news from me

Remembering Lucille

Here are obits for Lucille Bliss in the L.A. Times and the N.Y. Times. Lucille did a lot for the animation community and she was very good at what she did so it's nice to see her getting this recognition.

Several folks have written me to ask about this line in the L.A. Times one…

She lost her job as Elroy Jetson, she told interviewers, when she wouldn't work under a stage name that would hide the fact that she was a grown woman playing a little boy, which is a common scenario in cartoons.

Lucille used to tell several different stories about being cast as Elroy and then Joe Barbera either reneging on an offer or imposing certain conditions…or something. I haven't watched her long interview for the Archive of American Television but I'll bet there's a version in there. As respectfully as I can, I'll just say that none of the stories I heard from her on this make a lot of sense to me.

True, it was quite common for grown women to voice little boys in cartoons but I can't think of a single case where that fact was ever hidden. The credits of The Jetsons did not even specify which actor played which part…and the person who finally performed the role of Elroy was Daws Butler, who was the same age as Lucille. H-B publicized that a grown man was voicing a nine-year-old boy so I can't imagine why they would have made it a Deal Killer that a grown woman conceal her identity.

In the case of The Jetsons, that show went through a lot of changes from conception to debut. At one point, George and Jane were to be played by Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll. There were a lot of folks who were going to be in it and weren't for no other reason than someone changed their mind about casting. I suspect that's all that happened with Lucille. She thought she had the job and then someone said, "No, let's go with Daws." A few obits however are saying she was the voice of Elroy.

When one wades through oral histories, it helps to remember that not everything interviewees say is the truth even if they honestly remember it that way. On the other hand, I have occasionally heard an account of something, dismissed it as fiction, then come across supporting evidence that it was true. An actor friend of mine told me an incredible (as in "difficult to believe") anecdote about an appearance he once made on a game show. I didn't call him a fibber to his face but I sure thought that. Six months later, the episode was run on what was then called Game Show Network and there it was…pretty much as he'd described.