Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ghosts of the Charles Mintz Studio


On a nondescript street just a short walk from the busy intersection of Western Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd. stands a building that's been there for more than eighty years. In those years it's been painted and painted over again. Its large arched windows, once complete with a decorative wrought iron fence have been sealed over.

(click on the images below for larger versions)

This building, not at all different from many others scattered across this city, sits in a state of quiet decay. Weeds, chewing gum, spray paint and goodness-knows-what-else are evident on the walls and sidewalk. One might wonder what things this building has witnessed in its eight decades....

Upon closer inspection it becomes clear....

In 1930 the staff of the nearby Charles Mintz Studio gathered there for a few group photographs.

Here are composer Joe DeNat, Manny Gould, Harry Love, Charles Mintz, George Winkler, Al Rose, Ben Harrison and Jack Carr.

In this photo are DeNat, Art Davis, Charles Mintz, Sid Marcus and Dick Huemer. The building is located at 5454 Virginia Avenue just around the corner from the Mintz Studio at 1154 N. Western Avenue.

Much of the 1920s era stucco work on the building is intact as shown in the photos below. It's a miracle these details exist, considering the amount of renovation (and layers of paint) this place has been subject to!

(click for larger image)

I experienced a mildly chilling moment when it confirmed without question that this is the exact location where these legends of the industry stood to be photographed over 75 years ago.

A few steps away at 5437 Virginia is the apartment building where George Winkler, Manny Gould, Joe DeNat and production manager James Bronis were living at the time. It is apparent that this building too has seen better days.

I'd like to thank Harry McCracken at for having posted the original photos of the Mintz Staff. If you haven't visited Scrappyland yet, I suggest you take a look -- it's a terrific retrospective on an often forgotten cartoon series and the people that created it! The middle group photo is from Leonard Maltin's Of Mice and Magic.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Century Birthday - Edward Plumb


Disney composer and orchestrator Edward Holcomb Plumb was born and raised in Streator, Illinois, a town on the Vermilion River 100 miles southwest of Chicago. His parents Samuel and Anna already had two sons by the time Edward was born. Along with his older brothers Samuel Walter, Jr. and Gordon, his grandmother, Levancia Plumb lived with them at 206 Wilson Street.

Plumb arrived in California in the early 1930s and
found work as a composer and orchestrator in the movies. His first work for Disney was for the memorable short, Mother Goose Goes Hollywood.

He married Louise Mason and they welcomed a daughter, Susan in May of 1938. They made their home on a winding street in the hills near Silver Lake. With the addition of two more daughters Anne and Elisabeth in the early 1940s, the family was complete.

While Frank Churchill wrote the songs for Bambi, the poetic score for the film was executed by Ed Plumb. His work on Bambi would earn him the first of his four Academy Award nominations.

Although Disney seemed like home base for Ed, he frequently worked on projects beyond Walt's Studio during the 1940s and early 1950s. He worked on titles for Republic, Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox. At one point he even lent his talents to MGM for the Tom & Jerry short, The Missing Mouse (1953.) It is unclear where Scott Bradley may have been for this one!

By the early 1940s Plumb had moved his family to 12203 Laurel Terrace in the hills of Studio City. Here he was a neighbor of other Disney composers Charles Wolcott, whose home was at 12185 and Joe Dubin who was later at 12373 Laurel Terrace.

Edward worked as orchestrator at the nearby new location of the Disney Studio on the animated features The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Song of the South, So Dear to My Heart, Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp.

When Disney entered the field of television, Edward was tapped to work on The Disneyland TV show, notably Ward Kimball's "Man in Space" show. He orchestrated on the Davy Crockett films and on Westward Ho The Wagons, that also starred Fess Parker. His final film project, also for Disney, was Johnny Tremain in 1957.

Edward Plumb passed away on Friday April 18, 1958.

(If you haven't already clicked on the location links above, check out the Google Maps Locations for Ed Plumb.)