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Remembering Al Brodax

Al Brodax died last week, at 90. The longtime Westporter led quite a life.

He enlisted in the Army in 1943, at at age 17. Wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded the Purple Heart. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin, then joined the William Morris Agency where he worked on “Your Show of Shows.

Al Brodax (Photo/Carol King)

Brodax wrote and produced more than 500 episodes of “Popeye,” “Krazy Kat,” “Barney Google” and “The Beatles” cartoon series.

His greatest fame came as producer and co-writer of “Yellow Submarine.” It won more than 30 awards, including the New York Film Critics Circle in 1969. Brodax later became the animation supervisor for ABC, then a consultant for Marvel Comics.

In 2012 — before his appearance at a Westport Youth Film Festival event — I wrote this piece for “06880”:

More than 45 years after it supposedly happened, whether the Beatles actually visited Murray the K* at his Bluewater Hill home is up for debate.

But no one can deny that without Westporter Al Brodax, “Yellow Submarine” would never have left the dock.

In the late 1960s, Brodax was head of King Features’ motion picture/TV division. He pitched the idea of a full-length film based on the song of the same name to the Beatles. (I’m sure he knew someone who knew someone who…)

The Beatles agreed to provide music for the animated film. (It was also a way to fulfill their contractual obligation to United Artists.)

With Brodax serving as co-writer and producer, “Yellow Submarine” was released to critical acclaim in 1968. The next year, it won the New York Film Critics Circle Award.

(Full disclosure: I always thought “Yellow Submarine” was the worst song in the entire Beatles discography. I had no desire to see the film, then or now.)

Brodax went on to produce, write and direct several Emmy-winning TV shows, including “Make a Wish” and “Animals, Animals, Animals.”

In 2004 he wrote “Up Periscope Yellow: The Making of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.” 

Given my antipathy toward the song, I have not read it. Nor do I plan to.

However, I am sure Al Brodax’s death is being mourned by Beatles fans everywhere.

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*Murray the K was a famous DJ.**

**DJ as in “radio disc jockey,” not “someone who plays music at proms, weddings and bar mitzvahs.”

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