The Golden Age of Animation

11 Mar

The golden age of animation spanned from the late 1920’s to the early 1960’s, when sound was added to cartoons. Walt Disney had a strong hold on this area but he was not the only one.  Several other major studios also decided they wanted a slice of the pie. Some failed and others gave Disney a run for their money! In this article we’ll looked at the major companies, their creation’s first appearance on film and their attempts to knock Disney off his throne!

Fleischer Studios

Originally known as Inkwell Studios (the name changed in 1929), Fleischer Studios was founded by brothers Max and Dave Fleischer in 1921. They created Betty Boop (1932), Popeye the Sailor (1933) and the first Superman cartoon (1941). They also produced two films, Gulliver’s Travels in 1939 and Mr Bug Goes to Town in 1942. The brothers gave Paramount full ownership of the studio in May 1941 due to all their debts. Paramount kept them as heads of the studio until 1942 when Max decided he could no longer work with his brother after they fell out and refused to talk to each other. Combined with the flop of Mr Bug Goes to Town, Paramount fired the brothers and renamed the studio Famous Studios.

Popeye the Sailor



From 1930 to 1934 Ub Iwerks and his studio (Iwerks Studio) was contracted by Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer to create cartoons for them to distribute. Originally Ub worked for Disney and co-created Mickey Mouse. However because he felt unable to keep up with Disney’s demands or that he wasn’t getting enough credit for his work and finally after a falling out with Disney, he left to set up his own studio. Ub created Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper.  Unfortunately neither of the cartoons took off and Iwerks contract wasn’t renewed. He ended up returning to work for Disney in 1940.

MGM brought in Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising (also former Disney employees) in the hopes that their popular creation Bosko and their new cartoon show Happy Harmonies to take off. They didn’t and in 1939 they were let go. The pair would go on to work for Disney and MGM later on.

Finally in 1940 William Hanna and Joseph Barbera joined MGM, with Tex Avery brought in in 1942. Their first creation Puss Gets the Boot was a success! Spurred on, the duo continued to use a cat and mouse format and soon Tom and Jerry was born. Finally a studio could compete with Disney! Ising made The Milky Way, a feature film which would win an Oscar beating Disney. Tex Avery would end up creating Droopy. This team would go on to work up until 1957 when MGM shut down its animation department due to downsizing.

Willie Whopper

Happy Harmonies – Bosko’s Parlor Pranks

Puss Gets the Boot

Tom and Jerry


Mintz/Screen Gems/United Productions of America

After being fired by Universal, Charles Mintz would set up his own studio (Mintz Studio) which would make cartoons for Columbia Pictures. For them he would animate the comic strip Krazy Kat, Scrappy and Color Rhapsodies.  Scrappy was Charles’ only success and he sold his studio to Columbia in 1939. It was renamed Screen Gems but unfortunately Charles died after a year of managing it. Columbia brought in Frank Tashlin and John Hubley (former Disney employees too). During their time at Screen Gems, they created The Fox and the Crow which was a moderate success. Still Columbia felt like it could never compete with the other studios and decided to close it down in 1946, although both Tashlin and Hubley had both left by then and it was now being run by Dave Fleischer.

John Hubley along with other former Disney animators formed a studio in 1943. Originally named Industrial Film and Poster Service but by 1946 it would be known by the United Productions of America. The studio joined with Columbia Pictures in 1948. UPA would produce more abstract and experimental styles of animation and created the popular Mr Magoo in 1949.


The Fox and the Crow

Mr Magoo

Walter Lantz Productions

Walter Lantz and his studio replaced Charles Mintz at Universal Studios in 1929. He worked with characters others had created before him (Oswald the Lucky Rabbit created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks) and a few of his own (Jolly Little Elves). It wasn’t till he created Andy Panda in 1939 that his work took off and a new character would be born. Woody Woodpecker!

Warner Brothers

In 1929 Warner Bros. hired Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising where they first created their Bosko character, Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. When Harmon and Ising left, producer Leon Schlesinger created his own studios (Leon Schlesinger Productions) to provide Warner Bros. with cartoons. Along with Friz Freleng and others, he continued with the Merrie Melodies and created a new character named Buddy. In 1935 Porky Pig would be created by Freleng and Bob Clampett. When Tex Avery was brought in, in 1937, he created Daffy Duck and in 1938 Bugs Bunny was born! These creations also put the studio on competing level with Disney.

Bugs Bunny

78 Responses to “The Golden Age of Animation”

  1. littlebells March 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM #

    ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC Ozzie! What a wonderful comprehensive look at animation without having to go to a bunch of different sites (although you did just for us).

    What do you think would have happened if MGM hadn’t shut down their animation department? They seemed to be doing very well and I’ve always loved Tom and Jerry. No dialogue required to get what was going on.

    Also, why do you think Walt was able to go on to be so successful with Disney and Mickey Mouse with all these competitors?

    I really am a fan of old school animation and cartoons. I remember most of these clips you provided!!! 🙂

    • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:32 PM #

      Thank you LB!

      If I remember correctly MGM did restart their animation department except it was out sourced to another country. I still haven’t found out which country yet!

      I think Walt was successful because of a number of reasons. He never gave up,and he was a very creative man, always looking forwards and never back. He was ahead of the game, Steamboat Willie was one of the first cartoons with sound and made feature length cartoons. Despite many animators leaving for various reasons (strike or a fall out), he took them back in if they returned later on. So I think he had a keen eye to spot talent. But I think the major thing was that Walt possessed a rare gift of being able to connect to the inner child in all of us, not just children.

      I love old school animation too. Although I can’t remember specific cartoons, I do remember their style!

      • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 9:46 PM #

        Thank you Ozzie. I agree! i also think that it was Walt’s “mission”. This was his purpose, imo. He has brought joy to so many people and that’s what it was all about for him. It wasn’t the money. He lived simply.

  2. Comic Relief March 11, 2013 at 12:34 PM #

    Cool Ozzie,

    It will take me awhile to get through all of this, so I’ll definitely comment later. Instead of just looking at old cartoons; it’s great to see Disney in this context because it tells us what the competition was doing. Thanks for the wide-ranging review.

    • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:35 PM #

      Thank you CR!

      Yeah, there’s kind of alot of videos there! I just got so excited by finding them that I had to add them. Everyone can enjoy it then!

  3. Open Book March 11, 2013 at 5:35 PM #


    Love it! Which one is your favorite?

    • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

      Tom and Gerry! Outside of disney cartoons and films, they were my next go to cartoons. 🙂

      • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:41 PM #

        I like Tom & Jerry too. Were cartoons shown non-stop on TV in the UK like in the US?

        • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 9:16 PM #

          Well, when I was young there were cartoons running from 5am to 9am and then 3:30pm till 5 or 6pm. As satelite and cable was introduced chanels specifically for kids. I didn’t get satelite TV till I was in my late teens so I can’t say what they were like then. Now, there are numerous channels that broadcast from about 5am till 9pm. So it’s definately a yes now!

          • Open Book March 13, 2013 at 8:45 AM #

            Well this explains why u are so well adjusted.

  4. parisienne March 11, 2013 at 8:29 PM #


    Awesome article! Why do you think no one could really compete with Disney? Did you know that Mickey Mouse isn’t Walt’s first character? His first character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. I don’t really recall how it happened but Oswald was stolen from him by another rival animator because I don’t think Disney had the proper copyrights in place and thus began the creation of Mickey (who is copyrighted to the hilt-trust me)

    Mickey’s original name was supposed to be Mortimer Mouse but Lillian (Walt’s wife) convinced Walt that Mickey sounded better than Mortimer. Lillian actually thought up the name Mickey. Mickey was also first drawn on train ride ( can’t remember the locations) but Walt did his first drawing of Mickey on a train.

    It does pay to listen to your wife!

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM #


      U Said: “It does pay to listen to your wife!”

      LOVE IT!! Here’s to wives everywhere. Applause for Mickey. The other name is a mouthful!

    • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:49 PM #

      Thanks Paris! Umm, pure ignorance! *blushes* I sort of knew but didn’t know about the different studios. As I kid I rarely paid attention to the beginning credits which stated which studio it was from. When I did start to notice it, it never really crossed my mind to question why there were other studios. I was aware but I just wanted the cartoons to start, lol! So it’s been lurking round the back of my mind subconsciously and when I started doing research for Walt that I finally realised, it was a light bulb lighting up moment! I hope that made sense!

      I did know about his original name but I didn’t know it was his wife that convinced him to change it. I was also only aware of Steamboat Willie and nothing about a train!

  5. Open Book March 12, 2013 at 3:50 PM #

    This is for u LB

    • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 5:51 PM #

      THANK YOU!

      • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 6:58 PM #

        Your Welcome!

  6. Open Book March 12, 2013 at 6:57 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  7. parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:05 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

  8. parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:06 PM #

    Hi OB!

    How are you?

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:12 PM #

      I’m good. Can’t wait for spring only a week to go. How are u?

      • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:14 PM #

        Its snowing here! how are you?

        • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

          Yuck! Snow….I’m sending u a cyber sea shell to hear the ocean.

          • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:35 PM #

            Thank you!

  9. parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:11 PM #

    I’m helping Ozzie out. Watch this when you get a chance.

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:23 PM #

      Paris- This is a great doc. I watched a little of it. I will have to come back and watch the rest. However, what I like hearing is how Walt tried a lot of different things to find himself as an artist.

      • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

        yes he did. Did you know that he drove an ambulance in France during WW2? He would draw on the canvas covering the truck he drove.

        • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:38 PM #

          I’m sorry I’m still watching the video. I did get that far in the doc about his time in the Red Cross during WWII. What’s great is how he went after things so aggressively. He never let himself settle into a comfort zone and did not dwell on the negative.

      • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

        What a great video! I will have to watch it later this evening…:)

        • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:52 PM #

          I’m sure this is the DVD we brought back from Disney. I still can’t find it though. I have a feeling it’s in a box, within another box!

  10. littlebells March 12, 2013 at 7:17 PM #

    Hi everyone!

    • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:18 PM #

      Hi LB!

  11. littlebells March 12, 2013 at 7:37 PM #

    For everyone:

    Do you prefer old school animation over modern? What do you like about older animation? What do you like about new animation?

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:43 PM #

      I like both. However, what I like about old school is the ability to focus more on the story. I like Tom & Jerry as well because there is no dialog just the story. What Walt was able to do with Bambi. That film to this day makes me cry. Pixar has breathed new life into animation the 3D animation is spectacular but the stories are just as heart felt and imaginative that appeals to both children and adults.

      • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 7:46 PM #

        I agree with you on the storylines and the reason for Tom and Jerry. It also makes me nostalgic with it’s artwork. Disney is my favorite with animation. I also liked how silly they could be with animals all singing and dancing around.

        • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

          What is your favorite Disney character?

          • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:01 PM #


            • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM #


              • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

                because I want her dress. (still do) I always wanted a dress that changed colors while i danced. That’s it.

                • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:25 PM #

                  Hahaha! That’s it? Gosh! Its always the costume that gets all the attention. Love it!

                  • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:27 PM #

                    yep. that’s it.

                    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:36 PM #


          • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 8:12 PM #

            Mmmm… It used to be Sleeping Beauty because she is so beautiful and I loved Prince Philip. Now I prefer Rapunzel and Merida because they have substance and actually do something in their films. 🙂

            • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:33 PM #

              LB- I have to say. Sleeping Beauty got on my last nerve. Yet, u redeemed yourself with Rapunzel and Merida. Hahaha! ITA They are strong female characters.

              • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:57 PM #

                Mine was Belle because she was intelligent and brave. She loved books and she was french! I’m still jealous of the library that the Beast built her. 😦

                • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 9:50 PM #

                  Me too with the library! I would loooove to have a library like that. But then my kids would never be fed or the house cleaned and I would probably end up not bathing too, so I guess it’s a good thing I just have an itty bitty book collection. 🙂

                  • Open Book March 13, 2013 at 8:37 AM #

                    This is hilarious. LOL!!! Just priceless LB. I love u! Pure honesty as always. No I can’t top this.

                    Oz! If u ever wanted to get rid of me don’t hire a hit man just put me in a library. Hahaha!

              • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 9:50 PM #

                What was it about her that drove you crazy?

                • Open Book March 13, 2013 at 8:22 AM #

                  Hahaha! Well its sorta silly. However, when I was a child I was sick and could not go outside. I imagined all the things I would do if I could. Anyway, when I saw Sleeping Beauty I identified with her but when she woke up she didn’t do anything. She got a new lease on life and didn’t solve world hunger or find a cure for cancer. I thought what a slacker. It was incredibly frustrating.

                  P.S. Now that I’m better and can go outside. I haven’t solved world hunger or found a cure for cancer either. So I’m a slacker just like SB. Hahaha!

      • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:48 PM #

        I prefer old school. I’m just that way.

        Speaking of Bambi, my grandfather used to be a hunter and would mount the heads of the deer he shot on his walls. Anyhow, my mom and aunt took my cousin to see Bambi and my cousin came home crying to my grandfather “You shot Bambi’s mother!” LOL

        • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 7:57 PM #

          OMGOSH!!! I feel for your cousin. Did your cousin ever hunt deer after that?

          • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

            no she doesn’t hunt at all. However, I have many family members that hunt

            • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:09 PM #

              AWESOME!!!! Then it was effective. I like your cousin. Bambi changed me for life too. While I was on a train I once saw someone skinning a deer on their front lawn with all the blood draining. Needless to say I lost my lunch that day and had nightmares after. I’m a sap.

              • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

                oh wow. Yeah I’ve been around a gutted deer. Not fun at all.

                • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:15 PM #

                  Did u know Humans are natural plant eaters? We’re most similar to other plant-eaters, and drastically different from carnivores and true omnivores.

                • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:18 PM #

                  Have u ever hunted? Please tell me no!! Lie to me please…..:0)

                  • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

                    I can truthfully say that I never have but I have shot a gun.

                    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

                      Thank u!

                      I’ve shot a water gun does that count?

                    • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:35 PM #

                      sure. that can count. 🙂

                    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

                      I think hunters should hunt deer with water guns. What do u think?

    • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 9:01 PM #

      I like both too. Old school is very comforting. It reminds me of watching them as a child in front of the fire! With modern animation I love the detail and realism (the texture of clothes and hair). Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming though.

  12. parisienne March 12, 2013 at 7:58 PM #

    Sorry Ladies for not chatting alot tonight. My mind is in L.A.

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:00 PM #

      No problem. I’m still watching your video…..: 0) I’m addicted. LOL!!

      • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:01 PM #


    • littlebells March 12, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

      What’s it doing over there? 🙂

      • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM #

        beckoning the rest of my body. 🙂 you know “Have Mind Will Travel.”

  13. ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 8:10 PM #

    Hello everyone!

    Did the clocks go forward an hour in the US?

    • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:12 PM #

      yes. yesterday, I think.

    • parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:12 PM #

      how are you?

      • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 9:07 PM #

        Extremely tired with stress headaches. I have to keep reminding myself that this is all problems of the first world and that I could have it alot worse. It’s hard to keep it up when the pounding of the headache matches the hammering… The sight of builder’s cracks doesn’t help either, lol!

        • Open Book March 13, 2013 at 8:42 AM #

          Ouch! Headaches aren’t fun. Well thank u for a great topic and discussion despite not feeling well.

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

      Yes! It was Sunday. I’ve been playing catch up ever since. But Spring is almost here! Yes!!!!!!

      • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 9:03 PM #

        Damn! I knew it was soon but I didn’t know exactly when. Then again, I don’t know when ours change either, lol! It’s soon, next week I think…

  14. parisienne March 12, 2013 at 8:41 PM #


    I’m taking off for the evening. TTYS!

    • Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:47 PM #

      Goodnight! Thanks for the video.

  15. Open Book March 12, 2013 at 8:54 PM #

    Everyone! I have to go. Ozzie great article. It was great to take a trip back in time. Great research.

    Goodnight All!

    • ozzie20 March 12, 2013 at 9:11 PM #

      Night Paris and OB! Sorry, I didn’t get here earlier. I’ll have to make a note to remind me to come here an hour earlier till my time zone springs an hour forward! Thanks for coming and thank you for the video Paris! It will be of a lot of help to me! 🙂

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