Bosustow, Stephen

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Animator, Writer, Designer, Director and Producer. Nationality: Canadian. Born: Victoria, British Columbia, 6 November 1911; family moved to California when Bosustow was a boy. Career: 1922—won first art prize at school; worked with Ub Iwerks; worked for the Walter Lantz Organisation at Universal Studios; 1934–41—writer and sketcher at Walt Disney's studio; laid off after participating in workers' strike; 1944—produced Hell Bent for Election for Roosevelt's election campaign; 1945—founded UPA (United Producers of America) Animation Studio; 1960—sold UPA. Award: Academy Award, Magoo's Puddle Jumper, 1956. Died: Of pneumonia, 4 July 1981.

Films as Producer at UPA:


Flathatting (Hubley)


The Brotherhood of Man (Hubley and Cannon)


Robin Hoodlum (Hubley)


The Magic Fluke (Hubley); Ragtime Bear (Hubley); Punchy Deleon (Hubley); The Miner's Daughter (Cannon); Giddy Yap (Babbitt); Trouble Indemnity (Burness); The Popcorn Story (Babbitt); Bungled Bungalow (Burness)


Spellbound Hound (Hubley)


Gerald McBoing Boing (Cannon); The Family Circus (Babbitt); Bare Faced Flatfoot (Burness); Georgie and the Dragon (Cannon); Fuddy Duddy Buddy (Hubley); Wonder Gloves (Cannon); Grizzly Golfer (Burness)


Rooty Toot Toot (Hubley); The Four Poster (Hubley); The Oompahs (Cannon); Sloppy Jalopy (Burness); Dog Snatcher (Burness); Willie the Kid (Cannon); Pink and Blue Blues (Burness); Pete Hothead (Burness); Hotsy Footsy (Hurtz); Madeline (Cannon); Captains Outrageous (Burness)


Christopher Crumpet (Cannon); A Unicorn in the Garden (Hurtz); The Tell-Tale Heart (Parmelee); Little Boy with a Big Heart (Cannon); The Emperor's New Clothes (Parmelee); Safety Spin (Burness); Gerald McBoing Boing's Symphony (Cannon); Magoo's Masterpiece (Burness); Magoo Slept Here (Burness)


Destination Magoo (Burness); Bringing Up Mother (Hurtz); Ballet-Oop (Cannon); Magoo Goes Skiing (Burness); The Man on the Flying Trapeze (Parmelee); Fudget's Budget (Cannon); Kangaroo Courting (Burness); How Now Boing Boing (Cannon)


When Magoo Flew (Burness); Magoo Makes News (Burness); Spare the Child (Liss); Four Wheels and No Brake (Parmelee); Magoo's Check-Up (Burness); Baby Boogie (Julian); Magoo's Express (Burness); Madcap Magoo (Burness); Christopher Crumpet's Playmate (Cannon); Stage Door Magoo (Burness); Rise of Duton Lang (Evans)


Gerald McBoing Boing on the Planet Moo (Cannon); Magoo's Puddle Jumper (Burness); Magoo's Caine Mutiny (Burness); Magoo Goes West (Burness); Calling Dr. Magoo (Burness); The Jaywalker (Cannon); Magoo Beats the Heat (Burness); Trailblazer Magoo (Burness); Magoo's Problem Child (Burness); Meet Mother Magoo (Burness)


Magoo Goes Overboard (Burness); Matador Magoo (Burness); Magoo Breaks Par (Burness); Magoo's Glorious Fourth (Burness); Magoo's Masquerade (Larriva); Magoo Saves the Bank (Burness); Rock Hound Magoo (Burness); Magoo's Moose Hunt (Cannon); Magoo's Private War (Larriva)


Trees and Jamaica Daddy (Keller); Sailing and Village Band (Keller); Magoo's Young Manhood (Burness); Scoutmaster Magoo (Cannon); The Explosive Mr Magoo (Burness); Magoo's Three Point Landing (Burness); Magoo's Cruise (Larriva); Love Comes to Magoo (McDonald); Spring and Saganaki (Keller); Gumshoe Magoo (Turner)


1001 Arabian Nights (Kinney); Bwana Magoo (McDonald); Picnics Are Fun and Dino's Serenade (Keller); Magoo's Homecoming (Turner); Merry Minstrel Magoo; Magoo's Lodge Brother (Larriva); Terror Faces Magoo (Ishii)


By BOSUSTOW: book—

Chief By Birthright, 1981.

On BOSUSTOW: articles—

Montgomery, John, in The Summing Up in Comedy Films, 1954.

American Cinematographer (Hollywood), vol. 46, no. 11, November 1965.

Obituary in Variety (New York), 15 July 1981.

* * *

The name of Stephen Bosustow is inseparably linked with the United Productions of America. This important artist was not only its founder but also its spiritual father. At the end of the forties and the beginning of the fifties, this corporation became the greatest rival of Walt Disney as a result of Bosustow's artistic way of looking at animated—especially cartoon—film, but also it served as a creative base for young artists. Now Bosustow could realize his dreams and ideas both in his own films (the first such film—Brotherhood of Man—raised a sharp reaction and brought about notable success) and in serial stories and series with characteristic figures such as Mr. Magoo, the little boy Gerald McBoing Boing, and others.

The importance of this cartoon filmmaker, scriptwriter, art designer and director consists, above all, in the fact that he was the initiator of new trends and currents. He created conditions for artistic development of modern animation in the United States and to a pleiad of talented artists such as the painter Saul Stenberg, the designer Thurber, Robert Cannon, Peter Burness, Ted Parmelee and others. The basis of the work of this group headed by Bosustow was inspired by modern artistic tendencies, abstraction and children's drawing, and the graphic development of modern posters and caricature. Bosustow gave way to personalities: he did not restrain them by his own style and challenged the established "rules" of American cartoon film from the point of view of both content and graphic form. Thus he broke conventions and established new values. He abandoned gags and the settled "O-style" which was characteristic of the cartoon slapstick of that time. He did not portray animals and did not tell fables but dealt with problems of human beings in cartoon films for adults.

In comparison with Disney and his technical perfection of animation and naturalistic detailed drawings, Bosustow returned to a simpler form of drawing and animation. He often used linear drawing. The scene expressed only the essential, and partial animation stressed absurdity or even the grotesque. This shows in his feature films where he aimed at effectiveness of scenes regardless of the principles of perspective in his desire to make the scenes visually more attractive.

Stephen Bosustow's tendencies influenced others such as Hy Hirsch, Ernest Pintoff, Gene Deitch and, to some extent, even Walt Disney himself. They influenced the commercial trick film and the works of Tex Avery, Walter Lantz, Paul J. Smith, and others. Thus Bosustow could be called the founder of the modern American school of animation.

—Vacláv Merhaut