Inventor of X-Rated Animation Ralph Bakshi Makes a Comeback

Legendary Filmmaker To Release 'Last Days of Coney Island'

By Ezra Glinter

Published January 14, 2014, issue of January 10, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Ralph Bakshi’s Best Jewish Moments from Jewish Daily Forward on Vimeo.

I was on the phone with Ralph Bakshi when he told me who killed John F. Kennedy. Long story short: It was the mob. “With Johnson’s OK, I guess,” Bakshi said. “That’s my take on it. The fact that Kennedy got shot in the back and the front of the head? Oswald shot three people with one bullet? I mean, come on. I write movies, and I would never write a movie that bad.”

Bakshi was talking to me from his home in Silver City, N.M., where he was working on his latest project, “Last Days of Coney Island.” The first segment of the film, which was financed through a successful Kickstarter campaign, will be released online in the coming months. When we chatted, the 75-year-old animator had just woken up from a nap, but he seemed like his regular combative self. “Kennedy being assassinated and King being assassinated and Malcolm X being assassinated and Bobby Kennedy being assassinated? Basically a coup in America at that point.”

Bakshi is known for making sexually, racially and politically charged films like “Fritz the Cat,” which was X-rated and, with a box office take of over $100 million, the most successful independent animated feature of all time. He is beloved by science fiction and fantasy fans for movies like “Wizards” (1977) and a 1978 adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings.” His movies — despite many controversies — are icons of animation, and his influence can be felt everywhere from The Simpsons to South Park to the entire Adult Swim cartoon network. Bakshi didn’t just make dirty pictures — he helped invent an industry.

There hasn’t been much recent news from Bakshi, however. Since his last big projects — the part-animated, part-live action, “Cool World,” made in 1992 starring a young Brad Pitt, and “Spicy City,” a short-lived 1997 TV show — he has largely retired from the entertainment business. These days he spends his time reading, listening to jazz, and painting in his New Mexico studio. But with “Last Days of Coney Island” he’s making a return to filmmaking, and to subjects that have marked his career since the beginning: crime, corruption, and the grime-ridden streets of New York.

Bakshi knows a thing or two about grime. Born in Haifa in 1938, he left Palestine with his parents at age 1 and settled in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville. His father, Eliezer, worked in a sheet metal factory and his mother, Mina, commuted to the garment district on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Bakshi’s world was Jewish, but it was hardly pious. On Yom Kippur, he and his friends would stroll over the Italian neighborhood to get something to eat.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.