Robert McKimson (1910–1977)
Robert McKimson’s animation career began in 1928 at Walt Disney Studios. He started as an assistant but only remained there for a short time and moved over to Romer Grey’s new cartoon studio. In 1930, he joined Harman-Ising as an animator. Harman-Ising evolved into Leon Schlesinger's studio, which was eventually acquired by Warner Bros. Thus, from 1930 until the animation studio temporarily stopped making shorts in 1963, he animated and directed hundreds of cartoons for Warner Bros. He became a director during the mid 1940’s with his first picture “Daffy Doodles” being released in 1946. In all, he directed 175 cartoons for Warner Bros. and introduced five major characters: Foghorn Leghorn, Hippety Hopper, Sylvester Jr., the original Speedy Gonzales and the Tazmanian Devil. During the 1940’s, he was the studio’s principal model-sheet maker, which strongly influenced Warner’s overall graphic identity.
About 1943, he made revisions to his previous model-sheet of Bugs Bunny that created the definitive look of Bugs that is now universal. In addition, he drew the now famous pose of Bugs Bunny leaning on a tree, with a carrot poised for chomping. At one point during the 1940’s, McKimson and his brothers, Tom and Charles, all worked together at Warner Bros. After the animation studio temporarily stopped making shorts in 1963, McKimson directed various theatricals as well as commercials and titles. He passed away suddenly in 1977 while working at his first love – the direction of animation.
Robert McKimson was an unpretentious man who ironically was rarely afforded same attention as his contemporaries. In some ways, in spite of his achievements, he was “The Forgotten Director” at Warner Bros. Cartoons. In order to memorialize him, various original drawings and scenes from cartoons he directed have been being reproduced into limited edition form for collectors the world over.