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Serving the Toon Community since August of 1998
Leon Schlesinger

Biography

Born: 1883, Philadelphia, PA
Died: December 25, 1949 (viral infection)

Image

Before becoming the producer of Warner Bros. cartoons, Leon Schlesinger was the head of Pacific Title and Art Studio, the leading manufacturer of silent movie title cards. Legend has it that he helped finance the Warner Bros' first talking film, The Jazz Singer. It was Schlesinger who approached WB about distributing a series of animated cartoons with Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising at the helm. That series was Looney Tunes, and it was soon accompanied by Merrie Melodies. He assigned his brother-in-law Ray Katz as business manager of the studio. In addition to cartoons, he produced a number of B-westerns in the 1930s, some of which featured an up-and-coming young actor named John Wayne. Schlesinger refused Harman and Ising's requests for higher budgets to improve the quality of their cartoons, so the duo left for MGM and took their star character with them. Schlesinger assembled young talent from other studios, and since he had little interest in cartoon production, he allowed them to do pretty much whatever they wanted. It was this creative freedom which allowed the animators to infuse the WB cartoons with a sense of humor that had never been seen before. Schlesinger sold his interest in the cartoon studio to WB in 1944, though he continued to supervise licensing and merchandising of the characters. He died on Christmas Day 1949, leaving an estate of $904,000. [TAF! and OM&M]

For more biographical information on Leon Schlesinger, refer to his entry in The Warner Bros. Cartoon Companion.

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