David Fleischer (July 14 1894 – June 25 1979) was an American animator, film director, and producer, best known as a co-owner of Fleischer Studios with his older brother Max Fleischer as well as uncle to director Richard Fleischer.
Sometime around 1913-1914, Dave began working as a film-cutter for the American branch of Pathé, the France based company that during the first part of the 20th Century, was the world's largest film production and distribution company, as well as the largest manufacturer of film equipment.
Dave Fleischer was notable during the brothers' early days as the rotoscope model for their first character, Koko the Clown. He went on to become director and later producer of the studio's output. Although he is credited as "director" of every film released by the Fleischer studio from 1921 to 1942, the lead animators actually performed directorial duties, and Fleischer served as a producer, as he was the one who supervised the studio's production. Among the cartoon series Fleischer supervised during this period were Talkartoons, Betty Boop Cartoons, Popeye the Sailor, and several others.
The debt Fleischer Studios owed to Paramount due to heavy loans that were used for budgeting both Gulliver's Travels and Mr. Bug Goes To Town, worsened by the lack of success that came from the studio's non-Popeye cartoons, put both Max and Dave into a position to be forced to give the studio to Paramount on May 24, 1941 when Paramount called in on the loans, although both were still able to remain in charge of Fleischer Studios for a time.
In Paramount, Fleischer was asked by the studio to put the popular comic book hero Superman into a cartoon series. Despite the high budgets that came from the series, Superman became the studio's most successful cartoon in the late period of the studio. However, relations between Dave and Max were also deteriorating. The feud starting simmering after Dave began an adultery affair against his wife with his Miami secretary in 1938, and was followed by more personal and professional disputes as well.
In April 1942, Fleischer, no longer able to cooperate with his brother due to their numerous disputes, left the company to become President of Screen Gems at Columbia Pictures, though he still remained in the position as co-manager of Fleischer Studios until Paramount closed the studio in May 1942 after Max and Dave's contract's expired. had run its course. Now owned wholly by Paramount, it was re-organized as Famous Studios (though the name wasn't official until May 1943.)
In the late-1940s, Fleischer moved over to Universal, where he became a special effects expert and general problem-solver, working on films such as The Birds. He died on June 25, 1979 of a stroke in Woodland Hills, California, having spent over a decade in retirement.
- Fleischer, Richard Out of the Inkwell: Max Fleischer and the Animation Revolution (University Press of Kentucky, 2005)