Motion Picture Director. The son of animation pioneer Max Fleischer, he initially studied psychology at Brown University before switching to drama at Yale. In 1942 he entered films with RKO in New York as a newsreel editor and began directing shorts and documentaries the following year. One of these, "Design for Death" (1947), won an Academy Award. Promoted to features in 1946, Fleischer first won attention as a film noir specialist, with "The Narrow Margin" (1952) being particularly well received. He jumped to the A List of Hollywood directors with the science-fiction blockbuster "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954), produced by his father's former rival Walt Disney. A versatile and accomplished technician, Fleischer had no personal filmaking style and was never a darling of critics, though he made a number of very good pictures in different genres: the epic "The Vikings" (1958), the crime dramas "Compulsion" (1959), "The Boston Strangler" (1968), and "10 Rillington Place" (1971), and the sci-fi thrillers "Fantastic Voyage" (1966) and "Soylent Green" (1973). A string of big-budget flops - "Dr. Doolittle" (1967), "Che!" (1969), and "Tora! Tora! Tora!" (1970) - put a damper on his reputation and from the mid-1970s his output was routine. Also among his 42 features are "The Happy Time" (1952), "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" (1955), "Barabbas" (1961), "The New Centurions" (1972), "The Don is Dead" (1973), "Mandingo" (1975), "The Jazz Singer" (1980), and "Conan the Destroyer" (1984). Fleischer inherited the rights to his father's cartoon star Betty Boop, and after retiring from films in 1989 he was involved in licensing and merchandising the character. He wrote a dishy memoir, "Just Tell Me When to Cry" (1993), and "Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution" (2005). Incidentally, Fleischer's middle initial, O., resulted from a clerical error on his birth certificate. It stands for nothing.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
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