This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bill Melendez, 1916-2008, R.I.P.

Most people are rather unimaginative when it comes to writing in the "subject" line of an email. Thankfully, this is not always the case.

At 9:25 last night, in an email appropriately entitled "Oh Good Grief... " my friend John informed me that animator, director, and producer Bill Melendez had died on Tuesday. That email was sent roughly two hours before I actually got to read it, which is why this entry wasn't posted until very early in the morning on September 4th.

Melendez, who bore an uncanny resemblance to artist Sergio Aragon├ęs -- and I could get myself into a whole lot of trouble here by claiming that all Mexican natives look alike -- started out working for Walt Disney Studios in the late 1930s. He worked on such Disney classics as Pinocchio, Dumbo, Fantasia, and Bambi. He then went to work for Leon Schlesinger, directing and/or producing cartoons for Warner Brothers. His credits after Warner Bothers were impressive -- he worked on Gerald McBoing-Boing in 1951, which won an Oscar for best animated short feature -- and remained so once he began his work with the Peanuts characters, in a seemingly endless progression of TV specials, motion pictures, and commercials. And it's his work on the Peanuts gang which will be best remembered.

He also supplied the voices for Snoopy and Woodstock... often uncredited.

And he was the only guy "Sparky" Schulz trusted with his "children."

(In a related aside... I always liked the concept of people like Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, et al, being referred to as cartoon directors...

Director: "Excuse, me, Bugs? Bugs? Ahhh... Mr. Bunny? Yes. Could you stand over... here... and point the shotgun at Daffy?"

Assistant: "Umm... sir? Umm... We don't actually need to tell them what to do. They're just paint on cels. We can just draw them doing whatever the hell we want them to do... ")

One more thing: In the past three days, I've posted three tributes to deceased celebrities: Bill Melendez, Jerry Reed, and Don LaFontaine. But don't give me any of that "rule of threes" crap. The way this week's been going, I have an uncomfortable feeling that some fourth celeb is gonna drop dead, too, and soon. And he or she will probably be followed in short order by a fifth, and maybe even a sixth.

Not that I'm looking forward to any of it.

Thanks for your time.


  1. So...which celebrity is next to die?

  2. I don't get to vote, which I've always thought was highly unfair...

  3. Is it Neal? Huh? Is It Neal?

  4. Neal-Hater! Dude! How'd I know you'd weigh in on this one eventually?

  5. Fashion designer Mila Schoen dies in Italy

  6. David:See? I'm not the only one that can bring bad news. As for the theory of three, toss it out. There's been more like, what, 50 this year? Seems like it...

  7. Anita Page, silent movie star, dies at age 98

    More up your alley.

    A celebrity has died every day since this post. Spooky.

  8. Ishat:

    I'd never even heard of Mila Schoen, admittedly -- I don't know everything, I just act like I do -- but when I saw your comment about her, I read it aloud, and the young lady I was with said "The designer?"

    As far as Anita Page goes, thanks for that news. She's the topic of the column I just posted.

    Maybe instead of proclaiming "I Have the Power!" I should start sayingg "I Have the Kiss of Death!"

    By the way, I've been emailing with the woman who has the "Silver Fox Tales" title for her blog, and we're trying to come to some sort of agreement about my using the title, or some variation.

  9. Kiss of death?!


    No more flirting with me.

    You can always do Tales from the Silver Fox.

    I had a few more ruder versions, but kept them to myself. FOR YOU HAVE THE KISS OF DEATH! I didn't want to encourage you.

    I hope your young lady is safe.

  10. "Silver Fox Tales" is more direct, and the tales/tails play on words is more immediately apparent than "Tales of... " As soon as I saw that first one in your comment, I said "By George, I think she's got it!"

    And... which young lady? Ohhhh, the one who knew about Mila Schoen? Yeah, she's safe. In some ways. ;-)

    Some of the others... not so much.

    Hope you like the Anita Page... umm... page.


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