Hubley, John (1914–1977) and Elliott, Faith (1924–2001) By Leskosky, Richard J.
Animator John Hubley, born in Marinette, Wisconsin, served as creative head of UPA (United Productions of America) in its early years and originated its most popular character, the near-sighted Mr. Magoo. He had previously worked on several Walt Disney animated features but left the studio during the 1941 strike. Hubley played a crucial role in UPA’s development. In 1944 he brought the fledgling company a United Auto Workers project promoting the re-election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which effectively turned it into an animation studio. He directed the first films that UPA made for Columbia Pictures, which demonstrated the young studio’s ability to make successful theatrical cartoons and so secured a long-term distribution contract with Columbia. Besides creating Mr. Magoo, Hubley earned the studio three Oscar nominations in its first four years of production. His crowning achievement at UPA was Rooty Toot Toot (1951), a modern retelling of the popular ballad “Frankie and Johnny.” The film could serve as a compendium of design features characteristic of UPA cartoons: very simple backgrounds; angularly rendered characters; and an extremely idiosyncratic use of color, which includes unusual shading, unmotivated chromatic change, and spillover drawn outlines.