All I needed to do was throw in a plot idea, or suggest a character, and immediately Eli Bauer would spray out a fountain of gags and variations. It was all any of us could do to write them down for later embellishing. Eli was a born gag-man, and even the ones that were not usable kept us all in hysterics. We all jumped in with names, variations, and story lines. I can claim to have created the names and ideas of Tom Terrific, Sidney, and Clint Clobber, but most of the embellishments and many other characters were mutual, back & forth banter. Obviously, whatever was created at Terrytoons, came out of that room. When a couple of years later I was in Prague, Eli flew in and helped me with Tom&Jerry and Nudnik stories. Whenever a gag surfaced, whether it was his gag or my gag, Eli would shout, “That’s FUNNY!”
“A little man from The Bronx,” could describe several, even many, but would not be enough to label Eli Bauer, a fountain of cartoon gags walking the street and forcing yuks in the Terrytoons story department during my days of hope there. As Creative Director of the studio during the mid-1950s, there was no more productive use of my time than to sit in with the guys in the Story Department. It was presided over by long, long-time Terrytoons story man, Tommy Morrison, and in my time there it was inhabited by Larz Bourne, the pro from the South, Eli Bauer, the bright little guy from The Bronx, and Jules Feiffer, a genius who knew all the nation’s dialog by heart. I also include myself, a pedantic student of character creation, plot construction, and inner meanings – or so I claimed. As the Creative Chief of the studio, my claims ruled, and I take full responsibility for all story failings from my tenure. Whatever. I spent most of my days sitting with those geniuses, and giving “my guidance,” because whatever we produced, it all started in that room, furnished with a dusty old sofa, few lounge chairs, a couple of giant corkboards, lots of 4X5 sheets of paper, many well-chewed pencils, a thousand pushpins, and us. What came out of that room and got onto the 20th-Fox CinemaScope screens was my responsibility.
We had a great time working together here. Times like that I wished could have gone on forever! I miss him very much. Talents like Eli’s are thin on the ground.