"Ralph Bakshi was born in October 1938 in Haifa, Israel.
In 1939 his family came to New York escaping the war. He grew up in Brooklyn and went to the High School of Industrial Arts now called High School of Art & Design. Bakshi ended up graduating with an award in cartooning in 1957, Bakshi went to work for Terrytoons Animation Studio in New Rochelle as a cell polisher, graduating to cell painting. Practicing nights and weekends he quickly became an inker, and then directly to animator (by claiming an empty desk on the animators floor and, claiming that he was promoted to animator, asked for scenes to animate for characters such as Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Deputy Dawg, Foofle & Lariat Sam. By 25 he was directing these shows as well as Sad Cat, James Hound and others. At 28 he created and directed The Mighty Heroes and was made Creative Director of the studio. In 1967 Bakshi accepted the position of Producer and Director of Paramount CartoonFrom RalphBakshi.com:
"Ralph Bakshi was born in October 1938 in Haifa, Israel.
In 1939 his family came to New York escaping the war. He grew up in Brooklyn and went to the High School of Industrial Arts now called High School of Art & Design. Bakshi ended up graduating with an award in cartooning in 1957, Bakshi went to work for Terrytoons Animation Studio in New Rochelle as a cell polisher, graduating to cell painting. Practicing nights and weekends he quickly became an inker, and then directly to animator (by claiming an empty desk on the animators floor and, claiming that he was promoted to animator, asked for scenes to animate for characters such as Mighty Mouse, Heckle & Jeckle, Deputy Dawg, Foofle & Lariat Sam. By 25 he was directing these shows as well as Sad Cat, James Hound and others. At 28 he created and directed The Mighty Heroes and was made Creative Director of the studio.
In 1967 Bakshi accepted the position of Producer and Director of Paramount Cartoon Studios (aka Famous Studios) which had been the Max Fleicher Studio. There he did four theatricals: Marvin Digs, Mini Squirts, Super Basher and Bop, and the Fiendish Five. Here he hired Mort Drucker, Wally Wood, Jack Davis, Joe Kubert, Jim Steranko, Gray Morrow and Roy Krenkel. As the theatrical market abruptly stopped, the studio closed and Bakshi was hired by Steve Krantz Productions to go to Toronto to take over direction and production of Rocket Robinhood at Al Guest Studios. There he produced and directed Spiderman- bringing it to life for the first time out of it's comic book pages.
In 1968, Bakshi brought the production of Spiderman to be finished in New York where they opened up a studio at Herald Square. At this time Bakshi had opened Ralph's Spot. Here he worked with Peter Max on various spots and did commercials for such companies as Fanta and Encyclopedia Britannica. He sold the idea of Fritz the Cat as a feature film to Steve Krantz. They flew out to Oakland to find Crumb to secure the rights. Dana Crumb was only too happy to join them in the venture.
Almost halfway through the production of Fritz the Cat, the entire studio moved to Los Angeles due to the Cartoonists Union refusing to cooperate with the studio. Instead of shutting down they moved to the coast where the Los Angeles Union was happy to have the production. Fritz was done completely in 2d animation and the audio track recorded almost entirely on the streets of New York, with the exception of Fritz and the girls and Big Bertha and a few other main characters. In April of 1972 Fritz the Cat opened in LA and New York to rave reviews. Bakshi was invited to directors week at Cannes Film Festival. The Museum of Modern Art screened Fritz. That year Bakshi wrote Heavy Traffic and went back into production. Still working with Steve Krantz as producer and Zaentz.
Bakshi met Al Ruddy when he was screening his film the Godfather at UCLA. They became instant friends. He sold Ruddy on making a version based upon the storybook "Uncle Remus." It was called Coonskin. Bakshi Productions (24, 25)was opened and they began pre-production. Heavy Traffic was still in production at this time with Steve Krantz, who locked Bakshi out of the studio with this news of Al Ruddy and Bakshi working together. After two weeks they asked him back to finish the picture – quickly realizing no one could come close to the job. Live Action was shot for Heavy Traffic and was married with the animation – but not rotoscoped. In 1973, Bakshi's second feature, Heavy Traffic, was screened at the Museum of Modern Art where it continued to shock and stun the public to a great applause.
In 1973 production of Coonskin (a.k.a. Streetfight) began at Bakshi Studios on Melrose in Hollywood. Live action was also use in this film and joined alongside the animation. Here he enjoyed working with artists such as John Sparey, Jim Tyler, Virgil Ross, Irv Spence, Manny Perez, Bob Carlson, Johnnie Vita and Ed Barge. Coonskin opened in 1975 with a screening at Museum of Modern Art in NYC to so much controversy that Paramount soon withdrew its release. Bryanston quickly attached itself and released to theatres to continued fevered controversy.
In 1977, Wizards, written, directed and produced by Bakshi, was released and received with great acclaim. There was no rotoscoping in Wizards, but there was original Nazi war footage used. Production was immediately started on JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36) Saul Zaentz agreed to a two-part version of the story. Bakshi shot the entire film in live action first and used rotoscoping technique to animate. In 1978 The Lord of the Rings was released. The second part which was in production, was halted and never completed.
In 1980 written, directed and produced by Bakshi, Hey, Good Looking was released. This film was entirely animated with live action footage used alongside. This film was made before Lord of the Rings but was held up by Warner Brothers. In 1982 directed by Bakshi, American Pop was released and in 1983, Fire & Ice – a collaboration between Frank Frazetta and Bakshi – was released. Both American Pop and Fire & Ice were rotoscoped. Bakshi's main motivation for doing film after film was so as not to lose his artists.
At this time Bakshi moves back to New York and takes up painting full time in his studio. He takes small breaks to go back into production on such projects as the Harlem Shuffle video for the Rolling Stones in 1985 and then in 1987 a live action short for PBS called This Ain't Be Bop with Harvey Keitel. Be Bop was a look at the values of the beat generation. In 1986, Bakshi was back in Los Angeles doing the cartoon series The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse that aired in 1987 and '88. He hired John Kricfalusi for this project who then went on to do Ren & Stimpy.
Tattertown, a Christmas special for television was completed directly following Mighty Mouse and This Ain't Be Bop in 1988. The Butter Battle Book was done with Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) in 1989.
Cool World story was created by Bakshi. Both the live action and animation was directed by Bakshi and released by Paramount in 1991. It starred Brad Pitt (49, 50), Kim Basinger & Gabriel Byrne. The live action movie The Cool & the Crazy, with Alicia Silvertsone and Jared Leto, was written & directed by him and filmed in LA in 1994 for Showtime.
In 1995 Bakshi wrote, directed and produced two cartoons for Hannah Barbera: Babe He Calls Me and Malcolm and Melvin. In 1996 he created a science fiction detective series for HBO called Spicy City.
Ralph Bakshi has created controversy in all his films while continuously breaking new ground in his art form. He has encouraged the public to look at animation in a new way by creating worlds that are sometimes familiar and sometimes we are strangers in yet completely enveloped by their power and strangeness. He pioneered animation with adult themes using political commentary and satire.
The Museum of Modern Art has added his films to their collection for preservation. We eagerly await the future which may always hold a new Bakshi venture."… Expand
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