Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leon Schlesinger and the Looney Tunes He Let Happen!

Born May 20, 1884, cartoon producer Leon Schlesinger would be 126 years old today.

Intrigued by the advent of sound film in 1928, businessman Schlesinger began producing short soundies and selling them to Warner Brothers. With the success of Mickey Mouse looming large as a money maker, Leon signed to ex-Disney animators Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising to a contract to produce animation as well, and so were born the Looney Tunes with Harman & Ising's character of Bosko.

When the Harman/Ising team began to grumble for more money for the kind of experimentation Disney was doing, Schlesinger gave them the boot and started from scratch, keeping another ex-Disneyite Friz Freling (whom Leon put in charge of creating the Merrie Melodies series) and hiring young up and comers like Bob Clampett and Chuck Jones and the great Tex Avery, and moving the whole operation right on to a dilapidated and unused part of the Warner lot affectionately dubbed Termite Terrace...and the rest is history.

He even made a few appearances in Warner's a little Thursday cartoon break for ya!

Leon sold the franchise outright to Warner's in 1944.

Schlesinger is not really the kind of guy I usually spotlight in this blog. A pure businessman (which, a necessary evil) Leon was not a creator. He had no sense of humor and no talent at storytelling, drawing, music,...any of the things that I deem worthwhile.

But he did a very important thing. He knew that he didn't know anything.

He gave the boys at Termite Terrace the reigns...gave them the directive that they make good cartoons that would make him a profit...then he got the hell out of the way.

In today's world of publicly held companies this isn't done. Need the approval of too many people to do nothing. When Aunt Gladys in Nebraska and the retard mook in Iowa with the 401K he wants to micro manage are the stock holders and in charge, you have too many people in the way.

Sherm Coen over at his great blog Cartoon Snap recently posted a video that shows how companies should be run and the way successful companies actually ARE run. Check it out here it's a must see.

When I saw this and realized Leon's birthday was coming up, I saw the connection immediately. When you have Clampett, Avery, Jones, Freleng, Frank Tashlin, Robert McKimson and Art Davis working for you, shouldn't you know to just shut your pie-hole and count your money?

Thanks Leon! For just stepping back and letting it happen!

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