15. Rudy Zamora

“If you can’t eat a hot pepper, you’re no animator!”

The great animator Rudy Zamora was both my Jam Handy studio star animation performer, and also a red hot pepper in my throat. He obviously thought I was too young and green to be his boss, and he constantly let me know it.  He went along with the gag of working under my direction, because he needed the job.  I too went along with the gag, because I needed him, just as I needed Cliff Roberts, to give life to my conceptions.  Rudy was probably the only first-class animator Jam Handy ever had. I was delighted to take his ribbing, as long as he would stick with me, and give me what I wanted.

I was the constant subject of his caustic/hilarious comic sketches.  I wish I still had some of them; sadly lost under the pushpins of the past.  But don’t think any of that was bad tempered; it was all in great fun.   We had many good times together, but I couldn’t keep up with his drinking and spicy eating.  He was a big guy, and he could have beaten me to a pulp if he‘d ever really been aroused.  He was in fact a gentleman, and I was always sure that he liked me, and respected what I was trying to do.  The proof of that was in the quality of work he did for me.  Later, he went on to a long and productive career with Hanna-Barberra.

Rudy Zamora was a hot personality, but he was not about hot air. He knew that animation was not about big talk; you had to actually produce; and he did!   He was one of the many on this list of credits who inspired me and kept me from taking myself too seriously.

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