Mr Magoo

United Productions of America (UPA) was a cartoon studio formed in the mid-1940s by a bunch of maverick young animators determined to create true art in the form of animation. After excelling in the production of a number of political and commercial productions, the studio graduated to theatrical cartoons when, in 1948, Columbia Pictures decided to fold its in-house animation studio and hire the fledgling outfit instead. Nobody really knows who created (Quincy Magoo) Mr Magoo. Millard Kaufman wrote the script for that first outing. Director John Hubley certainly had a great deal of input. But when most people think of the character, the one element that stands out most strongly is the voice of actor Jim Backus (best known as millionaire Thurston Howell in the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island). Backus was encouraged to ad-lib in his depiction of the crotchety old coot, and to ham it up to his heart’s content. A great deal of the final product represents his off-the-cuff creativity.

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