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The end of UPA


'Mr Magoo': WC Fields as inspiration, Jim Bachus as voice
Jules Engel Film-maker
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What happened with Mr Magoo - that I had an idea and I think most of us had an idea, or some of the most of us. The famous American actor, Mr - you know, with the big nose-

[Q] WC Fields.

WC Field. I had that all about Magoo to be. And he was WC Field, short-sighted, you know, and a stick and even the voice. So when we came upon him, when we had our first film done and we were looking for voice talent, when we heard him, that was it, you don't have to go any further, that was it. And it turned out to be special, it was just perfect, it was just beautiful. And we had a happy life with Mr Magoo. Although WC Field was very unhappy. In fact, there was a very huge article in the paper at one time, he hated the idea that people would stop him on the street, 'Hey, Mr Magoo!' You know, he was so angry that he talked against it in the paper. That, you know, he's a fine actor and done all these things his life and now he's ending up with Mr Magoo. But eventually he stopped doing that, eventually he stopped doing that, of complaining, because he was doing extremely well financially, it was a big income for him. And for whatever reason, he slowed down and accepted that that's him. And that was a sad moment because it was the Los Angeles Times, this huge article about him crying out that, 'I've spent all these years to build myself as a fine actor and now, here I am a piece of paper, Mr Magoo, he's not real', you know? So that was the heavy story and a sad story because he could have just… do it, you know? It's a good job, it's a funny job. But he hated when people pointed to him and referring to Mr Magoo. Well, that you run into and he was very sensitive about that. I don't blame the man, I think maybe it was right for him. But it was so vicious, so big as a spit from him, it was so big. It was hurting everybody. But somehow he cooled it, he stopped. But we were just plain lucky because we were looking for the voice and I think it was the fifth or the sixth person that was trying out for the voice and he was about the fifth or sixth and he got the job immediately. And that's what we needed, we needed that, and he was just perfect for it, yeah. And we could fly with him.

The late Hungarian-American film-maker Jules Engel is best known for his contribution to the field of animation. His work includes the dance sequences in Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' and the creation of 'Mr Magoo'. His films and lithographs are housed in museums all over the world and have won many awards.

Listeners: Bill Moritz Tamara Tracz

William Moritz received his doctorate from USC and pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His forty-four experimental and animation films have been screened at museums in Paris, Amsterdam and Tokyo, among others. He published widely on Oskar Fischinger, James Whitney, Bruce Conner, the Fleischers and 200 pages of animation history for an AbsolutVodka website. He wrote chapters for the "Oxford History of Cinema", appeared in several television documentaries, curated art exhibits and received a lifetime achievement trophy from the Netherlands Royal Academy for his work with visual music. He has served on film festival juries and received an American Film Institute filmmaking grant. His poetry and plays are also performed and published. He is a leading expert of Oskar Fischinger and recently published a biography of him. He teaches at The California Institute of the Arts.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Tags: Mr Magoo, WC Fields, Jim Backus

Duration: 3 minutes, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008