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New blog posts will be uploaded at 5:00 PM CST
Every Tuesday & Thursday!
A writer's life during the golden age of television

I’m Jack Olesker, creator, writer, producer and director of more than twelve hundred episodes of television, eighteen motion pictures and seven published novels. I've written and created many animated series during The Golden Age of Television Animation -- – the 1980s through the 1990s – including Care Bears, M.A.S.K., Heroes on Hot Wheels, The New Adventures of He-man, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater, Popples, my co-creation of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and many more.

It’s been my joy to have entertained countless millions of viewers who were young fans and stayed fans as they grew up and introduced their own children to many of my series continuing to air worldwide.

And now, through my A Writer’s Life…During the Golden Age of Television Animation blog, I’m going to take all of you on an amazing journey back to those shining years of animated television series. It’s a real-life journey that has everything – history, action, adventure, cliffhangers, comedy and drama, suspense, devastating disappointments and tremendous triumphs.

We who labor – and labored -- in the animation industry are forever indebted to you for being fans. So my A Writer’s Life…During the Golden Age of Television Animation blog is a labor of love dedicated to you. It’s my way of saying “Thank-you.” I promise it will be a fascinating journey.

Let’s go on it together!


Okay, I hear you: “Jack was lucky to be in a building where a Frenchman who started an animation studio lived.”

But 'luck' had very little to do with it.

I’d packed up, moved to L.A. where I knew no one, and for years worked hard to put myself in the right place at the right time. That’s called ‘positioning’. In baseball it’s called ‘swinging the bat’.

Baseball... Yeah, so Reggie Jackson, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez – three of the greatest baseball players of all time -- have a lot in common. Reggie smashed 563 home runs during his career. Sammy pounded out 609 homers and Alex Rodriguez racked up an incredible 696 home runs. And each had over 2,000 hits – 2,408 for Sammy, 2,584 for Reggie and an astonishing 3,115 for Alex Rodriguez.

Obviously, they were tremendously talented baseball players. But there’s one other thing they share in common: all three are on the Top Ten List of players who have struck out the most times in baseball – over 2,000 whiffs each during their careers.

I also struck out a lot of times in my early career and I would strike out a lot more later in my career. But that’s how you hit home runs – you develop your talent, you put yourself in the right place, you swing the bat and you hope you connect.

I swung, and that night in Studio City I connected. I’d met a Frenchman who would animate me.

And it wasn’t luck.

It’s 1982 and I’m living in L.A. To put food on the table I’m writing commercials for the Armed Forces Radio & Television Service (AFRTS). Easy work, lousy pay. Adding to that, thanks to cashing in on my modest retirement fund from my parents’ clothing business, which I will have to pay a penalty on, I’ve got a bit of cash in the bank. So I rent a nice condo in a building in Studio City filled with entertainment industry types – a locations manager, a make-up artist, a soap star and Bob Eubanks, host of The Newlyweds Game. Nice guy, great poker player.

There’s also this young Frenchman – Jean Chalopin, who bears a strong resemblance to John Lennon – who lives in the building. A quiet type, but friendly. One evening at a party in the building, he tells me he heard I’m a published novelist. I nod, happy to hear my ‘fame’ is spreading. Jean says he’s started animation studio here in Studio City and asks if I’d like to take a shot at writing for children’s television. I explain my novels deal with murder mysteries and the occult, so I’m not sure writing for children’s television is for me. I tell him I’ll think about it and get back to him.

Later, it’s three-thirty in the morning and I’m sound asleep. Suddenly my eyes pop open, I sit bolt upright in my bed and shout, “What am I, crazy?!”

The next morning I knock on Jean’s door. He opens it and I say, “Ok. I

thought about it. How about we have lunch and talk?”

And that’s how I became animated.

So how did a writer who, at the time, had four successful novels – a murder mystery, an action/adventure novel, an occult/romance tome and a historical saga – under his belt end up writing for children’s entertainment?

I’d always liked writing novels. Still, only a fraction of people read novels compared to almost everyone who sees movies and watches television. Any episode I ever wrote of Care Bears had a monumentally larger audience than Shakespeare did at the time he wrote Macbeth. To put it another way, a novel that sold just 9,000 copies in a week in the 1980s would hit the New York Times bestseller list. In the same week, literally millions of viewers watched a Saturday morning episode of Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats.

Well, most writers want to reach as large an audience as possible. So, it seemed to me the way to reach the largest audience was through writing for motion pictures and television. And that was why, after MGM purchased the film rights to my first published novel in 1977, I left my parents’ clothing business, loaded up my white TR7 with all my worldly possessions and drove to L.A. where I was certain my golden fingers would lead to my becoming the next wildly successful screenwriter.

What I didn’t realize was that seven thousand, eight hundred and nineteen would-be-screenwriters were loading up their cars with all their worldly possessions and were moving to L.A. with the same notion of becoming the next wildly successful screenwriter.

I’d find out about that soon enough…

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