‘Tex’ Avery: Master Cartoonist & Director, Influencing the World of Animation

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Born in 1908 in Taylor, Texas, Frederick Bean “Tex” Avery was a cartoonist, animator, and director who was famously known for creating and producing animated cartoons during what would be known as the golden age of U.S. animation. He was integral in the development and evolution of Bugs Bunny, created such characters as Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Droopy, and Chilly Willy, among others, and had an innovative approach to cartooning the steered away from sentimentality and more towards duo appeal. Adults and children alike loved his work, which was loaded with irony, sarcasm and speedy jokes.

Nicknamed “Tex,” “Texas,” and “Fred,” he was raised in Taylor, Texas, outside of Austin, and graduated from North Dallas High School in 1926. A descendant of the infamous Judge Roy Bean as well as Daniel Boone, his grandmother told him, “Don’t ever mention you are kin to Roy Bean. He’s a no good skunk!!” The colorful nature of his kin and life in Texas carried forward into his work. A catchphrase which was quite popular at his school was “What’s up, Doc?” Sound familiar?! He would later go on to use it in a number of Bugs Bunny cartoons during the 1940s, eventually making it one of the beloved rabbit’s iconic sayings.

He began his animation career with Winkler studio as an inker for short films in the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit series, then moving to Universal Studio Cartoons (which would later become known as Walter Lantz Productions). By 1930, he was promoted to the position of animator, but in ’35, he lost his job, got married, and went to work at Leon Schlesinger Productions (which would later be known as Warner Bros. Cartoons), also managing to convince one of the producers that he was an experienced director. This would be where he worked closely with Friz Freleng and Jack King, Bob Clampett and Sid Sutherland, Virgil Ross and Chuck Jones. Their animation unit was assigned to work for the most part on black-and-white Looney Tunes cartoons as opposed to the Technicolor Merrie Melodies.

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