Gertie the Dinosaur

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Gertie the Dinosaur is a 1914 American animated short film by Winsor McCay. Although not the first animated film, as is sometimes thought, it was the first cartoon to feature a character with an appealing personality. The appearance of a true character distinguished it from earlier animated "trick films", such as those of Blackton and Cohl, and makes it the predecessor to later popular cartoons such as those by Walt Disney. The film was also the first to be created using keyframe animation. The film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, and was named #6 of The 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time in a 1994 survey of animators and cartoon historians by Jerry Beck.[1]

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Vaudeville

Gertie the Dinosaur was originally created to be used in McCay's vaudeville performances. McCay started performing "chalk talks" on vaudeville in 1906, as a sideline to his regular newspaper cartooning. In 1911, he began presenting animated films on stage, first an animation of Little Nemo in Slumberland, then How a Mosquito Operates. Plans for Gertie were announced in 1912. The episode of McCay's newspaper comic In the Land of Wonderful Dreams published in newspapers on the 21st of September 1913 showed the reader some of the creatures from the upcoming film: a "dinosaurus", a sea serpent and a four-winged lizard. In January 1914, the drawings were photographed by Vitagraph Studios. The first presentation of the film was at the Palace Theater in Chicago on February 8, 1914; later performances were at the Hammerstein Theater in New York City.

The performance consisted of McCay interacting with Gertie, a cartoon dinosaur based on the Brontosaurus skeleton in the American Museum of Natural History.[2] McCay would stand on stage in front of a projection screen, dressed in a tuxedo and wielding a whip. He would call Gertie, who appeared from behind some rocks. He then instructed her to perform various tricks, similar to a circus act. He would appear to toss a prop apple to her — McCay palmed the apple while Gertie caught an animated copy of it. Gertie was also seen to swallow a large rock, play with a Mastodon, and drink an entire lake dry. At one point, McCay would scold Gertie for misbehaving, at which she would begin to cry. For the finale, McCay disappeared behind the screen just as a cartoon version of him climbed onto Gertie's head and rode off.

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