Full Name:

Dave Fleischer

Occupation / Title:

Date of birth:


Date of death:



First generation American Jew who grew up in Manhattan. His father had emigrated from Austria in the late 1880’s. He and his brother, Max, distributed their Out of the Inkwell Series by themselves in mid-1921. Sometime in 1922 they signed with distributor, Margaret Winkler. Dave would dress up in a clown suit and Max would film him executing various movements.

The brothers would take this live action footage and use a method called rotoscoping to trace over the movements that Dave had previously performed. In a way, Dave was KoKo the Clown and KoKo was Dave in personality and locomotion. After the filming of Dave, Max’s involvement decreased. Dave would get involved with the animators, he would brain storm with them and come up with crucial gags for the film. Dave helped govern the different aspects of the film.

Dave Tendlar, an animator for the Fleischer’s, said that “Dave Fleischer’s theory was that every scene should have a gag; nobody should animate a scene without a gag.” Sight gags were important to Dave. He wanted the character along with the movements to keep in sync with the beat of the music. Dave was also in charge at the recording sessions. By 1938, Dave’s personal life eroded. Dave separated from his wife and became involved with a studio employee. He married her soon after his divorce. Enmity had been brewing between the brothers and Dave’s recent lack of moral right standing disturbed the conservative Max Fleischer. Both Fleischers left Paramount around the end of 1941. Paramount held and kept the rights to the Fleishcer Studio and to the products that Dave and Max created. Dave went on to California to be the head of Screen Gems as an executive producer. Dave left Screen Gems in 1943.

Family and early life

Dave was one of five brothers and one sister. His father was a tailor whose passion was  to invent. Dave’s first job as a young boy sometime before 1912, was an usher at the world famous Palace Theatre. He moved on to work for Walker Engraving Company. While Dave was out of school, he made sketches of the trendiest fashions for his father‘s store display.

Career outline

Became a film editor at Pathe Films. He was a Film Cutter for the Medical Corps Film Unit for the Army during WWI. editing footage in Washington, D.C. He and his brother Max formed Out of the Inkwell Inc. in 1921. In 1929, Their first distribtion was by States Rights with Warner’s for one year. In 1922, Margaret J. Winkler was given the Out of the Inkwell and Felix the Cat contracts by Harry Warner, and she started the Winkler Film company, distributing the Fleischer product for the next two years until the Fleischers merged with Hugo Riesenfeld in The Red Seal Pictures Corp. This company went bankrupt in 1927, and their association with Paramount began that same year through Alfred J. Weiss. The Out of the Inkwell Films company filed bankruptcy in January, 1929 and reorganized as Flesicher Studios, Inc.excluding Weiss. After Dave and Max split, Dave headed Columbia’s animation unit from 1942-1944. Soon after that he went to work for Universal until he retired in 1967.


Disney was the Fleischer’s major competitor. Winsor Mc Cay influenced Dave and Max from a young age, inspiring them to pursue animation.

Honors and awards

Annie Award: Winsor McCay Award 1972  Academy Award Nominations for Animated Short Film:  1936 Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor – Fleischer  1937 Educated Fish  1938 Hunky and Spunky  1941 Superman  1943 Imagination




  • Barrier, Michael . Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in It’s Golden Age. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
  • Cabarga, Leslie . The Fleischer Story. New York: DaCapo Press, 1988.

Suggestions are not enabled for this post.