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DePatie–Freleng Enterprises, Inc. (also known as Mirisch–Geoffrey–DePatie–Freleng Productions when involved with the Mirisch brothers and Geoffrey Productions; and DFE Films) was an American animation production company that was active from 1963 to 1981. Based in Burbank, California, DFE produced animation for film and television. Notable among these are the opening titles for The Pink Panther, the lightsaber effects in the original Star Wars, and the Dr. Seuss television specials.
|Fate||Partnership dissolved, remaining assets acquired and re-branded by Marvel in 1981. Intellectual properties were acquired by various entites since Friz Freleng's death.|
|Founder||David H. DePatie|
|David H. DePatie|
|Owner||David H. DePatie|
DFE was founded by two former Warner Bros. Cartoons employees, director/composer/producer Friz Freleng and executive David H. DePatie, after Warner Bros. closed its animation studio in 1963. Although Freleng and DePatie were no longer working for Warner Bros., a generous gesture from a Warner executive allowed Freleng and DePatie to lease the former Warner cartoons studio on California Street in Burbank, complete with equipment and supplies for a few dollars each year. Although DFE's initial business was commercials and industrial films, several lucky breaks put the new studio into the theatrical cartoon business.
Director Blake Edwards contacted DFE and asked them to design a panther character for Edwards's new film, The Pink Panther. Pleased with the design for the character, Edwards contracted with DFE to produce the animated titles for the film. Upon the film's release, the titles garnered a tremendous amount of attention, so much that a large amount of the picture's gross is believed to have been generated by the success of DFE's title sequence.
DFE soon agreed to a contract with United Artists to produce a series of cartoon shorts featuring the Pink Panther, which would include over 100 shorts for both theatrical release and television through 1980. Also in 1964, Freleng and DePatie's old employer, Warner Bros., contracted with DFE to produce new Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons for television.
DePatie and Freleng found themselves overflowing with work. Many of the animators who had worked at Warner Bros. in the 1950s and 1960s returned to the old Warner cartoon studio to work for DFE. The first entry in the Pink Panther series, The Pink Phink, was directed by Freleng and won the studio its only Academy Award in 1964. In 1967, DFE would receive another Academy Award nomination for The Pink Blueprint.
The Pink Panther and other television seriesEdit
The Pink Panther theatrical series of cartoons became the basis of a Saturday morning television series, The Pink Panther Show, which also included theatrical cartoons of The Inspector and eventually The Ant and the Aardvark, Roland and Rattfink, and The Texas Toads (Tijuana Toads). Like most animated television cartoons at the time, The Pink Panther Show contained a laugh track with narration. The cartoons were edited and in some cases re-dubbed to meet television standards and practices for content.
The Pink Panther Show had several incarnations during the 1970s. The show was very popular on NBC's Saturday morning line-up, starting as a half-hour program and expanding a few years later to 90 minutes each week. The studio provided the animated sequences for the 1969–1970 television series My World and Welcome to It based on the drawings of James Thurber. DFE was one of the subcontractors for the 1964–1967 Warner Bros. cartoons, along with Format Productions.
The Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts made by the studio can be easily identified by their modernized "Abstract WB" opening and closing sequences (although the "Abstract WB" opening and closing sequences were first used in three cartoons made by Warner Bros. Cartoons). DFE didn't continue doing Warner cartoon work until the late 1970s/early 1980s, with the TV specials Bugs Bunny's Easter Special (1977), Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales (1979), and Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-Citement (1980).
DFE also created Return to the Planet of the Apes, which ran on NBC from 1975 to 1976 and The Oddball Couple, which ran on Saturday mornings on ABC from 1975 to 1977. One of the studio's television specials was The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (1973), with Tommy Smothers voicing the little bear who goes out to find Christmas (in the human world) while his fellow bears head for hibernation. DFE was also responsible for a number of Dr. Seuss specials, including The Cat In The Hat and different incarnations of The Grinch.
Inflation, the increasing costs of producing theatrical cartoons, and the pressures of producing TV series caused the quality of DFE's output to drop in the mid-to-late 1970s. In 1981, Freleng and DePatie sold DFE Films to Marvel Comics, and Freleng returned to Warner Bros. Animation, which Warner Bros. had re-opened the previous year, to produce a series of feature films featuring vintage Warner cartoons with new connecting footage. DePatie made the transition to become the head of Marvel Productions, as DFE was renamed.
Although Marvel produced mainly superhero cartoons and animated series based on licensed toy lines (including Hasbro properties), it continued to produce new productions starring the Pink Panther (a special for television Pink at First Sight and motion picture titles for Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Animation would later make a 1993 revival show of the Pink Panther as a joint venture between MGM, Mirisch-Geoffrey-DePatie-Freleng and United Artists, a decade after DFE's merger with Marvel and Mirisch/UA's merger into MGM.
In 1993, Marvel Productions was renamed to New World Animation, and was completely absorbed in 1996 after News Corporation purchased New World Entertainment, ending the life of the studio that once was DFE. Marvel would eventually continue to produce animated shows through a partnership with Saban Entertainment, which had recently acquired a 50% stake in Fox Kids. In 2001, Fox Family Worldwide (which included Saban Entertainment) were sold to The Walt Disney Company.
In 2009, The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment, bringing DFE's libraries of all-original and Marvel Comics-based cartoons full circle under one roof; all of these properties are now distributed by Disney–ABC Domestic Television. The Dr. Seuss specials animated by DFE are currently distributed by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment through the Dr. Seuss estate.
While the television catalog has often changed hands over the years, the theatrical cartoons continue to be owned by their original distributors: United Artists (via its current corporate parent, MGM) for The Mirisch Company cartoon library and Warner Bros. for the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons.
All other licensed properties belong to their respective owners (at the present time, however, the copyrights for both The Houndcats and The Barkleys appear not to have been renewed and, therefore, these series are therefore in the public domain).
List of theatrical and television cartoonsEdit
In a short time, DFE began producing television shows as well as theatricals and specials, becoming a competitor to Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. The studio's various cartoons, specials and shows are listed below.
|The Pink Panther||1964–1977||1978-1980 cartoons were originally broadcast on TV before they were screened in theaters|
|Roland and Rattfink||1968–1971|
|The Ant and the Aardvark||1969–1971|
|The Blue Racer||1972–1974|
|The Super 6||1966–1967||NBC|
|Here Comes the Grump||1969–1971||NBC|
|The Pink Panther Show||1969–1980||NBC/ABC||co-production with United Artists Television and Mirisch Films|
|Doctor Dolittle||1970–1971||NBC||co-production with 20th Century Fox Television|
|The Houndcats||1972–1973||NBC||co-production with Viacom Enterprises|
|The Oddball Couple||1975||ABC||co-production with Paramount Television|
|Return to the Planet of the Apes||1975–1976||NBC||co-production with 20th Century Fox Television|
|Baggy Pants and the Nitwits||1977–1978||NBC|
|What's New, Mr. Magoo?||1977–1979||CBS||co-production with United Productions of America|
|The New Fantastic Four||1978||NBC||co-production with Marvel Comics Animation|
|Spider-Woman||1979–1980||ABC||co-production with Marvel Comics Animation|
- Sesame Street ("The Pink Panther karate-chops a K") (for Children's Television Workshop) (1970)
- Doctor Snuggles (for Polyscope Productions, with Topcraft) (1979)
|April 7, 1970||Goldilocks and the Three Bears||NBC||co-production with The Mirisch Company|
|March 10, 1971||The Cat in the Hat||CBS|
|February 14, 1972||The Lorax||CBS|
|November 12, 1972||Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14||NBC||Stars comedian Flip Wilson. Many of his characters appear in the special, including Geraldine Jones and Reverend Leroy.|
|January 6, 1973||Luvcast U.S.A.||ABC||episode of The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie|
|February 7, 1973||The Incredible, Indelible, Magical, Physical Mystery Trip||ABC||an ABC Afterschool Special|
|October 15, 1973||Dr. Seuss on the Loose||CBS|
|December 17, 1973||The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas||NBC||Owned by Lionsgate|
|April 3, 1974||Clerow Wilson's Great Escape||NBC||sequel to Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14|
|May 15, 1974||The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head||ABC||an ABC Afterschool Special|
|February 19, 1975||The Hoober-Bloob Highway||CBS|
|December 14, 1975||The Tiny Tree||NBC|
|February 16, 1977||My Mom's Having a Baby||ABC||an ABC Afterschool Special, a co-production with Dick Clark Productions|
|October 29, 1977||Halloween Is Grinch Night||ABC|
|February 1, 1978||Michel's Mixed-Up Musical Bird||ABC||an ABC Afterschool Special|
|December 7, 1978||The Pink Panther in: A Pink Christmas||ABC|
|February 22, 1980||The Pink Panther in: Olym-Pinks||ABC|
|March 5, 1980||Where Do Teenagers Come From?||ABC||an ABC Afterschool Special|
|May 2, 1980||Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?||ABC|
|1981||Dennis the Menace in Mayday for Mother||NBC|
|February 14, 1981||The Pink Panther in: Pink at First Sight||ABC||production finished by Marvel Productions|
|May 20, 1982||The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat||ABC||production finished by Marvel Productions|
|April 7, 1977||Bugs Bunny's Easter Special||CBS||for Warner Bros.|
|November 27, 1979||Bugs Bunny's Looney Christmas Tales||CBS||for Warner Bros.|
|April 1, 1980||Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-Citement||NBC||for Warner Bros.|
Film and television title designEdit
Pink Panther series
- The Pink Panther (1963)
- A Shot in the Dark (sub-contracted to George Dunning & Associates, 1964)
- Inspector Clouseau (sub-contracted to TVC London, 1968)
- The Return of the Pink Panther (sub-contracted to Richard Williams Studio, 1975)
- The Pink Panther Strikes Again (sub-contracted to Richard Williams Studio, 1976)
- Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978)
Other films and TV series
- The Dead Ringer (1964)
- The Best Man (1964)
- Sex and the Single Girl (1964)
- How to Murder Your Wife (1965)
- Love Has Many Faces (1965)
- The Satan Bug (1965)
- the maps used in The Hallelujah Trail (1965)
- The Art of Love (1965)
- The Great Race (1965)
- The Wild Wild West (TV series, 1965)
- I Dream of Jeannie (TV series, 1965–1970)
- Do Not Disturb (1965)
- The Trouble with Angels (1966)
- the animated films parodying the Bell Telephone films in The President's Analyst (1967)
- With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)
- My World and Welcome to It (TV series, 1969–1971)
- Star Wars (1977) (special effects)
- Capricorn One (1978) (special effects)
- The Wild Wild West Revisited (TV film, 1979)
- More Wild Wild West (TV film, 1979)
Former Warner Bros. Cartoons employees at DePatie–FrelengEdit
In the beginning, DePatie–Freleng had virtually the same facilities, personnel and producer as Warner Bros. Cartoons. Although Chuck Jones would later work with DePate–Freleng on The Cat in the Hat, Jones and most of his group of artists ended up at Sib Tower 12 Productions independently producing new Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM.
Although many DePatie–Freleng employees contributed greatly to the success of its product, story artist and Disney and Warner alumnus John W. Dunn created most of the studios' new cartoon series, both for theatrical release and for television. These series included The Ant & The Aardvark, The Tijuana Toads, Here Comes The Grump, and Roland and Ratfink, among others.
Many of the DFE cartoons were written and storyboarded by Dunn, including the first Pink Panther cartoon, The Pink Phink. Dunn's drawing style also found its way into the DFE cartoons.
The list below features many former Warner staffers, but also includes former Disney, MGM and Lantz staffers as well.
- Friz Freleng
- Hawley Pratt
- Robert McKimson
- Art Leonardi
- Gerry Chiniquy
- Art Davis
- Sid Marcus
- George Singer
- George Gordon
- Grant Simmons
- Cullen Blaine (credited as Cullen Houghtaling)
- John W. Dunn
- David Detiege
- Len Janson
- Don Jurwich
- Bob Kurtz
- Jim Ryan
- Nick Bennion
- Al Bertino
- Tom Dagenais
- Dale Hale
- Michael O'Connor
- Sid Marcus
- Irv Spector
- Carl Esser
- Sarah Kennedy
- Karen Smith
- Kathy Gori
- Frank Welker
- Jim Begg
- Rip Taylor
- Paul Frees
- John Byner
- Mel Blanc
- Daws Butler
- Larry Storch
- Ralph James
- Arte Johnson
- Hal Smith
- Gege Pearson
- Joan Gerber
- Stan Freberg
- Gonzales Gonzales
- June Foray
- Bob Holt
- Don Messick
- Allan Sherman
- Paul Winchell
- Hans Conried
- Thurl Ravenscroft
- "Irreverent Imagination: The Golden Age of Looney Tunes – Video Dailymotion". Dailymotion. 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2016-10-24.