Thursday, October 14, 2021

Godspeed David DePatie

David DePatie, the last producer at the Warner Brothers Cartoons and the co-founder of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises with Friz Freleng, died on September 23 2021 at the age of 91.

David DePatie was born on December 24 1929 in Los Angeles. His father was Edmond L. DePatie, who would later become vice president and general manager of Warner Bros. Burbank studio. David DePatie followed his father's footsteps in becoming a Warner Bros. employee. It was in 1961 that he became production executive at Warner Bros. Cartoons. In addition to the theatrical shorts Warner Bros. was still producing, Mr. DePatie also oversaw the production of the long running Bugs Bunny Show, as well as the live-action pilot Philbert (starring William Schallert).

It was in 1963 that the Warner Bros. animation division was closed down. It was then that David DePatie formed Depatie-Freleng Enterprises with animator Friz Freleng. Among the company's earliest works were commercials starring Charlie the Tuna for StarKist. Blake Edwards approached the fledgeling animation studio about creating the title sequence for his 1964 movie The Pink Panther. The titles for The Pink Panther were so successful that United Artists then had Depatie-Freleng Enterprises produce a theatrical short featuring the pink panther from the movie's titles. "The Pink Phink" proved successful and won an Academy Award. It would lead to 123 more animated shorts starring The Pink Panther.

Depatie-Freleng Enterprises also produced other series of animated shorts, including "The Inspector," "The Ant and the Aardvark," "The Texas Toads," and others. From 1964 to 1966 Warner Bros. outsourced the production of theatrical shorts to Depatie-Freleng Enterprises. They also created the title sequences of several classic television shows, including I Dream of Jeannie and The Wild Wild West, as well as such movies as The Great Race (1965) and How to Murder Your Wife (1965). In 1966 Depatie-Freleng Enterprises began producing television cartoons for Saturday morning, the first of which was The Super 6. Over the years they produced such animated television series as The Pink Panther Show, Return to the Planet of the Apes, and Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. They also produced television specials, the best known of which were a series of Dr. Seuss inspired specials, beginning with The Cat in the Hat in 1971.

In 1981 David DePatie and Friz Freleng sold DePatie-Freleng Enterprises to Marvel Comics, where it was renamed Marvel Productions. Friz Freleng returned to Warner Bros. (who had reopened their animation division), while David DePatie became the head of Marvel Productions. He remained with Marvel Productions until 1984. He served as producer on the Hanna-Barbera animated series Pink Panther and Sons before retiring.

As a producer David DePatie was responsible for a good deal of classic animation, from the "Pink Panther" theatrical shorts to the title sequences of movies and TV shows to several television specials. At Warner Bros. he oversaw the creation of The Bugs Bunny Show and the production of the last theatrical sorts the studio would make for years. He may well have been one of the last great animation producers following the Golden Age of Animation.

1 comment:

  1. RIP, Mr. DePatie. I'm a fan particularly of the DFE comic THE BARKLEYS, which I have on DVD now along w/ THE HOUNDCATS, and I also liked THE ODDBALL COUPLE. DFE cartoons mostly had a similar look which made them easy to recognize, especially in the credit lettering.