(or more “Mysteries Involving the Walter Lantz Cartunes”)
I truly know nothing about the history of stock music cues used in vintage television cartoons. I’d leave that mostly to the experts like Yowp, and so on. But the topic of today’s post started because I may be needing some vintage cues for a project I’m working on, and was curious about the royalties involved using one particular cartoon musical director’s: Darrell Calker.
Calker was certainly one of the most underrated of his contemporaries, providing music primarily for the Walter Lantz studio in the 1940s. They are well-done bearing in mind their low budgets and the little access he had to pop music. In its own way, Calker’s music is as pleasant to listen to as Carl Stalling’s, and was never as overbearing as Scott Bradley’s. (Though in some instances, as in his brief stint doing music for the ill-fated Screen Gems cartoon studio, his score is the real star of an other wise incoherent and eye-glazing misfire.)
Calker, like Winston Sharples and Walter Greene, was a theatrical cartoon composer who did cues that were reused in low-budget animation (and sometimes live-action) productions. It’s common knowledge that the third-rate Famous Studios Popeye short Child Sockology was the source for a lot of the Sharples cues, but it’s the only instance I’m aware of where cues had been cut up from a specific cartoon’s score.
All of Calker’s scores for Walter Lantz were registered for copyright by Universal, as was the standard procedure at most cartoon studios. I had never heard of the scores for Lantz’s, or anyone else’s, theatrical cartoons being cut up for use as cues, save the Famous cartoon mentioned above.
The second element of the puzzle… If you enter “beany” into the ASCAP ACE search engine, you’ll find some of the names of Beany & Cecil’s composers. Melvyn Lenard, Eddie Brandt, Freddy Morgan… and Bob and Sody Clampett. But you won’t find Calker.
So our mystery is… how did music from a 1945 Woody Woodpecker cartoon end up in a 1962 Beany & Cecil cartoon?
Note, too, that in the original cartoon, Shamus Culhane’s pseudo-classic Chew Chew Baby, there is extensive dialog and sound effects over the music. This means Clampett had access to the original isolated music track to use for Cecil Meets Cecilia.
This isn’t the only instance of Calker’s music turning up in the Clampett TV cartoons, but it may be the most extensive. But how did it end up there? I can find no reference whatsoever of Universal making the Lantz tracks available, nor can think of any other production that used them. (Perhaps Clampett absconded with the recordings from Universal’s garbage, as he did so often at Warners’ with artwork. Mental image accompaniment: Bob humming through the garbage cans ala Sylvester.)
This mystery was posed to Daniel Goldmark, the world’s classic cartoon music expert, and even he doesn’t know what’s going on with these direct Calker ripoffs showing up in Beany & Cecil. Any help would be appreciated.
UPDATE: TV cartoon historian Yowp has the definite answer!
Calker’s film music was among piles of music repackaged by David Chudnow for the Mutel library music service (Mutel = Music for Television). Chudnow did this with a bunch of ’40s B-movie film cues and listed himself as the publisher under BMI as Byron Music to collect royalties. Clampett must have simply bought the Mutel library and used it.
Thanks, Yowp, you’re man’s best friend.