Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sharing the Joy - My School is 20 Years Old

Just wanted to take a moment and let all you great people know that my school The Animation Academy in Burbank California is celebrating its 20th anniversary as of last Friday. Started in the back room of a local restaurant in 1998. Went on to make a dramatic difference in the lives of many artists and also made a positive impact on the industry. It wasn't easy. There were good times and bad times, difficult struggles and happy accomplishments. Through it all it's been a fun adventure. Thanks to all of our students both past and present and to all the fantastic people that helped us to reach this noteworthy milestone.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Grave sites of great Hollywood actors and celebrities

Every year on December 5 which is Walt Disney's birthday I visit his grave site. On my latest visit last month I took some time to take photos of the grave sites of several of the famous people who are also interred at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale California. Perhaps the most beautiful cemetery in the world. It's a who's who of some of the great stars who ever lived. They left a lasting legacy in Hollywood and in other areas of entertainment and American culture that endures to this day.

Let's start with this shot which is a view of downtown Los Angeles from the area around Disney's grave. Notice the city skyline in the center of the photo way off in the distance above the tree line.

This is Alan Ladd. He's best known for his lead role in the all time classic western "Shane" from 1950. A great movie actor.

Here's Casey Stengel. He was the manager of the champion New York Yankees in the 1950's and the first manager of the New York Mets. He was quite a character. At the bottom of his bronze plate is this memorable epitaph of his... "There Comes A Time In Every Man's Life And I've Had Plenty Of Them".

Next up is the immortal Clara Bow. She's known as the "IT" girl because she had "it" which was also the title of her best known film in 1927. She was the biggest female star in Hollywood during that phase of the silent movie era. The first on film to embody the spirit of the contemporary 20th century woman.

The one and only Errol Flynn. The greatest of the Hollywood swashbucklers. He was the movie's biggest actor in the late 1930's. The little red flower is my homage to him. He was one of my favorite movie stars growing up as a kid. I was captivated and heavily influenced by his action films.

This is one of Hollywood's most famous couples. The husband and wife team of George Burns and Gracie Allen. They were popular radio stars and they also had a long running TV series in the 1950's.

Another couple from the golden age of Hollywood. Gene Raymond and Jeanette McDonald were husband and wife. They were very popular movie stars in the 1930's.

Did you ever see the 1939 movie "Heidi" with Shirley Temple? If you did then you'll recognize this actor. This is the grave of Jean Hersholt who played the memorable role of Heidi's grandfather.

This entertainer needs no introduction. Michael Jackson is entombed in this building. There's 24 hour security here and no way anyone can enter unless you're family or you have special permission. I chose to feature Michael as a youngster in his early days when he burst onto the scene with his brothers as The Jackson 5. He's a native son of Gary Indiana.

This is what the view of Forest Lawn looks like from Michael Jackson's grave site. It's a huge cemetery with at least 250,000 graves I'm told.

The great Nat King Cole. A voice as smooth as satin and silk. He was one of the finest singers in the history of American popular music.

Here's the final resting place of Spencer Tracy. Another of Hollywood's most talented actors. The photo at the lower right is a close up of his name at the grave site. 

Last but certainly not least among the pantheon of Hollywood's best is this building where some of the greatest of all time are resting. Photos aren't allowed inside so I took a picture of the structure and am featuring 4 of the many individuals whose earthly remains are contained therein. Starting with Elizabeth Taylor at the upper left and Red Skelton just beneath her. He was a hugely popular comedian who had a weekly TV variety show that lasted for many years. At the upper right is Carol Lombard who died tragically in a plane crash in the early 1940's. She was a movie star and married to Clark Gable who's pictured below her. They're buried next to each other.

There are many more stars and memorable individuals buried at Forest Lawn. This is a look at a few of them. If you're ever in the LA area make it a point to visit Forest Lawn. It's a fascinating place. Hope you enjoyed this presentation.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A few demos from last year

Here's some class demos from late last year that I'm filing away for posterity. The first is a facial expression study with a notation on how an overhead light source can help enhance the dimensionality of the subject.

Next we extend the head design into a full body concept.

Turn that head!

Rotations are a staple of character design and an essential skill for professionals.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

I found Marilyn Monroe's House in Burbank from 1948

Hello there! Hope everything is going great with you. I have an interesting photo essay to feature and which I'm excited to share. Here's the tale...


For decades in Burbank California we had the story that Marilyn Monroe lived here. We even had a photo dating to around 1948 that included an address. But nobody could figure out where that address was, whether the house was actually in Burbank, or whether it even existed anymore.

All of that has changed. The location of the house has been discovered and I can prove this was the place where the photo was taken. Click on the shots below and follow along as I tell you about Marilyn Monroe's house in Burbank. The 70 year mystery has finally been solved!


It's 1948 and Norma Jean (Mortenson) Dougherty is a 21 or 22 year old in Burbank California. She'd been working at a plane factory at the north end of town and is gradually picking up modeling work. Things are changing as she gets ready for a new career in show biz. She's signed a short term contract with Columbia Pictures and is frequently appearing as an extra and in bit parts in the movies. She's working as Marilyn Monroe for the first time. 

And she's living at 4215 Rowland Avenue.

Fast forward to Burbank in 2017 and the question becomes... Where's Rowland Avenue?

There's no such street in Burbank. If the street doesn't exist then what about the house? 

The great mystery surrounding the iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe in Burbank was solved this past summer by Wes Clark, a local historian who published the info on July 6 2017 and gave credit to Harry A. Marnell for disclosing that Rowland Avenue's name had been changed years ago. We now know what the current street name is and where to look.

Armed with the info I set out towards that part of town on Dec 28 2017. It was a neighborhood I lived at in 1995. In fact the house was across the street and only a few doors down from my old residence. As I approached I made a personal commitment. To take one shot as I walked by and make the best of it. Here it is...

It was built in 1937. A blow up of the photo shows the entrance. I lightened the image slightly for clarity. The front door is now painted white. The dark object in the center is a holiday wreath with a red bow.

By overlaying a transparent version of the photo we can see exactly where Marilyn Monroe was standing 70 years ago in 1948.

To further confirm the location of the 4215 photograph I used the street view from Google Maps dated 2015.

This is an image of the front door zoomed in from the street view on Google Maps.

This is an overlay of the original Marilyn Monroe photo at the exact spot where the image was taken.

Thanks to Google Maps technology we can see what Marilyn Monroe was looking at from the perspective of her front door. The panorama still has some of that small town country charm to it. Beyond the hill on the left is Hollywood. Towards the base of the hill is Warner Bros Studio. To the right of the hill and directly in the center of the image would be the area of Universal Studios.

Marilyn Monroe was facing Hollywood!

Another piece of the puzzle in the life of one of America's greatest and most iconic entertainment talents. 

Norma Jeane we have found you !!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Happy 2018 !!

I was having a great December and lots of fun during the Christmas season when --- Wham! ... I got sick the night before Christmas Eve with a nasty bug of some kind that knocked me out for the holiday. Then it came back on New Years! But I'm pretty resilient and after taking it easy for a while I'm on top of things again and getting ready for a great year ahead.

I hope you're all doing well and I thank you once again for following my blog and for your appreciation of the things I have fun with creatively. Will be around again soon with new stuff. Meanwhile here's wishing you every good thing for 2018 and beyond!