One of the abiding quasi-mystery men of uncredited Schlesinger-Warners cartoon was John McGrew, who was mentioned in the 1940 "Unit A" poem that a certain Turtle;) just recently posted.
Soooo I thought I'd give John McGrew's background (or maybe the whole layout...), this info comes from 1939 so it predates what he told Mike Barrier by a just a tad.
McGrew was born in New York City but "completed" his education in L.A. He attended U.C.L.A. studying economics, but strangely enough took a pre-med course there, which gave him an interest in abnormal psychology. With THAT kind of interest he applied for and was hired at a local mental health hospital where he promptly asked to be assigned to the worst wards. [This was the best training for working at Termite Terrace:p]. He only lasted in the mental wards for four months...
Reportedly for 18 months he "lived by his wits" under the bizarre pseudonym of "John Burton"!:cool: McGrew stated that he worked as a fortune-teller, numerologist, hypnotist, spiritualist:eek:, "mental-telepathist", and supposedly was even adjudged a "Master of Spiritualism":rolleyes:. He claimed he did it all for "fun". He also found time to give lectures to womens-clubs on any subject...
In this same time frame he (somehow) became the Art Director for the Pastorale Players and joined a puppet group studying making masks and of course puppets. With this background he got a job with the Pasadena Players on the technical end and in set-design, THIS helped him win a three year scholarship at Chouinard's Art School.
You'd THINK THAT would've led him straight into the animation industry, but no it didn't. Instead he took another WEIRD detour, literally! In 1936 he went overseas and bicycled for THREE MONTHS through Nazi Germany (there's the part that makes a Turtle uncomfortable)... He supposedly received "special permission" to photograph all sorts of buildings and statues there (I don't even want to contemplate how he got permission). This resulted in him coming away with some 500 photographs...
After McGrew's return from Nazi Germany he was hired at the Schlesinger studio in what was then the "background department" where he basically toiled away painting backgrounds.. until SOMEONE noticed his work. In mid Aug. 1939 McGrew was summarily plucked from it by director Charles Martin Jones to do "color sketches" and layouts for him. This followed his having married a girl with the nice German name of Elfrieda Von Albrech on May 8, 1939 *(who knows, maybe Chuck thought he needed a promotion and recognition now that he had a wife;)). McGrew had also worked for a while as a ventriloquist so MAYBE he used that on his wife for alibis!:D
As everybody knows he continuted on as Chuck's loyal layout man right up until he went into the army. At the end of WWII there was actually a note posted saying "Where's McGrew??".
In the Barrier interview it was pointed out that not only moved to France and given up art but had concentrated on playing piano in a duet with his longtime partner. Well, even in 1939 he was playing the 88-keys, in fact at that point he'd been teaching piano for over a decade! He also could play the "block-flute" and stumble through on the accordion. As pointed out by Mike Barrier, McGrew lived out the remainder of his life and died in France.
Since John McGrew was mentioned in the "Unit A" poem...
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