The Creation and Development of Doctor Snuggles

The following is O’Kelly’s verbatim recollection of the creation, development and initial exploitation of Doctor Snuggles.

"Doctor Snuggles first took the shape of a chameleon known as MOONEY Snuggles in the year 1962. I really got to work on it in 1964 and did not bring it to the light of day until 1969, when by accident a well known producer of similar work asked me if I had any material on the children’s wave length that could be made into film and books, etc. He read the manuscript of Doctor Snuggles and that was the very first day that I encountered the world of lawyers, their machinations and pieces of paper. Little did I know at the time that I was about to commence on a journey that was to be long, complicated, sometimes joyful, most of the time frustrating, as I burrowed deeper and deeper into the intricate, complicated mechanics of the multimedia business which was totally necessary to the giving of birth to my first brainchild, Doctor Snuggles.

Having toyed around with the original idea, then shaping it into a manuscript (originally a 6,000 word manuscript) to be put into book form, I then started searching for the visuals of Doctor Snuggles to compliment the text. I, myself, had always known how Snuggles should look, a period, little, round, kindly man sporting a bow tie, colorful waistcoat and pin—stripe trousers. He was to be an inventor, a total optimist and a good—willed character, who wanted to help make the world a better place. To these ends, he was created. I had made my own drawing of Snuggles and commissioned the work of other artists but somehow they never seemed quite polished enough to launch onto the market.

After a series of disappointments and broken contracts, I came to America and searched the professional art world for the images that I required for Doctor Snuggles. Alas, though very interesting in their own way, the American artists gave me their impressions which, to my mind, were very similar to the impressions of Disney characters and not what I felt would work in the children’s works of today. So I determined to find the proper marriage of illustrations before I would commit to move forward. Looking back now, I’m extremely glad that foresight and patience persevered and we came out on the upside of a long distance dream come true.

Indeed, sometime in 1972, I had a telephone call from a certain Card Walker, who was the president of Disney Productions at the time. He related to me how he had heard of Doctor Snuggles through some coincidence on the golf course or some other location and they were very interested to acquire the property. My response was: would I be allowed to follow the pattern of creative guiding into a television series, feature film, etc. and would one day the children of the world have a little bouncing doll of Doctor Snuggles sitting on their knees at bedtime recounting his adventures? Mr. Walker replied regretfully, that could not be so. Disney’s policy was that they would acquire the property outright and that I would have no further designs upon it. I felt that this was not how I envisaged my life to be and (although I had many offers from various sources in the entertainment field, some of them absurd in their choice of characters to play the part of Doctor Snuggles, in a musical for example, or in cutting the record) I decided that much as all these good people were contributing, the offerings were somehow stunted and would noy give birth to the great dream that I had envisaged for many years.

My working companion at the time, Angela, who is now my wife (who has had professional training in the arts and sculpting) created a splendid rendering of Doctor Snuggles in the form of a doll. I took that doll, in the year 1971, to a Mr. MeDermot, the head buyer for FAO Schwartz. The employees in the store were very much taken by Doctor Snuggles, but the cynical Mr. McDermot merely stared at the doll and said, "Who is it?" I replied, "Why, of course, this is Doctor Snuggles." (His name was embroidered on his doctor’s bag.) Mr. McDermot continued to stare at my doll and quizzically asked, "Well, is there a book? Is there a television series?" I realised, somewhat painfully, what he meant. It was therefore my duty to go out and make Doctor Snuggles live. I returned to Europe and sent my manuscript to an English illustrator, Nicholas Price. I gave him only a few directives over the telephone, as I had fully considered, after observing one example of his work, that this artist was the one who could complement my vision of Doctor Snuggles. My thinking was absolutely correct. The first black and white drawing was the closest possible representation.

I requested that the nose, which was rather elongated, be shortened and shortly afterwards, armed with the first pictorial representation of Doctor Snuggles and his robot, MATHILDA JUNKBOTTOM, I journeyed to Holland where I made a deal with a Dutch man, Mark Spitz, to put Doctor Snuggles on the map. I secured the money and together with my artist, Nick Price, and my designer, Angela, we produced the first Flagship book of Doctor Snuggles.