Comedian Eddie Lawrence passed away last Tuesday, March 25th. Best known for his “Old Philosopher” records, you can read about his remarkable life in show business in his New York Times obit. But one thing left out of his story was his four years as the principal voice and writer for Paramount cartoons (1961-1965).
Paramount’s director Seymour Kneitel was a huge fan of Lawrence’s comedy monologues and when he became stuck for new stories – he approached the comedian about adapting his routine, Abner The Baseball. From here Kneitel began using Lawrence to do character voices and invited him to adapt other routines into cartoon shorts – usually featuring a pair of characters, first called Percy and Ralph – later renamed Swifty and Shorty – who starred in over a dozen Paramount theatrical cartoon shorts in 1964 and 1965.
Lawrence wrote songs, plays, made records and continued to perform stand up well into his 80s. His cartoons were rerun on Nickelodeon in the 1990s. In 1995 he attended a tribute to the Paramount cartoon studio I curated at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York City. He was quite proud of the films he wrote and voiced during that period. I was honored to have him in attendance.
Below, just a few of the dozens Eddie Lawrence produced. Rest in Peace, sir.