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Paramount Pictures
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Paramount Pictures

In 1928, Paramount began releasing Inkwell Imps animated cartoons produced by Max Fleischer and Dave Fleischer's Fleischer Studios in New York City. The Fleischers, veterans in the animation industry, would prove to be among the few animation producers capable of challenging the prominence of Walt Disney. The Paramount newsreel series Paramount News ran from 1927 to 1957. Paramount cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios continued to be successful, with characters such as Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor becoming widely successful. One Fleischer series, Screen Songs, featured live-action music stars under contract to Paramount hosting sing-alongs of popular songs. However, a huge blow to Fleischer Studios occurred in 1934, after the Production Code was enforced and Betty Boop's popularity declined as she was forced to have a more tame personality and wear a longer skirt. The animation studio would rebound with Popeye, and in 1935, polls showed that Popeye was even more popular than Mickey Mouse. After an unsuccessful expansion into feature films, as well as the fact that Max and Dave Fleischer were no longer speaking to one another, Fleischer Studios was acquired by Paramount, which renamed the operation Famous Studios (Paramount Cartoon Studios) and continued cartoon production until 1967. Famous was founded as a successor company to Fleischer Studios, after Paramount seized control of the aforementioned studio and ousted its founders, Max and Dave Fleischer, in 1941. The studio's productions included three series started by the Fleischers, Popeye the Sailor, Superman, and Screen Songs, as well as Little Audrey, Little Lulu, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Honey Halfwitch, Herman and Katnip, Baby Huey, and the anthology Noveltoons series. The Famous name was previously used as Famous Players Film Company, one of several companies which in 1912 became Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, the company which founded Paramount Pictures. Paramount's music publishing branch, which held the rights to all of the original music in the Fleischer/Famous cartoons, was named Famous Music.

Trivia 

  • The Fleischer Studios moved its operations from New York City to Miami Beach, Florida in 1938, following union problems and the start of production on its first feature film, Gulliver's Travels (1939). While Gulliver was a success, the expense of the move and increased overhead costs created finance problems for the Fleischer Studios.
  • Following the unsuccessful release of Mr. Bug in December 1941, Max Fleischer, no longer able to cooperate with Dave, sent Paramount a telegram expressing such. Paramount responded by producing the letters of resignation, severing the Fleischer brothers from control of their studio.
  • Paramount renamed the studio Famous Studios. Although they had ownership of the company, it remained a separate entity.
  • Three top Fleischer employees were promoted to run the animation studio: business manager Sam Buchwald, storyboard artist Isadore Sparber, and Max Fleischer's son-in-law, head animator Seymour Kneitel. Buchwald assumed Max Fleischer's place as executive producer, while Sparber and Kneitel shared Dave Fleischer's former responsibilities as supervising producers and credited directors.
  • Although the Fleischers left the studio at the end of 1941, Famous Studios was not officially incorporated until May 25, 1942, after Paramount's contract with Fleischer Studios had formally run its course.
  • Virtually all of the Famous staff, from voice artist/storyman Jack Mercer, Mae Questel and storyman Carl Meyer to animators such as Myron Waldman, David Tendlar, Tom Johnson, Nicholas Tafuri, and Al Eugster, were holdovers from the Fleischer era.
  • In 1980, Paramount had co-produced and released a live-action feature film adaptation of Popeye the Sailor, titled simply Popeye, with Walt Disney Productions. The live-action film ended Paramount's involvement in the Popeye franchise.
  • In 1986, both the Fleischer and Famous Popeye cartoons, along with the MGM b&w/color and pre-1948 Warner Bros. color cartoons, were bought by Turner Entertainment after an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio. This library of cartoons, along with the Hanna-Barbera library, which Turner bought in 1991, would become the initial programming for Cartoon Network when it launched in 1992.

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