Terry — credited with over 1300 cartoons in 40 years — started in media in 1904 as a newspaper cameraman, where he also drew comic strips. Inspired to go into animation by Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur, he drew his first cartoon Little Herman, which he sold. After a 2nd cartoon he was hired in 1916 by the J. R. Bray Studios, where he created and made 11 cartoons starring Farmer Al Falfa. He was able to take that character with him when he left in 1917 to start his own studio. Paul Terry Studios lasted for 9 more cartoons, only one with Farmer Al, before he joined the army to fight in WWI.
On his return he partnered up with the improably named Amedee J. Van Beuren to form Fables Studios, where they produced a successful series of cartoons based on Aesop’s Fables. In 1928 they released Dinner Time, the first cartoon with synchronized sound. It was released several weeks before Disney’s Steamboat Willie, often incorrectly credited as the first cartoon with sound. Watch:
Ironically, Terry and Van Beuren split up over the issue of sound, so Terrytoons was launched in New Rochelle, New York, where Terry had sold his first cartoon to Thanhouser film. That’s where Heckle and Jeckle were hatched just after WWII.
No less an authority than the Wiki tells us:
Paul Terry was quick to adopt techniques that simplified the animation process, but resisted “improvements” that complicated the production. He was one of the first to make use of “cel animation” including animation of separate body parts. His studio was slow to switch to synchronized sound tracks and to color. While this may have sometimes prevented his films from achieving the technical excellence of Disney or Fleischer Studios, he did manage to keep his studio profitable, while others went out of business. Terry was once quoted as saying, “Disney is the Tiffany of animation. I’m the Woolworth.”
Keep in mind that these were the days when cartoons were made to be shown between the movies in theaters. Television had been invented, but was not yet a commonplace household item. It would still be a decade before most homes had a tee vee.
However, Paul Terry cashed in when television came calling, but that didn’t go so well at first. As the Wiki also tells us:
Terry became the first major cartoon producer to package his old films for television. In 1955, Terry sold his animation studio and film library to CBS for $3.5 million and retired. CBS appointed Gene Deitch, who replaced the old characters with new ones such as Sidney the Elephant, Gaston LeCrayon, Foofle, Clint Clobber, and John Doormat. Deitch departed after three years. After Deitch’s departure, Mighty Mouse and Heckle & Jeckle returned, as well as new characters such as Deputy Dawg. CBS made the Terrytoons library of films a mainstay of its Saturday morning programming and continued operating the studio making both new theatrical films and series for television until the late 1960s. -Today Terrytoons are most fondly remembered by Baby Boomers who grew up watching them on TV.
That’s my generation and I loved Heckle and Jeckle. I even had two gal pals, who were sisters, that Pops called Heckle and Jeckle. I saw both at his funeral in December.
Here are some more Heckle and Jeckle cartoons, starting with this dubious subject matter from ’47: