The 100 Christmas Cards featured in this exhibit were created by a number of staffers over the course of several years but, as it happens, many were created by the employees featured in the above 1929 photo. Taken in the early days of Fleischer Studios, some of the staff pose outside of the studio space they used briefly at the Carpenter-Goldman Labs located in Long Island City, New York.
Included in this photo: front row from left to right; possibly Sid Wallick, Edith Vernick, George Cannata, Seymour Kneitel, Max Fleischer, Charles Shettler, Sid Marcus, Al Eugster behind Vernick (with hat and cigar); behind Cannata and Seymour Kneitel is Abner Kneitel; wearing a white hat (on left) is Rudy Zamora; in the distance behind Seymour is Joe Fleischer (wearing suspenders); and William Henning has his hand on the window.
Christmas was a special time at Fleischer Studios! The joy of the season offered the Studios' many talented artists the perfect opportunity to exercise their special brand of zaniness for their own - and each other's - enjoyment.
The Studios' annual holiday parties were renowned, and often raucous, affairs featuring spirited skits and music performed by staff members, and cards created and exchanged by studio artists featuring original artwork.
In celebration of the holidays, we invite you to enjoy this collection of images, rare video footage and remembrances that reflect the exuberance, wit and wackiness of the holiday season Fleischer Studios-style.
For the artists of Fleischer Studios, Christmas cards were a very serious business. These fanciful, sometimes elaborate, mini works of art were drawn and often hand-colored by the animators themselves. They featured studio stars like Betty Boop and Popeye, photos of spouses and children and, as you will see, were sometimes just gags about Christmas, studio life or even themselves! The many marriages between Fleischer staffers are also reflected in some of these cards.
Most of the cards were drawn by men. There were simply no women working as animators at any of the studios in the early 1930s. It wasn't until 1933 (when Fleischer Studios became the first studio to hire a female animator) that women moved beyond jobs such as painting and coloring cels.
Visit our Christmas Card Gallery HERE to view 100 cards
by some of your favorite Fleischer animators!
Fleischer Studios threw a huge Christmas party every year and invited the entire staff. Usually booked into a theater or hotel, these sometimes infamous parties were enormous affairs. There would be dancing, plenty of food, crazy gifts, and humorous skits presented by the staff; an all around, rousing good time!
The extraordinary, rarely seen, film to the right (from the Fleischer Family Collection) features footage from the Studios' 1935 Christmas party. While the images are blurry, and jump around, it is a wonderful record of a very special time, and it's certainly amazing that it exists at all.
As Fleischer Studios grew, so did the parties -- from the 100 employees invited to the 1930 Christmas Party to the more than 700 invited in 1939, after the Studio had relocated to Florida.
The above footage is even more rare and wonderful when you consider the office memo/invitation (left) that was sent to employees regarding the 1935 Fleischer Studios Christmas party, and signed by both Max and Dave Fleischer. The studio was clearly very serious about keeping this strictly an in-house event so as not to cause "embarrassment" (not even family was allowed!)
Although this memo seems to present the evening as a rather staid and proper event, you can see from the video clip above that it was anything but that!
Join the Party!
What was it really like to be at one of these infamous Christmas parties? Check out these wonderful and very vivid remembrances from two of the Studios' grand affairs celebrating Christmas in 1931 & 1935!
The 'Flipper Club' was a social and athletic club for people in Dade County, Florida, who were working in the production of animated cartoons; in other words: Fleischer Studios, which was the only such studio operating in Dade County at that time.
In 1939, 1940 and 1941, the 'Flipper Club' printed booklets that served as a menu and program of events for the Christmas Party. The name ‘Flipper’ probably came from the animators' practice of flipping through their drawings to get a sense of how their work would appear in action when the animation process was completed.
Today, these booklets serve not only as a record of the evening's program, but also a record of life within and beyond the studio.
The 1939 Flipper reflects the studio's amazing accomplishment of having completed its first feature-length film, Gulliver's Travels, in time for its December 1939 release - all while also moving the entire studio (families and all) to Florida, and hiring and then training hundreds of new employees. The jokes, gossip, poetry, drawings and reflections in this, the longest of the Flipper booklets, speak to this very busy and intense period.
This shortest, but also most colorful and elaborate of the Flipper issues was created for the 1940 Christmas Party. It consists only of a front and back cover, and pop-up centerfold. In addition to established characters, this Flipper features new characters from Mr. Bug Goes to Town which was then still in production. The joyful simplicity of this Flipper seems to reflect a year in which employees were able to settle into their new homes, enjoy the success of Gulliver and begin work on an exciting new project.
Less than a year later, on December 7, 1941, America would enter World War II. Two days earlier, on December 5, 1941, Fleischer Studios' second feature film, Mr. Bugs Goes to Town, opened in theaters. Although these events were still quite fresh when the 1941 Flipper was created, it clearly conveys an appreciation for animators who had already left for wartime service, and the unfortunate timing for the opening date of their second full-length film which had been featured with such loving enthusiasm and optimism in the 1940 Flipper, just one year earlier.