In His Own Words...a brief autobiography
In the mid-1950's Seymour Kneitel wrote a short autobiography...
"I graduated P.S. 10 in Manhattan where I won a gold art medal, the results of a contest for graduates. I attended the High School of Commerce taking their commercial art course, and studied at the National Academy of Design, where I took evening classes.
"An annex of Commerce was close to the Bray Studios, and I worked there after school and Saturdays coloring drawings for, Colonel Hezaliar, an animated cartoon they were producing. On leaving school I worked for various commercial artists, but was anxious to do animated cartoons. I managed to find employment in a small company, L.F. Cornwell, producers of a series called Ebinizer Ebony, which was being made in color in a now extinct process called Kelly color. I worked there from 1924 to 1925. I started as an office boy and within the year was one of their three animators.
"About this time I heard of an opening for an Inbetweener at Max Fleischer's Out of The Inkwell Studios, which was one of the largest Studios. I was fortunate enough to be able to join their staff and work under animators who were the top men in the industry. I was there for two years when I was offered an opportunity to go to MGM Studios in California as a junior writer. I had been with Fleischer from 1925 to 1927. I spent six months at MGM writing sub-titles to silent pictures, but when sound arrived there was no longer a need for titles and I was let go, along with the other writers.
"Sound was a great shot in the arm to the animated cartoons. After leaving MGM, I came back East and worked with an outfit that produced cartoons based on a popular comic strip called Joe Jinks. The pictures, unfortunately, never got out of the projection room. From there I worked as an Inbetweener at Loucks & Norling, producers of industrial pictures and the famous characters, Mutt & Jeff. The pictures got to the screen but fell short of enough excitement to make a series. I was with this studio for 6 months, in 1928, when I left and returned to the Fleischer Studios.
“Due to my former experience with the Inkwell Studios, I was able to secure a position as an Inbetweener at the Fleischer Studios, where I remained for 14 years, from 1928 to 1942. I was at the studio for about six months when I became an animator. About a year later I was appointed a head animator, a position I enjoyed up to the time the studio embarked on its first feature length cartoon, Gulliver’s Travels, which was made in the Fleischer’s Florida Studios. With a group of writers I worked on the development of the screen adaptation, and when the picture went into production, I was made director of animation. When the second feature length cartoon, Mr. Bug Goes To Town, went into production, I worked in an advisory capacity and took over the direction of the shorts that were being produced concurrently with the feature. Included in the shorts were the tremendously popular Superman pictures.
“As a director I made Talkartoons, Bouncing Ball screen songs, Betty Boop, and commercial cartoons, and government animated pictures for the army and navy. The studio entered into an agreement with the King Features Syndicate to test their newspaper character, Popeye the Sailor, for an animated cartoon. I made the first Popeye which was incorporated into a Betty Boop picture. When it was screened in the theaters, it was a bomb-shell and overnight success. That was the start of the Popeye series which eventually resulted in over 300 pictures.
“When the Fleischer Studios closed, Sam Buchwald, Isidore Sparber and I formed the Famous Studios, which we ran from May, 1942 to May, 1953---11 years."
NOTES: After the death of Sam Buchwald in 1951, Famous Studios continued to be run by Seymour and Izzy. In 1956, Paramount Pictures assumed fuller control of the studio, renaming it Paramount Cartoon Studios, with Seymour and Izzy remaining in management positions. Izzy died August, 1958. Seymour was still working at Paramount Cartoon Studios when he died of a heart attack in 1964 at the age of 56.