Thursday, December 28, 2017

Animator Bob Givens Pases On

Bob Givens, who worked as an animator for Walt Disney, Warner Bros., UPA, and DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, among other studios, died on December 14 2017 at the age of 99. The cause was acute respiratory failure. Among other things, he redesigned Bugs Bunny before he made his official debut in the animated short "A Wild Hare" (1940).

Bob Givens was born on March 2 1918 in Hanson, Kentucky. He was a twin. To improve their father's health, the family moved to Southern California. An artist from a young age, not long after graduating from high school he got a job at Walt Disney as an animation checker and in-betweener, primarily working for Grim Natwick. Mr. Givens was one of the team that worked on the groundbreaking animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937). He later attended night classes at the Chouinard Art Institute and the New York Art Students League.

From Walt Disney he moved to Leon Schlesinger Productions, the company that provided Warner Bros. with its cartoons. Bob Givens had not been with the studio long before Tex Avery asked him to redesign a rabbit character developed by director Ben Hardaway and character designer Charles Thorson, thinking the character "too cute." Mr. Givens redesigned the rabbit to something much closer to the modern day Bugs Bunny. Bugs would make his debut in "A Wild Hare" in 1940 and later would be further refined by Robert McKimson. Mr. Givens continued to work at Leon Schlesinger Productions until 1942, when he was drafted into the United States Army. His last short before military service was "The Draft Horse". During World War II he worked with fellow Leon Schlesinger Productions animator Rudolf Isling making military training films.

Following the war Bob Given went to work for Warner Bros. Cartoons (Warner Bros. having bought out Leon Schlesinger), primarily working with Robert McKimson and Chuck Jones. He remained with the studio until the mid-Fifties, afterwards working for a variety of studios. He animated the short "The Talking Dog" (1956) for Walter Lantz Productions, and then did the first of his work in television. Mr. Givens worked as a layout artist for Hanna-Barbera on Quick Draw McGraw starting in 1959. The following year he worked as a production designer on UPA's television series Mister Magoo and King Features Syndicate's new batch of "Popeye the Sailor" shorts made specifically for television. In the Sixties he worked as a layout artist on the Saturday morning cartoons The Super 6, Here Comes the Grump, and Doctor Dolittle. He was a storyboard artist on the animated series Linus! The Lion Hearted. In the Sixties he returned to Warner Bros. Cartoons where he worked on the last of the studio's output for some time and later the theatrical shorts produced by Depatie-Freleng Enterprises for Warner Bros.

In the Seventies Bob Givens worked on a variety of animated TV shows, including The Houndcats, Yogi's Gang, The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show, and Heathcliff. He worked on the TV special The Cat in the Hat. He also worked on Depatie-Freleng theatrical shorts early in the decade. In the Eighties he worked on such TV shows as The Puppy's Further Adventures, Saturday Supercade, Dragon's Lair, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Ghostbusters, She-Ra: Princess of Power, and Garfiled and Friends, as well as various TV shows and specials featuring the Warner Bros. characters. He also worked on two Warner Bros. theatrical shorts.

In the Nineties Bob Givens worked on the TV shows Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa, The Angry Beavers, and The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries. He also worked on the Warner Bros. animated short "Another Froggy Evening". His last work in animation was the direct-to-video feature Timber Wolf in 2001.

Bob Givens also provided animation for television commercials, including work on a long-running campaign for the insecticide Raid.

Bob Givens's career spanned over sixty years. Even if he hadn't been responsible for the redesign of Bugs Bunny that eventually made it to the screen, he would be notable as an animator. Over the years he worked on a large number of Warner Bros. shorts from the late Thirties to the Nineties. He also worked on some of the earliest television animation, including Mister Magoo, Linus! The Lion Hearted, and The Super 6. He worked for most of the major animation studios at one time or another, including Warner Bros. Cartoons, Walter Lantz Productions, UPA, and Depatie-Freleng Enterprises. He also worked with some of the biggest names in animation history: Grim Natwick, Tex Avery, Rudolf Isling, Robert McKimson, and Chuck Jones. He had enormous talent, particularly when it came to layout and character design. If Bob Givens had a long career, it was just because he was that good.

No comments: