Cartoons of Cartoons: On The Marx Bros. Animated Series


In 1966, Filmation ran the ad above in a trade publication announcing the imminent arrival of their Marx Brothers animated cartoon. Apparently there were no takers. The internet is awash with haters on the subject: “What a terrible idea!” Filmation’s catalog is a mixed bag, but I grew up on their oeuvre, and don’t for a minute regret ANY of its existence, ranging from Journey Back to the Oz (1971), to my mind the only watchable Oz sequel…to Star Trek the animated series…to their Jerry Lewis cartoon…to Gilligan’s Planet. King Features had done a successful Beatles cartoon; Hannah-Barbara had done one “starring” Abbott and Costello (with the voice of the real Abbott); numerous studios had collaborated on The New Three Stooges. Prior to starting Filmation, animator Lou Scheimer had worked for Larry Harmon, who produced a Laurel and Hardy animated series.  And the Marx Brothers had received numerous animated cameos in cartoons by Warner Bros and Walt Disney productions. I for one have an open mind on the subject and wouldn’t mind seeing more of the results. You can learn more about the aborted show in Matthew Hahn’s book The Animated Marx Brothers. 

Here in a clip from a panel at 2012 Comic Con, some of one of the unsold Marx Bros cartoons is shown, entitled A Night at the Horse Opera. It begins at about 47:06:

For more on comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from etc etc etcchain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500To find out about  the history of vaudevilleconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.safe_image


    • Hah. thanks for reminding me about that! I was planning a post about WC Frito; the Groucho stork is definitely a kindred phenomenon!


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