Animation &Commentary 08 Jan 2008 09:24 am

Lu Guarnier 1914-2007

- I received word late yesterday that Lu Guarnier had died December 29th. He had been in poor health for some time, living at a nursing home in Marlborough, Mass. Lu was someone I considered a friend for years while I worked within the industry; we worked together for John Hubley, Phil Kimmelman and R.O. Blechman. He had a unique, rough, drawing style that was certainly a challenge for an assistant animator.

He once told me that his father took pleasure in naming him Lucifer B. Guarnier, and you can guess what the “B” stands for. He also enjoyed his annual trips back to LA where he still had a lot of friends._______Lu at WB.

Lu had started at Warner Bros. in the 30’s and told me many funny stories about working in Clampett’s unit. He started as inbetweener to Clampett and worked his way up to animator. $12 a week. He once told me of the “hurt” jokes that were enormously popular for a short period back in the day. How “hurt” was he?
Well, as an inbetweener, he was the last to receive some animation that Clampett had done in a particular Porky Pig cartoon. An axe was falling on Porky and at the very last moment, he was saved from the blade falling on him. Lu, for a joke – a “hurt” joke – decided to continue the animation with Porky being cut in two as an alternate ending that he sent to PT. After they watched the dailies, they could watch the alternate – the correct version. Well, it just so happened that that was the day Leon Schlesinger was making the rounds. The fresh dailies arrived and the assembled animation crew watched Porky cut in two. Leon turned to director, director to Clampett, Clampett to the lowly inbetweener who squirmed his way out of the room. Lu expected to be fired, but wasn’t; they all laughed after he’d left the room.

Tissa David told me that the UPA studio was one long space that was divided into cubicles. She called them “stalls” like horses would occupy at a racetrack. Grim Natwick, Tissa and Jack Schnerk shared the third cubicle. The only one who had a window was Lu Guarnier; he shared his space with Vince Cafarelli, his assistant.

Lu was always a natty dresser, with a fine jacket, slacks and a bow tie. He gave me quite a few little gems that I’ve featured on this site. My favorite included the WB Christmas card filled with caricatures by Tee Hee. Lu, on one of his LA jaunts, had it signed by everyone he met. Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, both McKimsons. Even Hanna and Barbera. It’s a treasure, and I think Lu always regretted giving it to me. He often asked about it.
___________(Click image to enlarge.)

I’ve missed him since he went into the nursing home, after his wife died. Now, knowing he’s no longer there, I’ll miss him even more. He was a gem of a guy.

I have some drawings for a couple of scenes Lu animated. I’ll try to post one or two of them in the next week or so.

8 Responses to “Lu Guarnier 1914-2007”

  1. on 08 Jan 2008 at 10:11 pm 1.Eddie Fitzgerald said …

    What an awesome Christmas card!!!! I’m really looking forward to your next post on Lu. Any stories would be much appreciated!

  2. on 09 Jan 2008 at 6:08 pm 2.Candy Kugel & Vincent Cafarelli said …

    Thank you for posting the notice about Lu. Vince worked as Lu’s assistant while they were both at Film Graphics, owned by Lee Blair, Preston’s brother. At Film Graphics Lu went around the world (India, China) for some government work. More info about this would be interesting…

    They later teamed up at UPA. Vince remembers that he and Lu shared a cubicle in the “new UPA” office(in the ’50′s just off 5th Avenue): the windowed room was occupied by Jack Schnerk and Frank Mickelski (sp?). Next to Schnerk was Vince and Lu and then Bard Wiggenhorn (who stood when he animated) assisted by Hal Street, then were Tissa and Grim, and then Terry Terricone assisted by Gerry Dvorak. And Howard Beckerman was somewhere doing design work along with George Dunning. (please excuse all misspellings and Howard should chime in with any corrections). And Vince remembers fondly getting beautiful ruffs from Lu at 5 pm some Friday evenings, due to be completed by Monday morning as Lu would disappear for the weekend!

    And Vince remembers Lu’s red convertible!

    Lu was also President of the Screen Cartoonists Union. There was a story about one very crowded meeting (attendance was compulsory) when animator Johnny Gent (Gentilella) was trying to make a point. Frustrated by not hearing him well, Lu shouted “Johnny will you please stand up and repeat the question?” To which the 5′ tall John replied,”I AM standing)!”

    Candy met him when he worked at Perpetual Motion Pictures on the TV specials. His introduction included his telling her he full name– all she remembers now is “Lucifer Beelzebub…(and 3 other names.” He said his sister’s was “Cleo, short for Cleopatra” and then gave another half dozen names.

    Lu liked a party! Lu was known to enjoy a drink or 2 which often led to his famous snake dance.

    Up until last year. Vince was in contact with Lu and his niece. We will sadly miss the life of the party!

  3. on 09 Jan 2008 at 8:04 pm 3.Michael said …

    It was Candy who broke the sad news to me. Thanks for the great stories. If anyone else has anything to share, please do. Lu was a great guy. I like hearing about him.

  4. on 09 Jan 2008 at 10:49 pm 4.patrick blake said …

    I had the pleasure of taking care of LU during his final month’s that he spent at The Coleman House in Northborough,MA.

    He was a very special man and willtruly be missed by all of us.
    Patrick Blake

  5. on 10 Jan 2008 at 1:52 am 5.Pat said …

    Hi Michael,

    I’m Lu’s niece, the person who called Vince and Candy earlier this week to let them know of Lu’s death. I’d love to chat with you about Lu… if you’d kindly email me and include your phone number, I’ll be happy to call you back. I’d leave my phone number here, but am not sure if it would end up published on your site.

    A little bit of info and a couple of corrections: During the past six years Lu lived in assisted living, not a nursing home, until his health declined over the last year. Initially, Lu was living right on the Hudson in NJ, with a window facing the NYC skyline and a view of his beloved George Washington Bridge. Lu grew up in an apartment building right next to the bridge and watched it’s construction while in high school. I have a pencil sketch he did of the construction site, and remember his smiles while recalling how he would sell treats to the construction workers.

    After moving near me in Massachusetts four years ago, Lu continued to live in assisted living until his health declined significantly about a year ago, requiring the additional medical support provided by a skilled nursing facility.

    Lu remained the funny, caring, and lovable guy he always was, and made instant friends of staff and fellow residents wherever he lived.

    A highpoint of Lu’s later life occured at a cartoon festival at Boston’s Symphony Hall several years ago. When the festival management announced to the packed audience the presence of a genuine Warner Bros animator, and introduced Lu by name, the audience was exceptionally appreciative.

    After we helped Lu to stand, his inital self-conciousness evaporated and the ham emerged… Lu turned around and bowed and blew kisses to the crowd… to thunderous applause. Many attendees came over afterwards saying how much they’d always loved the old cartoons, and never had anyone to thank before. Lu was in animator heaven!

    Whenever Lu spoke of his friends from his animation days, it was always with a smile… and often a tear of sadness at those who were gone or whom he’d lost track of. Lu would have been both tickled and humbled at the way in which you and his other friends and colleagues are now honoring his memory.

    As an Italian immigrant, Lu’s father named him “Lucifer” because in Italy it meant something like “Angel of Light.” Lu was, indeed, an angel of light with the wit and love he shared with those around him.

    Please feel free to post whatever parts of my message you feel are appropriate.


  6. on 10 Jan 2008 at 10:38 am 6.Michael said …

    Stephen Worth at ASIFA Hollywood Animation Archive has posted a number of gag cartoons done by UPA artists mocking Lu and his window.

  7. on 29 May 2011 at 12:44 pm 7.Ariel Whiby said …

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  8. on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:40 am 8.Stan Fromong said …

    Hey mate, greetings from Down Under !

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