Trained in graphic design at Syracuse University, American animator Ernest Pintoff had no experience in the cartoon world when he was signed by UPA Animation Studios in 1956, as part of a new talent pool for UPA's first weekly TV endeavor, The Gerald McBoing-Boing Show. The neophite Pintoff was given an unprecedented contract allowing him carte blanche as a writer, director and designer of such three-minute filler cartoons as Fight on for Old and The Lion Hunt. His modernistic, satirical style attracted the attention of Gene Deitch, the new head of animation at Terrytoons. Pintoff directed one memorable cartoon for Terrytoons, Flebus (1957), before setting up his own production company, principally devoted to TV advertising work. Pintoff's independent theatrical-cartoon output includes The Violinist (1960), The Interview (1961), and best of all, The Critic (1962), a sidesplitting sendup of avant-garde filmmaking narrated by Mel Brooks. A jazz trumpeter, Pintoff has expressed his fondness for progressive music in most of his animated shorts. His first live-action feature was 1966's Harvey Middleman, Fireman, which largely retained his surreal, cartoony sense of humor. Most of Ernest Pintoff's subsequent feature work has been along the more conventional lines of St. Helens (1981) a prosaic recreation of the eruption of Mount St. Helens.