Mack Sennett was the producer of the Keystone Cops, and the man who brought Charlie Chaplin to Hollywood. There is an old biography of him, called Father Goose: The Story of Mack Sennett. It was written by Gene Fowler and published in 1934. For obvious reasons, I particularly like this quote:
“The advent of sound and the collapse of the world’s economic structure found Sennett with his back to the wall, but still full of fight. Then came the thrust from nowhere, a sudden and unexpected stab which Sennett, like Caesar in the Forum, accepted as the unkindest cut of all.
The animated cartoon was a new and popular toy – especially to a world in despair. It preserved and accentuated a thousand-fold all the illusions of slap-stick. The pen was mightier than the bed-slat. By the exercise of a few thousand strokes of a cartoonist’s quill, a whole animal kingdom of stars came into being and had an immortal existence in an inkwell.
These charming imps cost but little, were not given to fits of temper and knew not the weaknesses of the flesh. They worked for no salary, and for the sheer fun of it; they would never grow old.
What did a horde of prankish animals care about censorship? In a Sennett comedy, if anyone tied a tin can to a dog’s tail, an irate humane society would release it’s furies. In an animated cartoon, India-ink dogs could be stung by bees, have turpentine applied to traditionally tender spots, be flattened by steam- rollers, reproduce their kind with strangers and otherwise defy the conventions.
A nimble rodent has become the world’s hero. In the eyes of Mack Sennett, he must always remain a scraggly mustachioed villian whose mischief will never be undone.
Who killed Cock Robin?
‘I did,’ said Mickey Mouse.”