April 15, 2020

SATURDAY MORNING MASTERS: CHUCK MENVILLE


CHUCK MENVILLE 
(April 17, 1940-June 15, 1992) 

Notable Roles: Animator, writer, story editor, producer, director 

Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Menville moved to Los Angeles at age 19 with designs to become an animator. He was hired by Walt Disney Productions and served as an assistant on The Jungle Book (1967). Unhappy with his working environment, Menville got into writing and began a long partnership with his friend, fellow animator and writer Len Janson. Together, they produced a series of live-action short films utilizing the long-forgotten stop-motion pixilation method. Among them was the Academy Award-nominated Stop Look and Listenwhich followed a day in the life of motorists who tooled around the city in invisible cars. They wrote, directed and starred in their shorts. Clips from their second film, Vicious Cycleswere used in ABC’s The New Communicators which landed them a gig making commercials for Gulf Oil’s “no-nox” gasoline. In 1969, Menville and Janson started long stints at both Filmation and Hanna-Barbera, serving as story editors and producers for several of their shows. Outside of television, he wrote the book The Harlem Globetrotters: Fifty Years of Fun and Games in 1978. Over at DiC Enterprises in the 1980s, Menville and Janson were offered the story editor position of The Real Ghostbustersbut they initially turned it down due to the massive workload of having to produce a syndicated and Saturday morning version of the show at the same time. Following the departure of story editor J. Michael Straczynski over creative differences in changes ABC wanted to make, Janson and Menville became the story editors for the remainder of the show’s run. They went on to write, produce and story edit for the reboot of Land of the Lost and Tiny Toon AdventuresMenville’s final project was a story for Batman: The Animated SeriesHowever, he died of non-Hodgkin lymphoma before the script could be written. Brynne Stephens wrote the teleplay for the episode, and Menville was given story credit. His children keep the “family business” going, as Scott Menville became an actor primarily in animation and Chad Menville is an author. 

Saturday Credits: 
Cattanooga Cats 
Will the Real Jerry Lewis Please Sit Down 
Groovie Goolies 
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1969) 
Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids 
The Flintstone Comedy Hour 
The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie (episodes) 
Lassie’s Rescue Rangers 
Speed Buggy 
Star Trek: The Animated Series 
Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch 
Hong Kong Phooey 
Korg: 70,000 B.C. 
Shazam! (1974) 
Uncle Croc’s Block 
The New Adventures of Gilligan 
The Secrets of Isis 
ABC Weekend Specials (episodes) 
Ark II 
The New Adventures of Batman 
Space Sentinels 
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle 
Tarzan and the Super 7 
Jason of Star Command 
The New Fred and Barney Show 
The New Shmoo 
Fred and Barney Meet the Shmoo 
The Flintstone Comedy Show 
Space Stars 
The Smurfs 
Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour 
Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince 
The Biskitts 
Kissyfur 
The Real Ghostbusters 
The Little Wizards 
Tiny Toon Adventures 
Land of the Lost (1991) 
The Little Mermaid: The Animated Series 
Batman: The Animated Series 

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