Otto Messmer

Otto Messmer

Birth
Union City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA
Death 28 Oct 1983 (aged 91)
Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Burial Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA
Plot Cemetery 6, Section 42, Grave 106
Memorial ID 6618871 · View Source
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Cartoonist. Born in West Hoboken, New Jersey, now known as Union City. He showed an aptitude for drawing as early as grammar school, and his teachers encouraged him to follow that path. After graduating he took a correspondence course in art and attended the Thomas School of Art in New York City. Otto's first love was cartooning. Inspired by Winsor McCay's animated films, such as How a Mosquito Operates, Messmer began creating his own comics for local newspapers in 1912. One of his comics, Fun, ran as part of the Sunday comics' page for New York World. Otto devised a character called "Motor Mat", a daredevil race driver, and brought it to Cohn. Cohn showed it to well-known animators Pat Sullivan and Henry 'Hy' Mayer, who were so impressed with it that they both asked Otto to work with them. Otto chose Mayer and helped him animate his series "The Travels of Teddy", based on the exploits of Mayer's friend Theodore Roosevelt. After he finished that project he went to work for Pat Sullivan. Unfortunately for both of them, Sullivan was arrested for rape in 1917, convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. Otto went back to Hy Mayer, but was soon drafted into the army and fought in World War I, returning to the US in 1919. By that time Sullivan was out of prison, and the two went back to making animated films. Later that year Sullivan and Otto received an order from Paramount Screen Magazine, which made news, travelogue and cartoon shorts, to create a cartoon character (the animator it had originally contracted with was late turning it in) and Sullivan told Otto to do it on his own. Otto made the character a sassy, all-black cat and called the cartoon "Feline Follies". It was quite successful and Paramount ordered an entire series of the cat's adventures. Otto originally called the character "Master Tom" but by the third entry in the series the name had changed to Felix (a combination of "feline" and "felicity"). Felix the Cat starred in over 150 cartoons until 1931, when animation studios began converting to sound films. The newspaper strip’s popularity began to fade in the late 1930s, though the character was reintroduced to new fans via comic books in the 1940s. Otto then teamed with Douglas Leigh on the large moving electronic signs that lit up Times Square. Otto also produced more Felix comic books in the 1940s and 1950s for companies such as Dell Comics, Toby Press, and Harvey Comics, as well as doing animation for the Paramount studios with several Popeye cartoons carry his credit. By the 1960s, Felix had been reinvented for television, and Otto's longtime assistant Joe Oriolo who was the creator of Casper the Friendly Ghost made sure that Otto was finally credited as the creator of Felix the Cat. He had married Anne Mason in 1934. Otto continued working on the character for the rest of his life. He died at the age of 91 from a heart attack.

Bio by: Shock


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Peterborough K
  • Added: 18 Jul 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6618871
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Otto Messmer (16 Aug 1892–28 Oct 1983), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6618871, citing Madonna Cemetery, Fort Lee, Bergen County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .