Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

A blog dedicated to the making of the first animated Christmas special, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pitching The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo

Pitch art for Robin Hood, artist unknown
My last post, Mr. Magoo and the Features That Never Were, featured some rare UPA pitch art for the studio's unproduced Mr. Magoo features.  Considering the lineage between the feature concepts and the concept for the 1964 TV series, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, it seemed only fitting to do a post on the artwork produced to pitch the show to NBC.

Pitch art for William Tell, possibly drawn by Bob Dranko

The 1962 broadcast debut of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol had performed well beyond expectations and the network was looking for a followup.  The special had featured Magoo playing a role in a piece of classic literature and considering that all of UPA's previous proposed feature vehicles had done the same, Robin Hood, Don Quixote and 1001 Arabian Nights, it was not a big leap to suggest an entire series based around the premise.  Hank Saperstein was a consummate salesman but despite his skills, he still needed some visuals to clinch the deal.  It was most likely Lee Orgel that put together the art that sold the series, turning to Shirley Silvey, who was on layoff from Jay Ward at the time, and Corny Cole, who had produced the concept art that had previously sold Christmas Carol.

Pitch art by Corny Cole
How many drawings were done by Corny Cole is unknown but about half a dozen have surfaced.  It appears that Shirley did a much larger number of images for a wide variety of stories, although most of the original drawings and setups have been lost.  Below is a scan of many of her pieces that were photographed for early promotion, this image is from a brochure sent to NBC affiliates.

When I was going through the boxes of her surviving artwork, I found photocopies of a few of her thumbnails; it's possible that some of these were never taken to full-sized color artwork.  The quality is poor so click on them to enlarge:

Captain Kidd

Don Quixote

Treasure Island

The final rendering for the left thumbnail for "Treasure Island" is reproduced in the pamphlet image above.  Recently discovered in Ray Bradbury's collection, and sold at auction, was the following piece of pitch art for Famous Adventures, also by Shirley Silvey.  The background is done with cut paper and colored pencil:

The setup below, which was reproduced in my book, was listed as artist unknown.  Looking at the breadth of the art done by Shirley as well as her drawing style and the use of cut-out background elements and color pencil, it appears that this piece can now be attributed to her.

Special thanks once again to the Mago0 Admirer for the idea behind this post.

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