producer, director, writer, animator, storyboard artist
Hollywood brought Tony to the front gate of Walt Disney’s Cartoon Studio in 1956. After a long and intense period of training to become an extremely skilled character animator, he was fired. Then UPA opened up a position as a low-wage assistant animator. 21 years. Upa had an opening for the well trained low wage assistant animator. Writing a few Mister Magoo stories on specs bounced me to the writer’s pay level and an office. 23 years. The spec-writing approach landed me another writing job at Hanna-Barbera. The Flintstones, Jetsons, Top Cat, Huck Hound, Yogi Bear and many others too funny to mention kept Tony busy writing for six years. The only person Tony had to please was Joe Barbera, who laughed at all his stuff. Jonathan Winters voiced all the characters in his first animated film. The Early Birds was a cartoon short featuring a battle in the sky between two World War I airmen. That little movie never went anywhere but the next big movie…an animated feature film.
Making a film is easier than making money, but fools rush where the wise fear to tread. Joe Barbera had broadcast, A YELLOWSTONE CHRISTMAS. It was a project that Tony expected Joe to take up immediately. A private investor asked Tony to tell his three young children the story. The story of two bear cubs in Yellowstone Nation Park who learn about a big party where children get lots of presents on Christmas day. The only problem is that bears hibernate all the time. The strong reactions of the boys convinced the investor and the film was financed. Retitled Santa Claus and the Three Bears, it opened in 90 theaters nationwide from Thanksgiving to Christmas in 1970 during weekend matinees at 50 cents a ticket and grossed half a million dollars in its first year. The highly speculative idea of making films about the music of contemporary songwriters seemed like a terrific idea long before music videos came along. A series of illustrated songs with live action and animation with full track widescreen audio Panavision was ahead of its time.
tony benedict & willie ito
The 17th edition of NEMOLAND will be held on 30 September and 10 October in the prestigious setting of the Odeon Hall in Florence, with an edition dedicated to the world of Hanna and Barbera. Over 600 students from the art schools of the Nemo Academy and the Porta Romana art school were present at the event.
Two incredible days of workshops with two internationally renowned guests, Tony Benedict and Willie Ito.