I just received Richard Fleischer’s memoir about his father Max and devoured it over a two-day period.
I’m going to do a more in depth review of it, but I have to say I was surprised at what Richard did and didn’t do.
I know for a fact that Richard has a deep respect and love for his father and for his father’s accomplishments. This book is a love letter to his dad – that’s not a criticism – but it falls quite short of a comprehensive look at his father’s career and the output of Fleischer Studios.
So I do feel that there is room for my book out there.
One section might surprise some readers – it did me – in which Richard writes that his father created Betty Boop and that Grim Natwick’s assertion that he was the Boopster’s creator were false.
Richard reported that Max gave credit to the many key animators/directors who defined the character, including my friend Myron Waldman who directed more of the Boop shorts than anyone else and created Betty’s dog Pudgey who has figured so prominently in the merchandising.
In all of the time that I researched Max’s life and career I have never uncovered anyone saying that Max designed the character.
In fact, the division of labor at the studio seemed to be quite clear. Max was in charge of the business side while Dave was in charge of production.
Ruth Kneitel, Max’s daughter, did show me a script of a proposed cartoon about mermaids that max had annotated extensively. He had written suggestions for the title and the script contained quite a number of notes. Max came from a cartooning background and I imagine that at times he must have felt an urge to contribute to a cartoon.
Richard wrote that Natwick never made the claim that he had created Betty Boop while Max was alive and only started doing so when Max had passed. I know that when I interviewed Natwick that he felt the should receive some of the profits from the merchandising of the character.
Natwick is no longer around to debate the point.