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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering