Seth MacFarlane Foundation Teams With Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation To Restore Its First-Ever Collection Of Animated Pics

Seth MacFarlane Foundation Teams With Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation To Restore Its First-Ever Collection Of Animated Pics

EXCLUSIVE: Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is partnering, through his Seth MacFarlane Foundation, with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation to fund the first-ever, curated restoration of historically significant animated shorts from the 1920s to 1940s.

MacFarlane is committed to saving and honoring the art form from its earliest days forward. He’s been fascinated by animation since childhood when he began drawing. He’s also an animation alum of Rhode Island School of Design. This year MacFarlane’s The Family Guy is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

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“I’m so grateful to Seth MacFarlane for his enthusiasm and his support on these restorations,” said Martin Scorsese in a statement. “What an astonishing experience, to see these remarkable pictures that I experienced for the first time as a child brought back to their full glory. Imagine the reactions of children today! Because the films now seem as fresh as they did when they were newly made.”

Nine animated pics from Max and Dave Fleischer, who created Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, are among the pieces that are being restored. MacFarlane is a jazz music aficionado and The Great American Songbook, so the Fleischer Brothers’ noted use of jazz in their soundtracks, including collaborations with Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, and Don Redman, are a big reason why the Fleischers’ work is represented in this restoration collection.

“The work Martin Scorsese and his Film Foundation have been doing is essential cinematic preservation,” said MacFarlane. “I’m honored to partner with them in restoring their first-ever collection of storied animation.”

The before image and after restoration of the 1936 toon ‘The Little Stranger’

Also included are two stop-motion animation shorts directed by George Pal, known for his charming “Puppetoons.” The final film on the list is a Terrytoon, produced by Paul Terry.

The films were selected and restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation, in collaboration with Paramount Pictures Archives. The 12 restorations funded by MacFarlane were completed using unique original pre-print elements and/or print sources, mostly nitrate, held at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 

A program of nine restorations, titled Back From the Ink: Restored Animated Shorts, will premiere at the 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival on Saturday, April 20 at 6:30pm, with an in-person introduction by MacFarlane. Seven shorts directed by Dave Fleischer will be screened: Koko’s Tattoo (1928), Little Nobody (1935), The Little Stranger (1936), Greedy Humpty Dumpty (1936), Peeping Penguins (1937), The Fresh Vegetable Mystery (1939), and So Does An Automobile (1939). Also premiering are The Three Bears, a 1939 Terrytoon directed by Mannie Davis, and Two-Gun Rusty, a George Pal Puppetoon from 1944.