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Seymour Kneitel
Born March 16, 1908New York City, New York, USA
Died July 30, 1964 New York City, New York, USA
Occupation Animator, Animation director, Director, Producer
Spouse: Ruth Fleischer


Seymour Kneitel (March 16, 1908July 30, 1964) was an American animator. He is best known for his work with Fleischer Studios and its successor, Famous Studios.


Kneitel was born in New York City where he graduated from P.S. 10 in Manhattan and attended the High School of Commerce, taking commercial art courses. He also took evening classes at the National Academy of Design. His father died when Kneitel was about 16, and he needed work to provide support for his mother and sister. He was able to attend an annex of Commerce HS and work after school and Saturdays for Bray Studios, coloring drawings for Colonel Hezaliar cartoons. On graduation he was able to find employment (1924-5) with a small company, L.F. Cornwell, producers of a series called Ebinizer Ebony, which were being made in a now extinct color process called Kelly Color. He began as an office boy and within a year was one of their 3 animators. From 1925-7 he worked as an inbetweener at Max Fleischer's "Out of the Inkwell" Studio, and was there for two years when he was offered an opportunity to go to MGM Studios in California as a junior writer. He spent six months at MGM writing sub-titles for silent pictures, but was let go when sound arrived. Heading back East he worked briefly for an outfit that produced cartoons based on the popular Joe Jinks comic strips (they never got out of the projection room). In 1928 he worked for six months at Loucks & Norling on industrial films and Mutt and Jeff. In 1928 he returned to Fleischer Studios as an inbetweener, staying there for fourteen years (1928-1942), He was there only about six months when he became an animator, and a year later became a head animator. During his time there he provided animation for many films, including the Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor series, Talkartoons, Bouncing Ball Screen Songs and "Gulliver's Travels".In early 1939, Kneitel suffered a heart attack, and was absent from the studio until late 1941. Kneitel return just when Fleischer obtainded the right to animate Superman. Kneitel wrote several Superman episodes with Izzy Sparber, and directed one short:"The Mechanical Monsters"(1941).


In 1942, the Fleischer brothers were forced to resign from the studio they had created. The successor studio was re-formed by Seymour Kneitel, Sam Buchwald and Isidore Sparber, and renamed Famous Studios. They ran the studio for eleven years (May, 1942-May, 1953), after which Paramount Pictures subsidized the studio calling it Paramount Cartoon Studios, and Kneitel was employed as director of production. Kneitel himself had become one of the most prolific directors of the Popeye shorts and also directed many of the Casper the Friendly Ghost shorts. Famous Studios also created a series called Noveltoons that included the three popular series; "Casper the Friendly Ghost", "Herman & Katnip," and "Baby Huey."


In 1957, Paramount ceased production of theatrical Popeye shorts. King Features Syndicate, aware of the high ratings that the Popeye shorts had earned on television, commissioned a new series of Popeye shorts for syndication. Kneitel, head of the Paramount Cartoon Studios (renamed from Famous Studios), supervised one of four animation units assigned to this project. Due to the lower budgets for these shorts, the animation is of a noticeably lower quality.


Kneitel died of a heart attack on July 30, 1964. Three years later, Paramount shut down their animation studio.


Kneitel was married to Ruth Fleischer, making him Max Fleischer's son-in-law and director Richard Fleischer's brother-in-law. He was also the nephew of musician Sammy Timberg, who wrote many of the scores for Fleischer's cartoons.Seymour Kneitel also had a cousin Abner Kneitel, who was the animator and assistant animator for Fleischers and Famous from 1935 to 1944.

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