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Fleischer Studios Gold

Okay historians, a treat for you today.

Animation art dealer-extraodinaire Mike Van Eaton has just come into a motherlode of vintage Fleischer Studios material, some of which will soon be up for sale (or auction). For the rest of us, Van Eaton has graciously allowed us to take a peak. This gallery below is of just a part of collection he recently acquired from the grandchildren of painter Mary Jones.

It includes inscribed photographs of Max and Dave Fleischer, model sheets of Betty Boop and Popeye, personal gag drawings from animators Dave Tendlar, George Germanetti, Tom Moore, Willard Bowsky, Gordon Sheehan, Tom Golden and “Jack” (Jack Mercer?). Click thumbnails below to enlarge:

If that little boy in Dave Tendlar’s drawing looks familiar – and even if he’s not – here’s the cartoon he appeared in, the 1936 Color Classic, Play Safe. Here’s a great Technicolor print (with French opening and closing titles, otherwise in English):

  • I’d not seen Play Safe before. What a treat. Trains and movies is a match made in cinema heaven for sure.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if “Jack” was actually Mercer! The guy’s a very good artist, among other things. :)

  • Jonathan

    In my opinion “Play Safe” is the greatest Fleischer cartoon ever. The film captures their surreal nightmarish look seen in many of their early films, it beautifully showcases the 3D model backgrounds and models the Fleischer’s made, and overall it’s a very ornately designed film that puts the 3-Strip Technicolor process to its full use. I hope one day a print will be found containing the original parchment style titles, as these Color Classic titles, are some of the most ornate looking titles to come from Fleischer’s; When they are found/restored “Play Safe” will truly stick out as a film that demonstrates the talents of the Fleischer studios.

    • Marvin

      The original negatives for all the Color Classic cartoons exist in the UCLA FIlm and TV Archive.


      Here is a nice print with the original titles –

      • Retro00064

        That’s actually the version with faked/recreated titles from the Somewhere in Dreamland DVD set. The original main title would have had “in TECHNICOLOR” and a Paramount copyright notice in place of the horizontal section of the parchment ribbon in the recreation. The Paramount logos in the recreation were taken from Somewhere in Dreamland (1936).

  • Russell H

    Great stuff, although I was hoping the title meant that we were finally getting an “official” Fleischer DVD set of Betty Boop et al. at long last.

    Re PLAY SAFE, I think this fine print is the one available on the SAVED FROM THE FLAMES DVD boxset from Flicker Alley.

    • As great as the SAVED FROM THE FLAMES print is, it is “splicy” in spots, and is missing nearly 60 seconds of animation where the boy examines the stopped train and climbs up onto the boxcar.

  • Tom Minton

    Fleischer animator George Germanetti came up with the concept of video feedback long before video was commonplace. Philo Farnsworth, had he seen that drawing, may well have chortled.

  • Jerry, I just found this cartoon string holder on eBay. Apparently the little Tendlar character was named and, at least briefly, licensed.

    • Wow! Great find, Mike. Also interesting to note that it is copyright by “UM&M”, the TV syndicator of the 50s! In no way did they have the rights to license that.

      • J Lee

        Actually, I think the character here was from Tendlar’s 1940 Color Classic “Little Lambkin”. Slightly different design and slightly different personalty, but the same sort of mechanical-technology-gone-wild idea to the story, as the kid sabotages his dad’s plan to move to the city (and either way, UM&M still wouldn’t have had the right to license the character).

  • Chris Sobieniak

    This was all extremely excellent!

  • Loco the Clown

    ‘Little Lambkin’ is the title of a 1940 Color Classic. Variants of the title child character of ‘Play Safe’ had appeared in earlier Color Classics: ‘Kids in the Shoe’ & ‘Song of the Birds’. I believe I may have seen something somewhere where he was assigned a name but can’t recall right now.

    • LITTLE LAMKIN is a bit disappointing for a cartoon released in 1940. Like Disney’s “Sillly Symphonies” were a test ground during the 1930s, they were discontinued once Disney entered the feature arena.
      Likewise, the Max Fleischer “Color Classis” were a product of 1930s sentiment and should have ceased in 1939 along with Betty Boop.

    • The kids in KIDS IN THE SHOW and SONG OF THE BIRDS were clearly Seymour Kneitel’s design. He drew the same “kid” in his gag Christmas card showing his son “Tommy” waking up Seymour and Ruth to have them see what Santa Claus brought him.

  • Charles

    What a treasure trove! I want them all. How much?

  • akira

    inviting mary on a great big train ride, eh?

  • John A

    apparently there was an incident involving a cake…

  • Nice to see my Dad’s stuff! All the references to “Mary” or “Mary’s Cake/Brownies” refer to my father’s sister Mary Germanetti Bucco who used to bake goodies for the guys at the studio. I have a bunch more of these “thank you” drawings. Just wondering how you got these — they are from the mid to late 30’s?

    • Russell

      You’re a relative of George Germanetti? That’s so cool! I always loved Fleischer Studios, and George is a top-notch animator!