BiographyDenver, Colorado, USA
Robert McKimson was born on October 13, 1910. He started his career in animation, along with many others, as an artist for Walt Disney's Oswald the Rabbit in 1928. After Disney went to produce Mickey Mouse cartoons, Hugh Harman & Rudolph Ising went to Warner Brothers to direct and co-produce cartoon shorts, along with producer Leon Schlesinger. McKimson was one of the many artists who tagged along. During his career at Warner Brothers, Robert McKimson developed into one of the most gifted artists ever. In fact, he was an animator under nearly all the major WB directors. Read more... Rudolph Ising (1930-1933), Friz Freleng (1933-1937), Frank Tashlin (1937-1938), Chuck Jones (1938-1940), Tex Avery (1940-1941), and Bob Clampett (1942-1946; animating under Clampett's supervision was when McKimson's drawing talents truly began to blossom). Robert McKimson was in part responsible for developing Bugs Bunny's popularity during the 1940's. Between 1942 & 1943, Bob Clampett gave a Bugs Bunny modeling assignment to McKimson, which soon became the basic Bugs Bunny model for all Warner Brothers animators. The models are still in use for WB animators of today. He also designed the familiar design in which Bugs Bunny leans on a tree while eating a carrot, which was originally on display at a Los Angeles department store for a holiday sale. McKimson finally got his chance to direct in 1943, in the WWII short, "Return of Mr. Hook, The". His premiere short, "Daffy Doodles", was released in 1946. His earlier supervising efforts was influenced by none other than Bob Clampett, the last director he worked for. During his earlier directing efforts, Robert McKimson's brother, Charles McKimson, became his leading animator, who had previously been working at Warner Brothers as an animator under Tex Avery's supervision. Thomas McKimson, Robert's second brother, was also an animator for Warner Brothers, mainly under Bob Clampett's supervision; he was also a background & layout artist for Clampett's later WB cartoons. Drawing had apparently ran in the McKimson family. As director, Robert McKimson was responsible for the creation of such WB characters as Foghorn Leghorn, Barnyard Dog, Hippity Hopper, Bobo the Elephant, Tasmanian Devil, Sylvester Jr., and Speedy Gonzales, and helped develop the personality of other characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd. He only directed two Oscar-nominated toons; "Walky Talky Hawky" (1946), and "Tobassco Road" (1957). Robert McKimson's supervising success was partially because of the writing efforts of Warren Foster. However, when Foster was 'permanently' placed under Friz Freleng's writing unit in 1956, McKimson's writing unit was replaced by Tedd Pierce. That was when his supervising talents began to slip. In addition, he lost all his original animators (not nearly having the same dramatic effects for the other Warner Brother directors), including Charles McKimson. Robert did some of the animating under his supervision for a while between 1955 & 1956, until he got a new team of directors, which completely changed his stylization. Along with the change of writers & artists, Robert McKimson soon developed a 'squarer style', which from that point on scarred his cartooning career as his quality began to fall behind the other WB directors. The close-up of the original Warner Brothers' Cartoon Studio in 1963 was when Robert McKimson's career started to hit rock bottom. When the original WB Cartoon Studio closed, Friz Freleng quickly teamed up with David DePatie to form DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, in hopes of creating more WB cartoons. McKimson naturally tagged along, directing most of the less popular toon shorts of the 1960's, even the ones under Billy Hendrick's WB production in the latter of the 60's after DePatie-Freleng left WB in 1967. After the Warner Brothers cartoons' second diminishment in 1970, McKimson returned to DePatie-Freleng Enterprises to direct some Pink Panther cartoons. At that point, the careers of a lot of the remaining cartoonists, whom were once well-known during the 40's & 50's, had been detracted as well. In 1977, on his 66th birthday, McKimson had a doctor's appointment, when he was listed in good health. He decided to celebrate that evening. Unfortunately, while he was dining at a Burbank restaurant with Friz Freleng and other colleagues, Robert McKimson died of a massive heart attack (known as coronary). This came only years before his cartoons became part of the Warner Brothers' 'Looney Tunes renaissance' of the 1980's. Robert McKimson's cartooning career since its decline in the early 1960's, and his relatively early death in 1977 had mostly been pushed in the background from true recognition. But among many of today's cartoonists, McKimson still remains one of the most influential artists ever.