Bob Givens, who has given us so many iconic cartoon characters, has died at age 99 in Burbank of natural causes.
A 60-year long career that produced cartoon characters out of some of the most well-known Hollywood studios, Givens gave us Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Tom and Jerry, Daffy Duck, Popeye and Alvin and The Chipmunks, among many others. Givens worked at Disney, Warner Bros. Cartoons, Hanna-Barbara and DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. His imprint is huge on the American world of animation.
Givens started as a freelance artist back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, in 1936. He then joined Walt Disney Studios as an animation checker on cartoons featuring Donald Duck. This position is responsible for the storyboard’s final continuity, that all dialogue is present and matched with action and all camera moves are correct and noted. The animation checker reports to the director and line producer. Here’s where he got his big break, in 1937. He joined the then groundbreaking show, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. This feature animation shaped all other animated films to come. This show was guided by the vision of a master storyteller, Walt Disney himself, 32 animators, 1032 assistants, 107 inbetweeners, 10 layout artists, 25 background artists, 65 special effects animators and 158 inkers and painters and countless production staff came together to create what we now know as a classic. This animated feature won the Grand Biennale Art Trophy from the Venice Film Festival, special awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. The film also received an honorary custom-made Oscar® which consisted of one standard Oscar® statuette alongside seven miniature statuettes representing each of the Dwarfs.
After Disney, Givens joined the team at Warner Bros Studios working under Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. In 1940 Avery requested Givens to work on the designs for a rabbit. He was brought into the Bugs Bunny animation team to give Bugs a new look, the whiskers and high cheek bones we know today. From this the first iconic Bugs Bunny was born. As Givens says in the video below, Bugs Bunny went through many refinements over the years. It was constant process to refine the look of the bunny.
Givens was then drafted into WWII where he worked on military training films with animations director Rudolph Ising. After the War, he began work again at Warner Bros in the 1950’s with Robert McKimson and Chuck Jones as a layout artist. This person is similar to a cinematographer. They’re responsible for the shot's frame, camera angle, camera path and lighting of each key animation scene. Givens worked at Warner until 1954, after which he found work at UPA, Hanna-Barbara and DaPatie-Freleng before returning back to Bugs Bunny’s original studio.
He also found work publishing graphics for children’s books with Western Publishing. Givens last animation was in 2001 with the Mauro Casalese, Jeff DeGrandis, Steven Dovas and Stephen Fossatti co-directed work Timber Wolf.
Bob Givens: Grand Old Man of Animation
The character designer for the first true Bugs Bunny cartoon A Wild Hare discusses his work as a layout and story artist for Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones and Robert McKimson. Wonderful stories from the golden age of Warner Bros animation. Joining Bob for this interview are Stephen Worth, Mike Fontanelli and Will Finn.