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Erik Gunden, voice of Bat-Mite, has left the building
October 20, 2013 3:30 AM   Subscribe

R.I.P. Lou Scheimer - Mr Filmation - an Emmy and Grammy Award–winning American producer of cartoon and live TV - has died. He was a co-founder of Filmation, a company known mostly for minimally-animated but US produced cartoons (often with reused backgrounds) and a small cast of stock voice actors (including himself) that dominated the airwaves for decades .

Starting in the 1960s Scheimer was involved in many, many shows including The Superman/Aquaman Hour, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage, The Archie Show, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, The Brady Kids, Star Trek: The Animated Series (Interview), Shazam!, The Secrets of Isis, Ark II, The Ghost Busters, Jason Of Star Command, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon, Black Star, Gilligan's Planet, The Original Ghostbusters, BraveStarr. He even had the odd feature film credit, for example Treasure Island, which you can see all of here. (All YouTube Links)

If you grew up between the 1960s and 1980s you will probably recall the Filmation logo.

Here's a featurette on Filmation's Superman cartoon (Part 1, Part 2) and one of their Batman shows (Part 1, Part 2

Arguably one of his more famous creations in the 1980s was his role in creating the mythos of He-Man and The Masters Of The Universe (Interview) and She-Ra: Princess Of Power (and, also, voice acting).

Here is an hour-long SDCC panel from 2012 with Lou.

He and his work were the subject of a book just last year.
posted by Mezentian (38 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bugger, in addition to forgetting to close one set of brackets, I forgot this link: 'No one can disregard the toy industry.'
posted by Mezentian at 3:32 AM on October 20, 2013


And, in fact, I not only forgot to close the bracket, I forgot Part 2 altogether.
posted by Mezentian at 4:01 AM on October 20, 2013


That "Original Ghostbusters" link needs to be fixed because it currently points to the intro to The Real Ghostbusters, not Ghostbusters which is an entirely different series unconnected to the film franchise.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:11 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dumb Donald!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:11 AM on October 20, 2013


Goddamnit. Original Ghostbusters intro.
posted by Mezentian at 4:18 AM on October 20, 2013


I wonder if his funeral will be padded out with the 90-second stock sequence used at every Filmation employee service.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:25 AM on October 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, Mezentian, nice work!
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:32 AM on October 20, 2013


This is a well-made post.

It's missing Tarzan, I notice, which was one of Filmation's more well-known shows at the time. I have a copy of many of the old Saturday morning, rotoscoped Tarzan cartoons from the late 70s. They were a mixed bag, sometimes true to the original stories, sometimes crazy (even by Burroughs Tarzan standards!) with UFOs and lost African civilizations of Vikings, among other things. One particular episode, under the guise of an alien madman trying to absorb Tarzan's memories and thus make himself powerful, was filled so much of its running time with still shots from previous episodes it was shameful.

The enduring memories I took away from Filmation:

The Tarzan river. As iconic, in its way, as the cliff Wile E. Coyote fell from in his lesser, later cartoons, when Warner Bros. was cutting costs and Chuck Jones had left.

The stock animations their action heroes had, especially the one where they run diagonally towards the camera, the "into action" sequence. All their characters, at a certain time, had it, but I remember it from Tarzan and He-Man.

That circular logo with "Norm Prescott - Lou Scheimer -" chasing each other endlessly around.
posted by JHarris at 4:59 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, here, a YouTube playlist of Filmation Tarzan cartoons.
posted by JHarris at 5:13 AM on October 20, 2013


I'm also greatly amused by this bumper they used to break for commercial. Try to imagine what the actor was doing when he modeled for that face. Go on, guess!
posted by JHarris at 5:18 AM on October 20, 2013


Hey, Hey, Hey!

.
posted by fairmettle at 5:35 AM on October 20, 2013


Excellent post!

"Fat Albert" and "ST:TAS"??? That's 50% of my childhood, right there. (I really would have been fine if I had never again remembered "Jason of Star Command" or "The Brady Kids"...)

thanks!!!
posted by allthinky at 5:56 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I heard that he originally wanted his body cryogenically preserved in a state of....... suspended animation.


Goddamn it, where did I put those sunglasses?

YEEEEEAAHHHHH

Too early! Wait for your cue!

Amateurs!

/storms off set
posted by dr_dank at 6:19 AM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


That's not the original Ghostbusters intro, either. This is the original Ghost Busters intro.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:29 AM on October 20, 2013


The Original Ghostbusters/Real Ghostbusters thing confused me when I was little. Or I guess it didn't, because I'd just think "oh, ghostbusters, cartoon, okay I'm watching it." As a kid, "animated" was my main requirement for watching anything, regardless of the story of how... er... efficient the animation was.

And the Filmation logo's little skeedleledoot-ding! is fixed in my mind as the real beginning to the He-Man theme song. I also weirdly loved how Scheimer's signature appeared in the opening credits, even though I couldn't read cursive.

.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:43 AM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd love to leave a dot, but it seems this is one of the main culprits behind my inability to go back and watch beloved childhood cartoons without realizing just how awful they really were. Like, offensively awful. Yet there I was, a kid, ignorant that there might exist things that were actually well-made and original.

Oh, well.

.


If you look really closely, that's the same dot I left in a different thread.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:58 AM on October 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I seems the SDCC video is hella pour quality soundwise, so I found this, which seems to be much better.

It's not the whole panel, but you can hear the words people speak.

This is what happens when I am close to being shaped. (Which I imagine Americans don't have?)
posted by Mezentian at 7:01 AM on October 20, 2013


.

My God Lou Scheimer probably had more influence on my development than the most of the school teachers in my life. He's clearly in the top 5-percentile ranking. "Ark-II"? "SHAZAM!"? "Star Trek: The Animated Series"? "The Secrets of Isis"? For crying out loud, that stuff was Gro-Fast to my fertile young imagination! This was thrilling stuff!

I loved Filmation's heroes. I soaked up Filmation's comedies. These were staples to my Saturday morning diet, along with bowl after bowl of sugary-sweet cereals and milk.

Not a week goes by that I don't stage whisper "SHAZAM!" or think to myself "Northern winds which blow on high/lift me now so I can fly"; these are mantras to my 10-year old self.

Fortunately, I know kids everywhere have there own versions of these today, somewhere, somehow. For myself, however, these are defining lessons of my cultural tastes. There was much to ignore and overlook but there were plenty of gems to be found along the way as well. I hope I discovered at least some of the ones that give me powers beyond mortal ability until the End of my own Times.

Stay tuned.
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:09 AM on October 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The stock animations their action heroes had, especially the one where they run diagonally towards the camera, the "into action" sequence. All their characters, at a certain time, had it, but I remember it from Tarzan and He-Man.

My favorite stock He-Man animation was when he'd run across the screen with his sword drawn; depending on which way he was running (i.e. which way the footage was flipped) , the clip would sometimes end with He-Man casually tossing the sword back to his "correct" hand. Genius.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:11 AM on October 20, 2013


.
posted by humanfont at 7:16 AM on October 20, 2013


Another from their live-action pantheon: Uncle Croc's Block starring Charles Nelson Reilly (in fact, a parody of children's programs)

A couple of bits Filmation did for Sesame Street: Superman S Jughead J

The Archie Show, of course, spawned a number one song, Sugar Sugar, and a couple of lesser hits... but there was one other hit song that originated with a Filmation series: Chick-a-Boom (original from the Groovie Goolies) (Daddy Dewdrop's #9 hit version)

Here's a rarity: Filmation Associates' first credit was as production designer for Rod Rocket (officially a Sib Production, but Lou Scheimer and Hal Sutherland directed)

From the Twitter account of Maclean's TV writer Jaime Weinman:
RIP Lou Scheimer. Harry Luceys take on him at the time of the Archie cartoon (green suit) http://t.co/QuttCGdUXX & http://t.co/zhUDSxvodE— Jaime and the Golem (@weinmanj) October 19, 2013


And I have to mention The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show, if for no other reason than I remember watching it a lot. It was certainly better than the Hanna-Barbera Tom and Jerry revival that made them best friends.
posted by evilcolonel at 7:19 AM on October 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Original Ghostbusters/Real Ghostbusters thing confused me when I was little.

Same here, though somehow I rationalized it as being an extension of the practice of having a low-rent daytime Wheel of Fortune that had different hosts than the "real" evening version.

Everyone I knew watched Filmation's Ghostbusters religiously, but only to mercilessly mock it. Practically speaking, the series only existed for kids to reject as a sign of their continued loyalty to The One True Ghostbusters Franchise which often aired later in the afternoon on a different channel.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:40 AM on October 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


continued loyalty to The One True Ghostbusters Franchise which often aired later in the afternoon on a different channel.

With scripts by JMS! Ft Cthulu!
Lacking in Apes!
The "real" Ghost Busters thing confused me, but I rolled with with because one was rooted in the real world, and one was obviously created to ride on the coat tails of Ghostbusters mania.
posted by Mezentian at 7:54 AM on October 20, 2013


As always, the wonderful Mark Evanier, who has probably worked with every single person ever in animation, has a personal rememberance of Scheimer.
posted by briank at 7:58 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


One time when the Animation Union struck over this problem, Lou — as a member — was put in the awkward position of picketing his own studio.

Thanks briank, my fond memories just skyrocketed (using stock footage).
posted by Mezentian at 8:06 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shazam. God, that show meant so much to me as a little kid. Thanks , Mr. Scheimer.

.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:19 AM on October 20, 2013


Concerning Isis: My boss and I have often joked about how the embodiment of a Goddess spends her time in a small town catching bike thieves or busting up the local graffiti ring. Must be how the immortals retire.
posted by sourwookie at 9:54 AM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, Lou Scheimer managed to keep a couple generations of kids entertained until they were old enough to realize how crappy the animation on his shows were. That's no small feat, and really, Filmation's stuff was only marginally worse than what Hanna-Barbera was putting out at the time, or 90% of contemporary anime. The man done good.

.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 10:07 AM on October 20, 2013


Homestar Runner did a loving parody of Filmation cartoon with Limozeen: But They're in Space
posted by Space Coyote at 11:17 AM on October 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I came in at the tail end of Filmation (the He-Man/She-ra era), but that was a HUGE part of my life, and I'm sure the same is true of most of my generational cohorts. I am, coincidentally, wearing a Skeletor t-shirt right this second.

And of course there were still reruns of his shows that weren't cynical toy ads (though, in all fairness, the toys were awesome...except one), like Fat Albert and (the actual) Ghostbusters, and I loved those too.

Plus, Lou Scheimer had the best signature.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:02 PM on October 20, 2013


And I have to mention The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show yt , if for no other reason than I remember watching it a lot..

Oh god, I hated that show. Most of their cost saving tricks were on display, and their attempts at faster pacing meant the timing was all off on their comedy beats in an annoying way. The sound effects they used were all stock library stuff, sometimes jarringly inappropriate, and the music reuse was awful. The thing about that was that real, MGM theatrical Tom & Jerry were commonly available on TV at that time, and the difference was obvious. Here's an episode, although not in English.

Not that HB's Tom & Jerry Kids were tremendously better, of course.
posted by JHarris at 1:58 PM on October 20, 2013


No one else remembers the Tarzan cartoon?! It used to be nearly inescapable on CBS Saturday mornings, taking up an hour or more of the late morning block, right after Bugs Bunny (a while before it moved to ABC). Or so I seem to remember. A lot of the animation poses seem to have led directly to similar ones in He-Man, leading me to wonder if He-Man were rotoscoped too, or maybe they rendered the characters based off the Tarzan frames.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The other thing about the Tarzan cartoon, which flew over my head when I was seven but is striking now, is its version of Africa has no black people. In fact, come to think of it, they never mention Africa. The other characters (from the many many Lost Cities) were either all white or apes.
posted by JHarris at 5:10 PM on October 20, 2013


I seem to be commenting a lot here relative to other people -- even oneswellfoop hasn't shown up yet, and I figured he'd be all over this. But briank's link from Mark Evanier's remembrances of the man is wonderful. Here it is again, because you should read it.

It is easy to look on Filmation as the nadir of animation. But with the money they saved from cutting corners, he was able to keep his hiring within the country, giving important people (including J. Michael Straczynski) early breaks. When the Animation Union struck, he was a member, so he struck with them, marching around outside his own studio with a picket sign, protesting a practice his studio didn't participate in!

The article also goes into the downsides of Filmation's way of working, like cutting all kinds of corners and relying on toy deals. Evanier says that Lou would take the impossible deal and find ways to make it work. Sometimes those ways would, to a viewer, hurt the show, but he paid a lot of people's wages, and he got a lot of people started. I can't hate him -- in fact, now I kind of love him.
posted by JHarris at 5:23 PM on October 20, 2013


That circular logo with "Norm Prescott - Lou Scheimer -" chasing each other endlessly around.

I'm not usually one to reply with a simple "This. Right here." but--

This. Right here.
posted by Spatch at 5:28 PM on October 20, 2013


Let's not forget that Filmation's Star Trek is the only Trek to win a major Emmy.

A few years ago, Lou helped the folks behind Starship Farragut create a spot-on homage to the animated series.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:59 PM on October 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:25 PM on October 20, 2013


Just an annotation, Mike Mongo: "O zephyr winds..." rather than "Northern." But those shows you listed were the big ones for me, too. I never missed them, even when I'd seen them several times.

.
posted by bryon at 9:13 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


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