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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Everybody's Little Friend

A visit to an antique mall some time ago yielded these photos of a kid at a studio microphone in the 1940s. At first, he seemed unknown - but a look at the text on the back told me otherwise. There seems to be very little info available about Paul Bryant (not the football coach). He was already at an early age a little radio star, though, when he became the voice of the George Pal Puppetoon character Jasper!

Hungarian-born Pal, seen holding the Jasper puppet in the image on the right, had very little contact with people of other race before he came from Holland to the USA, so he did not find anything offensive in the antics of this little innocent, but stereotypically naive African-American character. It seems to have come as a surprise to him that a group of people took offense to this series. Be that as it may, little Paul Bryant was a movie star in his own right.

The writing on the first image reads "To Miss Dolares [?] who thought I was good enough for radio. Sincerely, Paul Bryant." and "Everybody['s] little friend Paul." On the back of that first image is written: Paul Bryant, Ce.26052, age 11. Plays piano - classical + Boogie Woogie. taps - Sings. Picture Ex[perience]: "Knickebocker Holiday" United Artists [1944 with Nelson Eddy and Charles Coburn], "Jasper" in George Pal Prod., "Everybody Happy" Columbia [Actually "Is Everybody Happy?," 1943 with Ted Lewis, the entertainer with the "licorice stick" and high hat that Mickey Mouse portrays in the 1931 short Blue Rhythm - Paul Bryant's role was "Snowball"(!)], "Underdog" [probably "The Underdog" 1943] Talisman[?].

Crossed out is "Kitty" Paramount [1945]. Maybe he ended up on the cutting room floor? Other credits on IMDb: "Urchin" in "Saratoga Trunk" 1945 with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, and "Black Caddy" in "The Senator was Indiscreet" 1945 with William Powell.

Now, if Paul Bryant was 11 in 1945 or so, he would be 74 today, and thus he COULD still be around...
Paul Bryant Fan PhotoPaul Bryant on the airGeorge Pal holding Jasper



Anonymous Michael Sporn says...

Hans, you win the prize for the most consistently oringinal material on the internet. These photos are extraordinary.

It's interesting that Jasper was still part of the early days of television in the 50's. The character was certainly a part of my juvenile past despite its inherently racist nature. I believe it was the local NY ABC affiliate that ran the Jasper cartoons (along with other Puppetoons) intertwined among other Saturday morning cartoons - a lot of them MGM's Harman Ising.

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 6:20:00 AM PDT  

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