Company (1939) Bob Hope
Bob Hope
/ Nathan Levinson (1940) Walt Disney, William Garity, John N. A. Hawkins, and the RCA Manufacturing Company / Leopold Stokowski
Leopold Stokowski
and his associates / Rey Scott / British Ministry of Information (1941) Charles Boyer
Charles Boyer
/ Noël Coward
Noël Coward
/ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
(1942) George Pal
George Pal
(1943) Bob Hope
Bob Hope
/ Margaret O'Brien
Margaret O'Brien
(1944) Republic Studio, Daniel J. Bloomberg, and the Republic Studio Sound Department / Walter Wanger
Walter Wanger
/ The House I Live In / Peggy Ann Garner (1945) Harold Russell
Harold Russell
/ Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
/ Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch
/ Claude Jarman Jr. (1946) James Baskett
James Baskett
/ Thomas Armat, William Nicholas Selig, Albert E. Smith, and George Kirke Spoor
George Kirke Spoor
/ Bill and Coo / Shoeshine (1947) Walter Wanger
Walter Wanger
/ Monsieur Vincent
Monsieur Vincent
/ Sid Grauman
Sid Grauman
/ Adolph Zukor
Adolph Zukor
(1948) Jean Hersholt
Jean Hersholt
/ Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
/ Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille
/ The Bicycle Thief (1949) Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer
/ George Murphy
George Murphy
/ The Walls of Malapaga (1950)


Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly
/ Rashomon
(1951) Merian C. Cooper
Merian C. Cooper
/ Bob Hope
Bob Hope
/ Harold Lloyd
Harold Lloyd
/ George Mitchell / Joseph M. Schenck / Forbidden Games
Forbidden Games
(1952) 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation / Bell & Howell Company / Joseph Breen / Pete Smith (1953) Bausch & Lomb Optical Company / Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye
/ Kemp Niver / Greta Garbo / Jon Whiteley
Jon Whiteley
/ Vincent Winter / Gate of Hell (1954) Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1955) Eddie Cantor
Eddie Cantor
(1956) Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
/ Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson / Charles Brackett / B. B. Kahane (1957) Maurice Chevalier
Maurice Chevalier
(1958) Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
/ Lee de Forest
Lee de Forest
(1959) Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper
/ Stan Laurel
Stan Laurel
/ Hayley Mills
Hayley Mills
(1960) William L. Hendricks / Fred L. Metzler / Jerome Robbins
Jerome Robbins
(1961) William J. Tuttle
William J. Tuttle
(1964) Bob Hope
Bob Hope
(1965) Yakima Canutt
Yakima Canutt
/ Y. Frank Freeman
Y. Frank Freeman
(1966) Arthur Freed (1967) John Chambers / Onna White (1968) Cary Grant
Cary Grant
(1969) Lillian Gish
Lillian Gish
/ Orson Welles
Orson Welles
(1970) Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
(1971) Charles S. Boren / Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson
(1972) Henri Langlois
Henri Langlois
/ Groucho Marx
Groucho Marx
(1973) Howard Hawks
Howard Hawks
/ Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir
(1974) Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford


Margaret Booth (1977) Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
/ Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
/ King Vidor
King Vidor
/ Museum of Modern Art Department of Film (1978) Hal Elias / Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness
(1979) Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
(1980) Barbara Stanwyck
Barbara Stanwyck
(1981) Mickey Rooney
Mickey Rooney
(1982) Hal Roach
Hal Roach
(1983) James Stewart
James Stewart
/ National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
(1984) Paul Newman
Paul Newman
/ Alex North (1985) Ralph Bellamy
Ralph Bellamy
(1986) Eastman Kodak
Company / National Film Board of Canada
National Film Board of Canada
(1988) Akira Kurosawa
Akira Kurosawa
(1989) Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren
/ Myrna Loy
Myrna Loy
(1990) Satyajit Ray
Satyajit Ray
(1991) Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini
(1992) Deborah Kerr
Deborah Kerr
(1993) Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni
(1994) Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas
/ Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones
(1995) Michael Kidd
Michael Kidd
(1996) Stanley Donen
Stanley Donen
(1997) Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan
(1998) Andrzej Wajda
Andrzej Wajda
(1999) Jack Cardiff
Jack Cardiff
/ Ernest Lehman (2000)


Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
/ Robert Redford
Robert Redford
(2001) Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole
(2002) Blake Edwards
Blake Edwards
(2003) Sidney Lumet
Sidney Lumet
(2004) Robert Altman
Robert Altman
(2005) Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone
(2006) Robert F. Boyle (2007) Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall
/ Roger Corman
Roger Corman
/ Gordon Willis
Gordon Willis
(2009) Kevin Brownlow / Jean-Luc Godard
Jean-Luc Godard
/ Eli Wallach
Eli Wallach
(2010) James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones
/ Dick Smith (2011) D. A. Pennebaker
D. A. Pennebaker
/ Hal Needham
Hal Needham
/ George Stevens Jr.
George Stevens Jr.
(2012) Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury
/ Steve Martin
Steve Martin
/ Piero Tosi (2013) Jean-Claude Carrière
Jean-Claude Carrière
/ Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki
/ Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara
(2014) Spike Lee
Spike Lee
/ Gena Rowlands
Gena Rowlands
(2015) Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan
/ Lynn Stalmaster / Anne V. Coates / Frederick Wiseman (2016) Charles Burnett / Owen Roizman / Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland
/ Agnès Varda (2017)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 49227732 LCCN: n84222158 ISNI: 0000 0001 1944 630X GND: 107842947 BNF: cb119110129 (data) BNE: XX993745 RKD: 302906 SN