Working name of US animator, director, author and artist Charles Martin Jones (1912-2002). CJ is credited as one of the creators of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. Other character creations include Road Runner, Wile E Coyote, Claude Cat, Marvin Martian, Pepe Le Pew, Ralph Wolf, Sam Sheepdog, Sniffles, SNAFU, Crawford, Hubie & Bertie, Gossamer, Henery Hawk, Hugo the Abominable Snowman, Junyer Bear, Marc Anthony and Kitty. Explaining the enduring appeal of CJ's work, Peter Bogdanovich said, "[It] remains, like all good fables and only the best of art, both timeless and universal."
CJ first became aware of movies and their production as a young extra in Max Sennett comedies. The Charles Chaplin studios were a short distance from his home and the young CJ took full opportunity to observe comedies being filmed; he credits Chaplin's work as his instruction in the art of timing. His entry into the world of animation was at Pat Powers' Celebrity Pictures, where he worked for Ub Iwerks as a cel washer and drew on Flip the Frog cartoons. Hired in 1936 by Leon Schlesinger Studio (later sold to Warner Bros.) to join Tex Avery's animation unit, CJ worked his way up, starting as a cel washer and moving on to animator, writer, assistant director and director. His directorial debut was The Night Watchman (1938).
During WWII CJ directed 12 of the 26 Private SNAFU training movies for the US Army Signal Corps. and a re-election film for Franklin Roosevelt. He remained with Warner Bros. until they closed their animation division in 1962, except for a brief hiatus in 1955 when he worked for Disney. Among his shorts for Warner Bros. were Rabbit of Seville (1950), What's Opera Doc? (1957), Haredevil Hare (1948), One Froggy Evening (1956), Duck Amuck (1953), Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953), Rabbit Fire (1951), Frigid Hare (1949), Rabbit Seasoning (1952), The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950), For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), and Hare-Raising Hare (1946).
Asked why so many of these shorts were so successful, CJ once explained: "One of the many curiosities of the Warner Bros. Studio was that we were not allowed to edit in any way. A director had to learn how to time the picture to exactly six minutes, within a few frames. In order to create a piece like What's Opera Doc? the animation team had to cheat. We had so many Road Runners, we knew we could do them fast. All eight animators would work like crazy to finish a Road Runner picture in two and a half weeks, but would keep 'Road Runner' on their worksheets after they'd started on something like What's Opera Doc? This meant we could produce an extra film over eight or nine weeks."
In 1962 CJ opened Tower 12 Productions with Les Goldman and went to work for MGM, producing Tom and Jerry cartoons (1963-1967). As Vice President of Children's Programming at ABC-TV he coproduced, wrote and directed The Bugs Bunny Show (1960-1975) and the children's weekly variety show Curiosity Shop (1971-1973). He also headed the MGM animation department, where he directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), Horton Hears a Who (1971), The Dot and The Line (1965), The Pogo Special Birthday Special (1969) and the feature The Phantom Tollbooth (1969; > Norbert Juster).
CJ is currently CEO and president of Chuck Jones Enterprises, established in 1962, for which he has produced, written and directed: The Cricket in Times Square (1973), A Very Merry Cricket (1973) and Yankee Doodle Cricket (1975) for ABC; Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (1975), The White Seal (1975), Mowgli's Brothers (1976), Saint Saens's The Carnival of the Animals (1976), A Connecticut Rabbit in King Arthur's Court (1978; > A Connecticut Yankee) and two tv specials featuring Raggedy Ann and Andy, The Great Santa Claus Caper (1978) and The Pumpkin who Couldn't Smile (1979). He coproduced Dr Seuss' Cat in the Hat (1971; > Dr Seuss); executive produced Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (1971; > A Christmas Carol; Richard Williams); wrote and codirected the feature Gay Purr-ee (1962); did the bridges and new animation for Daffy Duck's Thanks-for-Giving Special (1980), Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over (1980), plus a feature compilation of past work: Chuck Jones' Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1968) for CBS; and the titles for Gremlins 2 – The New Batch (1990; Gremlins). Under the CJE banner he has served as consultant and goodwill representative for Warner Bros. from 1962 to present.
As chairman of Chuck Jones Productions, a division of Chuck Jones Enterprises, CJ has also developed new theatrical properties including Chariots of Fur (1994), Superior Duck (1996), Pullet Surprise (1997), Father of the Bird (1997) and two unreleased shorts, «Another Froggy Evening» and «From Hare To Eternity», plus the animated sequences for the live-action movies Stay Tuned (1992) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).
CJ has received three Academy Awards, two for best animated shorts (For Scent-imental Reasons in 1950, The Dot and the Line in 1965), and one for best documentary short subject (So Much for So Little in 1950). In 1996 he was presented an Honorary Oscar by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Numerous worldwide retrospectives have honoured CJ; his artwork has been displayed in New York City's Museum of Modern Art (1985) and at the Capital Children's Museum National Center for Animation, Washington, DC (1995), and was the subject of a major exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia (1995).
He has published six children's books based on his Cricket and Kipling tv specials plus the children's book William the Backwards Skunk (1986). He has been the subject of Chuck Amuck: The Movie (1989), Chuck Jones – A Life of Animation (1991), one episode and periodic references in the series The Creative Spirit (1993), and The Magical World of Chuck Jones (1992). CJ was Lecturer Emeritus at the University of California in San Diego during 1986, and continues to lecture at primary, secondary and advanced education schools, colleges and universities throughout the world.
CJ's talent is more than just the artistic ability to design, create and time a cartoon: it also springs from the integration of life experience, love of music and literature, an irrepressible sense of humour and keen observation, and the gift to translate what he observes into a character, be it written or animated. He is currently engaged in the creation of fine-art drawings. [PDS]
other works: Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist (1989); Chuck Reducks: Drawings from The Fun Side of Life (graph 1996).
Charles Martin Jones