Monday, February 23, 2015

Signed Original Production Cel of Gideon from "Pinocchio," 1940


Original hand painted and hand inked production cel of Gideon from "Pinocchio," 1940; Hand signed in ink by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston; Set on a custom prepared background; Size - Gideon: 6 1/4 x 6 3/4", Image 9 x 10 1/2", Frame 20 x 21 3/4"; Framed using two brown linen mats, a gold wood fillet, a gold and wood frame, and plexiglass.

Norm Ferguson (Fergy) was the animator responsible for bringing both J. Worthington Foulfellow (The Fox) and Gideon (The Cat) to life.  Fergy is most remembered for his creation of Pluto, but his animation of both Foulfellow and Gideon was one of the true highlights of the film "Pinocchio."  The inspiration for Foulfellow was the classic vaudeville acts; with their overdone dialogue and the actor's skill at improvisations.  The inspiration for Gideon was the silent Marx Brother, Harpo.  An earlier Walt Disney film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," had already proven that characters with no dialog (ie. Dopy) could become one of the the most memorable characters of the film.  Gideon was going to be voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc, but Disney decided to delete all of his lines; preferring a mute Foulfellow sidekick who has only 3 hiccups in the entire film.  Mel Blanc did provide the voice for the hiccups and he did receive payment; stating afterwards "that is it was the most expensive hiccup I ever recorded."

This spectacular cel of Gideon is from the famous scene in "Pinocchio" which occurs at the The Red Lobster Inn where Honest John (Foulfellow) and Gideon meet with the Coachman.  All three are seen smoking, Honest John and Gideon both have cigars and The Coachman has a pipe.  The scene opens with Honest John singing the classic "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life For Me)."  This cel is from the beginning sequence, when Gideon is blowing a smoke ring that he grabs with two fingers and proceeds to dunk it into his beer mug and then take a bite; as if the ring were a doughnut and the beer a cup of coffee.  He then hiccups, courtesy of Mel Blanc.

Framed Gideon Cel.

Years ago, when Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston were still alive and in good health; galleries could pay and fly them  to do book, cel, and/or drawing signings.  The cost to the gallery was $150/signature and several different galleries took advantage of this wonderful and rare opportunity.  Other animators did this as well, such as Ward Kimball, but in a much more reduced capacity.  Today, Frank and Ollie's signatures still add value to the cels, drawings, and books that they inhabit, such is the case for this wonderful cel of Gideon.

Close up of the Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston hand signatures.

To see the cel made from this drawing in the film, just click on the short video below: