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Happy Birthday, Walter Lantz!

by Walter Lantz

Born on this day in 1899, American animator Walter Lantz is perhaps best known as the creator of cartoon character Woody Woodpecker. In fact, in 1979 when Robin Williams presented Lantz with an Honorary Award at the 51st Academy Awards for his contributions to the art of animation, an animated Woody Woodpecker appeared onstage alongside Lantz to accept the award.

In 1948, eight years after Woody’s first theatrical appearance, Lantz was approached by the Coca-Cola Company to produce animated theatrical advertisements to promote their product. Lantz agreed and eventually produced 20 shorts revolving around the popular soft drink. In honor of his birthday, we present one of the vintage advertisements created for this campaign, “The Tortoise and the Hare” (1953), in glorious Technicolor.

This is one of the many items contained in the Packard Humanities Institute Collection at the Academy Film Archive. The acquisition, which includes an array of theater advertisements such as “The Tortoise and the Hare,” was deposited at the Archive by David Packard in 2009. This historically significant collection contains over 60,000 media items and has transformed the Academy Film Archive into the world’s foremost repository of motion picture trailers.