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Millard Kaufman, RIP
March 17, 2009 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Newspaperman, war hero, blacklist front, distinguished screenwriter, co-creator of Mr. Magoo, novelist at age 90... Millard Kaufman is dead at 92.
posted by ubiquity (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

posted by william_boot at 1:46 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oddest moment: In Rebel Without a Cause, when James Dean is asked about children, he says something like "nyuk, drown them like puppies" in his best Mr. Magoo voice, which is quite good. His father in the movie was played by Jim Backus, who, of course, was the actual voice of Mr. Magoo.

That scene has always freaked me out for some reason.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:56 PM on March 17, 2009

His co-creator in inventing Mr. Magoo was John Hubley, the pioneering independent animator who was the father of Yo La Tengo drummer, Georgia Hubley.



Sorry, I had to make the period large enough for Mr. Magoo to read.
posted by jonp72 at 2:13 PM on March 17, 2009

Dammit! That period was much larger in preview!
posted by jonp72 at 2:19 PM on March 17, 2009

posted by Thorzdad at 2:25 PM on March 17, 2009

Some years back I rented a vcr collection of Mr. Magoo cartoons. Even though I was prepared for the racist image of Cholly, Magoo's Chinese manservant, I was totally unprepared to hear his voice dubbed into the most normal everyday tv newscaster voice. As if Cholly's manner of speaking was the only offensive thing about the character. It was odd.



posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:30 PM on March 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by EatTheWeak at 3:24 PM on March 17, 2009

When I was a little kid of about 6 or seven I HATED Mr. Magoo. Or so my mother tells me. I would sit in front of the TV and yell. "Put your stupid glasses on!". Or "get new god damn glasses!"

Magoo's irresponsibility rubbed me the wrong way I guess. However ironically Bugs Bunny's over developed sense of revenge and penchant for cross-dressing never seemed to disturb me.

I had to get glasses when I was eight. What a mind fuck. I was terrified I would end up driving a car down railroad tracks or onto a roller coaster. I just assumed that's what happened when you wore glasses.
posted by tkchrist at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2009 [3 favorites]

posted by lullaby at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2009

Hmm-mmmm, yes...I'm certain that little period is around here somewhere...


Ha-Ha! Oh, ho! Mere child's play, my boy!
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:35 PM on March 17, 2009

posted by ubiquity at 5:55 PM on March 17, 2009

Trivia: The first time I ever heard of Cyrano De Bergerac was in an episode of Mr. Magoo's Literary Classics when I was a kid.
posted by Cyrano at 7:09 PM on March 17, 2009

He speaks here (recorded, presumably, before he died).
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:18 PM on March 17, 2009

  • posted by Pronoiac at 12:11 AM on March 18, 2009

    Trying to figure out what "blacklist front" could be, I found this in his Wikipedia entry: In 1950, Kaufman lent his name to screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who had been blacklisted after investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, for the screenplay for Gun Crazy.

    Was there a name-trafficking industry for this? Did people (in Hollywood or elsewhere) know who really wrote it? If Gun Crazy got an Oscar for writing, would it have said "Kaufman" or "Trumbo"?
    posted by DU at 5:14 AM on March 18, 2009

    Was there a name-trafficking industry for this? Did people (in Hollywood or elsewhere) know who really wrote it? If Gun Crazy got an Oscar for writing, would it have said "Kaufman" or "Trumbo"?

    I wouldn't have called it an industry, but several blacklisted writers managed to find other people to submit their scripts. It was a genuine secret at the time, because Hollywood studios were serious about the blacklist. Kaufman would have passed most or all of the money he received for the script on to Trumbo (he might have legitimately kept some, because if there were script consultations, they would have been with Kaufman), but he would have received all formal credit.

    There is a very good movie on this subject, The Front, by Martin Ritt, starring Woody Allen. Allen plays a hapless schlemiel who agrees to front for a writer and then discovers that he likes the attention he receives. Several people involved with the film were themselves on McCarthy-era blacklists: director Martin Ritt, writer Walter Bernstein, and actors Zero Mostel, Herschel Bernardi, Lloyd Gough and Joshua Shelley.
    posted by ubiquity at 5:40 AM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

    It's probably worth mentioning that many people see Bad Day at Black Rock, probably Kaufman's best screenplay, as an attack on McCarthyism and the apathy that permitted it to occur.
    posted by ubiquity at 7:24 AM on March 18, 2009

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