Filed under: People, Animation Supervisor, Animator, Director, Executive Producer, Studio Head, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, Baby Huey, Betty Boop, Betty Boop series, Bray Productions, Casper the Ghost, Color, Dave Fleischer, Herman and Katnip, Inkwell / Fleischer Studios, Isadore Sparber, Koko the Clown, Max Fleischer, Noveltoons, Paramount Pictures, Popeye, Sam Buchwald, Seymour Kneitel, Superman, U.S.A.,
Seymour KneitelOccupation / Title:
16/03/1908Date of death:
New York, USA
Seymour Kneitel was an early American animator, most well known for his work with Fleischer Studios. After the studio closed, he headed its successor, Famous Studios.
Family and early life
Seymour Kneitel grew up in New York, attending the High School of Commerce and taking art courses on the side. Some of these additional art classes were taken at the National Academy of Design. During this time Kneitel lost his father, pushing him to find work throughout school and leading him to the animation studios where he would find fulltime work soon after. He eventually married Ruth Fleischer, Max Fleischer’s daughter, making him the son-in-law of his longest employer.
Kneitel began working part time while still attending school at Bray Studios, colouring the frames for the Colonel Heeza Liar cartoons that the studio produced. After graduating from th eHigh School of Commerce he joined the company L. F. Cornwell as a office boy. Soon, however, he was working as one of their animators, on the series Ebinizer Ebony. After this, Kneitel began doing in-between work for Max Fleischer’s Out of the Inkwell series. In 1927, he was offered a position as junior writer at MGM Studios. He was soon let go, and moved back to work at a few odd studios, working on cartoons based off of the Joe Jinks comics (which never made it to screen), some industrial films, and the Mutt and Jeff series.
The main part of Kneitel’s career was spent at Fleischer Studios, where he worked on several of the studio’s most well known animations. These include the Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, Gulliver’s Travels, Talkartoons, Superman and Screen Songs cartoons. Kneitel returned to work at the studio in 1928 as an in-betweener, though very soon he was promoted to head animator.
Seymour Kneitel worked at Fleischer Studios for 14 years, until the Fleischer brothers were forced to resign control over the studio. The brothers had loaned money from Paramount Studios to expand Fleischer Studios, and were unable to pay the loans after the failure of their feature Mister Bug Goes to Town (1941).
Kneitel became one of the animators to head the successor studio, Famous Studios, formed under Paramount Studios in 1942. With Sam Buchwald and Isadore Sparber, Kneitel oversaw the creation of several well known cartoons as director of production. These include more Popeye cartoons, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Noveltoons, Herman and Katnip, and Baby Huey. Even when Paramount discontinued the production of the Popeye shorts, King Features Syndicate commissioned the Paramount Cartoon Studios (the new name for Famous Studios) to continue the animations.
Maltin, Leonard. Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library, 1987.