If you ever wondered what Roger Rabbit would sound like if he was voiced by Pee-wee Herman, we now have the answer, thanks to the recently unearthed episode of Disney Studio Showcase above showing Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in its strange, black-and-white infancy (via Slashfilm). “Roger Rabbit is a live-action picture in which half the cast is made up of animated characters,” a Disney producer explains. “It’s based on the premise that cartoon characters really live and are not drawn. They exist in this world just like human beings do.”
What follows is a technical display on how the filmmakers and the animators managed to make the animated characters and the flesh-and-blood actors work in unison. In a black-and-white “composite test,” we see character actor Peter Renaday in the “Eddie Valiant” role that would later be filled by the remarkable Bob Hoskins. But the real revelation comes not from what we see but what we hear: Paul Reubens, or the man who would later portray Pee-wee Herman, voicing the madcap Roger Rabbit. Voice actor Charles Fleischer would provide Roger’s voice when the film was ultimately made a half-decade later, but it’s interesting to hear Reubens’ unique take on the animated hare.
As The AV Club writes, Disney had been developing author Gary K. Wolf’s novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? since it was released in 1981. This Disney Studio Showcase footage aired in 1983, which was around the time the Mickey Mouse company stopped working on the project. The film was revisited a few years later when producer Steven Spielberg, director Robert Zemeckis, and animator Richard Williams stepped in to resurrect the film. The rest is Toontown history.