Dave Fleischer is best known as a co-owner of Fleischer Studios with his older brother Max Fleischer. 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 studios output. Although he is credited as "director" of every film released by the studio from 1921 to 1942, the lead animators actually performed directorial duties, and Fleischer mainly served as producer. Among the cartoon series Fleischer supervised during this period were Talkartoons, Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons, Color Classics and several others. Popeye would go on to be the top rival of Mickey Mouse. Following a relocation to Miami, Florida, and the production of their first feature, "Gulliver's Travels," Fleischer Studios became indebted to Paramount due to the cost overruns on "Gulliver" and losses in rentals on the new 1940s cartoon series produced under Dave's control. The new series, including Stone Age, Gabby, and Animated Antics, were poorly received with theaters only valuing the Popeye cartoons. This forced the temporary surrender of Fleischer Studios to Paramount on May 24, 1941 while their final feature was contracted for completion.Dave Fleischer resigned from Fleischer Studios in late November, 1941 following the recording of the score for Mr. Bug Goes to Town His official resignation was announced on December 31, 1941. He became Producer for Screen Gems at Columbia Pictures in April 1942, where he produced Song of Victory and Imagination, which were both nominated for Academy Awards. He also produced The Fox and Crow and Li'l Abner series, as well as the omnibus "Phantasies" series. In spite of the Oscar nominations, Harry Cohn fired Dave in 1944, replacing him with Harry Binder. Following a series of oddball assignments, Dave landed a permanent position as a “Technical Specialist” at Universal through animation veteran, Walter Lantz. At Universal, Dave was a Special Effects Technical and general problem-solver, working on films such as Francis (1950), The Birds (1963), and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). He was credited as "Technical Advisor" on Universal's American release of the Russian animated feature, The Snow Queen (1959),supervising the English Language dubbing. He also supervised the animated title sequence for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. which has been assumed done by the Walter Lantz Studio. But Lantz had affiliated with United Artists at this time.
In 1934, Helen Kane sued the Fleischers and Paramount for $250,000 ($250,000 Infringement Lawsuit), claiming that they had limited her earning power by usurping her singing style with Betty Boop. The trial centered on who had coined the "Boop Oop a Doop" phrase. Dave Fleischer later recalled, "In the courtroom... We were all talking Boops and Boop-Boop-Ba-Doops and Boopety Boop-Boops," and we'd say "It's not a Boop, it's a Boopety-Boop."
Betty Boop Creator Gets 'Aroma' Bomb (1937)
Labor difficulties at the Max Fleischer animated cartoon studios were believed responsible for the tossing of an "aroma" bomb today into the home of David Fleischer at 1727 Ocean Parkway. The Fleischer Studios in Manhattan, creators of the Betty Boop and Popeye movies, have been beset by a strike for the past eight weeks. David Fleischer is a partner in the concern. Police said the bomb, which was thrown in a kitchen window, gives off such a sweet odor it sickens anyone who comes in contact with it.
Following his assignment on Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fleischer retired, and continued to live at the Peyton Hall apartment complex on Hollywood Boulevard until his death. Fleischer died of a stroke on June 25, 1979.
- At one point, the family lived in Coney Island, and Dave became interested in being a clown for one of the sideshow amusements. This clown character would be recalled a few years later in connection with Max's early experiments with his first major invention, "The Rotoscope" and was the source of their first character who evolved into Koko the Clown.
- In April 1942, Fleischer, no longer able to cooperate with his brother, left the company to become President of Screen Gems at Columbia Pictures, although he remained co-manager of Fleischer Studios until Paramount reorganized the studio in May 1942 after the brothers contracts expired.
- Dave later approached Republic Pictures with an elf-like version of Koko the Clown, a character named "Snippy", who was tried out as a live action/animation combo novelty at the end of the low-budget nightclub musical, Trocadero. A Snippy cartoon series never materialized, however. Fleischer continued a Republic as Associate Producer of the minute-long animation sequence for another “B” movie, That's My Baby.