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Culhane, James H. (“Shamus”)

Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on March 5, 2004

    Prominent animator with a long career at a wide variety of studios, including Iwerks’, Fleischer’s, Disney’s, and Lantz’s, where Culhane did important work in defining the character of Woody Woodpecker in cartoons such as The Barber of Seville (1944).

    Culhane had a brief career at Warner Brothers working in the Jones unit. Solomon quotes a story from Ben Washam regarding Culhane’s work habits, in which Culhane would spend four days sitting at his drawing table, eating peanuts and staring at his paper, only to whip through his scene in a few hours on Friday. When questioned by Washam as to why he hadn’t done anything all week if he could work that fast, Culhane simply responded that one had to think about it first!

    The best work of Culhane during his brief Warner Brothers tenure was on some of the Chuck Jones Inki films, for which Jones gives Culhane a great deal of credit. Culhane had come to the studio on the understanding that he would direct some of the studio’s war work. When this failed to materialize, he told Leon Schlesinger “to perform an impossible sexual act” and quit. (Maltin, p.248)

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