Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Little Info On Pat Matthews

I was lucky enough to have recently been contacted by the son of one of my absolute favorite animators Pat Matthews, who also happens to be Pat Matthews. Pat was gracious enough to share some background information about his father and his career. He was also kind enough to encourage me to share it with readers of this blog. Thanks Pat! He cleared up whether or not his father was actually the Abner Matthews that worked for the Fleischer's studio. Recently I caught the UPA short "The Miner's Daughter" on Animania and loved it. Pat Matthews animated on that one and I loved it. I can't believe I hadn't see it before. If anyone knows where to get a hold of a copy please email me. I'd love to see that one a few dozen times more. Here's what Pat had to share along with the "tribute" I made awhile back, "Robing Hoodlum" which Thad posted on his blog some time ago, and "Rooty Toot Toot". (Sorry for the lack of posts, I haven't had much time to post lately.)

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for the tribute. It's beautiful. My dad was actually named John Richard Matthews but he hated that name. He wanted to be called Pat. So when I was born that's what he named me. People at the studio always called me Pat Junior (he hated that too - I don't know why - I liked it).

My father is also on the imdb website and they've got it wrong. I don't know who Abner Matthews is but I'm sure he is somebody else. I don't believe my father ever worked for the Fleischer studio. He started out as in inbetweener at Walt Disney in 1938. He worked on Pinochio and has a credit at the end of the picture. Then the inbetweeners went on strike and he lost his job. He then went to Walter Lantz and became an animator. As you commented, Jimmy Culhane covered this area pretty well. Then he went to UPA.

At UPA he did do Rooty Toot Toot and also Telltale Heart, which I think are among the best cartoons ever made. My dad did not work on Gerald McBoing-boing.

There is an interesting story about how and why he left UPA. You also might find it interesting that my mother divorced dad in 1945 and married Frank Smith, another great animator, in 1949 (who DID animate Gerald McBoing-boing). I spent most of my early life with my mother and Frank but saw my father frequently.

Let me know if you are interested in more.

Hello Kevin,

First, about why he left UPA. Basically he got a better job. He was an animator at UPA and he wanted to be a director. UPA had a crowd of directors, all among the most brilliant in the business. Dad talked to a friend of his, Richard Tompkins (not sure of the spelling), who owned and operated RK Tompkins animation studio in Mexico City. Tompkins needed a director and hired dad. This happened in 53 or 54. Dad, who was fluent in Spanish, packed up and moved to Mexico City. He worked there until 56. I was 17 and on summer vacation from High School in 56 and went down to Mexico City to visit him. At the end of summer I flew back and he drove up to Hollywood. He got a job at Playhouse Pictures and stayed with them until, I think, around 59. I had joined the Coast Guard and was stationed in Alaska and didn't follow what the family was doing very well.

At RK Tompkins and at Playhouse Pictures, he worked on commercials, either for the movie theaters (in Mexico) or television (in Hollywood). Most everything he did after UPA was for TV.

Around 59 dad and my sister Carol, left for England. Didn't find any work there so they went to Spain. Didn't find any work there either. So they ended up in Melbourn Australia where dad was animation director for a TV studio.

I'll have to ask my sister about when they came back from Australia, but when he came back he went through a long period of disability. He had gradually lost control of his left side. His left arm was paralized and he walked with difficulty. He was right handed so he could still draw however.

In the middle 60s he went back to Mexico and married his fourth wife, Noemi. He was able to retire there in Ozumbia, a small town outside of Mexico City, receiving a Social Security Disability pension and a WW2 pension. He worked on and off from then to 1972 at the RK Tompkins studio. He was working on a Spanish language Seseme Street for Mexican television when he and Noemi were killed in an automobile accident as they drove in to the studio one morning. He was 56.

I don't think he had a favorite character but I know that he liked "The Telltale Heart" very very much. I don't know if he had a favorite studio. I know that he loved UPA and the studio in Mexico. He thought the Mexican artists were brilliant.

Uploaded by thadk


p spector said...

Kevin and Pat, thanks for sharing this. Always a joy to hear animation offspring talk about their parents. Terrific cartoons. (You are not alone being baffled on why IMDB reads like it does.)

Austin Papageorge said...

IMDb reads the way it doesbecause idiots like me contribute to it!


Anonymous said...

Pat Matthews was a great talent who died before animation's resurgent popularity. It's due to Shamus Culhane's books that most casual animation scholars heard of him, but those works opened the door. This post is most illuminating and welcome.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple of sheets of Pat's outtake storyboards for a project he was working on when he was in Mexico: Till Eulenspiel by Richard Strauss. I would love to reconnect with Pat Jr.

Kevin Langley said...


Send me your email address and I'll pass it along to Pat, if you like.

Unknown said...

Good afternoon, I wish to add information about Pat Matthews:

I’m Rolando Tamayo Rodríguez, son of José Luis Tamayo Barbosa, who was also director of animated cartoon company Richard Kelsing Tompkins and Associates in Mexico City. My mother is Olivia Rodríguez Germán, who was also a draftsman in this studio. My aunt was Noemí de la Luz Rodríguez Germán, who contracted a civil marriage with Pat Matthews on October 6, 1962.

Pat and Naomi lived some time in the home of my maternal grandparents, on Calle Alonso Cano No. 96, Col. Alfonso XIII, CP 01460, Delegation Alvaro Obregon, Mexico, D.F. I have many pleasant memories of Pat, because at this time (1964-71) also my parents and I lived in this house too. Pat lived in an adjoining bedroom and I went every day to see him because he played with me a and I had a lot of fun when I tickled.

I remember Pat had a metal plate in his skull, because he was wounded in the war and also suffered a leg, so most of the time was in a wheelchair. Pat and Naomi spent time in Australia, and on his return brought me the gift of a stuffed koala bear so well done that I really liked.

Pat and Naomi had two sons who died shortly after birth. They bought a house in Ojo de Agua, a village of Tecámac, State of Mexico. One morning, on their way to work in his cherry Volkswagen car, collided with a passenger bus line of ADO (Autobuses de Oriente). The ambulance took them to the Emergency Hospital of La Villa in Mexico City. Pat died the next day, and Naomi died one or two days later, on May 15, 1972. I was ten years old at the time and made me very sad their departure, but I always remember Pat and Naomi with love. I remember meeting the Pat’ sons: Pat Jr., Wendy and another sister (perhaps Carol), when they went to my grandparents’ house to pick up some personal things of Pat. Pat’s sons are some nice people who I send an affectionate greeting.

Rolando Tamayo Rodríguez