McCartney Productions Ltd. acquires the film rights for Rupert the Bear

Tuesday, April 7, 1970

About

On this day, Eastman & Eastman, the law firm representing Paul McCartney and managed by Lee Eastman, father of Linda McCartney, announced that McCartney Productions Ltd. (created in August 1969 to represent the business interests of Paul McCartney) had acquired the film rights for the cartoon character Rupert The Bear.

Press articles covering this announcement speculated this may mean the end of the Beatles, but news of the Beatles’ split would make the headlines only a few days later.

From MSN.com:

Paul McCartney enjoyed Rupert’s stories as a kid, and particularly loved the illustrations of Alfred Bestall, who spent more than 40 years crafting tales and pictures for the bear. But it wasn’t until he was telling those stories to his daughter Heather that McCartney saw the character’s full potential.

With The Beatles coming to an end, McCartney was looking for new endeavours, so approached Daily Express editor Sir Max Aitken, and convinced him to sell the film rights. With Macca bemoaning the Americanisation of Winnie the Pooh by Walt Disney, he promised to keep U.S. accents out of this very British story.


I’ve bought up the film rights for Rupert the Bear the cartoon character from the Daily Express. As a kid I loved that strip – I’ve still got all the old Rupert annuals at home.

Paul McCartney

I ended up going to see Sir Max Aitken who was the head of the Daily Express at the time, in his big office in Fleet Street, and said, ‘Look, Max, baby, we’ve got to keep Rupert in England because if the Yanks get hold of him they’ll make him talk like Winnie the Pooh and he’ll be an American Rupert.’ So I said, ‘You’ve got to let someone like me do it.’ I gave him all the big spiel and he was impressed. So that was how we got the animation rights to do Rupert.

Paul McCartney, circa 1990

McCartney May Quit Beatles

LONDON, April 7 – Beatle Paul McCartney announced today a series of independent projects which close friends said would almost certainly mean the end of the Beatles as a group.

The announcement, issued through McCartney’s attorney and brother-in-law John Eastman of New York, said the private ventures will keep McCartney from directly working with the remainder of the Beatle quartet indefinitely.

It is now highly unlikely they will ever even record together again,” one business source said.

The announcement said the first solo venture for McCartney would be an album, “McCartney,” to be released this month. Eastman said McCartney all 14 songs, played all the instruments, sang all the vocals, produced the record and collaborated on the cover design with his wife.

McCartney also announced he has acquired all rights to a well-known British cartoon bear, “Rupert.”

The pop singer plans to make a full-length animated film of “Rupert,” a project which will take several months, the announcement said.

McCartney’s plans to branch out on his own came in the wake of reported squabbles among the group and disagreement about their legal and business representation.

Sources close to the group’s firm said McCartney has not spoken to fellow Beatle John Lennon since last August. He has not been in a recording studio with the others for several months.

Friends maintained McCartney was not responsible for the breakup, but was following the example of the three other members of the group.

Lennon and his wife have formed their own band. Ringo Starr has recently devoted much of his time to films, and George Harrison has been involved in songwriting and record production.

You can’t expect McCartney, the writer of such great Beatle hits as ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Michelle,’ to just sit around and wait,” said one friend.

From the Washington Post, London, April 7, 1970
From the Washington Post, London, April 7, 1970 – From McCartney Legacy – Facebook page

Beatles’ Split Seen as Paul Goes on Own

London, April 7 (UPI) – Beatle Paul McCartney announced a series of independent projects today which close friends said would almost certainly mean the end of the Beatles as a group.

The announcement, issued through McCartney’s attorney and brother-in-law, John Eastman of New York, said the private ventures will keep McCartney from directly working with the remainder of the Beatle quartet indefinitely.

It is now highly unlikely they will ever even record together again,” one business source said. The announcement said the first solo venture for McCartney would be the release this month of an album, “McCartney.” Eastman said that McCartney wrote all 14 songs, played all the instruments, sang all the vocals, produced the record and collaborated on the cover design with his wife.

McCartney also announced he has acquired all rights to a well-known British cartoon bear, “Rupert”.

A Full-Length Film

The singer plans to make a full-length animated film of Rupert, a project that will take several months, the announcement said.

McCartney’s plans to branch out his own came in the wake of reported squabbles among the group and disagreement about their legal and business representation.

From Daily News, April 8, 1970
From Daily News, April 8, 1970 – From McCartney Legacy – Facebook page

Let Him Be!

Paul McCartney, who fled London last Friday, leaving behind him furors of doubt and rumour about his future following his “Quit The Beatles” bombshell, was back from a secret hideaway in the country on Sunday – ready to work the first project for his new company.

Paul, wife Linda, and children Heather and Mary, left their Cavendish Avenue, St. John’s Wood, house in the early hours of Friday – the day the world learned, via Paul’s specially – prepared handout, of the Beatle’s decision to split from John, George and Ringo.

A close friend of Paul’s told Disc: “He’s not giving ANY interviews at the moment. In fact, fans and other people have been making his life a bit of a misery lately by ‘picketing’ his pad. I wish they’d let him alone to live his own life now.”

Paul has – through his American lawyers, led by father-in-law Lee Eastman – bought exclusive rights to “Rupert Bear”, the traditional children’s story, for his newly-formed McCartney Productions. Paul plans to produce and write the music for a full-length animated cartoon film titled “Rupert”.

But an Apple office spokesman told Disc: “At the moment Paul and ‘Rupert’ are still only in the planning stages. We have no further details.”

“McCartney”, Paul’s first solo LP, is officially released tomorrow (Friday) and has a 19,000 advance order.

From Disc and Music Echo April 18 1970 British Pop Newspaper Paul | Etsy France
From Disc and Music Echo April 18 1970 British Pop Newspaper Paul | Etsy France

From Wikipedia:

Rupert Bear is a children’s comic strip character created by English artist Mary Tourtel and first appearing in the Daily Express newspaper on 8 November 1920. Rupert’s initial purpose was to win sales from the rival Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. In 1935, the stories were taken over by Alfred Bestall, who was previously an illustrator for Punch and other glossy magazines. Bestall proved to be successful in the field of children’s literature and worked on Rupert stories and artwork into his 90s. More recently, various other artists and writers have continued the series. About 50 million copies have been sold worldwide.

The comic strip was, and still is, published daily in the Daily Express, with many of these stories later being printed in books, and every year since 1936 a Rupert annual has also been released. Rupert Bear has become a well-known character in children’s culture in the United Kingdom, and the success of the Rupert stories has led to the creation of several television series based on the character. The character also has a large fan following, with such groups as The Followers of Rupert.

Last updated on April 3, 2022

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