Sunday, September 18, 2011

The People Who Made "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" -- Part Three

Earl Kress

Earl Kress and his wife Denise

Earl Kress was a major contributor to the writing of both Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain.   Earl wrote or co-wrote many episodes which have become fan-favorites of the Animaniacs series, including the Slappy cartoon “Smell Ya Later” (co-starring Sherri Stoner and Jonathan Winters) and that Christmas gem "Little Drummer Warners" (directed by Lenord Robinson).  Earl was also part of the team that wrote the DVD animated feature “Wakko’s Wish.”

During the 90’s at Warner Bros, Earl also scripted some great segments for Tiny Toon Adventures (“Turtle Hurdle,” “Class Cut-up,” “Day for Knight”) and a handful of Road Rovers episodes.   Earl took home Emmy Awards for his writing on both Pinky and the Brain and  Pinky, Elmyra and the Brain.”  

I’ve known Earl since the early 80’s and have had the pleasure of working with him on a bunch of different animated series over the years, including Pound Puppies and Yogi’s Treasure Hunt during our time together at Hanna-Barbera.

Of course, Earl has worked on many cartoons outside of the Warner Bros./Hanna-Barbera spheres.  At Disney, for instance, he co-wrote the animated feature film “The Fox and the Hound.”

Earl and I grew up during the same era, and we were both big fans of the early Hanna-Barbara series starring Huck and Yogi and Quick Draw.  Earl is one of the world’s leading experts on Hanna-Barbara history and lore, and also studied voice-over acting with the legendary voice of Yogi, Huck and Quick Draw, Daws Butler.  Beyond these studies, Earl and Daws became good friends.    

You can hear some of Earl’s voice work on “Hanna-Barbera’s Pic-A-Nic Basket,” the definitive 3-CD collection of music and sfx from Hanna-Barbera shows of the late 50’s to the 70’s.  Earl not only performs on the album, he also hunted down and preserved many of the rare tracks, and produced the album as well.   

I’ve known Earl for 31 years and I’m proud to call him one of my best friends in this world of cartoons. 



  1. Earl's been incredibly helpful to me and generous with his time and knowledge.

  2. I know he likes your blog and admires what you have done with it. He's a great guy.

  3. It feels sort of cliche to say "I'm sorry for your loss" or "condolences"... we've got to invent a better way to express sympathy. I'm sending hugs through the internet until then. *Hug*

  4. That's really sad that Mr. Kress passed away. Just think, he's probably up in heaven hanging around with legends like Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, talking about the great times he had working with them. :)

  5. After hearing the unfortunate news earlier today, I can say now that I shall listen to my "Pic-A-Nic Basket" collection with new-found respect for Earl. His contributions to all medias - comic books, animation, audio - were all a big salute to the Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera characters than what Hollywood has in store for the unfortunate future...

    BTW, curiosity speaking do you know which characters Earl performed in the Pic-a-Nic set? I think I can also point out Tom Kenny and Henry Corden after another listen.

  6. Earl was a great guy... my fondest memory of him though was when he sneezed on me with a mouthful of food at the Emmys. Cartoons in real time!

  7. It's sad to lose an animation legend. R.I.P., Earl Kress, you will be missed.

  8. On the HB's Pic-A-Nic Basket sfx CD, Earl performed all the voices except for Fred Flintstone, which was performed by Henry Corden.

  9. Mike: funny! Earl the sight-gag comedian!

  10. I remember how Earl actively participated on the newsgroup -- as in actually joining in with our gags and shenanigans, rather than just discussing the business end of things. Cool of him to do back in those days. Funny guy.

    When his "Jokahontas" aired and I put up a first draft of the lyrics for the Animaniacs Mega Lyrics File, still with question marks on some lines, he immediately and voluntarily sent me the correct words and pointed out some lines that had been changed from the original script.

    He was the one who spilled the beans about the Animaniacs and P&TB DVD releases. He'd used "invisible text", coloring text the same as the background, on his blog. When he realized how easily people noticed, he deleted the post to avoid getting into trouble!

    So when Freakazoid was green-lit for DVD, he leaked it to me in an email out of the blue. I didn't realize that even you didn't know yet! It took a bit of convincing for tvshowsondvd to believe me, since of course I wouldn't reveal how I knew.

    Very saddened to hear that cancer has taken another of the creative giants of the animation industry.

  11. Not to ruin a somber tone on this post (Mr. Kress will be missed, make no mistake), but "Wakko's Wish" was only released on video (VHS) and iTunes, no DVD release as of this comment. For that matter, we're still waiting for "Animaniacs Volume 4" and the rest of "Tiny Toon Adventures" to come out on DVD. No disrespect to Mr. Kress, but not to have all of his involvements on "Tiny Toons" and "Animaniacs" on DVD (and the rest of those cartoons) seems such a waste.