Sunday, March 11, 2007

Century Birthday - Robert Bentley


Robert J. Bentley was born on March 11, 1907 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He entered the New York animation scene in the late 1920s as an assistant, by the mid 1930s he was a full-fledged animator in Hollywood working in Frank Tashlin’s unit at Leon Schlesinger’s studio. Bentley moved to Miami in 1938 (along with several others from California) to work on the Fleischer feature Gulliver’s Travels. He returned by 1941 to work at Walter Lantz’ Studio.

In the mid 1940s he jumped to MGM where he worked under directors Tex Avery and Dick Lundy. By the early 1950s he was bouncing between Paul Smith’s unit at Lantz and MGM. He settled back at Lantz in mid 1954 and remained there until late 1959.
The 1960s and 1970s saw him at Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, Ed Graham and DePatie-Freleng.

He passed away at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills on November 28, 2000
at the age of 93.

There is an interesting branch in Bentley’s family tree that may have had some influence in his career choice; his mother, Hannah, married early animator Les Elton (Leslie Elton Brownley) after his father’s death. This may have raised a few eyebrows because she was about the same age as Les’ own mother when they married in 1922. Moreover, Elton’s two sisters were also married to animators! His sister Dorothy was married to Vaughan Kaufman and his sister Charlotte to John McManus, later an animator at Disney.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bentley's work in one particular Lantz cartoon of the early 1940's seems to prefigure that of Jim Tyer. It's about two-thirds of where Tyer would take that style in about ten years, minus the insane degree of looseness. The 1943 short is titled "Ration Bored" and Bentley is its sole credited animator.