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'Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood,' premiering Tuesday on TCM

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The Orlando Sentinel (MCT) - Shortly before he died in 2002, animator Chuck Jones saw a test cut and described the program as "delightful."

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Highlights

By Hal Boedeker
McClatchy Newspapers (www.mctdirect.com)
3/18/2009 (1 decade ago)

Published in TV

He was biased, but he was right, too.

"Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood," which premieres at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday on TCM, is slight, sweet and utterly charming. The half-hour program charts the influences on the great Warner Bros. animator, who helped make cultural icons of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner.

Filmmaker Peggy Stern arranged the material poignantly as a scrapbook. Animation director John Canemaker transformed Jones' spontaneous sketches, drawn during interviews, into wonderful sequences.

Yet Jones' wisdom is the most dynamic element. His inspirations ranged from quirky Mark Twain to a cat named Johnson that loved to eat grapefruit and swim in the ocean.

Jones recalls that at age 2 he fell from a second-story porch. "I'm sure it jostled my brain cells out of any hope that I would be a logical child," he says.

Jones says his father could be tremendously tough _ and beat him pretty badly _ but his mother was encouraging. A memorable sequence illustrates the difference between the fragile "yes" and the granite "no" in a child's life.

The animator says he was like his characters, notably Daffy Duck and Pepe Le Pew. Yet Jones acknowledges having trouble associating with Bugs Bunny, who's always a winner.

Jones holds up an Oscar but confides, "The road is better than the end."

The animator says he was never bored in all his years and continued to have unbridled enthusiasm. Of aging, he said, "I don't feel old. I just feel like a young man that has something the matter with him."

That wonder still propels his brilliant art, and TCM will share classic Jones shorts Tuesday night.

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CHUCK JONES: MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD

When: The special debuts at 8 p.m. Tuesday on TCM and repeats at 10:30 p.m.

Parents guide: Story of parental abuse.

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© 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).

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