Paul Terry

Paul Terry

Birth
San Mateo, San Mateo County, California, USA
Death 25 Oct 1971 (aged 84)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend, Specifically: Ashes kept by his Daughter, Patricia Terry Leahy
Memorial ID 6523969 · View Source
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Motion Picture Producer. The co-founder and head of Terrytoons, he was a familiar name in American animation for over 50 years. He oversaw the creation of the popular characters Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle. Three of his shorts were nominated for Academy Awards, "All Out for 'V'" (1942), "My Boy Johnny" (1944), and "Gypsy Life" (1945). Paul Houlton Terry was born in San Mateo, California. Starting out as a newspaper cartoonist in San Francisco and New York City, he ventured into the nascent animation field after seeing Winsor McCay's landmark cartoon "Gertie the Dinosaur" (1914). He wrote, animated, and photographed his first efforts, "Little Herman" (1915) and "Mutt and Jeff" (1915), entirely on his own, learning the process as he went along. In 1916 Terry joined the J. R. Bray studio as a staff animator and created his first notable character, Farmer Al Falfa; the grizzled old-timer and his barnyard antics would appear in hundreds of one-reelers over the next 20 years. Following World War I service making training films for the US Army, Terry opened his own studio with backing from the Keith-Albee theatre circuit and launched his famous "Aesop's Fables" series in 1921. Though primitive in many ways, these were among the most well-received cartoons of the 1920s, and Walt Disney claimed them as an early influence. (Decades later Jay Ward would update Terry's concept as "Aesop & Son"). In 1929 Terry left the Fables studio and founded what eventually became Terrytoons with animator Frank Moser and sound recording expert Joseph Coffman; by 1936 he had bought out his partners and moved the company to its permanent home in New Rochelle, New York. Unlike other cartoon producers, Terry favored a variety of one-shot films over developing marketable "star" characters, and it was not until the late 1930s that he bowed to commercial pressure and introduced Gandy Goose (based on comedian Ed Wynn), Sourpuss the cat, and Puddy the Pup. He finally lucked into a hit property when story man I. Klein proposed a Superman spoof using a fly. Terry changed the fly to a mouse, and Mighty Mouse (originally Super Mouse) made his debut in "The Mouse of Tomorrow" (1942). While he had the odd distinction of appearing only in the climaxes of his films, Mighty Mouse had an underdog quality that was immediately appealing; particularly enjoyable are the string of mini-operettas in which he rescued his beloved Pearl Pureheart from the clutches of the dastardly Oil Can Harry. This was followed in 1946 by Heckle and Jeckle, two mischievous magpies who were Terry's answer to Bugs Bunny and other brash animated characters of the period; these were the most entertaining cartoons he ever produced and understandably his favorites. For all his longevity in the industry, Terry has never rated among animation's greats. His self-assessment was blunt: "Disney is the Tiffany's in this business, and I am the Woolworth's". Turning out 26 cartoon shorts a year with a modest staff, he made them as cheaply as possible, often recycling animation from earlier films to save money. Mighty Mouse and Heckle and Jeckle overcame the hackwork by their sheer likability, but the vast majority of Terrytoons (with such forgettable "stars" as Little Roquefort, Dinky Duck, the Terry Bears, etc.) are routine. His long term distribution deal with 20th Century-Fox assured his product wide visibility, however, and his fame and fortune increased in the early 1950s when he became the first major cartoon producer to package his old films for television. In 1955 Terry sold the company to CBS for $3.5 million and retired; under new leadership the Terrytoons studio remained active until 1968. Today Terrytoons are most fondly remembered by Baby Boomers who grew up watching them on TV.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Anonymous
  • Added: 18 Jun 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6523969
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Paul Terry (19 Feb 1887–25 Oct 1971), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6523969, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend, who reports a Ashes kept by his Daughter, Patricia Terry Leahy.