Motion Picture Producer. The man behind Warner Bros. cartoons of the 1930s and 1940s, he oversaw the creation of such iconic characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and Elmer Fudd. Schlesinger was born in Philadelphia. He started out in show business as a theatre usher and worked his way up to head of Pacific Art and Title, which crafted title cards for silent films. Talkies put a dent in his business and in 1930 he made a deal with animators Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising to produce cartoons for Warner Bros. Their "star" was a colorless character named Bosko whose only memorable trait was his farewell line, "That's all, folks!" When Harman and Ising left for MGM in 1934, Schlesinger set up his own studio as an autonomous unit within the Warner Bros. fold and for the next decade produced some of the finest animated shorts ever made. Warners veterans remembered Schlesinger as a tightwad with a bad toupee who neither liked nor understood animation. His studio was housed in a bungalow so dilapidated it earned the nickname "Termite Terrace", and he held his artists to restrictive budgets and schedules. But he also allowed them considerable creative freedom and had an infallible eye for spotting and developing talent. He gave Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Frank Tashlin, and Bob Clampett their start as cartoon directors, hired voice actor Mel Blanc and music director Carl W. Stalling, and was second only to Walt Disney in introducing enduringly popular characters. And the fact that Schlesinger himself appeared with Porky and Daffy in "You Ought to Be In Pictures" (1940), a delightful short that combined animation with live action, shows that the man at least had a sense of humor. He sold his studio to Warner Bros. in 1944 and retired from filmaking, though he continued to supervise merchandising of the cartoon characters until a year before his death. A trivia note: Mel Blanc based the slobbering voices of Daffy Duck and Sylvester on Schlesinger's pronounced lisp. If the producer was in on the joke, he never let on.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Berenice Leona Katz Schlesinger
1882–1966 (m. 1909)