This 1939 Hugh Harman cartoon shows a post-apocalyptic world populated by animals picking up the pieces after a war kills every human on earth. This was the only cartoon ever been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize award..
MGM Cartoon 1939 Peace On EarthVideo Clip Link
Hugh Harman (August 31, 1903 €“ November 25, 1982) and Rudolf “Rudy” Ising (August 7, 1903 €“ July 18, 1992) were an American animator/film director/film producer team best known for founding the Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer animation studios. They were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the antiwar cartoon Peace on Earth in 1939 and won an Oscar for the cartoon The Milky Way in 1940.
Harman and Ising first worked in animation in the early 1920s at Walt Disney’s studio in Kansas City. When Disney moved operations to California, Harman, Ising, and fellow animator Carmen Maxwell stayed behind to try to start their own studio. Their plans went nowhere, however, and the men soon joined Disney out West to work on his Alice Comedies and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit films. It was during this time, that Harman and Ising developed a style of cartoon drawing that would later be closely associated with Disney while Harman and Ising’s contribution would become completely ignored. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney which would later inspire Ub Iwerks to create a new character for Disney called Mickey Mouse.
When producer Charles Mintz ended his association with Disney, Harman and Ising went to work for Mintz, whose brother-in-law, George Winkler, set up a new animation studio to make the Oswald cartoons. The Oswald cartoons which Harman and Ising produced in 1928 and 1929 already reveal their distinctive style which would later characterized their work on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon series for Warner Bros. For example, in Sick Cylinders (1928) there are sequences which were later remade very closely in such Harman and Ising Warner Bros. efforts as Sinkin’ in the Bathtub (1930) and Bosko’s Holiday (1931). The Oswald cartoons that Harman and Ising worked on are completely different from the Oswald cartoon made before and after and can easily be distinguished by anyone familiar with their work. Late in 1929, Universal Pictures who owned the rights to Oswald, started its own animation studio headed by Walter Lantz, replacing Mintz and forcing Harman and Ising out of work.
Even while still with Disney Harman and Ising had aspired to start their own studio, and had created and copyrighted the cartoon character Bosko in 1928. After losing their jobs at the Winkler studio, Harman and Ising financed a short Bosko demonstration film called Bosko, the Talk-Ink Kid, notable for being the first sound cartoon of the late-1920s “talkie” era with dialogue. The sound cartoon, which featured Bosko at odds with his animator (portrayed in live-action by Rudy Ising) impressed Leon Schlesinger, who paired Harman and Ising with Warner Bros. Schlesinger wanted the Bosko character to star in a new series of “talkie” cartoons he dubbed Looney Tunes. The two animated Sinkin’ in the Bathtub in 1930, and the cartoon did well. Harman took over direction of the Looney Tunes starring the character, while Ising took a sister series called Merrie Melodies that consisted of one-shot stories and characters.
The two animators broke off ties with Schlesinger later in 1933 over budget disputes with the miserly producer. They went to Van Beuren cartoon studio (who were making cartoon for RKO Radio Pictures), where they were offered a contract to produce the Cubby Bear cartoon series. Harman and Ising produced two cartoons for this series which were actually released. These cartoons show their distinctive style and can easily be distinguished from the rest of that series which was poorly animated. Harman and Ising were in the midst of making a third cartoon when a contractual dispute arose. Harman and Ising left Van Beuren, but kept the completed cartoon and finally released it in the 1940s.
Harman and Ising had maintained the rights to the Bosko character, and they signed a deal with MGM to start a new series of Bosko shorts in 1934. The two maintained the same sort of workload they had had at Warner Bros.: Harman worked on Bosko shorts, and Ising directed one-shots. They also tried unsuccessfully to create new cartoon stars for their new distributors. Their cartoons, though technically superior to those they had made for Schlesinger, were still music-driven shorts with little to no plot. When the new Happy Harmonies series ran significantly over-budget in 1937, MGM fired Harman and Ising and established its own in-house studio headed by Fred Quimby.
Harman and Ising still found some work as animation freelancers, directing, for example, the Silly Symphony Merbabies for Disney in 1938. When Disney later reneged on a deal he had made for two other Harman-Ising pictures, the animators sold the cartoons to Quimby at MGM. Quimby later agreed to hire the animators back to the studio. Ising created the character Barney Bear for MGM at this time, basing the sleepy-eyed character partially on himself. In 1939, Harman created his masterpiece, Peace on Earth, a downbeat morality tale about two squirrels discovering the evils of humanity, which was nominated for an Oscar. Despite the success of this and other cartoons, MGM’s production under Harman and Ising remained low.
In 1941, Harman left MGM and started a new studio with Disney veteran Mel Shaw. The two took over Ub Iwerks’ old studio in Beverly Hills, California, where they created training films for the Army. Ising quit the studio in 1942 to join the military.
Harman and Ising are little known, even among some animation fans. Although, they contributed to much of what would later be known as the Disney style, they have been dismissed as mere copycats. In reality, Harman and Ising never attempted to imitate Disney, there were attempting to make refined polished cartoons whose quality would shine in comparison to the work of others. They repeated attempts to make quality cartoons and their refusal to be bound by budgets led to numerous disputes with their producers. Because of this, they were unable to create any enduring characters. Instead, they created studios that would later produce such characters.