Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas from Ronald Searle!

Those lucky enough to be on Searle's Christmas Card list received a nice surprise every year.  Ex-Disney animator Vladimir 'Bill' Tytla was one of those fortunate few-Searle met him in New York and remembers the volatile Ukranian fondly.

Tytla's widow Adrienne assembled a giant book on her husband's life in which several cards from Searle are reproduced.

More personal cards found on Ebay

Christmas Card Box-set

 Christmas Books 1989

Christmas 1992

2002 rough concept

Ronald's 1998 Christmas Card

Searle's cards in the last few years have featured Santa and his reindeer and coloured balloons.

Ronald's 2008 Christmas Card


'Ronald Searle (1920-2011) original pen and ink illustration depicting a photographer and ballet dancer, signed with initials and bearing Searle stamp to reverse, 25cm x 20cm. This illustration was a Christmas card design for Roger Wood - original card included, together with a letter from Searle on his headed paper dated Nov 30th '49 'Dear Roger Wood, This is probably gross libel - but that is the sort of thing you must put up with from cartoonists! Sincerely Ronald Searle'. Also included is a rough pencil note from Roger Wood to Searle as a reply to his letter (4 items)'

A two-colour Christmas card designed by Ronald Searle detailing a score of mostly disgruntled-looking birds roosting in a skeletal Christmas tree with Santa glaring at the one selfish bird who has constructed a nest from the foliage. This greetings card sent by Searle and his wife to Veronica [Wedgewood] and Jacqueline [Hope-Wallace, her long-time partner]: "Could you join us for a Christmas drink on the 27th 6-8.0? We'd love to see you if you are free. K&R". Paperstock a little tanned, mostly at edges. Tricky to date, but presumably sent sometime between 1947 and 1966.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Desert Island Discs

Ronald talks to Sue Lawley in this 2005 recording made at his home in Provence. Broadcast Sunday 10th July, 2005. A partial transcript of the interview is published in 'Desert Island Discs: 70 years of castaways' by Sean Magee (Transworld 2012).

Searle is one of a handful of people who have appeared on the show twice.  His first time broadcast Monday 12th June, 1959 yielded a different selection-

This is a shot of his own personal record of the selection.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


I've updated the following sections:
Heroes Of Our Time  with a photograph of Searle with his portraits.

Punch Theatre with several images photographed from the original drawings.

The Big City Or The New Mayhew with two more images.


Political Portraits

Chelsea Arts Ball

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Energetically Yours"

Last year at the CTN-X animation in Los Angeles I screened 'Energetically Yours' as part of my presentation on Searle and his work in animation & film titles.  The short recently turned up on YouTube so I'd like to feature it here along with some of the rare material I've collated on the project.

In 1957 Standard Oil commissioned Searle to design the short which saw him visit America for the first time. The film was produced through Transfilm with the actual animation created by Dave Hilberman (a founding member of UPA) at Playhouse Pictures with Bill Melendez supervising animation and Art Babbitt animating at Quartet Films in Los Angeles.  Searle spent several months in the US where his time was split between the ad agency (McCann-Erickson) in New York and the production outfits in LA. 

"In that 16 minutes nearly 25,000 drawings were shown.  The cost was four months work, often night and day, by something like 150 people and an expenditure of 450, 000 dollars."
Wine & Spirit Trade Review, 7 March 1958

The Oct. 14, 1957 issue of TIME magazine commented:

'Standard Oil's  $600,000 75th Anniversary Show, to be staged in color over NBC (9 to 10:30 p.m., E.D.T.) by Theaterman Cyril Ritchard, stars Tyrone Power, Jimmy Durante, Bert Lahr, Donald O'Connor, Jane Powell, Marge and Gower Champion, Brandon de Wilde, Duke Ellington, Eddie Mayehoff, Kay Thompson, Columnist Art Buchwald and British Cartoonist Ronald Searle.'

Indeed Searle himself featured on camera, reputedly paid $1000 a minute to utter a mere ten words "But artists, like children, should be seen and not heard".   Searle joked Afterwards that he subsequently tried to appear on US television as often as possible!

Mr Searle sent me several of the following 'behind the scenes' photographs taken during the making of the film (more of which I unearthed in the Searle Archive, Hannover).

Searle at work on the storyboard.

Pitching the board to director Dave Hilberman.

Here we see Searle holding his storyboard with Animation Supervisor Bill Melendez on the right and designer Sterling Stuydevant on the left of the pictures.

Searle comparing notes with Dave Hilberman.

Searle & Hilberman catch up on the other's respective news headlines!

Animation supervisor Bill Melendez pitches to director Dave Hilberman.

ESSO magazine Autumn 1958 (vol VII number 4)

The June 1958 of Locomotive Engineers Journal had a feature on the film.

LIFE magazine also did a spread on the film and Searle's involvement.

  • "STANDARD OIL 75th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL - Jo Coppola, writing in her column "The View from here" in the New York Post of Monday, October 14, 1957: "The 75th Anniversary Show of Standard Oil of New Jersey (NBC, 9 p.m.), which was said to have as its theme: 'The Wonders of Today and the promise of Tomorrow,' was a slick variety show featuring some of yesterday's best-loved TV acts....the sets on the 75th Anniversary Show were lavish indeed and some of the staging by theater veteran Cyril Ritchard was unique. Tyrone Power, the film idol, was the host and spokesman for the birthday celebration. He introduced the numbers and paid tribute to Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) which, of course, paid the bills....Jimmy Durante was on hand with a bevy of beautiful girls in satin gowns; Donald O'Connor and Sid Miller did one of their Tin Pan Alley spoofs on a horror-musical and Bert Lahr and Durante exchanged quips in a nostalgic duet. Also in the smooth variety show were Jane Powell (in satin), Marge and Gower Champion, Duke Ellington and his orchestra, comedian Eddie Mayehoff and the energetic Kay Thompson. Art Buchwald, syndicated columnist, was brought over from France to introduce a number--which shows how far TV is willing to go to get fresh new faces....Ronald Searle, British caricaturist, introduced a cartoon of his own making ... Wisa D'Orsa and a group danced to the sounds of radar and Sputnik's beeps.... [The show was] expertly put together."
Here's the film on YouTube.

The film print is rather faded but these set-ups give a better idea of how vibrant the original colour styling was.

Thanks to Amid Amidi for contributing supplementary material and permission to 
reproduce from his book CARTOON MODERN

Michael Sporn unearthed a treasure trove of original cels from the film.

Thanks to Amid Amidi for contributing supplementary material & permission to reproduce from his book CARTOON MODERN

Animator Dan Blank, whose wife's grandfather was a cousin of Dave Hilberman, dug this out of his garage!  Somewhat yellowed and water damaged it appears to be a cut gag drawing for the film by Searle. (Thanks to Dan & Amid Amidi for bringing this to my attention.)

More on Searle's work in FILM here
Searle's titles for MONTE CARLO OR BUST! here