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Ralph Bakshi Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (14)  | Personal Quotes (14)  | Salary (1)

Overview (2)

Born in Haifa, Palestine [now Israel]
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Ralph Bakshi worked his way up from Brooklyn and became an animation legend. Born on October 29, 1938, in Haifa, Bakshi grew up in Brownsville after his family came to New York to escape World War II. Bakshi attended the Thomas Jefferson High School and was later transferred to the High School of Industrial Arts and graduated with an award in cartooning in 1957.

At the Terrytoons studio, he started as a cel polisher then graduated to cel painting. Practicing nights and weekends, he quickly became an inker and then an animator. There, he worked on such shows as Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, Deputy Dawg, Foofle and Lariat Sam. At 28 he created and directed a series of superhero spoof cartoons called The Mighty Heroes.

In 1967, Bakshi moved to Paramount Studios. Working with producer Steve Krantz, Bakshi worked on episodes of the Spider-Man TV series and several short films. In the 1970s, Bakshi set out to produce films using his innovative vision for how animated films should be. Krantz suggested Robert Crumb's "Fritz the Cat" comic book as Bakshi's first feature. The two set out to meet with Crumb and get the film rights. In 1972, the film premiered and was extremely successful, as the first feature-length animated film to receive an X rating by the American rating system (when it was distributed worldwide, it generally received lower ratings the equivalent of an R rating, and was released as being unrated on DVD).

The success of "Fritz the Cat" allowed Bakshi to produce films featuring his own characters and ideas, and so "Heavy Traffic" and "Coonskin" were produced, both of which were extremely controversial, but were praised by critics. During the same period, he shot and completed another feature titled "Hey Good Lookin'" for the Warner Brothers studio, who didn't think that a combination of live-action and animation would sell, and forced Bakshi to go back and animate the live-action sequences.

During this period, Bakshi also produced two very successful fantasy films: "Wizards" and part one of an animated film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings." Although these films were financially successful, they were misunderstood by critics, and United Artists, the studio that produced "The Lord of the Rings" refused to fund the second part, or sequel to Bakshi's ambitious adaptation.

During the 1980s, animation went into a decline. "American Pop," done using the same style of realistic animation as "The Lord of the Rings" was not successful financially, and critics did not see the point of the film being animated. The finished version of "Hey Good Lookin'" was released during the same year as "American Pop," but was also unsuccessful financially. Bakshi's last film of the decade, "Fire & Ice," a collaboration with famed artist Frank Frazetta, was a flop.

Bakshi produced several television features with mixed results before returning to film with what would eventually become "Cool World" - the script was rewritten several times during production without Bakshi's knowledge until it came to the point where Bakshi did not recognize his own work. The film was critically scorned, and was a box office flop. Fans feel that the film is not a true Bakshi film.

Since then, the Internet and DVD releases of Bakshi's work have brought him a new generation of fans and increased interest, encouraging Bakshi to produce another film. "Last Days of Coney Island" is currently in production. Bakshi currently lives in New Mexico. A three-day retrospective was held at American Cinematheque at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California and the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, California in April, 2005.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (2)

Liz Bakshi (August 1968 - present) ( 3 children)
Elaine Beck (1959 - ?) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

Animated features specifically made for adults, often with a heavy use of rotoscoping
Often blends animation with brief live-action backgrounds
Distinctive, raspy voice

Trivia (14)

Was the inspiration for the voice of the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons (1989).
He left Hollywood and filmmaking to spend his remaining life painting pictures, but during the back-to-back recording for a guest appearance on Ren & Stimpy 'Adult Party Cartoon' (2003) and the DVD commentary for his 1977 film Wizards (1977), he was bit by the animation bug again, and has recently (2005) begun work on his latest feature, currently titled Last Days of Coney Island (2015).
Father-in-law of Jonathan Yudis.
Father of Preston Bakshi, Eddie Bakshi, Mark Bakshi and Victoria Bakshi. Mark is president of Paramount production.
Comedian Richard Pryor, film directors Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino and Wu-Tang Clan are credited as fans of Bakshi's film, Coonskin (1975). Tarantino wrote the forward to the hardcover book "Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi".
Greatly dislikes and is very critical of Don Bluth's films.
Is an avid fan of Jean-Luc Godard.
Visualizes a scene by listening to music, which usually plays over the scene in the finished film.
Is friends with Dave Spafford.
In the mid 1980's when Bakshi was depressed following the lack of support for his personal projects (i.e. Hey Good Lookin' (1982)) he read "Catcher in the Rye" and connected intensely with Holden Caulfield, and even figured out a way to make the narrative work cinematically by keeping the mental hospital scenes in live-action and the flashbacks animated. Bakshi wrote a letter to Salinger, a famous recluse who turned down many offers to adapt the book, where he poured out his heart about the book and his personal life. Bakshi ended up receiving a response in a letter from Salinger, where he appreciated the director's dedication and vision, but politely declined the offer since he could not see it becoming a film. Going through this process helped Bakshi get out of his creative rut, and he went on to do more work in the late 80's and early 90's before going into (semi) retirement from motion pictures.
At one time wanted to make an animated feature-film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's 'Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas'.
He had an interest of doing a film of "The Catcher in the Rye". He intended to shoot the story's bracketing sequences in live action and to animate the core flashback scenes. J.D. Salinger rejected this offer (as well as the other offers that were made beforehand to adapt the book).
Is considered to be one of the greatest animators of all time, held in the same rank as Walt Disney and Hayao Miyazaki.
Grandfather of Miles Bakshi and Nina Zoe Bakshi.

Personal Quotes (14)

I think it's impossible to do [J.R.R. Tolkien]. It's impossible to get the brilliance of what he wrote about -- just the medium, the book, the novel gives you other areas of imagination [that] film can't allow. Film has to describe and show. With the brilliance of his words and his scenes, you imagine whatever you want. I'm sure various people imagine different things.
Sweetheart, I'm the biggest ripped-off cartoonist in the history of the world, and that's all I'm going to say.
John [Kricfalusci] and a bunch of guys were working for me in my studio on storyboards before Mighty Mouse. Bobby's Girl (2012) was the project, Tri-Star bought the movie. John and a bunch of other artists designed it [the same guys who went to work on Mighty Mouse]. I was the producer/director. The studio would then have sequence directors, designers etc. as usual. The president of Tri-Star, Jeff Sagansky, got fired. The project was canceled by Tri-Star. In panic I sold Mighty Mouse and decided to make John a director to train him on a TV series. Roughly speaking, after that, John really wanted his own studio to produce and direct himself and never really felt comfortable working for anyone else. Even his giant friend Ralph.
[on directing The Rolling Stones music video of "The Harlem Shuffle"] I cast everyone and hired everyone - but my main concentration was taking care of the Stones. It was a lot of work choreographing . . . it was also a blizzard in New York the night we were shooting, and after I returned that night at 4 or 5 am they thought I had checked out without paying, so I spent the night in the lobby. The rest was a blur. Oh yes, there were about 350 groupies on the sound stage and various hangers around - and someone delivered three cases of Scotch or bourbon to Keith's [Keith Richards] room. I do remember that. Never saw them again! Oh yeah, Keith Richards loved the zoot suit he wore. I had to buy the suits from the costume department because he took them back to England. I loved that. Mick [Mick Jagger] had his purple suit tailored especially for him, so he owned that.
Louise Zingarelli walked into my studio from Chicago and said to me that the guys that she worked with on the newspapers in Chicago told her that she should work for me. She was an extraordinary illustrator and a real tough lady. I thought her best work was Hey Good Lookin' (1982) and American Pop (1981).
[on working with My Life with the Thrill Kill Cult on the Cool World (1992) "Sex on Wheelz"] "They were very professional, very tired from all the years they were doing punk rock--and very, very funny. The band that consisted of women and men used the bathroom as a dressing and make-up room. Hysterical studio employees walked out shaking their heads. I shot 8mm home movies of that. It's in a box somewhere - I'll look for it. It was a one-day shoot - fast and furious.
[about Cool World (1992)] The original concept, way back when I sold the film, was that a live-action cartoonist would go to bed with a cartoon woman in the cartoon world. They had a child immediately that was a strange combination of live action and animation in one character. This son of the underground cartoonist hates himself for what he is and isn't and goes back to the real world to track his father down. The picture was originally an R-rated horror film. Slash and the rest of the characters in "Cool World" were just friends of Holli and looked nothing like their child.
When I had my own company on Heavy Traffic (1973) and Coonskin (1975), all metaphors were able to get to the screen clearly. In Cool World (1992), with the producer and Paramount watching me carefully to make sure I was in good taste, I instinctively poured stuff into the picture that I wanted to talk about. But when you force stuff, it's not really very clear. But, I have a great love for Max Fleischer, especially some of his black-and-white Betty Boops with their strange Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong black folk tale jazz hipness that part of "Cool World" was a homage in style to those films and that style of cartooning. The Grim Reaper is right out of a Max Fleischer cartoon or old Terrytoons, which is why I hired and love Milton Knight the artist. He understands totally the Uncle Remus fable-like qualities behind Fleischer and Terrytoons. Milton Knight is probably the purest artist of that style in the business. He has a hard time because studios think he is old-fashioned . . . but that's the point.
The art of cartooning is vulgarity. The only reason for cartooning to exist is to be on the edge. If you only take apart what they allow you to take apart, you're Disney. Cartooning is a low-class, for-the-public art, just like graffiti art and rap music. Vulgar but believable, that's the line I kept walking.
None of my pictures were anything I could ever take my mother to see. You know it's working if you're making movies you don't want to your mother to see.
You can't be a cartoonist, I don't care what kind of cartoonist you are, without having passed through this thing of loving fantasy.
I never learned to animate. And I'm not trying to be cute, either. The minute you think you learned it, you're through. I've seen a lot of young animators coming up sensations. They get so good, so fast, so young, they never got any better, it's extraordinary to see. They never worked hard, so they don't get better. If you're an artist, you learn, you keep learning, you keep working.
When you have a high budget, people are looking at you. Low budgets can be godsends for directors. Plus, with the number of people starving on this planet, it's just wrong to spend that kind of money on films. When you have no money, no one's looking at you, no one cares. No one cared when I was doing Fritz the Cat (1972). Big budget films are filled with terror, filled with community consultations on all levels. But it's too much money for one man to handle and I'm not a great believer in collaboration. I believe in a directed film, and the vision of a director.
[on Richard Williams The Thief and the Cobbler (1993)]: Over the years Richard would show me various magnificently animated sequences from the picture. Richard was very much like DeKooning, the painter, where he kept changing the finished product. It was fine when he was working for himself and I told him when he sold the film to WB that unless he met a delivery date there would be trouble. There was, and I never got to see the original cut, so I can't compare to what I saw in the theatre. I know when they took the film away from Richard and gave it to some hack animator to finish, it was like killing Richard's baby. It had a lot to do with him leaving the industry. When I had a fight on Heavy Traffic (1973) with the producer, half way through the film it was offered to Chuck Jones to finish. Chuck turned them down, saying it was Bakshi's film and only Bakshi's film. I didn't even know him at the time. Richard didn't have the same luck I had. But that's showbiz.

Salary (1)

Wizards (1977) $100,000

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