1939's "The Flipper" featuring an extensive list of in-house relationships.
Marriages between staffers happened in every department: from inkers to animators, even Max’s daughter Ruth, who worked in the studio for a time, married a fellow staffer, animator Seymour Kneitel. These in-house marriages were so prevalent that, more than once, they provided fodder for comedic pieces in one of the studio’s staff papers.
The December 1939 issue of “The Flipper,” the studio’s in-house Christmas publication, announced 14 marriages amongst staffers since they’d moved the studio to Florida… just one year earlier!
Times were quite different for working women of the day; a fact that becomes quite apparent when you look at the marriages featured in this exhibit. While the studio employed a number of very talented female artists, practices of the day, in all of the animation studios, dictated that only men could be animators. Women tended to be relegated to lower status positions such as inker or as opaquer (a subject we will be exploring in a future exhibit on the role of women at the studio).
Once married, women were expected to turn their attention to womanly tasks such as housework and childcare. That this expectation was at times both appealing and frustrating for women can be seen in the two humorous poems featured toward the end of this exhibit, and written by two of the studios talented female staffers: Sadie Klein’s (Woe Is Me) and Ruth Kneitel (From An Ex-Inker or The Worse of Experience).
Margie Hines & Jack Mercer
Jack Mercer and Margie Hines
Life imitated art in 1939 when Jack Mercer, the voice of Popeye, married Margie Hines, the voice of his on-screen sweetheart, Olive Oyl in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Jack had been working as an in-betweener at the Studio until Lou Fleischer just happened to overhear him singing in a Popeye voice. As it turned out, they needed a replacement for the actor who had been voicing the role and Jack was a perfect fit.
As the original voice of Betty Boop in 1930, Margie had been voicing characters for the studio for years. She continued to voice Betty on and off through the 1940’s, and during the studio’s Florida years, she voiced Olive opposite Jack’s Popeye.
Bachelor party for Seymour Kneitel
Ruth Fleischer and Seymour Kneitel
Seymour had been working at Fleischer Studios only two years when, in 1925, he moved out to California to write titles for MGM’s silent films. But it wasn’t long before the arrival of sound eliminated his job and he found himself back in New York and once again at Fleischer Studios. By 1928 Seymour had become a full animator, and met Ruth, Max Fleischer’s daughter.
Ruth was a lively party girl and very well suited to the festive and very social pace of studio life. Before settling down to work as an inker and opaquer at the studio, she worked on the New York stage, had gone out on the road with a dance troupe, and appeared in some of Max’s early live action films.
Seymour and Ruth were married on December 24, 1931.
Ruth Fleischer and Seymour Kneitel
Holiday Card from Tom & Mariana Johnson
Tom Johnson and Mariana Butts Well known and long time Fleischer animator Tom Johnson married Mariana Butts on Nov. 24, 1934. Mariana and Tom had both arrived at the Studio in 1930. Tom worked at the studio for his entire career, even as it later transformed to Famous Studios. He worked on all the major Fleischer films from the ‘bouncing ball’ shorts, to Betty Boop, Popeye and even Gulliver’s Travels.
Joyce Doody and Bill Vanderveer “This is a romance that blossomed under our very noses...” gushed the Fleischer Animated News in describing the wedding of Joyce Doody and Bill Vanderveer on June 21st, 1936.
Florence Kraemer and Abner Kneitel (a.k.a. Abner Matthews) Florence Kraemer, an opaquer, and Abner Kneitel, an animator (and distant cousin of Seymour Kneitel) were the first couple in the history of Fleischer Studios to elope on Nov. 9, 1936. The marriage was short-lived, our understanding is that Florence passed away at a young age (this is anecdotal; we welcome any further information).
Virginia Hodge and Abner Kneitel (a.k.a. Abner Matthews) Abner’s marriage to Virginia Hodge, a fellow staffer in the ink and paint departments was long-lasting. Abner served in the Navy during WWII. Upon his return, Abner decided to leave animation and he and Virginia remained in Florida where they raised their family.
DOWN STUDIO LANE...
That love was in the air at Fleischer Studios is well documented in the pages of Fleischer Animated News, the studio’s in-house publication, which included a section entitled “Down Studio Lane” made up almost entirely of romance gossip and wedding announcements. The studio’s proclivity for inspiring romance was also the subject of a number of the publication’s humorous poems, jokes and drawings by staff members.
The poems below were written by women with two very different takes on the romances that blossomed within studio walls. Sadie Klein’s “Woe Is Me” written in 1936 features a still-working woman awaiting cupid’s (a.k.a Max’s) arrow; along with Max’s brief, poetic reply to her missive.
“From An Ex-Inker or The Worse of Experience,” also from 1936, was written by Max’s daughter, Ruth Kneitel. No longer an inker, Ruth writes from her new life raising a family and thinking back on the work and friends she left behind.
Woe Is Me! by Sadie Klein
Don’t ask me I pray, how I’m feeling this morning My heart’s full of aches and my mind’s full of fears, This weight on my mind is an ominous warning, Am I doomed to be single the rest of my years?
Besides making pictures, it should also be known, That your role of Dan Cupid is played to a “T”, You may doubt this assertion but proof can be shown, You made matches for others, now what about me? Seymour and Ruth met here under this roof, Mariana and Tom were the next to be wed, Ed Nolan and Mary are additional proof, Of your role of match maker, there’s much can be said.
The elopment of Florence with Abner Kneitel. Came after a courtship of nearly a year, Joyce Doody was next to fall under your spell, When she became Mrs Bill Vanderveer.
The following engagements, I credit to you, Marilyn Werner and Tex are first on the list, Bert Platt and Aaron have promised “I do” And yet I remain a Miss that’s been missed.
Pauline Kaufman is wearing a ring on her finger, That was given to her by young Milton Fine, No wonder I feel I’ve been “pulled through a wringer” Must I go on forever as just
Max's answer to Sadie Klein:
Dear Sadie Klein:
Don’t cry and whine, Just mention the guy you adore. One sock on the nose - will make him propose, Unless -- he’s been married before.
From an Ex-Inker or The Worse of Experience. by Ruth Kneitel
I worked for the Studio when I had my youth, Remember me gang? Max’s daughter, Ruth. I miss all of you gals and all the swell boys, And the old tenth floor and all of the noise. I miss the brushes, the paint and the ink, Even the number four gray and all of its stink. I miss the old lunch hour games of poker, Then the deuces were wild and used as the joker. I miss Edith, Bowsky, Vera and Nelly, Kitty, Schettler, and Sparber’s fat belly, I miss you all a lot you can bet. If I hadn’t met Seymour I’d be working there yet. Now I’m the mama of two healthy brats. I’m just a plain housewife with brooms and mats. I cook and I clean and I save paper bags, Yet I manage to give Seymour all his good gags. So, girls, if you want to escape my horrible fate, Say “No,” when an animator asks for a date, ‘Cause if you say “Yes,” it’s plain to tell, You’ll be missing the same thing that I do--- like Hell!
The Cover of the February 1937 issue of "Fleischer's Animated News."
A drawing by staffer Marion White from the pages of "Fleischer's Animated News."
This drawing by Ed Nolan, featured in "Fleischer Animated News" features Seymour Kneitel (whose wife, Ruth, penned "From an Ex-Inker or The Worse of Experience," featured here.