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Michael Maltese (February 6, 1908 – February 22, 1981) was an American storyman for classic animated cartoon shorts. He is best known for working in the 1950s on a series of Merrie Melodies cartoons with director Chuck Jones, notably "What's Opera, Doc?" which is widely regarded by industry professionals as the best animated short of all time.
February 6, 1908
|Died||February 22, 1981 (aged 73)|
|Occupation||Storyboard artist, screenwriter|
The son of Italian immigrants, Maltese graduated from the National Academy of Design. He married Florence Sass on May 30, 1936; animator Warren Foster served as Best Man. The couple moved to Los Angeles, where their first and only child, Brenda, was born on February 20, 1938.
In 1941, Maltese was hired by Leon Schlesinger Productions, which three years later became Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. (Maltese had actually appeared on camera in the 1940 Porky Pig cartoon You Ought to Be in Pictures as a live-action guard at the Warner Bros. entrance gate, who winds up chasing the animated Porky around the Warners lot). The first cartoon he wrote for Warners was The Haunted Mouse (1941) by Tex Avery, then credited as Fred Avery. He first worked mainly for Friz Freleng until 1948, but after that he worked mostly for Chuck Jones, contributing stories to other directors at times, including Robert McKimson. He and Jones collaborated on cartoons like the Academy Award-winning For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), featuring the character Pepé Le Pew, and the animated public health documentary, So Much for So Little (1949) which won that same year for "Best Documentary Short Subject." Maltese was also the voice of the Lou Costello-esque character in Wackiki Wabbit (1943).
Some of his earlier works include The Wabbit Who Came to Supper and Fresh Hare, Hare Trigger (which introduced Yosemite Sam), Baseball Bugs for Freleng; Bear Feat, Rabbit of Seville, and Rabbit Fire for Jones. Some of his best-known cartoons are Feed the Kitty, Beep, Beep, Rabbit Seasoning, Don't Give Up the Sheep, Duck Amuck, Bully for Bugs, Bewitched Bunny, From A to Z-Z-Z-Z, and Beanstalk Bunny. These were all directed by Jones. He also worked on One Froggy Evening, the first appearance of future Warner Brothers mascot Michigan J. Frog.
Some of his later Warner cartoons included Ali Baba Bunny, Robin Hood Daffy, the seminal What's Opera, Doc? and Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century for Jones and Person to Bunny (the final occasion Arthur Q. Bryan voiced Elmer Fudd) and Here Today, Gone Tamale (the only Speedy Gonzales cartoon he ever wrote) for Freleng. Maltese also collaborated with Jones on the 1960s Tom and Jerry theatrical shorts released by MGM. During the years of 1954 and 1955, Maltese also worked at Walter Lantz Productions as writer of some Woody Woodpecker cartoons: Helter Shelter, Witch Crafty (co-written with Homer Brightman), Real Gone Woody, Square Shootin' Square and Bedtime Bedlam. He also is the writer of Chilly Willy's Academy Award-nominated theatrical short The Legend of Rockabye Point, directed by Tex Avery.
- Beck, edited by Jerry (1994). The 50 Greatest Cartoons: As Selected By 1,000 Animation Professionals (1st ed.). Atlanta: Turner Pub. ISBN 1-878685-49-X.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "Michael Maltese and Maurice Noble: Chuck Jones's Crucial Collaborators" by Joe Adamson Film Comment (January–February 1975) via Scribd July 12, 2017
- "Marriage Record of Michael Maltese" MooseRoots July 12, 2017
- "Marriage Record of Florence Sass" MooseRoots July 12, 2017
- "Comics by Michael Maltese" Cartoon Research (January 25, 2017) July 12, 2017
- "Birth Record of Brenda Maltese" MooseRoots July 12, 2017
- Obituary, Reading Eagle, February 23, 1981.