Growing up in the Oriolo house

Growing up in the Oriolo house was an unforgettable experience to say the least.  A very creative environment…lots of art, music, singing, dancing….my father, Joe Oriolo, was an amazing cartoonist, animator, musician, and all around talented guy.  Anything pertaining to hand-eye coordination was within his realm of expertise.  He was so good at target shooting, the cops in our town made him an honorary policeman so he could shoot in their tournaments.  And pool?  If you missed a shot you had better sit down, cause he would run rack after rack, performing shots that you only see on TV.  “I’m gonna bank it off of the 2 ball, jump the five ball, off of three rails….”  Bang…in the pocket….  Ping pong, pitching baseballs….hand-eye…hand-eye….Of course, his designing skills were second to none (am I sounding overly proud?).  He created Casper the Ghost, Chiquita Banana, Poindexter, Vavoom, Rock Bottom, the Professor, and on and on….
Here’s a picture of him at his drawing board when he worked at the Fleischer Studios.  As you can see by the character charts in the bg, he was working on “Mr. Bug Goes to Town”.  While he was there, he animated Popeye, Superman, Gulliver’s Travels, et. al.  Good looking guy too…no?  Ha ha!
Getting back to growing up in that household, as you can imagine, the parade of creative people who came in and out of our house was amazing.
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Bob Guccione

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I remember Bob Guccione coming over to our house on one snowy night to get some pointers on his cartooning abilities.  I can recall as a little kid being amazed because he and his equally beatniky girlfriend were wearing sandals without socks walking through the snow…funny what you remember.  In any event, I was always there watching and listening… learning and laughing.  I remember Bob said to my father that he also took pictures.  My father looked at them and said…”Ya know, Bob….you’re good…you should do more of this.”  Bob said he was thinking of moving to England, and taking pictures of beautiful women….”Wow…what a great idea!”  I was thinking “You can do that for a job?”  Ha ha! Anyway, it wasn’t long after that Bob started the internationally successful Penthouse Magazine.  Kind of a “Back To The Future” scenario: What if my father didn’t give that extra support, etc….who knows?  Maybe that’s stretching the point a bit, but stranger things have happened.  Many, many artists through the years have told me that my father influenced them in one way or another.  He was an amazing guy to say the least.  I’m thankful for the house of many thrills that was my home base as a child.  My sister Joan was an amazing piano player, playing pipe organ in church when she was 14.  I would turn the pages for her in the music book.  She was also an incredible artist.  My brother Joe was a drummer who could do a drum roll with one hand and could paint like Monet.  We had a wonderful mother who was valedictorian, and who did my homework in Catholic school.  We had dogs, cats, gerbils, fish….you get the picture.  I remember barbeques at our house that were like an animation festival!  All of the Fleischer animators and others would be there: Nick Tafuri, Steve Mafotti, Johnny Gent, Rube Grossman, Otto Messmer, Johnny Walworth, Dave Enders, Win Sharples, Dave Tyler, etc. etc. etc.  It was great fun.  As an homage to my father’s animation studio in NYC, our studios have different color doors for every room in the building.  It’s like walking into a rainbow every day!  Not a bad place to hang your hat.
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7 Responses to “Growing up in the Oriolo house”

  1. Satrony Says:

    wow! I thought my love for the guitar would have nothing to do with felix Boy am I glad it does now!

  2. Satrony Says:

    Nice! keep up with the blog!

  3. Satrony Says:

    wow! seems nice…

  4. Felix Says:

    Hi Don,
    Great to see recent posts in this blog. Just last year I started collecting Felix the Cat comics (everything really from the march of comics, UK books, Dell/Toby all the way up to the ones released in the past few years) and found that the original comic strips don’t seem to be available other than the Fantagraphics book, which is amazing. I saw that there is a new book coming out later this year that clocks in at over 200 pages. #1)Is there any way you could post some info about this book (ie sequential? Will it have dates on each strip? I’m almost at the point of mounting a big effort to dig up the Boston American micro fiche archives from several libraries to try and pull together a personal collection of ALL the published comic strips. Unfortunately, I think the probability of completing my quest is worse than me getting a job at Felix Comics and convincing you to republish them! #2) I’m also wondering if there is a Felix comic book/strip encyclopedia (online?) with a cross reference showing if the stories contained within are republished or original. #3) Are there any places where I can find more info about your guitars? I can’t seem to find any reviews on-line… will they be available at retail in Los Angeles so I can try them out before purchasing them?

    Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions!

  5. franca Says:

    Don, I enjoyed your blog and your family history. You went into great details about your father but not much written about your mother. She must have been pretty amazing to have raised such talented and successful children.

  6. Jennifer Says:

    Wow, I envy you so much!

    I’m the only artistic one in my family (well, aside from my cousin anyway)

    I wish so much I had come from a family of animators, or had the sort of contacts you were lucky enough to grow up with, I would no doubt be living out my cartoon making dreams earlier in life then being a 28 year old fitting room attendant at a clothing store.

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