Obituary: Ed Love

Ed Love is not a name well known even to those film-lovers who take notes from the creative credits which flash by all too quickly in the cinema. Television is no help, either, often cutting off credit titles or squashing them into unreadable portions of the screen while using the rest of the space to advertise whatever is coming next. This is especially true of cartoon credits, where even resorting to videos and freeze-frames does not always help. This is even sadder for a long-term animator like Ed Love, whose early work was never credited anyway, and whose later work may well be lost thanks to Hanna-Barbera's latest practice of crediting every name in the company but in ultra-rapid frame flashes.

Fortunately for cartoonists, keen enthusiasts of the genre have in recent times been probing into the men and women behind the scenes, publishing articles, interviews and even books about Hollywood's golden age of animation, and whilst the bulk of an animator's work may never now be known, at least a milestone arises here and there to mark the progress of a special talent from rough pencillings to the height of colour and humorous movement. One such master was Ed Love.

Love's 55-year career in animated cartoons began back in Los Angeles in 1930. It was the height of the American Depression and the 18-year- old college leaver with some talent as a cartoonist waded through the Classified Telephone Directory searching for a real professional to give him some tips on how to get work. He chanced on an animator who worked for the Walt Disney Studio and whose assignment at the time was on a Mickey Mouse short. He gave the teenager a chance to try making Mickey play the violin and then fall over. Young Ed had a go, nervously showed the result to Disney himself, and was promptly hired as an assistant animator at $18 a week.

From Love's Disney days, one short emerges above all others. This was Flowers and Trees, not the first-ever film in the "Silly Symphony" series, but the first to be filmed in glorious Technicolor. It was released in July 1932, and won for Walt his first-ever Academy Award. The director was Burt Gillett, and Love animated an evil tree who kidnapped a pretty young sapling.

Much later, Love's name cropped up on the credits of perhaps Disney's greatest ever feature film, Fantasia (1940). This pioneering attempt to bring life to a selection of popular classics was regarded as Disney's greatest folly, especially by the moneymen of Hollywood, but it has stood the test of time and marks the first film use of stereophonic sound. Leopold Stokowski, who conducts the orchestra behind the picturisation of Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice, concludes this dramatic sequence by appearing in silhouette and shaking Mickey Mouse's hand. Interestingly, this piece was designed to be a super "Silly Symphony" on its own, and was so successful that during production it expanded into the full-length feature that became Fantasia. And it was on this sequence that Ed Love animated.

Love then moved across to the MGM cartoon studio under producer Fred Quimby. He joined the unit headed by Fred Avery, nicknamed "Tex", one of several animation geniuses developed by Warner Bros who found better self-expression elsewhere. Here Love became a valuable addition to Avery's unit, right from their first production, Blitz Wolf (1942). This haywire piece of propaganda rivalled Disney's Der Fuhrer's Face, which copped the Oscar mainly because of its hilarious anti-Hitler song, punctuated with ripe raspberries. Love animated many of Avery's best shorts, including the howlingly saucy Red Hot Riding Hood (1943), a top favourite with GIs everywhere and Screwball Squirrel (1944), which established Screwy Squirrel as a mainstream Avery madcap.

At MGM, Love was one of a team of four animators: Preston Blair, Ray Abrams and Irven Spence. Other crazy characters this team brought to life included Droopy Dog, the half-pint hound who introduced himself with "Hello, folks - I'm the hee-ro!", and the large and small bears called George and Junior, who were caricatures of the principal protagonists in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. This pair of bears starred in such titles as Red Hot Rangers (1947), which would prove to be Love's last film at MGM.

Love then moved over to the Walter Lantz studio, where Woody Woodpecker cartoons were made. Once a major force in animation, Lantz had started to sink after Universal closed their distribution deal and United Artists, a leading independent, took over. Love worked with Fred Moore, a famous name in cartooning who had been dismissed by Disney. Serving under the director Dick Lundy, they brought their superior skills to bear on Playful Pelican (1948). Starring Lantz's second-string hero, Andy Panda, this failed to breath new life into the little animal, who was promptly retired.

Lantz, nearing the end of his UA contract, never knew whether his studio would last into the following week, and the dithering delays unsettled Love. He quit animation for a while, then found a new home in television where Hanna-Barbera, the Bill and Joe who once won Oscar after Oscar for MGM with their Tom and Jerry series, were setting up as kings of limited animation, the newish technique they had evolved, or perhaps revived, to suit the cut-price budgets of television.

Love worked on The Flintstones (1960), the first-ever television cartoon series aimed at an adult audience, and on its futuristic follow-up, The Jetsons (1962). Not the same as Disney's, or Avery's or even Lantz's, but at least it was work.

Edward Love, animator: born Los Angeles 1911; died Valencia, California 6 May 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum