The Animated Redhead

I’m guessing I took this photograph back in the eighties. I can’t recall the names of the animation people in this picture but I love this particular shot. All of the artists are facing forward with the exception of the cute redhead looking in my direction. The perky redhead is an animation artist who married another animation artist who also happened to be a redhead as well. He’s former Disney animator, Charlie Downs. In case you don’t know Charlie Downs, he’s one of the clever and talented guys who worked with Ward Kimball on the Disney Space movies.

However, this is the Hanna-Barbera Studio. And, back in the eighties another movie has finally been completed. Uusally when a project wrapped, the staff would gather outside the main building for a group photograph. Since this kind of thing happened often I have no idea what this particular movie might have been. Since I was able to spot animation director, Bob Taylor in a few other photographs in this series, I guessing it might have been his film. I believe it was called, “Rock Odyssey” and it was meant to be a cool, updated version of Walt Disney’s “Fantasia.” Only this particular motion picture would have a rock sensibility. It was a big, bold idea for the eighties and could very well have been a huge hit on the big screen. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. And, the reasons why are much too long to be discussed here.

The Hanna-Barbera group photographs were usually taken by the studio’s own in-house photographer, Bob Goe. Bob was a Hanna-Barbera animator well known for his impressive pictures and his love of photography. When a photograph was needed, Bob Goe was conveniently nearby and the assignment usually fell into his lap. When the animation team gathered outside for this group photo I decided to tag along. I grabbed several shots of the animation team as they posed for the picture. However, this shot remains my favorite and I love how every element in the photograph draws your eye toward Paulette Downs. As I said earlier, she was a charming, attractive redhead who had spent her career in the cartoon business. Paulette was typical of the young women who worked in animation back then. Much is made of gender issues today, but there was little talk of the subject back then. Young women were a part of every discipline in the making of animated films. Women created animation, painted backgrounds, sketched layouts and storyboards, and were a part of the filmmaking process. Yes, it’s true the “Old Guys” who ran the business were men. However, please keep in mind we were still in a period of transition. Our producers and directors had been doing this job for decades and most would continue until their retirement. In time, young men and women would be welcomed into the producers and directors chair at various studios.

For now, take a few moments to enjoy the smile on Paulette’s pretty face. Posing for animation group photographs was a pretty routine thing back then and we didn’t have to work at faking a smile. Our smiles were the real deal because most of us were having a ball.

Pretty, perky Paulette Downs flashes a smile at the Hanna-Barbera photo shoot. This is a favorite shot of mine.

Pretty, perky Paulette Downs flashes a smile at the Hanna-Barbera photo shoot. This is a favorite shot of mine.